I bruise you, you bruise me, we both bruise too easily (an encore post)

The following is an encore of an earlier post that still remains relevant.

After breaking up with Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel sang a beautiful song written by Jimmy Webb, who wrote several of Glen Campbell’s hits (“Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”), The 5th Dimension’s “Beautiful Balloon,” and “MacArthur Park,” which was a huge hit in the 1970s as sung by the actor Richard Harris (who was the first Dumbledore for Harry Potter fans).

The song is called “All I Know.” The first stanza is as follows:

I bruise you, you bruise me

We both bruise too easily

Too easily to let it show

I love you and that is all I know

This song is intended as a love song between two people who often fight and have hurt feelings as a result. But, I would like to use this stanza as a metaphor for relationships between all of us in civil society that have gone awry.

We are too easily bruising each others’ feelings. We are also taking offense too easily, when we should not or should listen to hear rather listen to react. I was highly disappointed with the tenor of the most recently concluded political convention, when hateful remarks were the norm and not the exception. I am hoping that the one next week will be the antithesis.

As an independent voter, I don’t care if someone is conservative on a viewpoint or liberal. What I found is many people have a mixture of opinions. To this point, Ivanka Trump told the GOP audience she is an independent voter. And, she like me joins many unaffiliated Americans.

Yet, what I do not like is the lack of civil discourse and use of information which is not steeped in facts. This is modus operandi for too many politicians and opinion hosts and it is quite obvious to me who they are. The latter is a key reason I religiously check the two fact checking organizations summaries. But, let me set that aside for now and get back to the civil discourse.

I do not agree with everything the politicians or parties support. My disagreement may be material or it may be in emphasis. For example, President Obama has done a commendable job, but I am disappointed that he did not move forward on the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee’s report, he tends to like the use of drones where we need more governance, while he has moved the ball forward on climate change he is too fond of fracking, and he did not collaborate more with a highly uncollaborative and obstinate Congress, e.g.

What I can tell you is neither party has all of the solutions and sometimes are not asking the right questions. Neither party should be smug that their way is the only way or even the right way, especially with funding that fuels their opinions. Again, I don’t mind a conservative or liberal view, but let’s work off the right data and do so civilly, respecting each other’s opinions. And, let’s work with real solutions and not what easily fits on a bumper sticker. Bumper stickers are not policy, they are advertisements.

The debt is a huge problem. Climate change is a huge problem. Water resources are a huge problem. Poor gun governance is a huge problem. Poverty is a huge problem as is the declining middle class. Civil rights for all citizens, especially those most disenfranchised, are lacking in too many places. Infrastructure needs are paramount and fixing them will create jobs. Terrorism is important, but combatting it must be holistic and involve all of us.

Building actual and proverbial walls are not the answers. We must reach out to each other and solve these problems as the diverse Americans we are. No American is more American than the next. And, no less, either. So, let’s civilly discuss the issues in fact-based manner and demand our politicians do the same. If they cannot, then they should step down. I am really tired of those who feel they must name-call and shout opposition down.

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A cautionary tale of too little water and too much water – a reprise from 2015

The following was written almost eight years ago, but holds even more concern today with fresh water crises in the US west and around the world and our ever heightening sea levels, placing major coastal cities like Miami at risk.

We have two major environmental concerns that are impacting us now and will continue to do so, unless we plan and execute a more dramatic strategy. One gets too little air time, while the other gets talked about, but is under constant attack by hired public relations people who are highlighted in the documentary ‘Merchants of Doubt” and the most recent airing of “Vice” on HBO. First, we have a growing fresh water shortage problem that is predicted to get worse in drought stricken and other areas. Second, we have an increasing intrusion of salt water in low-lying coastal areas that will also get far worse than predicted, likely displacing 300 million people by century’s end.

