Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Joy of Sports/More of Maria's Paintings/Guns & Common Sense/How to Treat Refugees/Ed On TV/

(P1) Philosophical
  
Roger Angell Helps Me Validate My Passion For Watching Sports

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

Roger Angell 1975


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(P2) Paintastical

More Paintings By Maria









Maria De Los Angeles emigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1999. She currently resides in New Haven Connecticut and attends MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Yale University. In 2013 received a BFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. Maria works in a variety of media including oil,acrylic painting, etching, woodcut, drawing and sculpture. Current works reflect her interest in  narratives both Allegorical and time base with the symbolic use of color, form and objects.

Maria's paintings are for sale  MdLAfineart@gmail.com


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(P2) Political



Our Blind Spot About Guns
Nicholas Kristof (New York Times)
JULY 30, 2014

If we had the same auto fatality rate today that we had in 1921, by my calculations we would have 715,000 Americans dying annually in vehicle accidents.

Instead, we’ve reduced the fatality rate by more than 95 percent — not by confiscating cars, but by regulating them and their drivers sensibly. 

We could have said, “Cars don’t kill people. People kill people,” and there would have been an element of truth to that. Many accidents are a result of alcohol consumption, speeding, road rage or driver distraction. Or we could have said, “It’s pointless because even if you regulate cars, then people will just run each other down with bicycles,” and that, too, would have been partly true.

Yet, instead, we built a system that protects us from ourselves. This saves hundreds of thousands of lives a year and is a model of what we should do with guns in America.

Whenever I write about the need for sensible regulation of guns, some readers jeer: Cars kill people, too, so why not ban cars? Why are you so hypocritical as to try to take away guns from law-abiding people when you don’t seize cars?

That question is a reflection of our national blind spot about guns. The truth is that we regulate cars quite intelligently, instituting evidence-based measures to reduce fatalities. Yet the gun lobby is too strong, or our politicians too craven, to do the same for guns. So guns and cars now each kill more than 30,000 in America every year.

One constraint, the argument goes, is the Second Amendment. Yet the paradox is that a bit more than a century ago, there was no universally recognized individual right to bear arms in the United States, but there was widely believed to be a “right to travel” that allowed people to drive cars without regulation.

A court struck down an early attempt to require driver’s licenses, and initial attempts to set speed limits or register vehicles were met with resistance and ridicule. When authorities in New York City sought in 1899 to ban horseless carriages in the parks, the idea was lambasted in The New York Times as “devoid of merit” and “impossible to maintain.

Yet, over time, it became increasingly obvious that cars were killing and maiming people, as well as scaring horses and causing accidents. As a distinguished former congressman, Robert Cousins, put it in 1910: “Pedestrians are menaced every minute of the days and nights by a wanton recklessness of speed, crippling and killing people at a rate that is appalling.”

Courts and editorial writers alike saw the carnage and agreed that something must be done. By the 1920s, courts routinely accepted driver’s license requirements, car registration and other safety measures.

That continued in recent decades with requirements of seatbelts and air bags, padded dashboards and better bumpers. We cracked down on drunken drivers and instituted graduated licensing for young people, while also improving road engineering to reduce accidents. The upshot is that there is now just over 1 car fatality per 100 million miles driven.

Yet as we’ve learned to treat cars intelligently, we’ve gone in the opposite direction with guns. In his terrific new book, “The Second Amendment: A Biography,” Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, notes that “gun control laws were ubiquitous” in the 19th century. Visitors to Wichita, Kan., for example, were required to check their revolvers at police headquarters.

And Dodge City, symbol of the Wild West? A photo shows a sign on the main street in 1879 warning: “The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited.”

The National Rifle Association supported reasonable gun control for most of its history and didn’t even oppose the landmark Gun Control Act of 1968. But, since then, most attempts at safety regulation have stalled or gone backward, and that makes the example of cars instructive.

