Republican blasts own party for making LGBTQ+ folks second class citizens

Brad Reed of RawStory posted the following article that is quite telling called “Republican blasts his own party for push to turn some Kentuckians into ‘second-class citizens.'” In short, he is calling out his own party for treating people with lesser standing because of gender status or who they love.

Here are a few paragraphs with the link to the article below:

“Bob Heleringer, a former Republican state representative from Kentucky, is calling out members of his own party for their new legislation targeting the LBGTQ community.

In an editorial published by the Courier Journal, Heleringer ripped Kentucky Republicans for new legislation that restricts drag shows and gender-affirming care for transgender minors, which he said amounted to making LGBTQ Kentuckians ‘second-class citizens.’

‘I wish I could blame both political parties for this cataclysm but I cannot,’ he charged. ‘Every anti-gay/trans bill this session was introduced by a Republican.’

In my simple view, it is bad enough to let maltreatment of others’ rights go unchecked. Yet, when a group tries to introduce legislation or systematized maltreatment, that is a bridge too far. I fully support and respect the courage of Mr. Heleringer for speaking out against the poor decision making in his own party. Regardless of party affiliation, we need more legislators to speak out when they see wrong doing.

I recognize fully the instigation for these laws spawns out of an evangelical base of voters. As a Christian, not treating others like you want to be treated poorly answers that bracelet or bumper sticker question of WWJD? Yet, in our country, our forefathers were big on the separation of church and state, so everyone’s rights are just as important as everyone else’s, no less and no more.


Hidden Figures – a reprise of a story about heroes who overcame

With February being Black History Month and March being Women’s History Month, there are few better stories than one that honors both as noted below. Here is a reprise of a post I wrote six years ago.

My family had the opportunity to see the movie “Hidden Figures” recently. It may be one of the finest movies I have seen in the past few years. From the online movie summary, it is about the “incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit….The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.”

The movie stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, with a key role for Kevin Costner. These three mathematicians helped plot a course into space, so that our astronauts could return safely. And, when computers were destined to replace them, one taught other African-American women in the computing department how to program in Fortran to save their jobs and supply capable talent to the NASA space effort, since so few folks knew Fortran.

We must value diversity for its own sake, but also from economic and development standpoints. If we limit where ideas can come from, we limit ideas. It gets no simpler than that math equation. As Johnson notes, math does not care what color you are. The other key point is the math to launch, orbit and return safely was breaking new ground, so innovative thinking was key. Johnson offered that kind of innovation, which married some old school math to solve the new problems.

Throughout history, ideas have come from those who understand and are in proximity to the problem. A gay man named Alan Turing saved over a million lives in World War II and shortened the war by two years per General Dwight Eisenhower by solving the Nazi Enigma communication code. Yet, he had to hide his homosexuality and was later imprisoned for it when discovered. This WWII hero died in jail. The 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” is about Turing’s efforts.

A black man named Vivien Thomas helped solve the Blue Baby death problem by restoring the full flow of blood from the heart through groundbreaking open heart surgery on a baby. Yet, like the NASA mathematicians, he had to battle racism which would not allow him in the operating room, at first. His story is told in the 2004 movie, “Something the Lord Made.”

Jesus said we should treat each other like we want to be treated. It is the right thing to do, but it is also the wise thing to do. Please remember this quote from an economist who advised Presidents Reagan and Clinton, “Innovation is portable.” And, where it occurs is where the jobs start. So, we need to let innovative ideas flourish regardless of their source.

Instant Karma – John Lennon speaking out in song

While still with The Beatles, John Lennon wrote and recorded the song “Instant Karma! (We will all shine on)” and released it under the name John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. The song is truly a breakout song as one of the many Lennon’s anthem like songs. To me, it shows where Lennon was headed – he would write other anthem songs like “All you need is love” and “Give peace a chance” as well as what I think is one of the most elegant songs ever written designed to make us think, “Imagine.”

The lessons are peppered throughout the song, even though the chorus is repeated as a mantra. In short, Lennon is saying it up to us, act before you are dead, get yourself together and treat your brother well.

“Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead

What in the world you thinking of?
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do?
It’s up to you, yeah you

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race

How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me?
Who in the hell’d you think you are?
A superstar?
Well, right you are

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on
Everyone come on

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Everyone you meet

Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there?
When you’re everywhere
Come and get your share

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
Come on and on and on, on, on
Yeah, yeah, alright, uh huh, ah

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
On and on and on, on and on

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.”