Fresh water is one of our two most dear resources on the planet, with the other being the air we breathe. Managing a predicted water shortage may be one of the most crucial tasks in front of us, yet we do not give sufficient news coverage to this looming problem. I would encourage you to read one of the best history books I have ever read by Steven Solomon called “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization.”  The book does more than look backwards as it highlights a major concern going forward and uses the term “water is the new oil.” A link is provided below to an article on the book.

Any investment that requires the substantial use of water needs to factor that use in its Return on Investment calculations. I am against fracking for several reasons, but my greatest fear is the significant use of water that we cannot let trickle back into our water supply. When this issue is scoffed at by industry people, it should be noted that in the past couple of years frackers and farmers have been fighting over water in California, Kansas and Oklahoma. It should be noted in some areas of Texas, which is heavily drought prone, about 20% of an area’s water supply goes to fracking.

I use the fracking case as an example. We must be mindful of coal ash supplies near water sources, which is where they almost always are placed. We must be mindful of developers and how run off can occur from houses built on various lakes. We must be mindful of where we have placed dams and where we may have straightened out rivers, which can be harmful. And, we must re-emphasize conservation of water through the use of waterless water heaters, planting more endemic plants to an area, less water sprinkling, gray water plumbing for toilets, and what Orange County has done with sewage water which is treated and filtered many times over and reused as drinking water (yes, it is drinkable).

The other major concern relates to the impact of climate change on coastal locations, especially those below or at sea level. Climate change has many impacts, one of which is to make drought prone areas worse, but the rising sea levels is getting more attention. And, after watching what is happening in Antarctica and Greenland on the documentary “Vice,” the scientists who measure the impact on melting ice masses say it is too late to save Antarctica from severely melting with what we have done thus far.

The “Merchants of Doubt” who are the hired guns of the fossil fuel industry note that Antarctica is growing in ice mass. Yet, this is clearly refuted by the scientists doing the annual measuring noting the PR folks are purposefully confusing sea ice with land ice. The “sea ice” is thawing and refreezing to the tune of a meter thick, while the “land ice” which is kilometers thick is melting away and that is the major problem. The scientists equate it to ice thawing in a glass and refreezing (sea ice) versus adding more melted ice to the glass (land ice) which is causing the glass to run over. I make this distinction as the “Merchants of Doubt” are very good at what they do and are well paid by the industry to cause this doubt. Just remember the overflowing glass as a metaphor for what is actually happening versus the false message put forth by deniers.

The sad truth is people and some leaders believe this messaging and it is actually harming our planet and its inhabitants by delaying what needs to be done. The country of Bangladesh is being consumed by the encroaching waters in a very noticeable way. Impoverished people who farm and fish are required to move to overcrowded cities. The country of Denmark developed a long-range plan that had to survive different parties in power, so it had the buy-in of everyone. Ecuador is fighting a never-ending battle against the relentless sea. The City of Miami’s county (Dade County) has joined with three adjacent counties to invest $200 million into plans to stave off the encroaching sea water which is coming up through the storm drains in the streets more frequently. Below is a link to an article on the renewed efforts.

The rising sea levels will impact every low-lying area on the planet and is already consuming islands like the Cartaret Islands, whose ambassadors had to go to larger islands to ask if they could move there. It is also making the impact of hurricanes worse and will continue to do so. Climate scientists note hurricanes hitting shore with higher sea levels is like dunking a basketball off a raised court. The damage is more severe. Hurricane Sandy is a precursor to what will happen more often. This is where the cost of repair comes into play which totaled in the hundreds of billions, just with Sandy.

But, don’t take my word for it, read for yourself. I am not a scientist, but I can read. 97% of scientists note that man-influenced climate change is a happening and is a major concern. Out of 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change, only three were contrarian. Mercer Investment Consulting surveyed the largest pension scheme sponsors on the planet and these sponsors estimate the cost of climate change impact will be in the tens of trillions of dollars. Marsh, the largest risk management firm in the world, is speaking routinely with clients about managing risk of coastal assets. Georgia State University, one of the most well known risk management and actuarial schools in the US, has a curriculum around planning for climate change. Wall Street is factoring in the cost of climate change risk in their pricing. You also have the conclusions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the UN International Panel of Climate Change, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science on man-influenced climate change. And, it goes on.

