Thursday, December 31, 2009


From a LiveJournal entry 8/21/09:
There had been an attempted rape and the park managers' response was to put up notices warning women not to walk by themselves in the park.
Signs hung  around London's Mudchute Park read:

"Regrettably, due to a number of recent attacks it is no longer advisable for women to walk alone through the Valley. The police have been informed and the parks management is aware of the situation. We strongly advise single women to avoid using the park to approach Mudchute station and instead use other entrances such as via the Crossharbour DLR station behind ASDA."

I just love the response:

Since I object to being told where I can and cannot go, and being implicitly blamed for being attacked if I don't follow someone else's rules, my housemate and I made some alternative signs reminding people through parody that if women in the park were being attacked, probably by a man or men, then the blame lay with the (probably male) attacker rather than their victims.They went something like this:
"Regrettably, due to a number of recent incidents, it is necessary to remind men walking alone through the park not to rob, rape, threaten or assault anyone. Thank you in advance for behaving like decent human beings. Signed, single women who refuse to live in fear."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I Hear America Singing        
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
     singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
     at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
     the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,
     robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I, Too, Sing America        
by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For the Sorrow Spring

- W.S. Merwin

You invisible one
resounding on your own
whatever the others
happen to be playing
source of a note
not there in the score
under whatever key
unphrased continuo
gut stretched bewteen
the beginning and the end
what would the music
be without you
since even through
the chorus of pure joy
the tears hear you
and nothing can restrain them.

Monday, December 28, 2009


For My Daughter
 - David Ignatow

When I die choose a star
and name it after me
that you may know
I have not abandoned
or forgotten you.
You were such a star to me,
following you through birth
and childhood, my hand
in your hand.

When I die
choose a star and name it
after me so that I may shine
down on you, until you join
me in darkness and silence

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Online Audio Poetry Resources: Listening to Mimic is an offering of Writer's Community. Below are ten links they have listed that open the enjoyment of Poetry wider for those who prefer Audio.

10 Online Audio Poetry Resources

Saturday, December 26, 2009


 (Click on the title above or the picture below
to go to a beautiful and informative site)

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community.

These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.

picture of candles, fruit, and Kwanzaa symbolism

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. 

Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Maulana Karenga

*From -- Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, 2008, Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press (

Thanks To The Intrepid Souls Who Have Come This Far With Me (All Two Of You!)

white 300 on pavement Posts

Happy Boxing Day to those on the other side of The Pond.

blue gift box with rainbow spots and a large pink ribbon

From what I've read, a ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present, and Boxing Day was a day off for servants when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families. Boxing Day is also a time spent with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself.

Personally, anything that prolongs gift giving is good as far as I'm concerned!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Blessing

Irish chain and knot design on Christmas card

God bless the master of this house,
The mistress also,
And all the little children
That round the table go;
And all your kin and kinfolk,
That dwell both far and near;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This Time Of Year, Television Conjures Up this poem For me. Although I'm Sure They Don't mean to.

The grinch dressed as santa

Goodwill To Men
- Give Us Your Money

by Pam Ayres

It was Christmas Eve on a Friday
The shops was full of cheer,
With tinsel in the windows,
And presents twice as dear.
A thousand Father Christmases,
Sat in their little huts,
And folk was buying crackers
And folk was buying nuts.

All up and down the country,
Before the light was snuffed,
Turkeys they get murdered,
And cockerels they got stuffed,
Christmas cakes got marzipanned,
And puddin's they got steamed
Mothers they got desperate
And tired kiddies screamed.

Hundredweight's of Christmas cards,
Went flying through the post,
With first class postage stamps on those,
You had to flatter most.
Within a million kitchens,
Mince pies was being made,
On everyone's radio,
"White Christmas", it was played.

Out in the frozen countryside
Men crept round on their own,
Hacking off the holly,
What other folks had grown,
Mistletoe on willow trees,
Was by a man wrenched clear,
So he could kiss his neighbour's wife,
He'd fancied all the year.

And out upon the hillside,
Where the Christmas trees had stood,
All was completely barren,
But for little stumps of wood,
The little trees that flourished
All the year were there no more,
But in a million houses,
Dropped their needles on the floor.

 And out of every cranny, cupboard,
Hiding place and nook,
Little bikes and kiddies' trikes,
Were secretively took,
Yards of wrapping paper,
Was rustled round about,
And bikes were wheeled to bedrooms,
With the pedals sticking out.