John Lennon was an imperfect person. Like all of us, he had an ego and sometimes he would say things for shock effect, often unintended. This would get him in trouble from time to time. When the great song writer Carole King met Lennon for a second time, she commented how rude he was to her the first time. Lennon said in response, I was intimidated by you which is why I probably was less than kind. Here is one fantastic song writer being intimidated by another fantastic songwriter.

Yet, Lennon would go on to say things we often needed to hear. He also knew how to keep the messages brief so that they would be remembered. “Instant Karma” is a good example, as the chorus of “we all shine on” is what people will remember, just as in “all you need is love,” “give peace a chance” or “imagine there is no heaven.”

Lennon was a fascinating interview. If you get a chance, check these songs out, and look for interviews with Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas. You may not have heard of the latter, but Douglas had a TV talk show where he invited a guest host on for a week and spoke to the co-host’s guests. The week Lennon and Yoko Ono co-hosted is very informative and confirmed Lennon’s place on the paranoid President Richard Nixon’s enemies list.

We all shine on. Just act before you are dead and join the human race. Don’t worry about folks like Nixon.

Poor man’s sandwich

With my wife’s permission to tell on her, I caught her eating what she calls a “poor man’s sandwich” yesterday. Are you ready for this? White bread, surrounding layers of ketchup and mayonnaise. I will let that sink in. If she threw in pickle relish, she would have a Thousand Island sandwich.

You see my wife grew up in houseful of eight, counting her Aunt Mary. They got by on my father-in-law’s modest salary as a service representative and a large garden. So, food budgets were made to last. For example, my wife and her little brother got the drumsticks off the chicken and only one piece of meat at meals. So, she got by on things like the poor man’s sandwich.

She was also known to eat mayonnaise sandwiches. Maybe that is why she grew up so thin. Her two older brothers and sister got more of the food than the youngest two. It should be noted her aunt lived to be age 99 eating mostly a diet of biscuits as her main entree. So, homemade biscuits are truly manna from heaven and do not cost too much. And, after her teeth burned up in a fire, she would gum those biscuits to submission.

Now that my wife and I are empty nesters again, we don’t have as large a food budget or appetites. We split entrees from restaurants, we will eat a baked sweet potato or Idaho potato for dinner, we will eat lots of salads and leftovers and eat brinner (breakfast for dinner). Last night, we had quiche as we had too many eggs remaining in the refrigerator. And, since we watch our carbs, one of our favorite sandwiches does not include bread – take a knife, a jar of peanut butter and a banana and you are all set.

What are some of your poor man’s food choices from your past or today? How do you spread that food budget?

Atlanta Pop Festival – a 1970 flashback

My wife and I watched a tribute on PBS to Jimi Hendrix which was subtitled “The Electric Church.” Hendrix was the headliner at the second Atlanta Pop Festival in a small rural town south of Atlanta called Byron (population about 5,000). He played in front of an estimated 400,000 people over the 4th of July weekend in 1970. He would be dead in two months, so this was his last big fanfare.

The documentary type show interviewed people who helped pull this concert together. It was after Woodstock, the tragic event at Altamont and the first Atlanta event which barely broke even. Outside of seeing Hendrix perform which is always amazing, the behind the scene stories made the documentary. Plus, it is the first lengthy footage I have ever seen of Hendrix being interviewed, as he was reticent to do interviews.

Here are a few interesting take aways:

-Hendrix’s voice on civil rights was heeded because he made it less political and more about moving forward. He equated his innovative music with our need to innovate a better world.

-Byron was very unprepared to host the event, which was held at a speedway. For example, there was so much traffic, people parked on the shoulders of I-75 and walked to Byron to make the concert.

-Well-known Georgia governor Lester Maddox, who did not back away from his bigoted actions and rants, declared the event a disaster area. That only led to more people coming to see what it was all about.

-The event included the Allman Brothers, who are from nearby Macon, Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Procol Harem, Rare Earth, B.B. King, John Sebastian, among many others.

-Byron was powered by a rural co-op, so there was insufficient electricity to power the concert at all times. So, at night, only the performers on stage were lit up and poorly so at that. The roadies had to set-up the instruments and amps in the dark with flash-lights as the power was shut off until the act came on. And, the audience was in the dark, with a sea of lighters lighting the way.