These two water issues are critical to our future. We are past time on acting and we need to plan and execute accordingly. We do not need well paid BS artists using science out of context to further prevent action from happening. We are at a point where we must question politicians on what we should do about these issues. And, if they say climate change or global warming is hoax, do us all a favor and do not vote for them. If they do not recognize water shortage as the major problem it is has become, do not vote for them. If they say it is a jobs issue more so than an environmental issue, note that the one of the fastest growing industries for jobs is the solar energy industry, which is averaging annual double-digit growth with 174,000 US jobs at year-end. The wind energy industry is growing as well and could also grow at the same clip with even more investment. And, the sun shines and wind blows in every state, some more so than others, so the energy impact and job creation can be spread around.

If anything, please understand the importance of these two issues. Question everything, especially politicians, leaders and so-called news sources. We do not have time to wait on leaders to catch-up. We need to make them catch-up. If they don’t or are not willing, get leaders who will look at real data and listen to unbiased science and help us do something about our problems. Our failure to act has made this even more crucial.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-solomon/water-is-the-new-oil_b_380803.html

http://www.law360.com/articles/613588/miami-dade-officials-accelerate-response-to-sea-level-rise

Teach your children – an encore tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

With the passing this week of David Crosby, a founding member of both The Byrds with Roger McGuinn (“Mr. Tambourine” and “Turn, Turn, Turn”) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, below is an encore of an earlier post for the latter band.

You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by.
And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a good-bye. 

Teach, your children well, their father’s hell, did slowly go by.
And feed, them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you’re known by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.

The lyrics of “Teach Your Children” are highly representative of the songs of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I was torn with leading off with a number of their songs, yet I chose this one as the song starts with teaching our children to seek their dreams and letting them go with your guidance and love. The song is even more profound today, as it concludes with a stanza on “teaching your parents well.” With technology so rapidly expanding and changing our world, the song is emblematic that we can learn from each other.

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and later Neil Young formed a group of songwriters and singers who wrote and sang eloquently. Their harmonies made great songs even better. I have an entire post devoted to Young, so I will not highlight some of his many contributions, but let you take a peek at your leisure with this link: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/heart-of-gold-a-tribute-to-neil-young/. Young added guitar-might to the stage presence of the initial trio and had played earlier with Stills in Buffalo Springfield. Crosby was a key part of The Byrds and Nash was with The Hollies. So, CSN and then CSNY became a blend of some prolific musicians and songwriters.

LIke earlier posts, I will leave off some of mine and others’ favorite songs. My intention is to highlight a few songs that resonate with me and leave others for your perusal. If you have not dived into CSNY, I would encourage you to do so. Many of their lyrics will be apropos today, like those in the above song.  One that is hauntingly compelling and so simple is a lament over those who pay the ultimate price fighting wars in the name of freedom. From Nash’s “Find the Cost of Freedom” here is only a small taste:

Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down

I started to quote more lyrics, but I thought these words state the obvious very succinctly and could be used easily to describe those honorable, young men and women who died in Afghanistan and Iraq for uncertain ends. To me, the next song can be used for multiple separations from those you love, but I interpreted it along the above lines of someone going off to fight a war. I will let you judge from the sample lyrics from “Just a Song Before I Go:”

She helped me with my suitcase,
She stands before my eyes
Driving me to the airport,
And to the friendly skies.

Going through security
I held her for so long.
She finally looked at me in love,
And she was gone.

They have so many great songs: “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” which is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Judy Collins, “Our House” which even our kids know word for word, “Deja-vu”, “Helplessly Hoping,” Helpless,” “Southern Cross,” “Marrakesh Express” and “Guinevere” are just a few. I also won’t highlight “Ohio” which I did in the earlier post about Young. It needed its own space as it spoke volumes against President Nixon who called out the national guard on US college students at Kent State and a couple of kids got shot. This was a stain on Nixon before his Watergate Waterloo.

