Sunday, January 25, 2004
3 for 3
Over at Catallarchy, Micha Ghertner appears to have been burning the proverbial midnight oil. The effects of this diligence have produced three posts, each worth taking a short time to read. The posts are, The Black Blog of Communism, Huh? What Planet Are You From?, and, The Ethics of a Living Wage.
I’d say that’s batting a 1000.
Saturday, January 24, 2004
A Local Issue That Could Arise in Any Neighborhood
If there is a less accurate way to measure the worth of an individual, than basing that judgment on the color of one’s skin, I am not aware of it. Individuals who harbor prejudice, based on the color of an individual’s skin, are simply unthinking fools.
With this thought in mind, I invite you to read an article that was published in the Grand Rapids Press on Thursday, January 22nd. The article is titled Bid to rename Franklin for MLK is renewed. Now why has this “bid to rename Franklin” been renewed? Here’s what the second paragraph of the article states.
Although city commissioners shied away from the idea 18 months ago, a couple of new faces on the commission may give the effort renewed momentum.
So, “new faces,” which basically means recently elected city officials, want to rename a street, which has been known as Franklin St since 1912, to honor MLK. According to the article, the street was renamed Franklin St in 1912 so a city commissioner could present the street name as a “baptismal gift” for his godson, Franklin B. Morrison. How sweet, warm hugs all around.
Consider that reasoning, for a moment, if you will. A city commissioner renamed a street in 1912 as a baptismal gift for his godson for Pete’s sake. There is no rational reason for that 1912 name change other than garnering the city commissioner warm fuzzies. What a nice guy, he renamed a street for his godson. I wonder if the folks alive in 1912 received as much benefit as I am receiving from that name change currently, which is none. I submit that this “renewed” bid to rename Franklin St falls into exactly the same category. But, with the additional benefit, to the “new faces,” of an official feel good act to garner the “new faces” warm fuzzies and a false legitmacy to their supposed service to the city and the public which “elected” them.
As I thought about this today, I wondered how many streets are actually named after MLK. Well, according to this article, there are over 650 streets named after MLK. The article also has this to say.
Dr. King would have been opposed to just naming a street running through the heart of the black community for him,” said the Rev. Aaron Johnson, a former Fayetteville City Council member who marched with King before King’s death on April 4, 1968 ...
Besides the streets named after MLK, I wonder how many parks, buildings and what not are named after the man? Hundred’s? I do not know.
I invite you to read a letter, written by an individual who lives in the area, which would be effected by this feel good foolishness. Addressed to the city commissioners, the mayor and the city manager of Grand Rapids, Michigan, it deals more in factual thinking than feelings and suppositions.
It was incredibly frustrating to again read the untruths being spread by Robert Dean and the Grand Rapids Press. As a resident of Franklin Street, I am still waiting, after two years, to be contacted by the Racial Justice Institute for their bogus survey. They keep misleading the public by stating the untruth that 90% of residents are in favor of the name change! Why have they never contacted any residents who live on Franklin east of Fuller? Some of you may recall our group, who spent hours sending out a mailing to ALL adddresses on the entire length of the street. I still have the true, accurate data which we presented at our meeting in October 2002 which shows that the majority (greater than 70%) of people who took the time to respond do NOT want the name of our street to change. When is the Racial Justice Institute going to stop lying to serve their own purpose? Interesting that none of the proponents of the name change even live on Franklin Street, so would not have to deal with the hassle and expense of changing their address on every legal document they possess. How easy it is to make decisions that will not directly impact your own life! At a time when the city’s and especially the public school system’s financial woes are a constant topic on the news, how can you justify the unnecessary expense of an official street name change? Why would you want to spend money in this manner instead of using it to fund a Martin Luther King scholarship for underprivileged children, for example? When will people try to honor Dr. King in a manner more fitting to his memory and his dreams? Is renaming a street really going to get to the core of the problems in the inner city of poverty, joblessness, drugs and crime? Or is it instead going to actually divide a neighborhood which prides itself on a long history of cultural diversity? How many children could be helped by the amount of money it would take to replace all the street signs, especially the ones off of 131?.. Martin Luther King Park, on the corner of Fuller and Franklin, is rarely used as a site to actually honor Dr. King and his vision. What a sad statement to his memory to have such an untapped resource. I hardly think that a commemorative renaming demonstrates a “lack of commitment to the diverse inclusion…” as Mr. Dean stated in the paper. Let’s honor Dr. King in a more practical manner to actually benefit the causes for which he worked so hard during his lifetime. Clearly there is a difference of opinion between those who are pushing a political agenda for their own advancement and those who would be directly affected by this expensive, inappropriate proposal. Please keep in mind that most of the residents of Franklin Street may not have been asked their opinion yet, but will not stand by while elected officials make decisions that will directly affect thir lives. Our city commissioners are supposed to represent ALL the citizens in their respective wards, and I hope this responsibility is not ignored. I will be happy to again present the data which our group spent many hours collected so that both sides of this debate receive equal representation. Thank you for your time.
