Friday, June 22, 2018

Can't we play nice?


  Sunday night at the Tony Awards, Robert De Niro dropped an F-bomb on Donald John Trump. This produced a few mild cases of the vapours in the usual quarters, including The New York Times. The reaction was nothing like what, for example, George McGovern produced by calling a lady a “horse’s ass” on an airplane when she acted like one. We've come down in the world.

 De Niro provoked the Times to write a story about the coarsening of American politics, a process that has been going on forever but took a giant leap when the Republican candidate for president made vulgarity as legitimate a political tool as dirty money and gerrymandering.

 The Times thought we would heal better as a nation if we’d be nicer to each other. That reminded Charles P. Pierce of Esquire of why he disagrees.

Home Adventures

One damn thing after another...or so it seems with the preposterous leader...if not our enemy Canada or the pretense of a nuclear disarmament, then it's tearing children from their adults. The end of the world--as we know it!

Such were my preoccupations when one damn thing after another started up at home. Of course, it is embarrassing to be preoccupied by the mundane when the world is shuddering for fear of what might come next. But there you are. Several electric sockets have gone kaput in our household; the ones that feed the coffee maker, the toaster, the dishwasher, and one air conditioner. The remedy so far promised is a rip down of various kitchen walls of plaster and lathe in our hundred-year old building.

And then.. having lived in NYC for 55 years: for the first time, an elevator I was on stopped in mid-travels. I was astonished. After the fact, I am still surprised I didn't go bonkers (claustrophobia and all that). A strange calm came on. Studying the remedies offered on the control panel, I pushed the button that said phone. Of course, I got an answering machine at the repair company. Scratch that. Then I pressed the "alarm" button. Quite loud. Soon the voice of a neighbor promising to seek help. Thank you. I decided to not go into action whatever that might entail, but to sit on the floor, cross my legs, breathe deeply and say a Hail Mary. I was in no danger, I told myself. Something would happen...even if the oxygen ran out! Really it turned out to be only fifteen minutes...one of the men in the building arrived with a crow bar, pried open the door, and thank yous all around. Neighbor happy to see me alive! Me happy to be breathing!  Etc. So, here's to the mundane, at least for today.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Weaponizing the Bible


Many thanks to Katherine for drawing our attention to the (im)morality of the Trump Administration's policy of separating immigrant parents claiming asylum status from their children, sometimes for months at a time, with no visible process for ensuring they would ever be reunited.  United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions piqued some interest, and also raised some eyebrows, when he recently defended that policy by citing a biblical passage.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

False Equivalence

To their credit, many Republicans are rejecting and distancing themselves from the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy regarding illegal immigration. In implementing this policy the administration puts asylum seekers in the category of criminals and follows the practice of separation from children as a deterrent.
However, many Republicans, including President Trump, have not rejected this policy and in fact have doubled down on it with specious arguments, prevarications, and false equivalence.  His defenders and water-carriers parrot his arguments and invent some of their own.  One of the prime justifications and examples of a false equivalence is the one which says, "If a citizen commits a crime and is incarcerated, they are going to be separated from their children.  How is this any different?"
From this excellent article by Doug Mataconis:

Sunday, June 17, 2018

From mustard seeds to full-grown plants

This is my homily for today, June 17, 2018, the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Cycle B (the Gospel of Mark cycle).   And today also happens to be Father's Day.  The readings for today are here.

Retirement and stress in the 21st century

Sounds like several of us in here have moved into our golden retirement years, so here's a riff on retirement, stress, and stressors.

Friday, June 15, 2018

University of Chicago drops standardized test scores as an admission requirement


Standardized testing is a big deal in our local high school district.  All high school juniors are expected to take a college-entrance standardized test -  for all of my kids, it has been the ACT.  In addition, the students are encouraged to take the test as sophomores so that when they take it "for real" as juniors, they're familiar with the format, and have a year to address any standardized-test weaknesses.  Standardized testing is a major pillar of the school district's emphasis on college preparation.