Another favorite is “Wooden Ships” as it is a great tune with great lyrics written by Crosby and Stills:

Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy,
Easy, you know the way it’s supposed to be,
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be,
 Talkin’ ’bout very free and easy…
Horror grips us as we watch you die,
All we can do is echo your anguished cries,
Stare as all human feelings die,
We are leaving – you don’t need us.

To me, these words say go live your life and pursue your dreams. Don’t stand by and watch life pass you by. Don’t save it for later, so take time to explore and you will learn something about yourself. Otherwise, you may be on the shore waiting to die. This same theme is picked up by Nash’s song “Wasted on the Way:”

And there’s so much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way

Oh when you were young
Did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers
Who had all the nerve

Look round you NOW
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved.

There is so much more to write about Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I would love to see newer artists start covering their play list more. Their songs need to be heard by more people. Let me close, with their most iconic song “Woodstock” which was written by Joni Mitchell, Nash’s girlfriend, another great songwriter:

Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel myself a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, yes, said maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

“I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.” These are profound words. I have tried to teach my children this. Never stop learning. I often say you can judge people’s intelligence by their awareness of how much they don’t know. And, getting back to the theme, even old farts like me, learn something new everyday. So, teach your parents well. Thanks guys for the journey which has not stopped.

I’ve loved you so long – a movie surprise

My wife and I watched a French movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas called “I’ve loved you so long.” If you don’t mind movies with subtitles, this an excellent and unexpected movie, with Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein playing the lead roles as two sisters. Here is brief summary from Wikipedia, which holds back some as to not reveal too much plot

“When Juliette Fontaine, formerly a doctor, is released from prison, her younger sister Léa invites her to stay with her family – including her husband, his mute father, and their two adopted Vietnamese daughters – in their home in the university town of Nancy in Lorraine. Why Juliette was in prison is revealed slowly throughout the film,” but it is told upfront that she was in prison for fifteen years, so it was a serious crime (my editing).

“Léa, a college professor of literature, is considerably younger than Juliette. Because of the nature of Juliette’s crime, their parents denied Juliette’s existence and refused to allow Léa to visit her. In addition, Juliette had refused to speak throughout her trial. As a result, Léa knows nothing about the circumstances surrounding the crime and, when pressed for details, Juliette refuses to discuss what happened until the end of the film.”

The movie is primarily about two sisters who are rekindling their strong bond from before the imprisonment, especially with the younger sister not knowing many of the events and surrounding stories of earlier life with her sister. But, it is also about Juliette befriending two men who understand more about what she went through, without knowing all the details. Luc is a colleague of Léa’s (played by Serge Hazanavisius) and Captain Fauré, her parole officer played by Frederic Pierrot. Laurent Grévill plays Michel, Léa’s husband who shares his concerns over the arrangement early on.

We do not mind subtitles, so movies like this are enjoyable. Although Scott Thomas is an English actress, her French is excellent and this is the second movie we have seen where she speaks only French. We both think she plays melancholy roles so well. The movie is compelling and does require some tissue as the revelations are made toward the end. The title is indicative of the two sisters affection for one another that had been missing for so long. It is definitely worth the look. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 88 rating, while other watcher sources rank it highly, as well.

When sermons miss the mark so badly on a practical level

Loretta Lynn passed away during 2022. She was a prolific songwriter who someone once said she wrote uniquely with two choruses often in a song. She may also have been one of the first feminists per a documentary on her life. Why do they say that? She had four kids by the time she was 18 years old. And, after its invention and improvement, she wrote a song about taking control of her destiny for all women to heed – “The Pill.” Here is the second stanza:

“All these years I’ve stayed at home
While you had all your fun
And every year thats gone by
Another babys come
There’s a gonna be some changes made
Right here on nursery hill
You’ve set this chicken your last time
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill”

Strident ministers who want married couples to only have conjugal relations to procreate are very out of touch with their congregations, no matter how pious the followers might be. People are going to have these relations regardless of what any minister might say, especially if they follow along with Ms. Lynn’s line of thinking. By the way, those ministers who belong to the Southern Baptist Convention may want to explain why there was a sex scandal and cover-up therein for so many years.