“We didn’t ban cars, or send black helicopters to confiscate them,” notes Waldman. “We made cars safer: air bags, seatbelts, increasing the drinking age, lowering the speed limit. There are similar technological and behavioral fixes that can ease the toll of gun violence, from expanded background checks to trigger locks to smart guns that recognize a thumbprint, just like my iPhone does.”

Some of these should be doable. A Quinnipiac poll this month found 92 percent support for background checks for all gun buyers.

These steps won’t eliminate gun deaths any more than seatbelts eliminate auto deaths. But if a combination of measures could reduce the toll by one-third, that would be 10,000 lives saved every year. 

A century ago, we reacted to deaths and injuries from unregulated vehicles by imposing sensible safety measures that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives a year. Why can’t we ask politicians to be just as rational about guns? 
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 (P2a) Political/Philosophical

 I could not have been more moved by an op-ed piece than I was by this one from Washington's former long-term Governor and U. S. Senator Daniel J. Evans who, in the Seattle Times, contrasts his exceptionally successful program of inviting Vietnamese refugees to his state versus current immigration policies pertaining to Central American child-refugees.  I encourage you to read this in its entirety.  Here are several paragraphs and a link to get you going.



On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell and the long war in Vietnam finally ended. Vivid television news clips showed throngs of Vietnamese attempting to catch the last helicopter lifting off the American Embassy in Saigon.

Soon a wave of Vietnam refugees arrived in the United States and were housed temporarily at Camp Pendleton, Calif. As Washington governor, one morning I heard a radio report that Gov. Jerry Brown of California wanted no Vietnamese refugees to settle in California. One of his senior staff even attempted to prevent airplanes loaded with refugees from landing at Travis Air Force Base.
I was appalled and furious, and stormed to my office determined to take action. When I arrived, I found that my staff had already heard the news and were just as offended.

We then found sponsoring families to aid refugees during their early stages of resettlement. Hundreds of Washington state residents responded. Many churches and community organizations offered to assist.

President Ford asked me to serve on a presidential advisory committee on Vietnamese refugees. At the opening meeting he eloquently stated, “Most, if not all, of us are the beneficiaries of the opportunities that come from a country that has an open door. In one way or another, all of us are immigrants. And the strength of America over the years has been our diversity ...
“The people that we are welcoming today ... are individuals who can contribute significantly to our society in the future. They are people of talent, they are industrious, they are individuals who want freedom, and I believe they will make a contribution now and in the future to a better America.”
In September, my assistant Esther Seering told me that a baby was born into one of the Vietnamese families I greeted at Camp Murray. In honor of their new beginning in Washington, the parents named their new son Evans Nguyen. I was astonished, honored and curious to meet my new namesake.

READ THE ENTIRE EVANS OP-ED PIECE HERE

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(P3) Poetical

Here I am on Television in San Francisco.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Student Loans/Jonah Raskin Poem/Ray Swaney and Ed Coletti Art/Religious Makeup of the Supreme Court/


(P1) Political






















(P2) Poetical


Happy to Husband You


If you would only exhaust me
I would be happy to husband you,
wife me, child us, go back down to
where we both belong: the adult crib,
without the adult carnage.
Windows crying, stars barking,
beyond the bicycle of brute serenity,
dogs all around us, monkeys
feasting in olive trees,
your milk, my milky semen,
our sticky thighs,
your shopping lists, my tools,
our broken down TV,
the unlocked doors, the crickets
waiting for us to finally retire
for the night,
close our eyes, forget the laundry,
sink into snow drifts melting furiously,
all around the rounded hills.