Rolled up in Christmas paper
The Action Men were tensed,
All ready for the morning,
When their fighting life commenced,
With tommy guns and daggers,
All clustered round about,
"Peace on Earth - Goodwill to Men"
The figures seemed to shout.

The church was standing empty,
The pub was standing packed,
There came a yell, "Noel, Noel!"
And glasses they got cracked.
From up above the fireplace,
Christmas cards began to fall,
And trodden on the floor, said:
"Merry Christmas, to you all."

'The Works' by Pam Ayres

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Ran Across A Website Calling To 'Keep The Sol In Solstice'

the green manWinter Solstice is the first day of winter and longest [OOPS!] I mean shortest day of the year. Sun., Dec. 21, 12:47 PM EST (17:47 UT), marks the solstice this year (2009), the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is a photo of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge (Which is located under a great big red star on a map of southern England).

sun rising on solstice over stonehenge

Religious Tolerance Dot Org
Science World

Challenge: Fall Into Reading 2009 [FINAL UPDATE]

Ok. Here we are, December 20, the end of my very first Reading Challenge and I want to thank Katrina at Callapidder Days for the opportunity. It was a great way to give myself permission to do a thing that I wanted to do anyway. And it was also a way to push myself further than I would have on my own.
My final outcome, between September 22 and December 20, is mixed.

The original reading list of 10 books grew to include 20 titles, of which I finished 17. Not too bad, even though I see some of the other participants have left me in the dust. 

There were a few highlights:

First - and if you've done any meandering on my Blog at all, you know I love poetry - I had a chance to read some poets new to me, as well as some old friends. 

  • Good Woman was just more of the Lucille Clifton I love. I am never disappointed when I spend time with her.    
  • The Haiku Year is written by some unusual folks, (Well, I don't really know how unusual they are) singers and other entertainment professionals. A group of friends challenged one another to write a haiku a day for a year and this book is the result. Some of the names might surprise you.  
  • Cat Haiku was just fun. Being a cat lover, I was defenseless. 
  • And the strength and intimacy Linda McCarriston brought to bear in Eva-Mary was devastating. The topic is a difficult but far too familiar one, domestic violence, but I highly recommend the read.

Second, although I enjoyed everything, J. Bernlef's Out of Mind was hands down my favorite read of the Challenge. He tells the story of a man's descent into dementia - from the inside. It is a fictional story told from a very unexpected and effective point of view.

My final list as of December 20, 2009:

1. If Holden Caulfield were in my Class Room by Bernie Schein COMPLETE
2. Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks COMPLETE
3. Good Woman by Lucille Clifton COMPLETE
4. The Way I See it by Temple Grandin COMPLETE
5. Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire by Rafe Esquith
6. Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
7. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexandra McCall Smith
8. Out of Mind by J. Bernlef COMPLETE
9. Far Beyond the Field by Makoto Ueda COMPLETE
10. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking COMPLETE

11. Gone by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
12. Cat Haiku by Deborah Coates COMPLETE
13. Obsession by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
14. The Haiku Year by Various COMPLETE
15. Compulsion  by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
16. Eva-Mary  by Linda McCarriston COMPLETE
17. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell COMPLETE 
18. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell COMPLETE 
19. Cat''s Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown COMPLETE
20. Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay COMPLETE

* My additional goal concerned my own writing. I did not fair so well with this goal, however. While I wanted to have the workings of one poetry manuscript put together from the body of work I had already, I am not even close. It seems that I have subject matter for four different ms. This leaves me short of my goal for this challenge, but well on my way toward my ultimate one.

Finally, although I joined the Challenge late, it was a wonderful experience. I was greatly inspired by the many other participants, and it gave me something to obsess about other than my own problems.

Here are the links to my other posts on the Challenge
First post: Challenge: Fall Into Reading 2009
Second post: Challenge: Fall Into Reading 2009 [UPDATE]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Early Christmas present for disabled children

Specially Adapted Toys and Games
A range of toys specially adapted for children with disabilities is being launched this Christmas. The toys, which include remote controlled boats and cuddly animals, are on sale through the website of disability charity AbilityNet. They were adapted using technology originally developed to help a young boy paralyzed from the neck down to drive a radio controlled car using head movements.

