Sunday, June 29, 2014
Read the whole thing, but these two grafs New Yorker piece boil down the issues of a successful movement:
Stonewall was the product of a handful of brilliant community organizers applying basic principles of social organizing. Without them, Stonewall would have been nothing more than one of several gay-bar pushbacks in the late sixties, or another one of the non-gay street demonstrations that characterized New York in that tumultuous time. It was the dedicated strategizing of the men and women of the nascent gay movement that turned something unremarkable into the Bastille. Their achievement is a field guide to how to make a social movement, and also offers insight into why Occupy is failing.
[S]o the myth of Stonewall began. Strategic, discrete, well-planned, original (in its time), the Stonewall march is the pure manifestation of how social movements succeed. It was the birthday party for Stonewall, not the birth the year before, that gave rise to the triumphant gay revolution.
Organization wins, in all campaigns, movements and revolutions. Not guaranteed victory, but disorganization pretty much equals guaranteed failure, in large part because there's no follow-up to any successes achieved despite the lack of organization.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014
History Rhymes With Iraq
[T]he people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders [to go to war]. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the paciﬁsts for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
- Predictable Hermann Goering quotation
According to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released Monday, 75 percent of Americans saying the war in Iraq was not worth it is up 8 percentage points from 2011, and up nearly one-third (30 percent) since August 2003. Republicans, Democrats and independents all agree — by large majorities — that the war which began in March 2003 was not worth any of the human or financial costs.
Half of Americans (50 percent) in the June 20-22 poll of more than 1,000 adults don’t think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the current ISIS-based violence in the Middle Eastern nation, including only 42 percent of Republicans who say the U.S. has any current responsibility for action.
About 80 percent of both Democrats and independents say the U.S. war in Iraq was not worth the costs.
Nice that the American people are skeptical about this thing some of us fought against so hard. Maybe next time they won't be so easily brought to the bidding of their leaders. Perhaps now we can denounce the architects of this disaster as warmongers who lack patriotism and exposed us to danger...
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Saturday, June 14, 2014
Struggling For Any Justice Somewhere Is Struggling For Justice Everywhere
I have long advocated for fighting against bad stuff, though there's no requirement for loincloth and goats' milk. So I wholly endorse what Loomis says here about activist snobbery.
I admonish people to get engaged. Don't have to do what I do, or for the reasons I do it, just fucking do something. Even frisbee revolutions have value.NToddcast RSS Feed
Nuke Iraq From Orbit, It's The Only Way To Be SureNToddcast RSS Feed
Saturday, June 07, 2014
The Start Of Gandhi's Life Of Crime
A first class seat was booked for me. It was usual there to pay five shillings extra, if one needed a bedding. Abdulla Sheth insisted that I should book one bedding but, out of obstinacy and pride and with a view to saving five shillings, I declined. Abdulla Sheth warned me. 'Look, now,' said he, 'this is a different country from India. Thank God, we have enough and to spare. Please do not stint yourself in anything that you may need.'
I thanked him and asked him not to be anxious. The train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. Beddings used to be provided at this station. A railway servant came and asked me if I wanted one. 'No,' said I, 'I have one with me.' He went away. But a passenger came next, and looked me up and down. He saw that I was a 'coloured' man. This disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or two officials. They all kept quiet, when another official came to me and said, 'Come along, you must go to the van compartment.'
'But I have a first class ticket,' said I.
'That doesn't matter,' rejoined the other. 'I tell you, you must go to the van compartment.'
'I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it.'
'No, you won't,' said the official. 'You must leave this compartment, or else I shall have to call a police constable to push you out.'
'Yes, you may. I refuse to get out voluntarily.'
The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out. My luggage was also taken out. I refused to go to the other compartment and the train steamed away. I went and sat in the waiting room, keeping my hand-bag with me, and leaving the other luggage where it was. The railway authorities had taken charge of it.
And that's where Attenborough began his story...
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Thursday, June 05, 2014
Speaking Of Throwbacks
It was 25 years ago.
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Monday, May 19, 2014
What Went Wrong With Operation American Spring
I have a lot of respect for Col Riley, I believe he is a great patriot, but there were errors in the organization of the event. Early on I wrote to a number of people and stated that it is not a good idea to just pull a date out of a hat.It will be much better to find a date and time when a lot of people travel to DC anyways, such as tax day, 4th of July, memorial day, veterans day or an event when a team from a conservative state, such TX travels to DC and a lot of conservative fans travel with it. Nobody would listen to this comment.
Also, too, try to pick a day that won't be rainy. And provide snacks. BUT NO FRISBEES!
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Monday, May 05, 2014
We Must Try To Radicalize The American People
Once more with feeling: Kent State didn't shut down protest. It did scare folks, but it wasn't The Movement: it was the very people we were resisting who had a vested interest in the status quo. When did The Movement fade away? After they'd essentially won.
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Sunday, April 06, 2014
With This, I Am Shaking The Foundations Of The British Empire
Just following up from last month.
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I Could Not See Because Of The Tears In My Own Eyes
[Congresswoman Rankin is] a dagger in the hands of the German propagandists, a dupe of the Kaiser, a member of the Hun army in the United States, and a crying schoolgirl.
- The Helena Montana Independent Record
We're approaching the 100th anniversary of WWI's beginning, but that was all about Europe so who cares because we're Americans and it's all about us, right? But today's significant because in 1917, we jumped in for a bit of the fun:
WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and
That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.
Just a few days before, President Wilson had requested Congress recognize the reality:
With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.