 - Jonah Raskin, May 2014

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(P3) Paintastical

From friend Ray Swaney who used to do my Poetry Azul and SoCoCo posters.  Ray now lives in Michigan and can be reached here


















...and one by Ed Coletti

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(P4) Philosophical (Okay, also a bit "Political")


Religions of Supreme Court Justices

The following letter appeared in the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat during the first week of July 2014 under the title "Just Wondering"

  "Editor: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, in another 5-4 ruling, exempted certain non-publicly traded corporations from having to provide birth control coverage for their employees as specified in the Affordable Care Act, given the corporation's religious beliefs.
  "The five justices in the majority ruling were all male.  The three women justices were all among the four justices in the minority.  Further, all five of the majority justices are Catholic, as is one of the female minority justices.  The other three minority justices are Jewish.
  "Surprisingly, not a single member of the Supreme Court is a Protestant.  What do you think?  Might the sex and the religious preference of a Supreme Court justice have some influence on the way he or she may rule?"

Gordon Jackson
Petaluma, CA


And here are a few things  from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:


We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.  You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.

Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words.

The truth is that the whole system of beliefs which comes in with the story of the fall of man...is gently falling out of enlightened human intelligence.   (Ed:  I would note that Holmes had not the displeasure of knowing our current court majority.)


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vote!!/Sunset's Implications/Bauman & Coletti Paintings/Bobby Byrd and Amy Trussell Poems/


(P1) Political


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(P2) Painting
2 Watercolor Paintings by Martin Bauman

("Untitled" and "Girl With Roses")











  Bizarro Comic 3-6-14

Sunset Bodega Bay
Ed Coletti (Acrylic March 2014)
 




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(P3) Poetical

Check out this wise and witty poem by El Paso poet 

Bobby Byrd in his recently released book  

Otherwise, My Life Is Ordinary

 

In Memory of the Famous Poet, 2010
“Being a famous poet
Is not like being famous.”
—John Ashbery

If I moved three miles south into Mexico
(I live in El Paso)
I could be shot for being a poet.
In fact, I could be shot for being alive.
Dead, I would be innocent.
That’s what Amado Carrillo Fuentes said.
“Only the dead are innocent.”
He died on an operating table trying to get a new face.
He no longer wanted to be himself.
But Amado was not a poet.
He was a narco-traficante and a murderer.
A vicious and evil man.
Although now he is innocent according to his own definition.
Me, I could be dead for the sin of being a poet.
For the sin of being alive.
Guilty, as charged.
Maybe I would also be famous then.
At least for a couple of days.
My wife would be weeping on CNN.
She’d sell a few of my poetry books.

--
Cinco Puntos Press is crowd-funding 
Here's a poem celebrating a pot of good beans. 

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The Soul Is An Albino Alligator 



Full -length mirrors doubling and tripling

won’t hold back the search

into the torqued spirit,

intriguing and silent,

or burning like an overturned car.

You yearn for nothing except

for a more satisfying yearning,

high octane, that could fuel a souped-up skylark,

not a low-grade tawdry trip through the

house of mirrors, mantled and dis-

mantled by the carny types

that mother always warned about.

One sits on a chair in the dirt

with a hand-held mirror putting on her face

wearing bloomers and a bustier

while her fake city of coaster scaffolding

and hung kewpie dolls rises around her,

the carny brothers

dangling cigarettes out their mouths over

dry grass and generators.

She builds make-believe walls around her

from thin air, acting like we don’t see her

make herself up.

The air darkens and the search-

lights go up, caressing the clouds,

suggesting that this is it,

this is what you’ve been meaning to come to. 

A lit wheel suspended in air for a moment

allowing time for that kiss you’ve been dying for.

Some snacks that could kill

your appetite until the next day, at least.

Those lotus-cut onion blooms

swimming in a vat of bubbling oil.

But your yearning is loftier than all that.

Inspiration: to hear Brigitte Bardot and her sidekick

sing “Bonnie and Clyde,” making murder

and mayhem sound elegant if not sexy.

To ride down the Florida Keys in a side-

car with some hellion at the driving wheel

searching for albino alligators

along sand blown train tracks

while shooting from the hip

for a soul retrieval half real.

- Amy Trussell 

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