-People from Byron who did not want the event, still came to see what was going on. Think Woodstock with all manner of clothing and not-so-much clothing. It was a must see even for the nay-sayers.

-Hendrix played at 12:30 am on the night/ early morning of the 3rd and 4th. He noted he could not see the crowd very well. What is interesting is when he played Woodstock, they were so far behind on scheduling, Hendrix only played to 40,000 people on Monday morning not the hundreds of thousands there over the weekend.

-Not unlike the event film only recently discovered and released about a Harlem music festival around the same time, the footage of the Atlanta Pop Festival was kept in a barn for thirty years. Note, I was unaware of this festival until the documentary.

Byron has a personal meaning to me as I went to university in Atlanta and would drive home down I-75. Byron is a speed trap and I found out the hard way back in the late 1970s. They wanted payment of the ticket then, but I did not have enough money and they would not take credit cards or checks. So, I left my watch as collateral and said I would be coming back through in two days and pay the ticket, which I did.

So, my event at the end of the decade was less unusual than Hendrix’s at the beginning.

Thursday theatrics

Here are just a bit of theatrics on this fine Thursday. The following summary and $2.25 will get you a cup of coffee. So, use them for a laugh rather than set policy.

Vladimir Putin is beating on his chest about creating a bigger war with nuclear weapons when he has trouble fighting successfully the one he is in. Further, his budget cannot afford much more fighting. How do we react to such chest beating? Do we laugh or worry? Probably a little bit of both.

Just to make sure we are paying attention, Kim Jung Un in North Korea is rattling his saber again with his nuclear weapons. Like with Putin, do we laugh or worry? In this case we should worry as it is akin to the old caution of beware of a monkey with a hand grenade. It is a monkey, but it is a hand grenade.

Here we have a former president who wants to be president again who is on record as saying what good are nuclear weapons if you don’t use them? Given that Donald Trump is about to be charged with election tampering, seditious actions, retaining classified documents and other possible crimes after his company was fined for tax fraud, we should have some concerns

We have bigger problems in the world that we need to deal with. The people in these three countries have bigger problems than assuaging the egos of these individuals. Yet, it is sad that each of these people use the word nuclear weapon as if it is a toy. I think that says a lot about their nature.

Tuesday troubles

I read where Turkey has experienced another earthquake on top of the tragic one several days ago. It shows how fragile life is and how the planet is indiscriminate on who is impacted by its rumblings.

With such tragedy, it makes me more perturbed by weak-minded tyrants and elected officials who feel the need to invade other countries. Putin has shown how fragile his ego is by not realizing he has harmed his own country by trying to take over land from another.

But, before the US gets too high and mighty, we should not forget we invaded Iraq under false pretenses. This was determined to be the case by a British commission that found British PM Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush at fault for deceiving the British people about invading Iraq.

To be frank, we are focusing on the wrong things. The two most significant long term concerns by the members of the World Economic Forum are the global water crisis and impact of climate change. The latter makes the former independent concern even more troubling hastening evaporation and threatening fresh water aquifers with rising sea levels. But, climate change also is cooking the chemicals left in the earth like a crockpot making them worse per ecologist and biologist Sandra Steingraber.

So, we need to tell so-called leaders to stand down and quit being so narrow-minded with their war games. Always remember the line from the movie “Troy.” “War is old men talking and young men dying.” That sums it up nicely. We have more important things to deal with.

Two movies about real heroes

Two historical movies caught our attention this past weekend about two different kinds of heroes. Or maybe I should say heroines, as both are women. The first is called “The Spy” and it is a recent movie about a Swedish and Norwegian film star named Sonja Wigert back in the 1930s who turned out to be a double agent working for the Swedes in World War II.

The second movie is called “Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story” which is about a human rights activist of that name who helped the impoverished throughout most of her life. The unusual title comes from a comment made by her sister-in-law who said her mother told her to be aware that you never know when you are entertaining an angel.

“The Spy” is in subtitles and stars Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. Wigert’s career was effectively ruined as she was seen as betraying her country’s needs in working with the Nazis, as she spoke German, Norwegian and English. Decades later, it was discovered that she was actually a spy working for her country and the allied effort, a fact she could not tell anyone, even after the war. Her efforts led to the capture of two Swedish nationals actually working on behalf of the Nazis and saving the life of a boyfriend who turned out to be a spy as well for an allied cause. In so doing, her boyfriend thought she was a Nazi spy, so he would not speak with her after that.