Specially Adapted Toys and Games
A range of toys specially adapted for children with disabilities is being launched this Christmas. The toys, which include remote controlled boats and cuddly animals, are on sale through the website of disability charity AbilityNet. They were adapted using technology originally developed to help a young boy paralyzed from the neck down to drive a radio controlled car using head movements.
(Go to their website to see these as well as the rest of the list.
Oh. They take PayPal.)

Dream-Toys Storytime Christmas Bear
Storytime bear is a special switch adapted toy available for Christmas 2008. Pressing his switch makes his head and mouth move as he reads the story "Twas the night before Christmas".
Dream-Toys Hip Hop Christmas Bear
Hip Hop Christmas Bear is a special switch adapted toy available for Christmas 2008. Pressing his switch makes him sing "Hip Hop Jingle Bells" while his arms, hips, head and mouth move.

Dream-Toys Allie G
Allie G is a switch adapted musical toy specially adapted to the needs of young children who use switches to play with their toys.

Pressing the switch makes Allie G sing "See Ya Later Alligator" open and close his mouth and swing his head and tail from side to side. Children will also enjoy the very tactile feel of his teeth and the bumps along his back. Any standard (3.5mm) switch can be connected. Pressing the switch in his leg also turns him on and off.

Dream-Racer (cap controller) Lexus GS430 - 
Triband - Cap controller set
Lexus GS430 radio controlled car as driven by Jack Bauer in the TV series "24". This 1:16 scale Triband saloon designed by Nikko has been adapted to work with the Dream-Racer Cap.

The Triband transmitter allows up to three cars to be raced at the same time by three individual players making an ideal group or team experience.

Dream-Racer (pistol controller) Subaru Impreza - 
Triband - Pistol Racer Set
Subaru Impreza radio controlled car designed by Nikko Toys. This 1:16 scale Triband racing car has been adapted to work with the hand held Pistol Racer.

Dream-Gamer adapted Sony PlayStation 
controller - mini-joystick
Dream-Gamer is an adapted controller that enables children and young adults with physical disabilities to play games on the Sony PlayStation.

The mini-joystick can be connected to any of the five sockets on the Action Box and allows the gamer to use the joystick as a push button switch at the same time as controlling direction.

Other game requirements are controlled by pressing external switches connected to the four action buttons or through the on-board buttons. A fifth switch, connected to the "start" button enables the gamer to start or re-start the game.

AbilityNet is a national charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology. Our special expertise is ensuring that whatever your age, health condition, disability or situation you find exactly the right way to adapt or adjust your ICT to make it easier to use.


vintage sign says I understand the concept of housework, just not as it applies to me I have been a full time student for so long I seem to have forgotten a few things.

There was a time when I did it all - Bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and  - You know, that would make a great song!
I guess I'll have to put my apron on, pin my hair up, and do my best. That's all any of us can do. I just can't shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reindeer Report

 cat wearing reindeer antlers - U.A.Fanthorpe

Chimneys: colder
Flightpaths: busier
Driver: Christmas (F)
Still baffled by postcodes.

Children: more
And stay up later.
Presents: heavier
Pay: frozen.

Mission in spite
Of all this

Friday, December 18, 2009


three Victorian women seen sitting in an open window You know, not just a sex tape or the realization that a particular person is an ass?

Well I ran across a Blog called SCANDALOUS WOMEN that offers some real, um, protein. (Click on the name to follow the link.)

A taste:

Mary McCarthy (The Group, Memories of a Catholic Schoolgirl, How I Grew) about Lillian Hellman (The Children's Hour, Julia, An Unfinished Woman, Pentimento, Scoundrel Time) -

"[E]very word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'"

Lillian Hellman -
"Everyone’s memory is tricky and mine’s a little trickier than most."

Joan Mellen -
“A foremost literary fabulator of her generation, Lillian Hellman invented her life, so that by the end even she was uncertain about what had been true.”

[There is a real and interesting story behind those quotes and it, along with the many other stories on this enlightening Blog, is well worth reading.]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY M (Wherever You Are)

donkey with Santa hat

The Spirit of Christmas

I have a list of people I know
All written in a book
And every year at Christmastime
I go and take a look
And that is when I realise
That those names are a part
Not of the book they're written in
But of my very heart
For each name stands for someone
Who has crossed my path some time
And in that meeting they've become
A treasured friend of mine
And once you've met some people
The years can not erase
The memory of a pleasant word
Or a friendly face
So when I send a Christmas card
That is addressed to you
It's because you're on that list
Of folk I'm indebted to
And you are one of many folk who
In times past I've met
And happen to be one of those
I don't want to forget
And whether I have known you for
Many years or few
In some way you have a part in
Shaping things I do
This, the spirit of Christmas, that
Forever and ever endures
May it leave it richest blessing
In the hearts of you and yours.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deep Thinking Or . . .

pile of leather bound books

"Stupid Quotes"  
the Book Mine 


(Couple, mid-forties. Pointing at antique book press)
(She) What's that?
(Man explains) They put each page into it to flatten them before making them into a book.
(She) It must take a long time!

