Sunday, May 1, 2016

RIP Daniel J. Berrigan

The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a writer, teacher and longtime peace activist whose repeated acts of civil disobedience put him at odds with his government and the Roman Catholic Church but made him a major figure in the radical left of the 1960s and 1970s, died April 30 at a Jesuit residence at Fordham University in the Bronx. He was 94.
Passed along in email, this story took yet another thread from my ever-diminishing tapestry.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

a "World Championship"

Marco Fu

As far as I can see, here is a story about a "World Championship" that manages not to mention the sport involved within the story text... a very odd omission from where I sit.

Still ... snooker ... how about them apples?

148 discarded diaries

148 discarded diaries...
Whose are they?
Is there anyone without such a collection, whether there are diaries or not?
What can anyone learn from the diaries of another?
A lot, it seems
But then, "a lot" of anyone's life is never complete, is it?

Friday, April 29, 2016

moving Israel to Texas

In a BBC article that differentiates "Zionism" and "anti-Semitism," the following detail was tacked onto a British Member of Parliament who had been suspended for a variety of otherwise unspecified reasons:
"It follows the suspension of Bradford West MP Naz Shah after it emerged she had once suggested, among other things, that Israel should be moved to the United States."
I don't suppose even entertaining the idea is allowed within certain circles -- too implicitly "anti-Semitic" dontcha know -- but it does suggest one rivulet of thought in a Europe which is often less sanguine about Israel than the United States can be.

It tickles the mind ... move to where in the United States, precisely? Texas? Wyoming? Maine? New York? What would the effect be on the frictions of the Middle East? What would the effect be on, for example, Texas? If it happened, would Israel be allowed to keep its nuclear weapons? How well would Benjamin Netanyahu fare? In order for Israel to maintain its righteousness, would a certain number of Arabs need to be relocated as well?

A useless train of thought, perhaps, but sometimes useless thoughts are worth the thinking.

"what do you want?"

"I want my loved ones and myself to be happy"
There are times when it is best to keep things simple, and that's just what Les Monaghan has done for The Desire Project.
Based in Doncaster, he simply asked a bunch of strangers: "What do you want?"
With support from the Arts Council England, the results have been put on display in the Frenchgate Centre, Doncaster.
"The project became led by the answers that subjects gave," says Monaghan....
Monaghan also points out that, of the 150 on show, only one wanted a commodity.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The current exhibit may be quite good and fairly provocative, but when it comes to the full impact of asking people simple questions they might think they could answer adequately, nothing beats "Thought Moments" from my point of view:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Brave New World redux

And, in the ever-encroaching strangle hold of a real-life Brave New World:
A man has been held in prison for seven months after failing to decrypt two hard drives that investigators suspect contain indecent images of children.
A court order says the man will remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with an order to unlock the password-protected devices.
The US man, who has not been charged with possessing illegal images, is appealing against his detention.
If I've got this right, authorities expect the man to hand over the evidence they suspect would warrant a jail term while all the time holding him in jail for not handing it over.

Talk about Kafka-esque.

Unspeakably corrupt.

Welcome to the Third World country of America.

genealogy munchie

Puttering around with "genealogy" this morning, it occurred to me that genealogy tends to underscore the truth that the deeper you dig, the less you know.

Or, more precisely, the more you become aware of what you don't know.

Genealogy -- to pick on that topic for a moment -- pretends to tell the tale of one person or another. Born, died, kids, where they lived, what they did by way of profession, etc. But the fact is that no man or woman would agree to be summed up by any of those markers. There is always so much more.

Having a one-legged pederast as a forbear may be interesting, but it doesn't tell you whether this person was any good with a yo-yo.

Contrary to what is taught in classrooms, there is nothing wrong with not-knowing. But it is important to know and perhaps acknowledge that you don't. The alternative is a kind of smug arrogance that hardly matches with any sort of 'truth' that genealogy might pretend to deliver.

The smarter you get, in one sense, the dumber you become.

forgery, witches and a curse

How does a tiny Spanish village of just 62 souls come to be excommunicated in its entirety and cursed with a spell so strong that only the Pope can lift it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

something to be said for concentration

David Levenson’s photographs capture the UK at leisure:
A lady sits engrossed in her puzzle magazines in a cafe, oblivious to the length of her cigarette ash

the screw turns ... some more

The screw turns ... who's getting screwed these days:
-- Tehran police chief Gen. Hossein Sajedinia recently announced his department had deployed 7,000 male and female officers for a new plainclothes division - the largest such undercover assignment in memory. Authorities say the division, which started work last week, will patrol major Tehran streets and intersections, policing transgressions including harassment against women and excessive car honking and engine noise.
Critics fear the unit's main focus, however, will be enforcing the government-mandated Islamic dress code, which requires women be modestly covered from head to toe.
-- Venezuela's government has imposed a two-day working week for public sector workers as a temporary measure to help it overcome a serious energy crisis.
Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz announced that civil servants should turn up for work only on Mondays and Tuesdays until the crisis was over.
Venezuela is facing a major drought, which has dramatically reduced water levels at its main hydroelectric dam.
-- And, in the feckless and endless and substance-shy U.S. presidential primaries that, like the government's promotion of "terrorism," threaten never to end ....
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton rolled up wins in Northeastern states on Tuesday in a major show of strength and immediately turned their fire on each other in a possible preview of a general election matchup.
To the extent that the popular presidential-wannabe Bernie Sanders represents another step in the amorphous discontent of 2011's "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration ... it strikes me as interesting that the fervor excited by Sanders banner, much like the fervor of the 'occupy' movement, still lacks a specific agenda. But the fervor is not to be denied or discounted. And to the extent that this is true, I think Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are drinking from the same undeniable trough.

Now if only the issues weren't treated to a back-burner status, perhaps the electorate would be a little less screwed.

-- And, in a story now as familiar (damn near word-for-goddamned word) as the police shooting of unarmed black people in the U.S.:

Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian woman and a man on Wednesday, saying they had tried to stab security forces at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.
In the last half year, Palestinian attacks have killed 28 Israelis and two visiting U.S. citizens. Israeli forces have killed at least 193 Palestinians, 130 of whom Israel says were assailants. Many others were shot dead in clashes and protests.
Police said the woman, holding a knife, and the man walked rapidly towards police and other Israeli security guards in a vehicles-only lane at the Qalandia checkpoint outside Jerusalem.
"Police called on them several times to stop. When they kept advancing ... the officers neutralized the terrorists," a police statement said.