The Times They Are a-Changin’

Change is in the air–on the TV, the web, your town and around the world. That’s what this post is about. We will will get there shortly. Black Lives Matter.

November 3rd is less than five months away. The current poll numbers show Trump losing the election to Biden in a big way. Neither Mueller nor impeachment could put him away. COVID-19 and now Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer are bringing him down. Well, actually, it’s his own ineptitude—his own incompetent impulses to crises way over his capacity.

That’s a discussion for another post. Today is about the changing times. To the rapidly evolving response, finally, to one more killing of an unarmed Black man. But first a brief explanation of a style change at Views.

Hereinafter, Trump shall be known here as “Biff.” Biff was Marty McFly’s primary antagonist in the Back to the Future movie trilogy. Search your recollection or the web for the physical resemblance. What urges the change are the character traits. Traits they share, like being a bully, dumb and good for nothing.

Biff’s tweets are typically false, insulting, vulgar, and sometimes libelous. We will call them Drumpf Droppings. (Biff’s grandfather Friedrich Drumpf, changed his name sometime after coming to America). Droppings are what birds leave everywhere. Drumpf Droppings extend the analogy—befouling America with their filth.

We’ll talk more about Biff’s declining election prospects another day. Today it’s all about what’s happening in America’s racial attitudes.

The Times They Are a-Changin,’ was a Bob Dylan album from 1964. There were indeed lots of changes in the sixties. Among them, a variety of laws were passed protecting the civil rights of African-Americans. Laws tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. They provide punishment for infractions. What laws don’t do is change people’s attitudes. That takes time and some intervening events.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. That’s how the beginning of a verse from Ecclesiastes goes. The reverend Al Sharpton cited the Bible passage at the first eulogy he gave for George Floyd. Pete Seeger wrote a song based on the entire passage. The Byrds version of the Seeger song was titled Turn! Turn! Turn!—an oft repeated refrain calling for change.

Change has been a long time coming.

Blacks have been killed in America since they arrived as slaves in 1619. They’ve been killed at the hands of police for nearly as long. Why is real reform on the table now? Was something special about George Floyd? Certainly special and loved by family and friends. Not the first unarmed Black man killed by a cop. Not the first on video either. What changed since Eric Garner’s death in New York City? What since events in Ferguson, Missouri?

Maybe it is the season. Maybe the time to turn. Continue reading The Times They Are a-Changin’

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The George Floyd Saga is being hijacked–take it back

We understand rage. Rage that can lead to violence. Violence doesn’t encourage change–it distracts from the message that it’s police behavior needs changing.

NOTE: Since 2015, Minneapolis police rendered 44 people unconscious by neck restraint. That practice needs to stop right now! That’s how George Floyd died.

Who are the looters, the rock and bottle throwers, the fire starters, etc.?

Don’t be taken in by them–they are NOT protesters. They are people with a different agenda. 

Continue reading The George Floyd Saga is being hijacked–take it back

Review of Watching Glass Shatter

Watching Glass ShatterWatching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Liked it, but I’d have given it a 2.5 if that were possible. That’s not so much the author’s fault as my expectation of a little more suspense/mystery and not almost entirely a family drama.

That said, the author does well at overcoming another bias of mine–not crazy about stories of the wealthy. Oddly, just read another one recently so maybe that annoyed me again. The same stresses and strains could be found in any family, rich or poor. It’s interpersonal issues that are the story–with wealth being nearly an incidental element.

Cudney does a good job of depicting the flaws of the various family members, especially the overly controlling mother, Olivia. He wraps it all up, neatly with a bit of melodrama. Unfortunately, it’s nearly with a deus ex machina that I won’t reveal because it would be a spoiler–identifying the adopted son.

Bottom line, if you like family sagas, this book will probably fit the bill for you. Just not my thing; not the author’s fault.

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Transcending Hate; Creating Value

Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.

That’s the tagline for Views from Eagle Peak.  It’s a little long, but it’s what it is.

George Floyd. Cops. Minneapolis and more. Protests–peaceful and violent. Us and them. Self-identity–race, sex, job, age and much more. Attitudes and beliefs. Norms and Values. Hate.

We’re all human. That’s the race I put on those forms that ask for it. You can see from my profile picture I’m White. My wife of nearly 40 years is African-American. Her father wanted to kill us if we got married. Later he just said, “call me Dad.” That’s because, in the words of Daisaku Ikeda,

A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.