[Sharing knowledge is a beautiful thing]

Where are your religious books?
We don't have many in stock. But we do have a few 19th century books.
I don't want old ones. I just want ones with the truth.

(Customer fills out search card: 16 Chapels)
(me) Oh, you're after books on European Churches?
No, just books about the 16 Chapels.
16 Chapels?
Yea, you know the one with the big painting on the ceiling.

[We will let you know what we find (once we stop convulsing)]
Click on the link above to see more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas at Sea

by Robert Louis Stevenson

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'long-shore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
"All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call.
"By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate Jackson, cried.
..."It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


herb in mortar with pestleFrankincense - (or olibanum) Brought to the Baby Jesus by one of the persian Three Kings, is said to be symbolic of priesthood or prayer. Frankincense also has several medicinal properties, such as mosquito repellent, a digestive aid, depression relief and is considered to be good for the skin.

Maybe those three very wise men were on to something.


I found a couple of new Holiday CDs while I was out contemplating my Christmas list. I though they might help me get into the spirit of Season in spite if the economy and current political climate. I'll let you know how that turns out.

CD of bagpipe Christmas carols
CD of Marcel Marceau christmas carols

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Connection Is Serendipitous, But Serendipitous Is Good.

skate path in the snow

Skating in Harlem, Christmas Day        
by Cynthia Zarin
To Mary Jo Salter

Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees,
past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow,
two skating rinks and two black crooked paths

are a battered pair of reading glasses
scratched by the skater's multiplying math.
Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe.

Divide, subtract. Who can tell if love surpasses?
Two naughts we've learned make one astonished 0--
a hectic night of goats and compasses.

Folly tells the truth by what it's not--
one X equals a fall I'd not forgo.
Are ice and fire the integers we've got?

Skating backwards tells another story--
the risky star above the freezing town,
a way to walk on water and not drown.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Am Trying To Keep This Suggestion In Mind. I Find That If I Don’t Look For Good In The Bad, Then I Start Seeing Only The Bad Instead Of Good.

painting of child hugging teddy bear dreamily under Christmas tree

It's Christmas Time Again
by Bob Lazzar-Atwood

Put your problems on probation
Run your troubles off the track,
Throw your worries out the window
Get the monkeys off your back.
Silence all your inner critics
With your conscience make amends,
And allow yourself some happiness
It’s Christmas time again!

Call a truce with those who bother you
Let all the fighting cease,
Give your differences a breather
And declare a time of peace,
Don’t let angry feelings taint
The precious time you have to spend,
And allow yourself some happiness
It’s Christmas time again!

Like some cool refreshing water
Or a gentle summer breeze,
Like a fresh bouquet of flowers
Or the smell of autumn leaves,
It’s a banquet for the spirit
Filled with family, food and friends,
So allow yourself some happiness
It’s Christmas time again!

Copyright © Bob Lazzar-Atwood 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This Poem Reminds Me Of Why I Love Etimology. Look Up Canary Islands (Home of Tenerife) And You Will Understand.

snowman in ice freezer with small evergreen tree

by Ian McMillan    

I keep my snowman in the freezer
Just behind the pies
He likes it there, he told me so
I can see it in his eyes.

I made him on a cold, cold morning
When the snow was fresh and deep
Now he sits in the freezer
Near the fish that we got cheap.

I keep my snowman in the freezer
And look at him each day.
If I’d left him in the garden
He’d simply have melted away.

But now he’s like my Grandma
Living somewhere safe and nice;
He’s in a frosty, snowy palace
On a throne of coldest ice.

I keep my snowman in the freezer
Near a lump of frozen beef
And I’ve got a treat for him in August:
I’m taking him to Tenerife!

Originally written for BBC R7 Little Toe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

HANUKKAH Begins At Sunset Tonight. May Love and Light Fill Your Hearts.

