#HopeTuesday: Let’s #takebackourfuture, one day at a time

Today we launch a new campaign aimed at taking back the future.

#hopetuesday #TakeBAckOurFuture #breathe

The original text for this meme was a lot longer. But when you boil it down to its essence, the message is pretty straightforward. We have become so incredibly negative that it’s eroding our ability to even consider the positive. We’re so terrified of where we are that we have ceased thinking about where we want to be.

In a world that’s 100% about problems, we have no energy left to discuss solutions. Nobody is for anything, only against.

Continue reading

ArtSunday: LIterature

Writers of slender acquaintance: Rhian Who…?

“It is therefore only right that we should all turn out to make our farewells.” – Rhian Roberts

A World of Great Stories, eds. Hiram Haydn and John Cournos (image courtesy Goodreads)

I haven’t mentioned my reading in the last couple of essays. That isn’t because I haven’t been reading (don’t be silly), but because I’m dividing my time between a couple of works. One of these is a crime fiction novel by an author I have reviewed before, William Mark (my review of his latest, Crossing the Blue Line, will appear sometime next week.

The other, whose cover is pictured at right, is called A World of Great Stories and contains 115 “stories” (more on why the quotation marks used shortly) by authors from around the world. So far I’ve finished the American/British section (which includes not just the U.S. and England but Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) and am into the section on Europe which starts, quite naturally, with the French who are after all right across the Channel.

The Welsh representative is the Rhian of this essay’s title. Her name is Rhian Roberts and if there were ever a writer with whom one’s acquaintance is going to be slender, it would be she.

But more on Ms. Roberts anon. First, a few words about this book. Continue reading

PoliticalMonkey2

An open letter to right-wing RNC protesters

RNCFountain1Dear Right-Wing Protesters,

Please don’t destroy the city of Cleveland or its people who have opened their doors to a candidate and his followers who we may not vote for, but we will still treat with with respect and decency. Most of us will, anyway. We are, however, wary of your intentions.

In fact a lot of Clevelanders have left town. Entire offices have been abandoned for the week. People are working from home, other offices, or taking vacations. “Working remotely.” We’ve been planning on that for months. We will admit to a fairly high level of caution and fear that has grown over the past year.

At first we were concerned that there would be no candidate with a majority and that the convention would be truly contested, perhaps to the point of violence between the supporters of various candidates. I even had this brief fantasy of settling the candidacy with a cage match at Browns Stadium. That vision somehow fit with the whole unreal reality show that the primary show became. Continue reading

Appreciating a wildly unappreciated band: MMMBop, bitches (Saturday Video Roundup)

When they first hit in 1997 with “MMMBop,” I remember Hanson being dismissed by my music intelligentsia friends as some kind of put-up job, a prefab kiddie novelty act. Thing is, it wasn’t true. At all. The brothers Hanson – Taylor, Isaac and Zac – were legit talented, their shiny, radio-friendly sound underpinned by a rich sense of Chicago R&B rhythm and Gospel-inflected harmony. (It’s fun trying to write in hipster-reviewer speak, init? Hey, I’ve been telling you for years I ain’t no reviewer.)

Now, nearly two decades on, they’re better than ever. Let’s kick today’s #SVR with a recent acoustic performance of that hit, one that strips down to the naked essence of a worthy pop gem.

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Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group

When is sharing a password a federal crime? And when isn’t it?

By Carole McNall

Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group.jpgI glanced at the sexy headline: Sharing your Netflix password is now a federal crime, court rules.

Intrigued, I read the story. Then I read the court case, United States v. Nosal.

I discovered, within a page and a half, that the headline writer had created his or her own legal precedent. The blunt statement that made a sexy headline was far less nuanced and far more definitive than the actual decision.

The story I read was bylined, which I always take to mean a reporter actually does something to gather the information. But for many reporters, “gathering information” for this story seemed to mean finding it on another website and doing a little rewrite.

So let me offer some context for evaluating the sexy headline.

Who was sharing passwords and why? The password sharing happened when David Nosal and two others decided to leave the executive search firm Korn/Ferry. Before they left, they began downloading information from Korn/Ferry’s confidential database of search candidates. Even after their access to the system was revoked, they continued downloading, using the freely given password of someone still working at Korn/Ferry.

The firm emphasized the confidentiality of the database through messages ranging from a required agreement for all new employees to a pop-up message every time someone did a custom search.

Eventually, Korn/Ferry discovered the access and criminal charges were filed. This month’s decision was the second appeal of Nosal’s conviction on those charges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

OK, there’s the federal crime. But what law did they violate? Continue reading

hough

An open letter to left-wing RNC protesters

Cleveland is not your enemy.

hough

50 years ago in Hough

Dear Left-Wing Protesters,

Please don’t destroy the city of Cleveland or its people in which you could find so much sympathy, support, and common ground. Whatever your cause, someone here will hear you out. Not everyone all the time. But you’ll find people who will listen.