“The Dorothy Day Story” stars Moira Kelly with an added performance by Martin Sheen as a mentor. Day started out as a suffragette, but later evolved into helping the poor after seeing their plight through the eyes of nun played by Melinda Dillon (from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) and Sheen who played a street preacher. The movie starts and finishes with her consoling an inmate where she is serving a few days for being arrested for protesting, which happened often. But, her main cause was taken care of people giving them food, shelter and restoring their dignity. Her actions shamed the New York diocese of the Catholic Church into being better advocates, as she was often portrayed as too progressive for their purpose.

These movies are worth watching. Both women sacrificed a great deal for their causes, but took away the satisfaction of serving a greater good. If you cannot watch them, take a quick look at their Wikipedia profiles.

I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then – an encore post

I have always been a big fan of interesting song lyrics. The coining of a phrase that says more than the few words used in the song make it memorable.The above title comes from a Bob Seger song “Against the Wind” as he laments it was more exciting not knowing some things when you were younger about love and life. The following sample lyrics are not necessarily my favorites, but they are a few that represent my fascination with good wordsmithing.

“See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded,” is a line from Jim Croce’s song “Operator.” He is struggling to find the number of an old girlfriend who ran off with his “best old ex-friend Ray.” Since it was written on a matchbook, it means it was probably written down in a bar, maybe when  she let him know she was leaving.

“Just like a paperback novel, the kind the drugstore sells,” comes from Gordon Lightfoot’s “If you could read my mind.” He has several like this in the song, but to me he describes the cheesy romance novels you can buy in a drugstore where the hero saves the day. This is a melancholy song about people who can’t reclaim the love they once had, so the hero references are fantasy and not reality.

“Clowns to the left of me, joker’s to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you,” is a Stealers Wheel song whose title is the last phrase of the song lyric. The song can mean so many things, but it shows that we are in this together and we need to ignore the fools on either side telling us what to do. It is also a good metaphor for our political stalemate.

Bob Dylan wrote and sang “How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry.” The song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary’s rendition sung on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial beside Martin Luther King is called “Blowing in the Wind.”  There are great references throughout this song, but I like this one the most as African-Americans have been maltreated for so long and it seemed to resonate more.

When people think of Rush, they do not first think of lyrics, but their many songs are replete with excellent wordsmithing. In the song “Free will” the words that resonate with me are “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” I found this very poignant as many do not realize that by not doing something, they are making a choice. A good example is choosing not to vote believing it makes no difference. Yet, by not voting, the lesser of two candidates can be elected making a problem worse.

Of course, no list would be complete without some reference to a Beatles song. In “Lady Madonna,” Paul McCartney sings “Lady Madonna, children at your breast, it’s a wonder how you manage to feed the rest.”  This line speaks volumes of the difficulties in raising children, but especially in poverty or near poverty when you are a single parent.

Let me close with romantic song from David Gates of “Bread.” The lyric goes “When my love for life has all run dry, you’ll come and pour yourself on me.”  This lyric from the song “If” resonates with me as we pick each other up. He has done all he can and needs help, so his lover comes and pour herself on him to bring his spirits back to life.

I would love to hear your reaction to these and for you to share some of your favorites. These were top of mind, so I have overlooked many great lyrics.

A surprise guest

My wife and I like to watch a show called “The Masked Singer,” where various actors, singers, comedians, news presenters or athletes dress up in elaborate costumes and sing their hearts out. It is a fun show as we try to guess the identities of the performers before they are unmasked when they are knocked off. It started its ninth season last night and its first reveal stunned everyone.

The gnome character was the first reveal and after guesses of Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and one other, to everyone’s surprise a 97 year old Dick Van Dyke emerged. The judges were all stunned and some were in tears. He did an admirable job of “When you’re smiling,” but after his identity was known he gave us a rendition of the Mary Poppins’ song he sang in the movie “Supercalafragiliciousexpealodocious.“ I know I spelled it wrong, but felt I would leave my attempt here.

He added to the performance by dancing with his 97 year old legs. We were tickled as much as the audience was. Thinking of Mary Poppins, the famous star Anthony Hopkins once said who cares if Van Dyke’s British accent was horrible, his was one of the most amazing performances ever as Bert the chimney sweep.

If you can find footage of his performance it is worth the view.