Not to be outdone, the Catholic Church has long been a proponent of this same message, but at least recognized that married couples are going to have sex. Yet, the church strongly condemns artificial means of birth control advocating the very ineffective rhythm method where couples try to time conjugal relations with the wife’s menstrual cycle. There is a reason for large Catholic families. Of course, premarital sex is a preached no-no in the view of the church and in other religions.

Yet, the last poll I saw about American Catholic women noted that 90% of the women disagreed with the church’s position on this issue. They were more inclined to heed the instruction of Loretta Lynn using the pill or some other means. The result does not surprise me, but the 90% magnitude of support does.

Watching old movies and TV shows, it is not uncommon to see a plot line around a teen girl or young women who gets pregnant being an outcast, while the sower of the seed not being condemned at all. Even when said sower forces his will shy of rape, he is not held to the same standard as the woman who gave into the same temptation. In the Catholic Church there are numerous movies (see “Philomena” or “Oranges and Sunshine”) about a girl’s child being taken away without her permission throughout the last century. These movies made me ill that a pious group of leaders could be so mean-spirited.

So, we must ask our leaders to be more in line with what is happening in general society. It is OK to teach abstinence before marriage, but to not recognize that people are going to have sex regardless of what a leader might think is just naive and out of touch. Just think of that 90% figure for American Catholic women. And, taking this one step further what two married people (or consenting adults) do behind closed doors is none of a church leader’s business. It only matters if there is domestic violence and someone is getting hurt.

Having worked with homeless working families I know first-hand a statistically supported truism. There is a causal relationship between increased poverty risk and increased family size. It is not just a correlation, it is causal. Full stop. I have long been a believer of teaching pragmatic sex education, even if done in a church setting. If people want to call this planned parenthood, that is more than fine.

Teach boys and girls that self-esteem is not tied to having sex before you want to. Teach girls how to say “no” and to lessen pressure and teach boys what “no” means. Teach them that some partners are more about bragging on a sexual conquest than quietly expressing love or intimacy. Teach them the facts about how easy it is to get pregnant. Teach them the various means of birth control, their pros and cons and how to use them. Teach them not to take a drink at a party from someone you don’t know or to overdo it. And, it is OK for religious groups to teach abstinence, but they need to be realistic about its veracity and teach the other things.

Loretta speaks the truth from a position of knowledge and experience. Women must be in control of their bodies. When people in power try to deny this, they are doing a disservice to women. I do know if men could get pregnant, they would not favor a leader telling them what to do with their bodies. And, realizing what women go through, these men would be strongly in favor of birth control means.

What is that song again? – an encore post

“You’ve gotta lot of nerve” sings Bob Dylan over and over again in one of the greatest put down songs ever written. But, that is not the name of the song, it is “Positively 4th Street.” Simon and Garfunkel sang of “feelin’ groovy,” but the name of the song is not that repetitive lyric, it is “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”

And, one of my favorite songs written by Kenny Loggins speaks to “Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey” in its chorus. But, the name of the song is “Danny’s Song.” It was written for his brother and covered well by Anne Murray, although I prefer the Loggins and Messina version.

Other song favorites where the title cannot be found in the lyrics include:

– “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles

– “After the Gold Rush” by Neil Young

– “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

– “Baba O’Riley” by The Who

– “Annie’s Song” by John Denver

– “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin

The list is actually not a short one. Yet, it does complicate things when the chorus or a clever song verse is how the song is remembered, not the title. Fortunately, Google understands this and will get you to the right place. If you Google “You fill up my senses,” you can find Denver’s “Annie Song.” If you Google “I read the news today,” you would be steered to “A Day in the Life.”

