Nov 12, 2013

Silly Kid Sayings for Thanksgiving

Dear Readers,
Happiest Thanksgiving to you. Please accept this brief, silly interlude as a small wish of love, from my family to yours.


Jaclynisms (my daughter at two years of age)
While scooping up a wad of apple sauce,
"Happy birthday to my fingers"
While rubbing a tube-shaped rice cracker on her lips,
"I'm using lipstick"
Seeing ketchup on her fingers,
The green vegetable that looks like little trees

Jaclynisms (at three years of age)
Dinner Prayers
Thank you for our flowers
All your hands and
All your hair—
Let us taste our daily toast. Amen.

Thank you for my Daddy
Who is very good at coloring. Amen.

(Note: He's a landscape architect)
How to Make a Horsey Go Faster, yell,
When asked to take a nap on a sunny afternoon,
"Would you turn out the light?"
The Japanese food made from soybeans
What we use on our skin to protect it from the sun

"Sun's cream"

What we ride to go to another floor
The Tropical Fruit Sometimes Appearing on Pizza

Aug 7, 2013

U.S. Drops Atom Bomb on Hiroshima, August 7, 1945: The Choice between Hell and Reason

How unfortunate for the citizens of Hiroshima, Japan to know that their city is famous throughout the world only as the first city to be bombed with a nuclear bomb. The bombardier of the Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy” on the unarmed city 62 years ago today, killing 70,000 civilians instantly. Not distinguishing among elderly, babies, women, or other innocent non-military.

But that wasn't the end of it. 70,000 may have perished as a direct result, but 60,000 more died shortly thereafter from related injuries and illnesses. And as many as 200,000 total died within five years, from the bombing or the after-affects.

Nagasaki became the only other city to be the victim of an atomic bomb a few days later, where Japanese report 75,000 more were killed instantly.

One week after the first bombing, Japan surrendered, perhaps explaining the propaganda found in every American child's history textbook that the "atomic bombing was justified as a stimulus to end the war" If you could stand in the middle of Hiroshima and feel the hatred directed at you because you are an American, if you could tour the Peace Museum in Nagasaki and see the photos and study the mementos, if you could immerse yourself in the humanity behind the bombings, as I have done—you might not think so.

The bombs targeted civilians. How many tens of thousands of those slaughtered were infants, for instance? It's true that the citizens were warned before the bombs dropped. Leaflets saying the bombing would take place were scattered throughout the towns days before (I saw samples of those leaflets at the Nagasaki museum). But could the entire population leave? Perhaps like the Hurricane Katrina disaster, those who had resources could get out of town—if they realized the leaflets were not just a scare tactic, that is.

Many scholars are convinced Japan was on the verge of surrendering at that late point in WWII, where whole towns were on starvation rations. My Japanese Mama-san remembers living on rice and pickles in Tokyo for years. And certainly other Asian countries starved in subjugation to feed the Japanese. Kamikaze bombings were the last bastion of a war strategy devised by a desperate military that had plenty of airplanes but not enough fuel to keep them aloft.

To add to the madness, the developers of the new nuclear technology must have had an intense desire to test the mettle of their new war toys, and seen an opportunity to do so, despite pleas by such eminent voices as Albert Einstein, Douglas MacArthur, and Dwight D. Eisenhower not to.

In 2007, Hiroshima's mayor said—because Mayors can speak these truths when higher-up politicos can't—“The Japanese Government, which has the duty to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons through international law, should protect its pacifist constitution, which it should be proud of, and clearly say 'No' to antiquated and wrong US policies,” The antiquated and wrong U.S. policies Tadatoshi Akiba referred to are the ones that somehow allow the nuclear arms proliferation that has made America the proud owner of undoubtedly the largest stockpile of bomb-ready fissile material and nuclear bombs in the world. Congratulations to us, huh?

If you have the opportunity to visit Japan, please make plans to tour the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum or the Hiroshima Peace memorial Museum (Nagasaki being much the friendlier of the two cities). I can attest that it is a life-changing experience. And my father was a bombardier in WWII.