Pale blue Star of David in a circle

Chanukah in a Nutshell

Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

On Chanukah we also recite Hallel and the Al HaNissim prayer to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize

Here are a few highlights. I just pulled out some pieces that spoke to me, and have noted the missing bits with ellipses.  If you wish to read the entire speech, click on this link.

THE PRESIDENT:  Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility.  It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate.  Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice. . . .

. . .  I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict -- filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other. . . .
. . . We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth:  We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. . . .

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago:  "Violence never brings permanent peace.  It solves no social problem:  it merely creates new and more complicated ones."  As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.  I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King. . . .

  . . .  [W]e seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.  And yet this truth must coexist with another -- that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy.  The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms.  But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such. . . .
Furthermore, America -- in fact, no nation -- can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves.  For when we don't, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified. . . .

. . . Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. . . .

. . . America alone cannot secure the peace. . . . .

Let me make one final point about the use of force.  Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it.  . . .

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. . . . We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.  (Applause.)  And we honor -- we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard. . . .

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior -- for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something.  Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. . . .

. . .  When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma -- there must be consequences.  . . . And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

. . .  For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict.  Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War.  In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise. . . .

. . .  I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.  Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence.  We also know that the opposite is true.  Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace.  America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens.  No matter how callously defined, neither America's interests -- nor the world's -- are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal.  We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran.  It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.  And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements -- these movements of hope and history -- they have us on their side.

Let me also say this:  The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone.  At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy.  I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation.  But I also know that sanctions without outreach -- condemnation without discussion -- can carry forward only a crippling status quo.  No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door. . . .

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights -- it must encompass economic security and opportunity.  For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive.  It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family.  The absence of hope can rot a society from within. . . .

  . . . [G]iven the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities -- their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion.  . . . We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden.  We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan.  These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded.  But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war.  For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint -- no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one's own faith.  Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it's incompatible with the very purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

. . . But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected.  We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place.  The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached -- their fundamental faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith -- if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace -- then we lose what's best about humanity.  We lose our sense of possibility.  We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future.  As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.  I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

Let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.  (Applause.)

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace.  Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on.  Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's dreams.

Let us live by their example.  We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice.  We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity.  Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.  We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
2:20 P.M. CET

Wow! There's still a lot left. 
He acknowledges the criticisms hurled at him when it was first announced that he had won, and he answers them. He also calls the country, and the world, to an increase in faith, respect, responsibility, and action, by evoking what we know as the Golden Rule. Definitely good words to live by. I tried to instill them in my children as they were growing up.
I posted a multi-cultural poster of the Golden Rule late last month. Click on the 'Golden Rule' to go see it.


painting of Emily Dickinson

My hair is bold like the chestnut burr; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass that the guest leaves.
Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights! Wild Nights!

Wild Nights! Wild Nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, --
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in Thee!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


What is the IndieBound Community?

The mission of the IndieBound Community is to help people across the United States share and find independently-owned businesses. By connecting indie-conscious people with local businesses, we're working to strengthen the health of Main Street ecosystems across the United States. Learn more about the community's philosophy here.

Why shop Indie?

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:
The Economy
  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community--where they belong.
The Environment
  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.
The Community
  • Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
  • Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.
Now is the time to stand up and join your fellow individuals in the IndieBound mission supporting local businesses and celebrating independents.

IndieBound supports Independent Business Alliances around the country. To find an alliance near you, visit AMIBA or BALLE.

Learn more about IndieBound.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

oH! nO! iT's A sTaMpEdE!

heard of plastic pink flamingos on lawn
Flamingos Have Arrived in Ashtabula
by Andrew Hudgins

Flamingos have arrived in Ashtabula.
Or one has. Bending to fetch the morning paper,
the mayor saw it standing on her lawn,
poised one-legged like a plastic bird
jabbed in the grass, and thinking it a joke,
she laughed. It lumbered, lurched into the air
and sailed across her back fence, rising pink
against the near-pink Ashtabula dawn.

Flamingos have arrived in Ashtabula,
blown here we think by a line of thunderstorms—
a scrap of pink confetti on the wind
except those storms were months ago. No zoo
reports a lost flamingo, and it doesn’t seem lost.
It circles the airport tower, lands on the courthouse,
and stalks a drainage ditch behind the mall,
where people linger with binoculars
to watch a flamingo feed in Ashtabula.