I prayed for his happiness and accepted responsibility for his attitude toward me–expecting to change myself and thus his perspective. Those things happened.

Blacks are seven times more likely to be killed by police gunfire than Whites are.  I don’t have statistics for death by other police behavior. When charged (rarely) and tried (more rare), few cops are convicted in the death of Blacks.

Racism is learned, not something people are born with. But, when growing up in whatever family and community one lives in, beliefs gradually accumulate. Continue reading Transcending Hate; Creating Value

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Acknowledgements: See citations to sources in text

Apologies for a Premature Post

One should always take a deep breath before posting.

Yesterday I urged a boycott of Twitter for it’s (and CEO Jack Dorsey’s) tolerance for Trump’s outrageous tweets. The problem is, the original one went out with very Trump-like verbiage. That’s intolerable, coming from me! 

I did several edits and updates yesterday. I came up with a more rational, more sensible version that reads like my normal self, eventually, and posted the improved version. 

It begins like this: Isn’t there enough hatred in America already?  You can read it here

Unfortunately, of course, it’s the first one that many will have seen via subscriptions. Which is why one always needs to cool off.  After a stressful day came the original post you might have seen, prompted by this:

I read how Jack Dorsey declined to delete Trump’s tweet of a conspiracy slandering Joe Scarborough–current MSNBC host and former GOP Congressman. It has been retweeted multiple times, a demonstrably false accusation that Joe murdered a former aide–more than 20 years ago.

It’s bad enough that he slanders Scarborough (the aide died of natural causes in Florida while Scarborough was in Washington, DC) but it also causes great pain for the parents of the 28-year old woman. It’s they who demanded the deletion.

Dorsey, quite apparently, doesn’t care. That’s why I suggest a boycott.

I realize that some people may have professional or business reasons to make use of Twitter. There are, of course, plenty of other similar programs to promote or communicate with.

I also understand that Dorsey is the founder and CEO of Square, an alternative for small businesses, street or market vendors to accept charges via credit cards. The rates Square charges are less than those imposed by banks for processing Visa, MasterCard, etc.  So, the boycott is just for Twitter–not Square.

Oh, and you may have noticed that Dorsey did enrage Trump by putting a “get the facts” label on two equally false claims about mail-in voting. Read about it in this NY Times article. What’s so laughable about Trump’s blasting Dorsey for being biased against him is that it came where else–but on Twitter. Does this not remind you of WWE or other theatrical wrestling events (which Trump is proud of)? Dorsey makes big bucks off Trump’s tweets. Trump excites his dwindling base by his regular conspiracy and slanderous tweets. This feigned outrage is just like the trash talk at pro wrestling events.

If you can’t boycott Twitter, at least tweet some outrage at the free rein Dorsey gives Trump. 

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Boycott Twitter Until Dorsey Stops Trumps Tweets

Isn’t there enough hatred in America already?

Does Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, have a conscience?

How much money does Dorsey make, via Twitter, for all the vile conspiracy theories, insults, racism, misogyny, lies and more that Trump tweets day after day. Twitter’s free, but the ad revenue streams in on the engagement that hate sells.

He won’t remove Trump’s tweets–no matter how much they violate the pitiful rules Twitter enforces on other people. People whose accounts are suspended or banned altogether. It seems he’s a real Trump fan.

BOYCOTT TWITTER!

Send Dorsey a tweet he will understand.

Maybe if it hurts Dorsey’s bottom line, he’ll at least dump Trump’s tweets–when he ought to ban him altogether.

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Planned Obsolescence–Smartphone Version

Rant–Replacing a Phone Needlessly

Time was, smartphone batteries were replaceable. Not anymore–practically speaking.

So what? The what is that the average life of the battery is 500 recharges. Let’s say a charge lasts 18 hours. That gives you 750 days–a little less than two years. What happens then? Well, it will still recharge, but it won’t last 18 hours anymore. Maybe 10-12. Then 7-9. Then, maybe it starts overheating and the glue starts loosening up that keeps the back on.

Now, the phone makers will tell you the batteries had to be smaller to make the phones thinner and enable all those features people want.  Really? Yes, so they can pay $500-$1,200 or more for an electronic device that will die if you drop it in the water (at least some, if not most of the time) or drop it on the floor, step on it, etc. Or you might forget it somewhere. It’s the most fragile device you have for the money.

Oh, but you can, theoretically, open the back and replace that skinny battery. Yes, you can buy a replacement battery and some tools (lots of tools) that will enable you to do that.  Less than $25! Oh, but you need a heat gun, too–if you don’t have one. That could be another $30-$75 if you want one with adjustable heat so you don’t fry the phone. You might as well order a new back for the phone too–probably less than $10. Why? Because the YouTube DIY videos will concede it’s a difficult task–they don’t tell you HOW difficult it is to do without destroying the back. The phone makers don’t want or expect you to replace the battery. They want and expect you to buy a new phone.

What happens to the old one? Well, it might get refurbished. It might get put in a landfill with other unwanted electronics. Not exactly environmentally correct, is it?

We will get the new back for the phone my wife had before she got her new one. We couldn’t get the back of the phone off without messing up the cheap plastic cover from the pricey phone. The battery was getting slow. She was going to give it to our son, whose phone wouldn’t hold a charge. Now it turns out both the front and the back of his phone (my previous one) are bowed out from the battery overheating. OK, it is older phone. We can then fix up her old one so he can have a better one, with that replacement battery that will last for 500 charges.

He’s been without a phone for a week now. The back cover we ordered from Amazon was originally coming from Wisconsin. Subsequently, it was coming from Oregon. Ah, then I recalled the news about Wisconsin coming down on Amazon for their lack of cooperation with health officials about their distribution facility in Kenosha–with 20 COVID-19 cases. Well, Jeff–do you think you might spend a few of those billions to take better care of your employees (disclosure: we have been buying lots of stuff from Amazon for some time now–selling too, like my Kindle books).

So, maybe you might consider demanding replaceable batteries. Or, maybe you might consider buying cheaper phones without all the bells and whistles. Seems like right now they really have us all over a barrel–if the phones won’t stay charged, we have to replace them. All because a battery won’t last!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Reblog: writing advice interview on w. wang’s world commentary

Reblog: Interviewed by W. Wang on his World Commentary site.

Recently, I and eleven other writers collaborated on a book offering tips for writers–aspiring or otherwise. In connection with that, all of the contributors are being featured on Wang’s site.

My interview is on the long side–great for me! But maybe a bit much for you. As much as I appreciate the time and space Mr. Wang put into it, I’m going to offer a slightly condensed version here. But please do read the rest here.

W.: What made you start your writing career, especially writing stories of your own?

Maberry: I dreamed of writing since second grade. I began with stories in elementary school. High school offered both classwork composition and creative writing clubs. A dream unfulfilled is just a fantasy. It took retirement to act on it.

W.: On the “about” page on one of your blogs, you seem to have led a fascinating life: Hard childhood, failed marriages, and spending one year in Vietnam. Tell us more about these, and how they influenced your memoirs.

Maberry: Ah, the heart of the matter! The childhood goal was to write sci-fi. In 9th grade, I asked Clifford Simak (a sci-fi writer of many books) about that career. He explained that I needed a day job; the genre didn’t assure a livable income. His was being City Editor of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune newspaper. My older brother suggested writing tech manuals or perhaps ad copy. College courses could get me there, or so my plans were then.

Fast forward to Vietnam. I was drafted six weeks before entering college—no deferment unless in classes. By the time I got out of the military, my college objectives had changed. As the back cover blurb of my memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland (WFW for short) says,

“Spending a year in Vietnam, with its readily available sex and drugs, thoroughly corrupts his youth. Then the political realities of the war and Watergate shatter his idealistic illusions about America. So, to reclaim his virtue and ideals, he thinks he must reform the people or institutions that failed him.”

. . . .

I studied philosophy and a panoply of social science courses in college. History, psychology, sociology and more explanations about why society is like it is and how humans can make it better or worse. Humanism introduced me to Voltaire. I saw myself as a 20th century Candide. I read a multitude of books exploring the mind, the self and society. Neither college nor the outside readings offered the answers I sought—recovering myself and changing the world.

Finally, again from the cover blurb, “Finally, he encounters a person who reveals that the credit or blame for all of life’s events lies within. Looking for happiness outside oneself is fruitless. Reforming oneself, not changing others, is the means for attaining happiness and making the world a better place.”

W.: Also, you are a 40+ year Bodhisattva. How has that changed your life and your writings?

