Monday, January 15, 2018

Holiday Playlist 4 MLK Day

Today is Mathematical and or Mystical   Martin Luther King Day at my blog.
I had always hoped that this land might become a safe & agreeable Asylum to the virtuous & persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong  -- George Washington, in a letter to Francis A. van der Camp 1788

I hope you haven't taken your Christmas decorations down yet.  Strings of colorful lights blinking cheerily through the gloom of a chilly night in mid-January--what's not to love?

Give your holiday celebrations  a fresh new twist by incorporating references to one of the Prince of Peace's most courageously nonviolent followers: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

If you hail from the CD generation, I hope you haven't put away your collection of holiday music either. Here is a playlist of some of my favorite Christmas music made by African Americans.

The Best of Volume 2 Motown Christmas The Christmas Collection
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"-  Jackson 5
                 (amusing banter between Michael and his incredulous older brothers)

"Twinkle Twinkle Little Me" - The Supremes 
(tender, with a sweet message:
"Christmas brought me where you are/And heaven gave me life/I'm that friendly little star/You wish upon each night")
"Purple Snowflakes" (Stereo Mix) - Marvin Gaye
(unique and haunting, in a minor key: "...pretty purple snowflakes/Here in our midst, we're surely blessed/Chestnuts roasting/Over the  heat, gee ain't life sweet?/Tempters toasting)
Christmas with the Stars 
"Ave Maria" - Aretha Franklin (wow!)
Mahalia Jackson Silent Night, Holy Night 
"Joy to the Woild"  (love the N'Awlins accent!)
"No Room at the Inn" (upbeat in a soulful kind of way)
A Very Special Christmas Live From Washington D.C
"Christmas in Hollis" - Run DMC
("I picket the wallet up then I took a pause/ Took out the license and it cold said 'Santa Claus'/ A million dollars in it, cold hundreds of g's/Enough to buy a boat and matching car with ease/But I'd never steal from Santa...")
"Give Me One Reason" - Tracy Chapman and Eric Clapton 
"Give me one reason to stay here/
And I'll turn right back around"
 Wonderfully ironic  choice for a Christmas album because
 Jesus : Heaven : Earth :: President Trump : Mar-A-Lago : Haiti
Do you know that some conservatives (not all) "have a problem with" making a holiday for MLK? I would remind those folks that there were some non-Caucasian veterans who had served bravely in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, but before the Civil Rights movement in which Dr. King was a leader, they were often hassled and prevented from voting when they showed up to vote. There's something not at all right about that, to treat veterans that way, wouldn't you agree?

I understand the concern other conservatives have about uncontrolled immigration. Sure, security and the realities of the national debt require limits to how many refugees and immigrants we take in (there are other ways to help those we can't, which I've described here.  To those of you, having an extreme view of these limitations, say "You have to go back" to anyone whose ancestors weren't from Europe, I would point out an excerpt from the correspondence of the United States' most famous founding father:

I had always hoped that this land might become a safe & agreeable Asylum to the virtuous & persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong  -- George Washington, in a letter to Francis Adrian van der Camp 1788

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Choose Something Like a Very Stable Star.

Today is Mystical Monday, on the cusp of Tuesday What's In the News Day at my blog.

So first, four quick political observations, and then, off on a tangent to four lines of Robert Frost's poem,
Choose Something Like a Star.
The President of the United States recently described himself as a Very Stable Genius.

The creator of the Dilbert cartoon (Scott Adams) claims the presidential tweets are, well...pure genius...and he even started a hashtag #POTUSVSG so others can cheer along.

On the other hand, many people don't see the president's tweetings in that light at all.  When they hear his words, they laugh at him, but some say that they actually ache.

Tens of millions of people are talking about those tweets.

**  ***   *****   *******   ***********  ************* *****************

Tens of millions of us gazing into the night-sky. We don't understand each other, but for a little while, and maybe for a little while after that, it doesn't matter.

...So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.


1. The whole poem (scroll down past the post-mortem) can be read here:

2.  Many thanks to an old friend from my school days for steering me toward that poem.

3.  Art Credit: The Adoration of the Magi, Albrecht Dürer

Friday, December 29, 2017

My son and I on same wavelength, sort of

Today is Family Secrets Friday at my blog.

My son read Coinky Dinks and Theme for the Day and remarked that we can recognize the hand of God not only when good things are happening to us, but also on the days when we encounter obstacles and pain.

The funny thing is, I had included a sentence to that effect at the end of the post, but  I deleted it before publishing, before he could've read it, because...

...many people are unable to receive that wisdom when they're going through a storm.  At times like those, a helping hand is the best sermon on God's providence.

I don't know what people who read this are going through. "Where's the hand that's helping me?" someone might be wondering. They are everywhere, asking that question, and also everywhere, waiting to be the answer.  Some things take time.