On August 8, 1945, Albert Camus said it best, “Mechanized civilization has just reached the ultimate stage of barbarism. In a near future, we will have to choose between mass suicide and intelligent use of scientific conquests [...] This can no longer be simply a prayer; it must become an order which goes upward from the peoples to the governments, an order to make a definitive choice between hell and reason.”

Jul 31, 2013

Brilliant Advice for Trayvon Martin's Father

Award-winning investigative journalist, Greg Palast, in an open letter to Trayvon Martin's father:

(From of the greatest independent news sources)

An Open Letter to Trayvon Martin's Father

Jul 16, 2013

Would You Grant a Concealed Gun Permit to This Man?

  • Arrested for resisting an officer with violence
  • Entered alcohol education program
  • His fiancee took out a restraining order against him due to domestic violence
  • Made 46 calls to the local police department reporting suspicious activity of black males
  • Fired from his job as a bouncer for being too rough with the customers
  • A relative accused him of molestation when he was a child
  • Is described as confrontational and hateful toward blacks
How can such a person as described above be granted the right to a concealed weapon? In the state of Florida, that is the case. The victim of this violent, prejudiced, confrontational person was unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the  attacker, George Zimmerman.

Paranoid/Shizophrenic with Delusions of Being a Police Officer Acquitted on Second-Degree Murder Charges, July 13, 2013.


Jul 1, 2013

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Rollin’ into Modern Times


How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Fraud, liar, thief, copycat, mooch, slut, poser, but then again, Bob Dylan was only 19 and gathering up the pieces of who he would become. He slunk around from couch to couch in Greenwich Village, guitar in hand, rarely washed, usually unkempt, strumming and humming a little, jotting down notes to songs, smoking, slouching. And often his confidence was out of proportion to his abilities—at first. But that confidence propelled him until his drive and
absorptive curiosity and life experience caught up with him. Somehow, he sounded authentic right from his first original song.
From the liner notes of his debut album, Bob Dylan, “In less than one year in New York, Bob Dylan has thrown the folk crowd into an uproar. Ardent fans have been shouting his praises. Devotees have found in him the image of a singing rebel, a musical Chaplin tramp, a young Woody Guthrie, or a composite of some of the best country blues singers.”
Dylan’s early vision is legendary, “He's the American song-and-dance man, the sleight-of-hand man, mixing up folk roots, beat poetry, Chuck Berry, Baudelaire, Texas medicine, railroad gin, and his own psychedelic mutations of the blues . . .” (Rolling Stone Biography).

There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

Dylan affected hobo speech, mixed with hipster expressions—at an early age. He crafted talking songs, like Woody Guthrie. And much has been made of the Guthrie connection—how Dylan patterned himself after the great folk-troubadour, he of the “if you play more than two chords on the guitar you’re showing off” fame. At first it was affectation, then it evolved into Dylan’s unique voice and style.

But can he really sing? This topic came up in a recent discussion. One die-hard fan insisted Dylan sings better than Bono, and that he’s actually an accomplished vocalist. Another swore that his voice is lousy. No one questioned Dylan’s utter greatness and we all admitted how much we adore his music. I insisted that if you analyze Dylan, that greatness will start blowin’ in the wind. It’s not just his voice, his storytelling, his charisma, his inventiveness, his musicianship, poetry. It’s more—it’s his inscrutable Dylan magic.

Just as Billy Holliday’s voice changed after years of abuse, so Dylan’s has too. He finally blew it out somewhere between MTV Unplugged (1995) and Time Out of Mind (1997), I don’t know whether to mourn this change or not. The semi-sweet youthful growl had expressive flexibility. The newer, coarser growl is appealing in flava, reminiscent of old smoky blues honky-tonks and ramblin’ men. It’s all good, I want to say. However Dylan’s voice sounds, its monumental effect is clear. As Arlo Guthrie said about Dylan, “the truth rang out so loud in his words, not just for me, but for an entire generation.”