The Citizens to Preserve Franklin Street
Last night I was introduced to a website that I think is nifty. mecompany.com. I haven’t delved very deep into the website, they offer a news and a merchandise button to click, but I have enjoyed goofing around with one of the windows that opens up when you click the link provided here. Give it a whirl and check out the wallpapers offered, free, by clicking on the white dots. Oh, and turn the volume up a bit on your speakers, if you have them.
Friday, January 23, 2004
I Can’t Talk Right Now
The title to this post would make an interesting epitaph. I mention it because Daniel Medley of LoboWalk linked to a blog called Sheila Astray’s Redheaded Ramblings. Sheila has a small collection of famous epitaph’s and last words posted that are enjoyable.
If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomaty, Epitaph, pg. 679
A Short Reflection on Turning the Other Cheek
This morning, while wielding the accoutrements of a competent hotel housekeeping staff, in preparation for the homecoming of the lovely Melissa, I was contemplating on the above. I mean the title to this post. This pathetic cliche, of almost mythological proportions, is trotted out by Christians, pacifists, secularists and the like as a justifiable argument against war, protecting yourself from harm and who knows what else. This “turn the other cheek” mentality is derived from Matthew 5:39 and is repeated in Luke 6:29 of the Book.
Now don’t misunderstand me here. I can appreciate turning the other cheek, say, if I am slapped by a lady for uttering crude commentary in regards to her appearance, to her face. Ungentlemanly behavior indeed. Or, say if I am mocked for some foible or irrational thinking. Or, a more common occurence, which I would wager has happened to most of us, being flipped off while driving. I will readily turn the other cheek in those instances. But let’s consider turning the other cheek in the instances where the cliche is most commonly applied.
For example, let’s say some two-bit thug is demanding my wallet, and, as a means of convincing me, said thug is brandishing a knife or a gun. If I turn the other cheek in this scenario, I am more than likely going to be turning that cheek for the last time. I think the more appropriate response is to teach the thug a lesson in respect for property rights. This lesson could be delivered in a harangue, for which the thug will have no patience, or, more appropriately, by allowing the thug to contemplate his mortality and, possibly learn something about property rights, quickly, by peering into the barrel of a Berreta.
How about in war? Should we be turning the other cheek in war? I think not. If all individuals, collectively, turned the other cheek in a war scenario, sure, the war would end quickly, but, more than likely, so would the individuals. The agressors would consider the turning of the other cheek as a sign of weakness and a license to rape, pillage, plunder and mutilate. I do not think the cliche can be intelligently applied here.
I am in favor of forbearance. I have to be, I’ve got four teenagers who, at times, emulate their father’s unending questioning of authority, but I’ll be damned if I will allow some dirt bag to push me around and take my property because a group of men decided to slip into the Book the turning of the other cheek. It’s only in there because these men thought it might be useful to keep the sheep penned up.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to scrub the commode.
My brother, The Wizard, sent me this in an email. I Googled it up, and it appears that its been floating around in cyberspace for awhile, but, I got a boot out of it. The beginning of the piece.
If you lived as a child in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s…
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have…
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets.
(Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)
A Comment Submitted to Roderick Long
Roderick Long, in a post titled Brothers in Arms has embraced new terminology for creationism and socialism.
Most creationists profess to hold socialism in disdain; most socialists profess to hold creationism in disdain. Neither side seems sufficiently disturbed by the strong similarity between the two viewpoints.
Both creationists and socialists distrust invisible-hand processes and cannot conceive of order emerging except through some sort of centralised top-down control. (And neither side has much fondness for Herbert Spencer!)
From now on I’m calling creationism “cosmic socialism,” and socialism “political creationism.”
My email comment to Roderick.
While I appreciate your suggested nomenclature for creationism, I think “cosmic socialism,” as a term, would be more aptly applied to the man made dogmas conjured by organized religions in regards to the teachings of Christ. Creationism, as you are aware, is “a doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usu. in the way described in Genesis.”
Though creationism is a “top-down” theory, it is not from this doctrine that the errant socialist ideals, in Christianity, arose. Those errant ideals arose from within organized Christian religion hierarchies as a means of fleecing the flocks of their hard earned dollars.
Ancient Chinese Wisdom
Why are people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.
Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.
—Tao Te Ching
Via J. Orlin Grabbe.
“Watership Down” Berserkers
In the Netherlands, a land from which my forebears departed for America in the early 1900’s, a prison warden is worried by the rabbit warrens which run under and around the prison. It seems the rabbits are gnawing ”...underground alarm, phone and power cables and tried to tunnel under its walls,...” Rascally rabbits. The solution seems to be death for the rabbits as this headline cleverly illustrates. Rabbits on death row for gnawing alarms.
Rabbit stew anyone?
Via Anna at Belligerent Bunny.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Enjoyed While Walking Tonight
Cold tonight. Zero. Just the hint of a breeze. I walked longer than normal because of the effect light was having on the skies due to atmospheric conditions. I didn’t take this photo, but it’s a fine representation of why I lingered outdoors.
UPDATE - 01.22.2010: Photo is not from 2004 but it is a fine representation of the night I originally posted this.
This Does Not Compute
Perusing the NYT today I came across an op-ed written by Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College. Schwartz is the author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. I have not read this weighty tome myself, but, I perceive by reading the op-ed, that Schwartz is propounding the ideas presented within the book, in a more condensed version, as a method of sales promotion. The op-ed is titled Nation of Second Guesses.
What follows, are some of the arguments presented by Schwartz to bolster his claim that too much choice causes “paralysis, not liberation.” His words will be blockquoted. Mine will not.
Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, psychologists at Columbia and Stanford respectively, have shown that as the number of flavors of jam or varieties of chocolate available to shoppers is increased, the likelihood that they will leave the store without buying either jam or chocolate goes up. According to their 2000 study, Ms. Iyengar and Mr. Lepper found that shoppers are 10 times more likely to buy jam when six varieties are on display as when 24 are on the shelf.
While I appreciate the importance of jam or jelly for a slice of toast, and a fine piece of chocolate, I think that studying shoppers’ willingness or unwillingness to puchase one, the other or none, based on varieties available, is hardly indicative that too much choice in the gastronomic department is a paralyzing event from which sound conclusions can be drawn. I would propose, prior to making such a broad conclusion from the data according to Iyenga’s and Lepper’s findings, that a thorough study of individuals living under current or former socialist regimes be conducted to determine their “paralysis” or “liberation” when confronted by two dozen individual types of jelly, jams or chocolates.
In a study that Ms. Iyengar, Rachel Elwork of Columbia and I are working on, we found that as the number of job possibilities available to college graduates goes up, applicants’ satisfaction with the job search process goes down. This is particularly true for job seekers whose aim is to get the “best possible” job — while people in this group receive more and better job offers than those who are aiming for “good enough” jobs, they also tend to be less satisfied with their career decisions than their less demanding counterparts. They are also more anxious, pessimistic, disappointed, frustrated and depressed.