Monday, December 18, 2017

COINKY DINKS and the Theme for the Day

It is Mystical/Mathematical Monday at my blog.

First, the mystical. Or maybe it's not so mystical, maybe these are all just delightful coincidences that all happened today.

(1) Morning:  I picked up where I left off in the Audio Recording of Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. The bookmark was left in the "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir" chapter,
an account of a period of feminism when women turned away from the role of wife and mother where they'd be chained to a kitchen-stove ...only to become foodies who spent inordinate amounts of time preparing impossibly complex meals for themselves, alone in their apartments. HILARIOUS.

(2)Skipped lunch and dinner. There was no time to grab anything except a Snickers bar in between my daytime commitment and my evening commitment, which was tutoring English to refugees and immigrants at the library...BUT...FOOD SURPRISE is coming...

(3)...Early evening...when I got to the library, there were tables set up for a CHRISTMAS potluck! I thought the party was Wednesday, not tonight, and so I hadn't brought any food to the tutoring session. Another volunteer had also gotten mixed up about the date. So she and I walked across the street to Walmart to pick up some sliced apples and Marshmallow Fluff, and we get to talking about what she what she did for a living:  she's a food scientist in research and development at Big Potato Company. It's getting peculiar, isn't it????

(4)Mid evening. All sorts of exotic food at this Christmas party. Lady from Afghanistan brought something like funnel cakes, except they were brightly colored (saffron?) and stickier. Lady from Somalia brought a rice and meat dish. Both quite good. Lady from Mexico gave me a box of chocolates for a gift. I am always amazed at the generosity of these people, who aren't exactly rolling in money.

(5)Late evening. Husband asks, "Do you want to watch Frasier on Netflicks?" I didn't pick the episode, he did, and I hadn't told him about my day. He picked the episode in which Frasier (Kelsey Grammar) and Niles buy a four star restaurant and run it into the ground. Eels, cherries jubilee.  Also, very, very funny.

What does it mean? What does it ALL MEAN?????

What are the mathematical odds of all these food surprises happening on one day? Delightful food encounters, half of which involved no calories whatsoever?

Here's how I look at it. Today was a gift.  The whole day was like a party with a theme carried out through the music, the entertainment, and of course, the food. God is in the details.

As for the mathematical, I'm posting a cool link I just saw on Facebook: 17 Mathematical GIFS That are Deeply Soothing. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fake News, Fake Schmooz

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

During The Prohibition Era, in a US city -- take Boston, for example-- if a man were a gangster, then it was likely that coursing through his veins was the same blood-- hot and high in alcohol content-- that coursed through the veins of "the great Gaels of Ireland...the men that God made mad, for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad." (*1) 

Suppose that, as was their wont, a member of the Irish mob  had shot you or your friend or relative in the kneecap. If you described to me the degenerate doing the kneecapping  as "a dirty Irish mick," that wouldn't get my fightin' Irish up. I'd agree with you. Even as the daughter of an Irish woman who immigrated to the US and was naturalized during the 1960's, I would agree with you, I'd call that kneecapper a dirty Irish mick and worse.  I wouldn't call you a bigot. I'd try to do what I could as a peace emissary, from my tribe to yours, to help you heal.

If, on the other hand, you called William Butler Yeats a dirty Irish mick, that would be another story.  I might say something like, "Well, as the great Irish mick himself said, 'Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.' I'm not inclined to make rhetoric with you right now, but I've got a poem burning in the oven. Gotta run." And then I'd take my leave, without waiting for a reply.

So. What I'm wanting to make today is neither rhetoric nor poetry, but I am pointing you in a direction so that you might make rhetoric or poetry of your own. Ready?

What do these ideologically diverse websites or journalists have in common?    (paloeoliberal, socialist-leaning) ANTI CORPORATOCRACY
Unz Review  Contributors range from paleoliberal to Alt-Right. ANTI CORPORATOCRACY
Chris Hedges  Pulitzer Prize-winning, Presbyterian minister, Princeton professer picked a                           peck of pickled peppers ANTI CORPORATOCRACY

Besides being ANTI-CORPORATOCRACY, they've all been "unpersoned" by Google. Removed from the Google News Aggregate. Left to sing the Fake News Blues in Search Engine Optimization hell.

To put it in the words of the witty C. J. Hopkins (a liberal, but not a "headless chicken liberal"):
... if you're the type of soul who only believes what corporations tell you, and who automatically dismisses anything published by a Trotskyite website, here's one from last December in The Guardian, and an op-ed in The New York Times,  which at least report what Google, Twitter, and Facebook are up to. (*2)
Watch for yourself what happens when you ask Google "What is the Unz Review?" See the  very first item (as of 12/16/2017) that comes up. It's a defamation of a Jew by the Jewish Anti-Discussion Defamation League.

What we have here is a situation where Ron Unz, the honorable, humanitarian Jewish scholar who hosts the Unz Review, is being called the Jewish equivalent of a dirty Irish mick by the Jewish equivalent of dirty Irish micks. Kneecapping, kneeschkapping. If the Internet mob wants to cripple a guy, they put the word out on the street that although he doesn't appear to be an anti-Semite...

(*1) G.K. Chesterton. "The Ballad of the White Horse."
(*2) C.J. Hopkins. "Who's Afraid of Corporate COINTELPRO?" 
Retrieved 12/16/2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Innocence of Bygone Years

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

My husband turned to the Me-TV (Memory TV) channel tonight, and we watched an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show. It was lovely, the innocence (the twin beds), the atmosphere of love created by the wife (Mary Tyler Moore) the care she took in preparing meals and keeping house and looking after her husband and their little boy Richie. And getting made up and dressed to face the day, even if she wasn't going to be leaving home. And when she was ready for bed: kitten-heels on her house slippers. Loveliness and innocence: the Van Dyke Petrie home glowed with it.

What's making me saturnine is the contrast between the Dick Van Dyke Show idyll and  the sleazy vulgarity that we've all gotten used to, even on network TV. The rumors and accusations of sexual harassment and even sexual coercion are pulling the curtain back on the entertainment industry, and we see the behind-the-scenes filthiness that drove the visible scum on the screen. Somewhere along the way -- in the sixties maybe, with the "sexual revolution" -- the sacredness of the sexual union and the institution of marriage was trodden underfoot. The protective feeling men felt for women and their honor was replaced by a predatory  drive to score, with more and more of them, and at the same time, women came to view a life devoted to hearth and home as beneath them as well. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Srinivasa Ramanujan & Hammarskjöld & Atheists

Today is Mystical and/or Mathematical Monday at my blog.

Mystical: In the foreword to Markings, excerpts of diary entries compiled for the public by
Dag Hammarskjöld shortly before his untimely death, one learns that there are absolutely no references to public life. Good: I didn't pick the book up so I could read about Socialism. I wanted to know how he handled the pressure. He was, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, as close as a mere mortal has become-- in terms of burdensome responsibility-- to "King of the World."  A quote:

"How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him."

Mathematical: Ramanujan discovered this  infinite series for pi. (*1) You needn't know much about mathematics to be able to appreciate the poetry of this formula. God wrote and sang the song, but Ramanujan was able to hear it and translate it into mathematical symbols so the rest of us could hear it, too.

                                \frac{1}{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum^\infty_{k=0} \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}.

Mathematical and Mystical: Why bring God into mathematics? We will ask Svrinisana Ramanujan, himself, a Hindu who claimed many of his mathematical insights were given to him by his family's goddess who appeared to him in dreams. His answer:

"Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of GOD."(*2)

Mystical: One wintry night some years ago,  I was turning into the parking lot of an Evangelical Christian church, late for the pot-luck dinner for which I'd in-advisedly committed to bringing a covered dish. Said dish, sliding malodorously and perilously close to the edge of the  passenger seat, hadn't exactly turned out as planned. I was alone.(*3)

"Oh forget it! I'm too ashamed to be associated with this swill, and my name's on the pan, and I really don't feel like hanging out with these people anyway. I'm going home." To be honest with you, I'd been feeling fed up with life in general for a while.

As I headed home, I flipped on the radio. Christian radio. Dang!!! And what's the first thing I heard?

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is [WE'RE TALKIN' TO YOU IRENEATHENA]; but exhorting one another..." Heb. 10:24-25 KJV.

Dangity-dang-dee-Dang-it! I did a u-ey, parked, slunk into the church with my pitiful hot-dish...and left a few hours later, feeling restored and happy, the way human beings were designed (and/or evolved) to feel after they've spent time hanging out with members of their own species.

Trust me (*4) on these 3 things, A, B, and C, that I know for sure.

(A) Everyone should spend part of every day with the mouth shut, listening, just in case God happens to be singing in the vicinity: Even --or perhaps, especially-- if you don't believe in God.

(B) If you're a follower of Jesus, you have to find flesh-and-bones Christians, not disembodied internet entities, to hang out with. 

(C) If you can't find a bunch of Christians who make you feel energized rather than drained, better you should hang out with a few atheists (as long as they're life-affirming atheists) than sit at home and brood. Or life-affirming Anything-at-All-ists.

If you've found a group of people you can be yourself with, then you're home.

(*1) "Srinivasa Ramamujan", article retrieved from on 11/07/2017

(*2) Quoted in Ramanujan, the Man and the Mathematician (1967) by Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, p. 88

(*3) My husband was at a gig, or a rehearsal, or a lesson.

(*4) as someone who gets messages from God, THROUGH THE RADIO!

Safe Place to Land: Hallway to Out-Of-State Child's Room - IreneAthena