When you think that you lost everything
You find out you can always lose a little more
I'm just going down the road feeling bad
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

As with other themes—women, drugs, friends—with religion, Dylan has gone through different phases. Of eastern European Jewish descent, he donned a different persona as he changed his name from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan in 1962. In 1979, under the influence of his lover, back-up singer Carolyn Dennis (with whom he had a child), he converted to Christianity. After a few albums dedicated to the cause (Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love), he drifted back to himself, around 1983. “I don't go to church or to a synagogue. I don't kneel beside my bed at night. I don't think I will. I have yet to face the terror I read about in all the great literature. But, since politics, economics and war have failed to make us feel any better—as individuals or as a nation—and we look back at long years of disrepair, then maybe the time for religion has come again, and rather too suddenly—‘like a thief in the night,’ ” Dylan said in a 1979 Rolling Stone interview. He won’t talk about his beliefs, but he did study Chabad-Lubavitch, one of the largest branches of Hasidic Judaism, starting in the early '80s, and reputedly continues to practice, at least on holidays.

Time passes slowly up here in the daylight,
We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right,
Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day,
Time passes slowly and fades away.

Who could keep it up for 40 years? Dylan’s had so many bursts of genius, and the last three albums, the “trilogy,” as Columbia Records CEO Steve Barnett puts it, referring to Time out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times) is but one example. Most A-list singer/songwriters would do well to have four or five enduringly great songs. With Dylan, you’d be hard-pressed to limit it to four or five dozen. And even in his lesser albums when his mojo stumbled during the 80s (Empire Burlesque, Knocked out Loaded), there are hidden gems, such as the silly and lovable “Ugliest Girl in the World” or the haunting “Dark Eyes.” Even the Basement Tapes, made when Dylan was ostensibly recovering from a motorcycle accident and that he recorded with members of The Band in a basement under the crudest of conditions—cannot hide his juiciness. As Dylan said, “Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but to inspire them?”

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.
It’s tempting to say Dylan’s brilliant lyrics and scorching expressiveness have raised the bar for popular music over the decades. Over 3,000 artists have recorded his music, and it’s been suggested that The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and others of his generation were inspired by Dylan to write more authentically of their own experience. In Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Howard Sounes writes of Dylan, “He is a minstrel guru to millions who hear their deepest thoughts and feelings expressed in his songs, an artist who is perceived to be an original thinker, whose work encapsulates wisdom.”
But how does Dylan feel? He did make international news recently when, in a Rolling Stone interview, he tossed off music over the past 20 years as sounding “atrocious” and suggested that Napster was okay to give it away, because “it ain’t worth nothing anyway.” Admittedly, he seems to have been referring more to the quality of the recordings than to the ability or imagination of the performers. But does he disdain current artists? Hardly, as he famously name-checked Alicia Keys in his just-released Modern Times album, on the “Thunder on the Mountain” track.

Maybe Dylan will never be anachronistic, as much of his just-shy-of 500 song repertoire sounds freshly potent given the zeitgeist of the post-9/11, post-hurricane Katrina turbulent world as it did in the post-Cuban Missile crisis and nuclear scares of the 60s when he first started writing.

I went down where the vultures feed
I would've got deeper, but there wasn't any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn't any difference to me

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Storyteller, embellisher, borrower, synthesizer, guest, womanizer, legend, but then again, he is known all over the globe, he has written 475 songs on 48 albums. He’s received the Polar Music Prize, a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement, Kennedy Center Honors, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century. His “Like a Rollin’ Stone” was named the greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone (with another 11 songs in the top 500, and 10 albums in the top 500). He’s won a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Did I leave anything out? Oh, he also has a Broadway musical, together with Twyla Tharp, that’s opening soon—as well as a movie, in which he plays a character much like himself, and a movie that involves six actors to portray six stages of his life. Dylan famously said, “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”