The one exception to my list might be “Bohemian Rhapsody,” even before the movie, given the memorable title. This may be due in part to the cult like status of the song or its length. Yet, you could find it with searching on several of its bizarre lyrics.

If you Google “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, you can find Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” Now, technically Mitchell’s song does not belong on the list, as taxi does appear in the final stanza. Yet, I include it as throughout the song are environmental references. It is actually disappointing those references are metaphors for missing her “old man” after the big yellow taxi takes him away.

What are some of your favorites where the title cannot be found in the song? Feel free to take the same license as I did with Joni Mitchell’s song.

New Year’s Resolutions I can keep

The following is a repeat and updated post for the time sensitive information.

It is that time of year to say farewell to an old year and welcome a new one. I am not too keen on making resolutions, as they usually don’t last too long into the year. They are not unlike the sandcastle virtues I wrote about in my previous post. So, with that in mind, what are some resolutions that I can keep alive in 2023?

– I resolve to remain imperfect. I will do my best to mitigate the impact of my imperfections, but they will shine through.

– I resolve to try to maintain my weight. I am good at trying to do this and sometimes I am successful. It is the sustainability of that success that usually gets me.

– I resolve to lose more of my hair. Look at it this way, I am just gaining face and visible scalp. Maybe I will invest in Coppertone stock.

– I resolve to retell stories I have told several times before. And, when I ask my kids if I told them that before, they will say only five or six times.

– I resolve to try to stay married for my 38th anniversary. Thank goodness my wife has a good sense of humor, otherwise we may not have made it to ten.

– I resolve to treat others like I want to be treated. I will fail on occasion, but know that I will feel badly when I do and apologize when I can.

– I resolve to continue to focus on the issues of the day and not who is winning a political game. I will do my best to give a needed voice to the disenfranchised, as they tend to get lost in far too many political calculations.

– I resolve to love my kids and my wife. That is the easiest resolution to make.

So, I think I can keep the above. But, I did note my resolution to remain imperfect. So, we will see. Let me know some of yours. Have a safe New Year’s celebration and a wonderful 2023.

Old series are still new to us

I have shared before that we discover old TV series and watch them with some regularity. If you have never seen a series before, it is like finding an unopened box in the attic long after you moved. It is still new to us.

With the advent of using Tubi which is a free streaming source, we can find even more little gems. Even if they only lasted two or three seasons, we enjoy them. Actually, the shorter ones are good because we limit our time to 20 or so episodes.

Here a few gems we discovered in the past year:

“The Hour” – this BBC show about a “60 Minutes” type news show set in the 1950s is one of the better shows we have seen. It lasted only two seasons, but fans wanted more. It stars Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, and Dominic West with a great supporting cast.

“Bomb Girls” – this Canadian show is about women who go to work in making bombs for the allied effort in WWII. It stars Meg Tilley, Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele, and Ali Liebart again with a great supporting cast.

“Our Girl” – this is a gripping show about two different British army medic nurses over the course of two seasons. The first setting is Afghanistan and the other is in Nigeria. It stars Lacey Turner in season one and Michelle Keegan in season two. Ben Aldridge, the leader of the squad of troops appears both season.

“The Village” – a show about an early 20th century village in England just prior to, during and just after WWI. It stars Maxine Peake, John Simm, Charlie Murphy, Tom Varey and a host of others. It runs for a couple of seasons, but shows how times are evolving around giving more voice to women and those who are not in the gentry.

“Rose and Maloney” – a different kind of detective show about a group in London who looks into mishandled criminal cases where an imprisoned person may not have gotten a fair trial. It stars Sarah Lancashire as the brash Rose and Phil Davis as Maloney, a rather anal attentive and begrudging partner. It lasted three seasons.