In this second example, above, might I suggest, once again, that the researchers broaden their field of study to include more common individuals. Say, the unskilled, or, blue collar factory folks, or, individuals with families who are unemployed. Is it, truly, any surprise, at all, that college students are “anxious, pessimistic, disappointed, frustrated and depressed” when confronted with the real world job market? The majority have been indoctrinated, since grade school, that the world is their oyster and that having that magical piece of paper in their hand, that college diploma, will magically open all doors to them. Six figure a year jobs and perks galore. Hooey. Though, in actuality, the world is their oyster. Its just that no one has ever informed the college graduates that oysters need to be pried open to obtain their treasure. Accurate information cannot be gleaned from individuals nannied all their lives.
Schwartz offers a couple of other examples to support his hypothesis but I leave it to you to investigate. I leave you with the following final paragraph from Schwartz’s op-ed.
While a life without any freedom of choice would not be worth living, it appears not to be true that more choice inevitably leads to more freedom and greater happiness. Indeed, there may be a point when choice tyrannizes people more than it liberates them. The implication of this news, both for individuals and for government officials, is that sound social policy simply cannot consist of throwing an ever-greater menu of options at the American people.
A more execrable conclusion I cannot imagine.
My current read, listed in the sidebar left, is, without question, the best book I have ever had the pleasure to read. And I’ve read a few books. The title to this post is the title of an essay, by Mencken, exploring democracy. I have read it at least a dozen times in the past week or so and each time I do, I am struck, “bastinado” style, by its clarity. It seems only appropriate that I post a link to the entire essay for your personal edification or denouncement as the circus prepares to come to a town near you. The first few sentences follow. I hope they whet your appetite to read the entire piece.
“I have alluded somewhat vaguely to the merits of democracy. One of them is quite obvious: it is, perhaps, the most charming form of government ever devised by man. The reason is not far to seek. It is based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism.”
I’ve had a couple of things to say about the moronic debate surrounding Mel Gibson’s upcoming film The Passion which you can read here and here. The first link is to the initial disclosure of the Pope’s so-called utterings on the film and the second link will take you comments on Frank Rich’s delusional condemnations of the Pope “hawking” the film.
Peggy Noonan has weighed in on this a couple few times also, but I point you now to her most recent response to the latest revelations of the Pope said or the Pope didn’t say, which, according to Peggy, matters.
Three, very brief excerpts, from Noonan’s piece with my comments following.
The truth matters.
Indeed it does, but in this instance, it is simply a tempest in a teapot.
What a pope says matters.
Indeed it does not, unless you are a slave to the pope or Catholic church.
And what this pontiff says about this film matters.
Again, it does not. A film is simply a film. What the pontiff’s opinion of the film is matters not one iota, unless you are under the delusion that the pontiff is paving the way for you into heaven. Which I don’t think he is, unless he has managed to totally extricate the board from his own eyes.
I shall say no more on this.
Shining A Light on ‘The Tuskegee Study’
I have a basic working knowledge of, what has become known as, the horrific ‘Tuskegee Study.’ My basic knowledge was that the study was racist, callous and freely given to infecting unsuspecting blacks with syphilis. Because I never had a need to actually pursue any further study on this event from the past, I, naively, accepted that what I knew was factual and attributed the event to an era when morons still considered blacks as nothing but an inconvenience. I should have been more questioning.
At the website Spiked Science, there is a lengthy, seemingly factual article that examines the ‘Tuskegee Study’ and the article shines a much brighter light on what actually was occurring. The article is titled Tuskegee re-examined. Written by Richard Shweder, the article is worth taking the time to read.
Lileks Studios Presents
If you haven’t listened to James Lileks remix of Dean spewing campaign rhetoric, do so now.
I laughed my ass off.
Thanks to Billy for the heads up.