A local bar, once Dewey’s Hometown Lounge,
is now the Pink Flamingo—pink chairs, pink drinks.
Stuck in the ceiling, hundreds of plastic pink
flamingos hang over us upside down, observing,
while we sip pink gin and ponder the waitresses’
pink tee-shirts. From them even pinker pink
flamingos with sequin eyes return our gaze.
Flamingos have arrived in Ashtabula.

The tropical bodies resplendent against gray sky,
the languid beating of long wings—we see them
in our imagining and dreams, and now
in daylight we scan the sky, the bogs, the ditches
for a hint of pink or parrot-green, a red
that shimmers. Turquoise. Electric yellow eyes.
Or I do. I speak for no one but myself.
Flamingos have arrived in Ashtabula.

from Ecstatic in the Poison. Copyright © 2003 by Andrew Hudgins.

Monday, December 7, 2009


We can do it Rosie the riveter This image at right is the image we think of as 'Rosie the Riveter.'

But this Norman Rockwell painting below is the original Rosie, which was pulled because of a publisher's fear.

Original Rosie by Norman Rockwell, grimy, proud, strong, eating sandwich and holding riveter

Find out more about the story here. I had a much better link, but it seems to have disappeared.


For Strong Women
 - Marge Piercy

    A strong woman is a woman who is straining
    A strong woman is a woman standing
    on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
    while trying to sing "Boris Godunov."
    A strong woman is a woman at work
    cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
    and while she shovels, she talks about
    how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
    the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
    develops the stomach muscles, and
    she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
    A strong woman is a woman in whose head
    a voice is repeating, I told you so,
    ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
    ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
    why aren't you feminine, why aren't
    you soft, why aren't you quiet, why aren't you dead?
    A strong woman is a woman determined
    to do something others are determined
    not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
    of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
    a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
    to butt her way through a steel wall.
    Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
    to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.
    A strong woman is a woman bleeding
    inside. A strong woman is a woman making
    herself strong every morning while her teeth
    loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
    a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
    every battle a scar. A strong woman
    is a mass of scar tissue that aches
    when it rains and wounds that bleed
    when you bump them and memories that get up
    in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
    A strong woman is a woman who craves love
    like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
    A strong woman is a woman who loves
    strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
    terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
    in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
    she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
    suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
    enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
    What comforts her is others loving
    her equally for the strength and for the weakness
    from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
    Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
    Only water of connection remains,
    flowing through us. Strong is what we make
    each other. Until we are all strong together,
    a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Just Thought This Was Pretty

 (It expands to desktop size if you click on it.)

by U.A. Fanthorpe

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect.
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems   

Saturday, December 5, 2009


"One of the most famous stumbling blocks and hated part of math classes is that known as "story problems" [a.k.a word problems]. But that's where the real action is and should be better promoted and encouraged in math education.

"But one of my favorite parts of this literary side of math might be called "Poetry Math". Here the problem is presented in the form of a poem. Below are some of my personal favorites. I hope you enjoy solving them, or at least just reading them.

What's What?

 Take five times which plus half of what,
 And make the square of what you've got.
 Divide by one-and-thirty square,
 To get just four -- that's right, it's there.
 Now two more points I must impress:
 Both which and what are fractionless,
 And what less which is not a lot:
 Just two or three.  So now, what's what?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sixteen Years Ago Today we lost an unexpectedly eloquent voice in defense of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religious Thought, and the Right to Due Process . . .

FrAnK zApPa.

We could sure use his voice today, and more voices like his; intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate voices that give us pause and remind us that if we fail to protect the rights of those with whom we disagree, then we have no protection ourselves.

There are many more examples on YouTube.
Transcript of Statement Before the State Commerce Committee
Transcript of entire hearing

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religious Thought -
Amendment 1 - (Ratified 12/15/1791) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Right to Due Process -
Amendment 6 - (Ratified 12/15/1791) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. "

Frank Zappa was a walking, breathing contradiction, a Rhodes Scholar as well as an avaunt garde musician. And he drove "The Establishment" crazy. He and Ambrose Bierce would have been fast friends. In fact, they're probably together right now comparing notes and having the last laugh on all of us, more serious citizens of the world.

Bierce once called Politics, "A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage."  While Zappa thought of Politics as "the entertainment branch of industry." I have no doubt that American society today, gives these two inexhaustible fodder for friendly debate.