Maberry: When I published the 10th Anniversary Edition of WFW, I added a subtitle, The path from Vietnam to enlightenment. That means what? Life is a chain of causality. The memoir reveals the antecedents to my acceptance of Buddhism. I survived the deaths of first a father and later a mother before 18. Poverty. Vietnam. Bored, I listened half-heartedly in a shopping mall to a person explaining the practice of Buddhism. The soil of my life wasn’t ready for the seed. Two years later, the last semester at Georgetown Law Center, my second wife had left me. Now what? I was ready for the tree to sprout. I encountered a person with a life force I didn’t have. What was it, I asked. She told me she practiced Buddhism–and chanted. Immediately, I responded, “What do you chant, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?” The very same phrase I’d heard two years before at the mall. Yes, she had the answer to the mysteries of my life—and those around me.

. . . .

My writings are about seeing life and the world as it really is. Without the illusions or delusions. It’s not because of the boss, the President, your spouse or anyone else that you’re unhappy or unsuccessful. My writings are about creating value. Dispelling the mistaken notions. When you’re writing fiction, few readers want to be preached at. I won’t be doing that. Well, OK, there are some blog posts that might hit hard. Political analyses or satire aside, I’m trying to write from and about life—even if it’s about worlds, times and places that exist only in my mind.

. . . .

W.: Any final comments/thoughts for our readers?

Maberry: The pandemic that struck the world has and will continue to cause much pain and suffering. Grief at the loss of friends and loved ones. Economic losses will be as great as any in the last 100 years and more. The current and future lives of many will be upended as much and more so as many who lived through the planet’s many wars and events such as the 9/11 attack in the US. Political polemic won’t help. Only honest and caring efforts to aid the many who need assistance not simply surviving but thriving in a very different world. I hope that I can make some meaningful contributions to that endeavor in my senior years.

We thank John Maberry for answering these questions and for accepting this interview with us. You can learn more about him through his “Eagle Peak Press” website: eaglepeakpress.com

Review of Irma’s Endgame

Irma's EndgameIrma’s Endgame by Paulette Mahurin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kept my interest throughout. The back story central to plot is a transplant patient exhibiting personality traits of an organ donor. It’s not unheard of. The author does a good job wrapping up a complicated story involving the donor (briefly) and her spouse, along with the recipient and his spouse. Lots of emotional turmoil between the husband who received the heart transplant and his wife–who has her own history that contributes to the trying times.

There’s much sturm und drang among the rich Beverly Hills set. Some years after the transplant, leading cardiac surgeon Peter Dayton is charged with manslaughter. He allegedly prescribed the wrong meds to another patient. Irma Mullins, attorney who mediates cases, is shocked to see the news about Dayton. She never stopped loving him, despite his spurning her decades ago for someone more acceptable to Dayton’s parents. She reaches out to him and offers her help.

Did Dayton do it? Well, given the set up, the reader has to conclude probably not. So, how will Irma prove it? With lots and lots of research, aided by her investigative journalist friend. Plus, deep dives into the lives of all those folks involved back in the transplant situation–the brokenhearted husband of the heart donor, the recipient and his wife who doesn’t like the changes her husband has after he receives a new heart.

The only complaint in an otherwise excellent story is length and the words spent getting to the end. Might have been able to shave 15% or more words, making for a quicker read. Some of the rich characterization and other details seemed superfluous to the storyline. I felt impatient at times–come on, move it along. On the other hand, they may be just what a screenwriter and producer wants for adapting the book into a feature film. That is, once COVID-19 slows down enough. Don’t be surprised to see it in theaters in a two or three years.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Review of Sally Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words

Just one book added to reviews this time, but it’s a special one.

 

Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in WordsLife’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words by Sally Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book lives up to its title–indeed, Sally Cronin has woven a rich tapestry of life in words of many kinds. A variety of poetry–in forms unfamiliar in name to me, microfiction and short stories. What’s more, the graphic imagery of the short poems is inspiring to a person like me who has never really found poetry either appealing or easily understood. This time, for a change, the words grabbed me. I found meaningful passages that could be useful as well in prose writing as in poetry. Examples I must return to in settings or other places where showing and not telling is essential.

The microfiction and short stories were equally compelling, all the more so for me who is focused on those forms of writing. So, perhaps I too should consider the combination of ingredients that Sally Cronin published in this book. She is a writer worth reading.

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