Here’s something to start with: Monday, July 18, 2016–the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland–is the 50th anniversary of the Hough Riots. The Hough Riots were a violent clash between police, the National Guard and residents of the Hough neighborhood on the East Side of Cleveland.

Hough had been home to people from Eastern Europe and Appalachia during the first half of the twentieth century. Continue reading

BLM

#WhichCorpsesMatter

That’s what I want to know

Here’s my big reason to care about the #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter jousting match. I’m not the sentimental sort. I don’t have a deeply personal interest in the deeply personal pain countless families are feeling, whether by race, or by innocence of victim, or even the families of the police. If I spent time on those feelings, it would just be sadness. My sadness and $5 will get you a cup of fancy coffee somewhere. My reason is abstract, because any particular dead person is a particular case of a general phenomenon, and might not adhere to any particular script very well.

I’m even cynical enough to consider the striking possibility that both sides are “wrong” depending on how one defines the sides and defines what they mean by wrong. Continue reading

Cui bono: how did Berrien County, Michigan hit the headlines?

Horse race reportage, part umpteen. Special Edition: Not Election Coverage

I first spotted this tragic news at BBC, when there wasn’t yet anything world newsworthy about it, even from their own coverage perspective. One might notice the author was in such a rush to post they didn’t even bother to finish writing it first. The telltale error of haste that reveals the race to the bottom should embarrass an author not yet qualified to have their own byline.

Rule 1 of race to the bottom reporting: Be sure to include factoids that do not advance the non-story even a little, and don’t bother to edit it when done. Continue reading

Sports

Fighter jets and paratroopers and black knights, oh my: sports totems as a reflection of militaristic cultural norms

It’s not enough to accept military vehicles, body armor and weaponry from our civilian police. We now have to cheer for it.

by Michael Smith

There was a chapter in a Carl Sagan book from the mid-nineties, Billions and Billions, where he wrote about how totems of North American sports teams had been changing over the years from traditional animals for older clubs — like the Bears, the Tigers, and the Lions — to newer ones more reflective of concerns over atmosphere and the environment — like the Hurricanes, the Avalanche, the Lightning, and the Heat, etc. His point was that we no longer feared animals — there were no more bears in Chicago, after all — so they were no longer acceptable totems for making our team represent power; striking fear into the opposition. Whether or not everyone consciously accepted the reality of climate change in the ’90s, it had become enough of a subconscious concern in our lizard brains that these newer totems felt edgy and fierce.

I think that’s what’s been bothering me about the most recent changes in the NHL. Continue reading

BLM

Why does Roger Ailes want to see Mississippi burn?

Or Rudy Giuliani or the rest of the crew at Fox News?

Photography by Jonathan Bachman

Let me set this straight very simply. Someone punches me in the face. Repeatedly. I manage to get up and punch them back.

Ghouliani would have us believe that I am the instigator in that case.

Seriously, it is THAT simple.

Do I agree entirely with BLM tactics, rhetoric, source of funding, etc., etc., about a bunch of things I’m just not wasting my precious life fact-checking? No. Continue reading

ArtSunday

Writers of slender acquaintance: Rudyard Kipling

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Another in the series I began last week about writers who have become neglected. This week’s choice is one whose literary reputation has been as high, as low, and as controversial as any writer in the history of literature. Rudyard Kipling has been revered – and reviled – by authors as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, R.K. Narayan, and George Orwell – who noted that Kipling:

…sold out to the British governing class, not financially but emotionally. This warped his political judgement, for the British ruling class were not what he imagined, and it led him into abysses of folly and snobbery, but he gained a corresponding advantage from having at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.

For those who know Kipling – and that’s almost everyone – only for “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” or The Jungle Book or Kim – Kipling is a dimly remembered writer of exciting stories for young readers. But he was a complicated figure who produced a wide range of work with interesting themes. Continue reading

PoliticalMonkey2

RNC train wreck heading for Cleveland

RNCitemswIt will be an interesting couple of weeks in the CLE…

Whenever someone mentions the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which is about every hour if not more often, I can’t help but have Johnny’s Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” play in my head:

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when. . . .

The accompanying mental mashup is a combination of the train wreck in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth and any Insane Clown Posse video. On any level, this is not a cheery picture. And every day there is some new wrinkle, some plot twist that keeps this impending disaster from being just a week-long annoyance. It’s mesmerizing enough to make me want to go downtown a couple of times just to witness the disaster first-hand. Yes, I realize that is potentially dangerous – but there it is. Continue reading

#blacklivesmatter versus #alllivesmatter

White man ISO white people to explain something to me

I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading