marching band music…sing loudly, don’t worry too much about lyrics

marching music please…. just try ignoring the band blaring out the Sousa beat, adoring crowds lining the streets… drummers drumming, flutes tweeting, symbols clashing… but I digress.       Back in the day I was a Girl Scout leader, and part of my duty as such was to lead the girls down the main street during the Memorial Day Parade (or other parade.)     In high heels no less….no, not stilettos…which were not worn by ordinary women for another thirty or forty years.

The Stars and Stripes Forever   must be sung very loudly… and if by chance ya don’t know the words (wink wink who does?)  just join the singers who use the alternate version….

“Be kind to your web footed friends,
for a duck may be somebody’s mother…”

John Philip Sousa – The Stars And Stripes Forever lyrics
Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
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Then there is the Battle Hymn of the Republic:     Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord… he has stampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored… deal with the bullets with his terrible swift sword…  the TRUTH goes marching on!!!  oops…

uh….  folks, I really am embarrassed that I don’t know all the words….when singing the Battle Hymn one is excused if they just mumble over the tricky lyrics.    always there is “boompa dee,” “dee dum,”

I’m not good with remembering lyrics…

Now I will never get that out of my head… “Be kind to your web-footed friends…”

not your granny’s Columbus Day…

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

This article is excellent on the subject of Christopher Columbus and the “discovery of America.” It is well worth the read, and deserves an A+ for research and attribution, factual information based partially on bona fide original sources including Columbus’s own writing.

Bartolomé de Las Casas,  Dominican Friar and later Bishop, is the author of The Destruction of the Indies, which details the systematic horror brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus.      De Las Casas is known as the Protector of the Indians, and was the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico in the early sixteenth century.

My interest in this topic is the subject of the unpublished doctoral dissertation, which I spent ten years writing.   Unfortunately I did not complete the final draft, so it was never published.   However, before I die I hope to publish at least some of my work on my blog, at least.

Caribbean geography lesson…

Every now and then I like to get out a map and reassure myself that when not knowing the location of Yemen, or Utah, or Antiqua (for example) all I have to do is look it up on a map. A paper map, preferably, but sometimes even an online map will do.

So I wanted to see if Puerto Rico was really far out in the middle of the ocean someplace, or, as I suspected…in the Caribbean. So I did a search “Puerto Rico” and Bing zeroed in on a nice map of the island, in great detail of cities and even roads and topographical details like mountains. Zooming out to get the big picture…including the Pacific Ocean and all of Russia…the exact location of Puerto Rico became instantly remembered.

Looking Southward, from Florida, the island is sort of beyond Cuba, north of Venezuela, and in a line with other islands and chains of islands in the Caribbean, forming a line of defense reinforced by territories possessed by friendly allies: the French, Dutch, and British. This was perfect—especially back in the days of the conquest by Spain of the New World.

Actually the United States was interested in keeping the Spanish at bay as much as possible, while maintaining a strategic position of buffering between the British (our best friends forever) and “other” European or South American nations from getting any ideas. Or Japan…or anyone else.

The last good-size war the U.S. had with Spain was the Spanish-American War, which effectively booted the Spanish out of the area and declared US hegemony in the close-in islands, including Puerto Rico. It is true that the U.S. had a good line of defense in the Caribbean, and although U.S.-Cuban relations suffered during the Cold War…to the point where until the Cubans would acquiesce in being beaten by the U.S. Embargo, which effectively put Cuba and the Castro Dictatorship in its place as an oppressed and bullied island which “refused to straighten out” and endured sixty years or so of hardship and political hassles because of it.

At the end of the Spanish-American War in 1899, part of the spoils agreed on by the two nations was the prize of Puerto Rico…ceded to the U.S. by Spain. One of the results was that the Spanish-speaking citizens were required to speak and use English-only.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, and thus Puerto Rican citizens are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to vote in U.S. elections…except for the office of President. They elect representatives to the U.S. Congress, who are on the same basis as reps and Senators from the 50 other states.

One difficult hang-over from the early 20th Century is THE JONES LAW, which forbids Puerto Rico to receive shipments of any materials or products from any sources except on officially sanctioned United States registered Ships. The result of this is that now that Hurricane Maria has devastated the Puerto Rican island, the Jones Law limits what foreign aid they can receive. The U.S. Congress has the power to rescind or modify the law…but has so far declined. It may be nteresting to note that the Jones Law has been suspended in other U.S. ports under emergencies created by Hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida, as well as other U.S. controlled islands in the Caribbean.

The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort has, as of this Wednesday morning, been sent to Puerto Rico. The reasons for the delay apparently have been worked out, especially the excuse of the ship being “too big to park in the harbor…” and the hospital ship will anchor off-shore and apparently transfer patients from the mainland of the island by helicopter.

https://www.bing.com/maps?&ty=18&q=Puerto%20Rico&vdpid=202&mb=19.029888040912922~-69.22080993652341~17.464867724672842~-64.03526306152341&ppois=18.2491397857666_-66.6280364990234_Puerto%20Rico_~&cp=18.2491397857666~-66.6280364990234&v=2&sV=1&style=r&trfc=&lvl=7

Sticks and Stones and “Dotards”

Re the sticks-and-stones contest, following the old adage that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”      Remember when some kid would spew off a string of bad words and mean but innocuous insults, and Mom or Grandma would sooth hurt feelings with the little rhyme…which in effect meant “if some kid hits you let me know, but if he calls you a bad name just laugh it off.”   Now like as not she might look around for someone to sue.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il  has resurrected a good old  English word to toss at Donald Trump in insult: “dotard,” an Old-English word from the 14th Century. This cool new word, according to the excited media,  spurred linguists and English teachers all over the world to research the word—dotard.

Not that the word “dotard” is especially archaic, not to disappoint media writers that want to insinuate that Kim Jong-Il may be more knowledgeable than Donald Trump.  Within arms reach I find a variety of dictionaries, including a nifty little volume called New Oxford Spelling Dictionary:  The Writers’ and Editors’ Guide to Spelling and Word Division.  Edited by Maurice Waite, published by Oxford University Press, 2014.*

There, right in alphabetical order between the words “dotage” and “dot-com” is— “dotard,”   pronounced to rhyme with soldered, watered.    The etymology is from the same as:  doting,  one-who-dotes…as in a doting-grandfather.

It was a fun image to imagine the North Korean leader poring over his archaic English dictionaries searching for insults.

  • The most recent Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004) also features the word “dotard” right in proper order.

 

 

Let’s not all jump to conclusions about Venezuela….wagging the dog

Desperate for red herrings and issues to change the subject of our president’s involvement with Russia, the pending sword swinging over the heads at the White House wielded by special investigators, and last but not least the raging chaos over racism and white supremacy—now the administration has raided the good old topic of raiding South America.

Venezuela has long been a target for United States attention…OIL…is the reason.  Human rights and that kind of stuff is always secondary.

The Venezuelan government has the support of Bolivia, Cuba, China and Russia, among others.       Colombia…no.    This is not an exhaustive list….

The main reason these countries do not want us down there snooping around (as if the CIA et al have been ignoring the southern hemisphere.

Here’s a couple of research points:

Organization of American States (OAS)
Council of the Americas
Summit of the Americas

It appears that the same old-same old — favorite whipping-boy is any country in Latin America— and Venezuela has been the target of our government for years through several administrations.    Trump didn’t invent the problem, but his administration obviously intends to make Venezuela  a very good target to get attention off of the Russians et al, and the pending explosion in our government.

Please don’t everybody jump on the bandwagon.   Misinformation is the bread-n-butter of foreign relations.

There will be floods of misinformation coming out of Venezuela!

 

 

 

 

 

Of Statues and Soldiers…

Why are angry mobs allowed to destroy Civil War statues?      If they have to be taken down, properly and carefully by local government authorities—why not store them temporarily at a museum or some other place appropriate.     Smashing them to rubble is foolish…no, let me say stupid…and knee-jerk reactions to political correctness.   Gratuitous pandering, perhaps.

Except for one thing—there seems to be NO thought or reasoning to these actions, only public showing-off.       This kind of destruction of public property is against the law, for one thing, and morally wrong for a few hot-heads to decide for entire communities that historic statues need to be not only removed…but demolished.

Most villages and towns have a statue of a civil war soldier in its town park, or round-about in the highway, or city hall.     The statue stands proudly with his rifle, standing vigil of pride and gratitude to the soldiers who died fighting for their side in the Civil War.     North of the Mason-Dixon Line, approximate borders between states (Ohio and Pennsylvania in the North, Kentucky and West Virginia, etc. in the South.

It boggles the mind thinking about the problems involved in removing Southern statues…and by extension perhaps Northern statues as well?   That action would likely cause great unrest, being that the Union troops were on the winning side, therefore perceived to be the “right” side.     The fact is that the Civil War, was fought over state’s rights to maintain slavery….simplified, but that’s how it was…hyperbole and “regional history” aside.

The Generals and other high-ranking bigshots are usually the ones mortalized in statues:  the southern generals Robert E. Lee,  Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson,  James Longstreet…etc., etc., etc.     But the rank-n-file soldiers were young volunteers, then draftees, pressed into service by their respective sides, especially in the latter years of the war.  They had    little choice, and high-minded rhetoric about noble causes and patriotic duty hardly affected the lowest level Johnny Reb…who went to war because he had to.

 

 

the crisis d’jour

As if it wasn’t near perfect…
now here’s just what was lacking—
a beautiful woman spy
(er…excuse me…lawyer)
of course she has official backing.

The question that begs
to be thoroughly scrutinized:
were these Yankees duped
by nefarious, erstwhile  spies…
or are they just stupid?

 

faux pas…no, just dry eye

Angela Merkel rolled her eyes!

Was it exasperation
or desperation
or simply condescension  ?

…or just a case of dry-eye?

Bright lights
and long days of hosting
the world’s most Very Important Persons?
Decorum held hostage to fragile egos…
hurt feelings and squabble-solving.
and running her country…and NATO?

(Some say she’s the Boss of the World)
“Well,” she says, with an eye-roll.  : “I hope not!
I already feel like one of the Queens
in Alice’s Land of Improbabilities.
Don’t bother me with trivialities.”

“I don’t care if they ran out of chicken …
just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I run the kitchen!
WHO didn’t have a place to sleep?   Too bad…
It’s not my fault there was no room at the inn.
No, Vlad, no one expects YOU to share.”

Time to declare in effect — Pre-School Rules:
No fighting, no biting…no running in the halls!
Make sure everybody gets a present,
and they all understand who is to win the games.
Give the Chancellor a break!

No wonder Angela Merkel rolled her eyes!

©Sometimes, 2017

New Leaf…stay tuned

OK.     Enough time has been wasted on the agonizing and agonistic misadventures of the United States Government (or lack thereof.)    I do hope to live long enough to ingrain some of the History of the World Under Trump into my DNA.   Right, I’m not even sure that is possible, about the DNA that is, but the truth is that until about twenty years ago I was not even aware of such a thing.       Science was never my bag,  although my interests and obsessions lie as much with clouds and rocks, bugs and sea creatures, as any one.

A basic interest in Geneology is in fact part of my basic make-up, due largely if not mainly to my Dad’s Mom, my Grandmother Lillian Turney Piper.    The font of knowledge or awareness of our family origins was argueably Lillian’s mother, Ann Avann Turney, of Tenterton, England.      OK, enough with the name-dropping.

We lived with the aforementioned forebears until I was three, so direct influence of Great Grandma Ann was by osmosis, so to speak.   She no doubt talked with me a lot about family affairs.  She also kept personal diaries after the age of about 80, when she was forced to curtail her former active social life and retreat to her home.   There she wrote her faithful diary entries…and discussed life and the world with visitors and family.    She read daily newspapers and other periodicals, and often wrote and received personal letters.

Visitors included members of social clubs, and church membership.   GG Ann was into all sorts of world activities, and wrote poetry.   Yes…a poet.   There was no WordPress then, of course, no computers or email.   The telephone was tied to the wall with a cord, and used only in turn with other people on the line (of course they listened in) so one just stated their business and got off the phone.    No texting…no cell phones.

GG Ann was keenly interested, and involved to whatever possible extent, in the WCTU: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union.   Their target—Alcohol.     I wish that here would follow exciting tales about women in long dresses and big fancy hats smashing bars and bottles with axes.   Or at least, rolling pins.     I have no details about GG Ann’s adventures with the WCTU, although there are extant examples of her original poetry and quotations clipped from newspapers.

To get back to my new pursuit…as I said earlier, my preoccupation with the United States government (or lack thereof,) only grows by the hour, and has no practical application to my personal blog.    My associates, followers, correspondents, critics…mostly are on the same political page wherever they are in our world.   Common sense and questionable judgement urges me to stay out of the comment sections of various venues, on the premise that everyone has an opinion and anything I say they will ignore, take offense, or call me names…which hurts my feelings.    Preaching to the choir has no direct result except winks and thumbs-ups…and arguing with the posters, trolls or not, is counterproductive and only makes me mad.

This morning a blogger pal reposted an article from a newspaper that mentions the Koch Brothers and hitherto emphasized family (group?) The Mercers.   I know who the Koch Brothers are…friends of Trump, I think…but the Mercers?   Hmmm, I have decided to find out who these people are, what they are up to, and—if they are related to ME.     GG Ann’s grandmother was a Mary Mercer… so that’s my new preoccupation.   (stay tuned)

 

 

Historiography at work

Historiography is the study of History.    It was one of my favorite mandatory seminars as a grad student at the University of Akron.

One of friends and cohorts here in Blog Land, raised a very interesting point in  a comment on how the Historians of 100 years from now would treat the scenario in rage now of the Great Republican Plan to Obliterate the Obama Presidency.    Obviously all of us reading this will have no interaction whatsoever in the future century.   Who knows how the History of our age will be preserved, or how it will be reported to future generations.    The History of the Present hasn’t happened yet.

The Trump-Obama factionalism is too multi-faceted to tackle here.   However, the question is a good one, and leads me to ponder the basic differences between Now and Then…meaning past and future coverage of historical events.     There can be two designations here: Paper and Digital.

The most glaring difference is that what was written, published, in real books is that they were permanent.   Not necessarily the absolute authoritative sources on a given subject, but through a sort of consensus of opinions and research, and yes credentials.   In order to reach a thesis statement for a given publication, the writer presented his or her own ideas….something new, an alternate position.   There are always at least two sides to any proposition.

Here is a proposal that when it comes to Digital History, that which is presented over the internet by countless diverse sources, the information comes across only as permanent as the print-out a student or proponent, or indeed, opposition commentator, understands—or prefers to present as Truth or Falsehood—to their respective readership at any given time.

Digital History is much easier to alter, re-write, or inadvertently  distort  because of its fluidity…never permanent, always subject to a myriad of changes.    We see reports on the internet news channels… a statement made by an anchor person on CNN or Fox, MSNBC, BBC…at a given hour—that never airs again.

No one in their right mind for long will be able to watch Cable News constantly to keep up absolutely on the stream of information.    Remember when the internet was actually referred to as the Information Highway?   That was back in the 1980s, when major newspapers made the change from individual typewriters to the chaotic stream of News-all-the-Time.   Up-to-date means “constantly changing,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

 

the dance of the miscreants, a fairy-tale?

… and all of the miscreants danced in a ring
singing and clapping and everything.

Chicken Little handed out cups with holes in the bottoms…
and urged everyone to please help themselves.

Uncle Paul smirked and grinned, and dreamed
when he slept, of clever tricks and double crosses.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, sent out engraved linen notes
that read: “Be here or else—but mind what you say.”

The Ice Queen giggled and tried to look cool,
as she whispered to the boss “you’re starting to melt.”

The King beamed and preened to adoring crowds
who cheered as he told them: “You all are invisible to me!”

The Witch of the Beltway cackled with glee:
“Listen to me!   What do I say?  What do I mean?”

…and the Tall Man looked down on everyone
until he tripped and came crashing down…

Topsy Turvey turned and spun… telling tales and amazing everyone.
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”

Mr. Dowdy Pudding frumped and preened,
beady eyes glistening with malice and mildew.

It’s all a cruel joke intended to wound—impossible tricks every day:
the Media chatters and makes up titillating tales.

The Wise Women lecture and try to make sense
while the Old White Men tell them “sit down and shut up.”

The Lawyers, in turn get their say…don’t let facts in the way!
Believe nothing you hear—nor even what you say!

…and all of the miscreants danced in a ring
singing and clapping and everything.

©Sometimes, 2017

 

let’s not over-react (yeah, right…)

Scary news out of Virginia.    Too bad the shooter is dead…why is this always the case?   These people who kill other people are always a mystery, and it would be interesting and helpful to be able to hear what they have to say.   Normally such comments are suppressed, except for a shouted out inanity in a courtroom, or incoherent suicide note.

My old Journalist Hat comes out of the closet when some of these events occur, and too often the questions that I would ask… if I were doing the asking…never get asked.       What would these shooters say?    One would think that a perpetrator of such a criminal act albeit stupid and cruel,  probably pointless, would have something to say.    Oh, right, it is more than likely that if left to speak without restrictions…or to explain their motivation or explanation.

What goes through one’s mind when actually taking a rifle and shooting into an area of innocent people?     Is it madness that drives the crime?   Are they making a statement?   Thinking that they are proving a point?     Attempting to set the stage for some kind of mad-crowd riot?   Calling for confiscation of guns that kill people—or emphasizing the “right to bear arms?”

Unfortunately it is unlikely that we will ever know the shooter’s rationale for what he did this morning.   What we will hear, is speculation, interpretation, opinionated points of view…over and over.   The original account of what happened will be related in sound-bites and rambled on and on in talk shows, CNN Commenters assisting the rhetoric by presenting assorted factions’ “talking points” for incessant rehashing.      Sadly—the whole incident is like a  made-for-TV political presentation—complete with Party Politics, and frought with grandstanding and posturing.

This can’t be allowed to warp into a distraction from the investigations unfolding in Washington now.     How could it be more obvious that the honest and honorable committee members must put the Russia investigation on the fast track NOW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Magazine revisited…the return of the spies and good old espionage tales

 

 

 

Image result for Spy vs Spy Cartoon Characters in public domain
Illustration is from a selection of Spy vs Spy images that are in the public domain.

 

Long ago and far away…in the scheme of my life…Mad Magazine was the favorite magazine for satire and farce, and making fun of the Cold War—which actually was not at all funny, and jokes about the Russians (called the Soviets then) were much in vogue.   The world being divided pretty much dominated by two camps: the United States and Russians.   Us and Them.   The rest of the world was either with us…or against us.

The Free World—in which the benevolence of the U.S. supervised and kindly contributed to the rest of the world.    Our motto: we will help you and give you goodies like weapons and allow a great measure of independence and sovereignty—as long as you do what we say.    That includes voting with the U.S. in world organizations, and supporting our extensive military bases in virtually every country in the world.      This has two major purposes: 1. holding strategic locations in the world from which the U.S. maintains control.   2. We will protect you from the enemy—which is namely: The Soviet Union.  The old USSR—behind the Iron Curtain.

And so the present situation unfolds…and the position of good old Uncle Sam deteriorates under this virtual siege by an unstable, unknowledgeable, poorly educated minority in the United States.

God knows where it will all end.