“City on a Hill” – a series based in Boston which focuses on a sleazy, but effective FBI and former FBI agent and equally effective assistant DA who gets sucked into helping the agent. Kevin Bacon stars as the FBI agent, Aldis Hodge as the attorney and Jill Hennessy as Bacon’s wife. My wife hates that Bacon’s character is so imperfect, but he plays it well.

Some of the longer running shows we are still watching include “Homeland” which is riveting starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and Damien Lewis about a CIA hunt for terrorists, “McLeod’s Daughters” which is a long running Australian series starring Bridie Carter and Lisa Chappell about two sisters and their friends running a ranch in western Australia, “Heartland” which is a similar Canadian series starring Amber Marshall and Michelle Morgan about two sisters and grandfather running a ranch that involves the younger daughter being a horse whisperer like their just deceased mother, and “Heartbeat” which is British series set in a village in England that focuses on a police officer and his wife who is the local doctor starring Nick Berry and Niamh Cusack and wonderful 60’s music as a backdrop.

Let me know what you think. Tell us some of your favorites.

And in the end

The final lyrics on the final album produced by The Beatles go something like this:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

The lyrics end a compilation of songs at the conclusion of “Abbey Road,” an album which I have long felt rivaled the more critically acclaimed “Sgt. Pepper.” It should be noted the “Let it be” album was released after “Abbey Road,” but it was already in the can, so to speak being recorded earlier over much acrimony.

In a book by reporter and Beatles’ fan Ken McNab using this title “And in the end,” he chronicles “the last days of The Beatles,” which is the book’s subtitle. If you like The Beatles, this is a tough book to read, but an excellent and entertaining one as well. If you are not a fan of the Fab Four, it remains a good book to show how people who become at odds with each other can still work together and collaboratively toward a common goal.

The key takeaway from McNab’s book is, first and foremost, it was time for The Beatles to go their separate ways. Yes, things precipitated this inevitable conclusion, but they had been together, three for more than ten years, but at least eight years as group in the limelight or beginning stages of such fame. The acrimony was already in evidence, but it was not just between the two principal song writing leads of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was not just a divorce between the two, as a key third member was feeling unloved needing to spread his wings.

George Harrison was beginning to reveal a great talent for song writing building off his earlier craftmanship. Yet, he had a difficult time getting heard by the others and was the first to announce he was quitting, but stuck around after his first outburst. It is ironic two of the best selling songs from “Abbey Road” are arguably written by George, “Something” and “Here comes the sun.” Yet, he had several more he had recorded as full demos that were passed on by The Beatles and he used in his first solo album, “All things must pass.”

What became clear from my reading are these themes. The Beatles are hugely creative as individuals and as a group. They would hone songs written largely by another offering key input. Yet, when the song writer had a strong sense of how a song should go, the other three would back off and become just excellent studio musicians and get it done. This kind of give and take was marvelous to behold by others who were in the studio with them.

But, the other key backdrop is as good as they were musically, they were equally as poor as business managers. A lot of the acrimony came from some poor business decisions and contracts where they were taken advantage of. And, even more acrimony came from the decisions to create Apple Records who spawned talents like James Taylor, Badfinger, etc. They had way too many sycophants and hangers on who just wanted to be at a party paid for by The Beatles. Apple was hemorrhaging money.

Yet, the final straws get more attention than the above, but were important nonetheless. Lennon began a relationship and eventual marriage to Yoko Ono and invited her to seemingly every meeting and recording session of The Beatles. It became a source of irritation to say the least (I used to think the Ono issue was overstated, but that was not the case). McCartney married Linda Eastman one of the heirs to the Eastman Kodak legacy and was pushing the other three to hire his future brother-in-law to run Apple and sort out the financial mess. The other three would not have it suggesting they hire a brow-beating music industry executive, so it began a three on one negotiation on most financial matters. So, trust in McCartney from a business standpoint waned.

With all of this happening, they did largely complete an album called “Let it be” that the band just did not love. “Get back,” arguably the best song from the album, was played live on film on the rooftop of the Abbey Road studios, but it showed the acrimony as much as their talent. This is a key reason it was not released until after “Abbey Road.”

On Abbey Road,” they brought in producer George Martin, who was heavily involved on earlier work but left, to help them with “Abbey Road.” Even though the band had issues, they focused like they used to on making excellent music working long days to do so. Ironically, the last song they recorded was “I want you (she’s so heavy)” which was a tribute to Yoko Ono. Maybe that is fitting. And, one sidebar is the compilation of songs that concludes with this title include Ringo Starr’s only drum solo, which he was urged to do as he hated drum solos. What I also did not know, he had just received some new tom-tom drums as he called them for his kit and they made a prolific sound throughout the album.

The book also chronicles some of the solo activities that were started in earnest during this period. Lennon and Ono began their peace awareness and had their famous “bed in for peace” and recorded “Give peace a chance” from a hotel room with a large crowd in tow. Lennon was actually the first one to formally quit The Beatles, but was asked to keep it hush hush until a new contract was signed on revenue sharing. McCartney was the first to announce to the public he was leaving and gets too much blame, as he was the third one to say he was leaving. Starr was depressed from all the fighting and eventual split up, so he worked with Martin to produce an album of old songs his parents used to play for him.

This was a group divorce that had been in the works for a while. The fact they could still produce musical magic is a credit to them. As Lennon said with three song writers, he did not want to work months on album where only two of his songs were included. So, they needed to go their separate ways. And, it is not ironic that all four produced some great work individually after the split-up.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern shows how to climb out of hole

One of my favorite world leaders is Jacinda Ardern. She exhibits leadership in times of strife, in particular, reacting to a terrible mass shooting a few years ago. In an article by Tess McClure of The Guardian called “Jacinda Ardern auctions off ‘arrogant prick’ comment to raise money for prostate cancer charity,” the New Zealand Prime Minister recovered from an embarrassing open mic gaffe by doing something good with her adversary.

Here are a few paragraphs from the article, which can be linked to below.

“An official signed copy of the transcript of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern calling a political opponent an ‘arrogant prick’ will be auctioned off to raise money for a prostate cancer charity.

Bidding on the copy of the parliamentary record, signed by both Ardern and David Seymour, leader of the libertarian right Act party, had reached $50,000 by Friday. The auction, titled ‘Ardern, Seymour join forces for pricks everywhere,’ ends on 22 December.

Ardern’s candid comment was caught on a hot mic during parliamentary question time on Tuesday. Seymour had asked a series of questions about whether Ardern stood by all of her statements and policies, and finished by asking Ardern if she could ‘give an example of her making a mistake, apologising for it properly, and fixing it.’

After her answer, Ardern took her seat and turned to her deputy and close political ally Grant Robertson, saying ‘he’s such an arrogant prick.’ The aside was picked up on her microphone.

Seymour later petitioned for an apology from the speaker, which meant the comment was entered into New Zealand’s parliamentary record, Hansard. Ardern had left the chamber, but texted Seymour to apologise. She later joked in parliament that she stood by all statements – including ‘insults and apologies.’

The pair, who are typically fiercely opposed in the political realm, later joined forces to raise money for prostate cancer charities with the auction.

‘In the spirit of a Kiwi Christmas, two political foes unite to raise money for a good cause,” the auction website reads. The winning buyer will receive ‘a framed printout of the parliamentary Hansard co-signed by the Rt. Hon. prime minister, Jacinda Ardern and one-time arrogant prick, Act party Leader David Seymour.'”

The apology, acceptance and action are refreshing to see in these days and times. I hope they can become exemplary for others. Hats off to Ardern and Seymour.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/16/jacinda-ardern-auctions-off-arrogant-prick-comment-to-raise-money-for-prostate-cancer-charity