And they obliged after a relatively good amount of debate, voting overwhelmingly to send Johnnie and his gun over there. But support was not universal. One who voted against was Jeannette Rankin:
[Rankin's brother] Wellington had told her she should vote a “man’s vote” in order not to jeopardize a bright career. Harriet Laidlaw had made a trip from New York to urge her to support the declaration. Suffragists had pointed out that if she voted against the declaration, she would hurt the cause.
[S]he did not answer the ﬁrst [roll call]. “Unclejoe” Cannon, the Republican leader, thought she did not understand the situation. “Little woman,” he said, “you cannot afford not to vote. You represent the womanhood of the country in the American Congress. l shall not advise you how to vote, but you should vote one way or another—as your conscience dictates.” When the second roll was called and Jeannette heard “Miss Rankin,” she rose and with a shaking voice said, “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote No.”
The clerk could not hear for the hubbub on the ﬂoor and in the galleries. It was contrary to the unwritten rules of the House to make a speech during a vote. There was a scattering of applause. Some members shouted, “Vote. Vote. Vote.” The chief clerk asked if she intended to vote “No.” She nodded, pressed her hands to her eyes, and sat down. On went the vote: 373 for, 50 against, 9 not voting. The House adjourned at 3:14 a.m. Wellington, walking Jeannette home in the dark dawn of Good Friday, told her she had cruciﬁed herself. “You know you're not going to be reelected. You know there will be a lot of feeling.” She replied: “I’m not interested in that. All I’m interested in [is] what they'll say ﬁfty years from now.”
The papers made much of Jeannette's vote. Although ﬁfty men had also opposed the resolution, hers was the vote that attracted attention. She had wept, they said, just like a woman. Others said she did not. lt became a public issue: did or did not Miss Rankin weep? Fiorello LaGuardia, whose desk was near hers, said he did not know. “I could not see because of the tears in my own eyes.” He had voted for the declaration and four months later signed up in the Signal Corps. He had promised his constituents that if he sent them to ﬁght he would go himself. The April 7, 1918, Atlanta Constitution said if there were tears, it was on an issue dear to a mother's heart. Tears did not prove her weak, it said, but womanly, and some day “tears will move all the women of the world to be consulted before the War Lords tear their sons from their bosoms.”
Jeannette said she did not cry. She had cried for a week and had no more tears left. The Congressional Record says she did not cry. Only a few months later, at a House hearing on woman‘s suffrage, a witness, explaining why women should not be allowed to vote and deploring their weakness, said, “Never was there a more eloquent confession of woman's inability to support the strains of a war council than that so pathetically made by Miss Rankin in that moment of national crisis...”
Fortunately, we've come so far since then that there is no longer such a sexist double standard. And no more war, too.
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Thursday, March 27, 2014
Dogs Are Subject To Laws, So They Can Believe In Dog
During an interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Gohmert said that he was “shocked” to hear the Obama administration say that corporations could not form religious beliefs during Tuesday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
“This is a Justice Department that has indicted corporations for forming intent to commit a crime,” the former Texas judge said. “Well, Tony, if you can as a corporation through your directors and officers, form the intent to commit a crime, then you can certainly, through your officers and directors form an intent to have religious beliefs.”
“And if every one of your directors and officers has the same exact religious beliefs, whether your Amish and have formed a corporation or any other religious group — Quakers or whatever the group is — certainly a corporation can, if they can have intent as the Justice Department repeatedly proves in court, then they can certainly have religious beliefs.”
So I no longer have to do my WTR through what was the only legal way (not earning enough money to have a tax liability). I just have to form a corporation--one hopes it will be profitable--and refuse to pay corporate taxes based on my strenuous religious objection to funding the Military Industrial Complex!
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Ah, good times in 1981:
At eight o'clock on Friday 27 March the factory sirens sounded from Gdansk to Jastrezebie and Poland stopped work. For the next four hours Polish society demonstrated its unity and self-discipline in the largest strike in the history of the Soviet bloc.
After that, the Polish government made enough concessions that Solidarity postponed a general strike. By the end of the year martial law was imposed, but in less than a decade there was a sea change:
Poland became the first eastern European country to move decisively towards noncommunist government when, on June 4, 1989, Solidarity candidates decisively beat communist candidates in elections for the Sejm (parliament); on August 24, 1989, the National Assembly elected as prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Solidarity; and on September 12 it endorsed his proposals for a new coalition Council of Ministers dominated by Solidarity.
This change in Poland was in part the result of pressure from below in the form of popular resistance. Over a period of more than twenty years, the civil resistance of Poles, and especially of Polish workers, had contributed significantly to the evolution in the thinking of the party leadership. In this process, the strike weapon had been paramo~nt.~~ The strikes in the Baltic ports in the winter of 1970-71 had shown the capacity of such action even in the face of brutal repression; and many subsequent strikes and demonstrations in the next two decades had added to the party's malaise, while also provid- ing the pretext for the desperate move in December 1981 of the imposition of martial law.
In the course of the evolution of events in Poland in the 1980s, civil resistance had to be used with considerable care. Solidarity showed its power as much by its ability to restrain its followers as by its ability to unleash them. In December 1988, at a time of crucial deliberations on the future of Poland, one senior party figure, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, said publicly that Lech Walesa was "a different man from 1981" (the period of Solidarity's confrontation with the authorities leading to the imposition of martial law): Walesa was now said to favor gradual change and compromise with the ruling Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP).
The change in Poland was also the result of evolutionary changes within party and govemment organs. It occurred because the communist system of government was morally and had slowly come to recognize that fact.
But that can't happen here...
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Thursday, March 20, 2014
Clicktivism Dilutes Action
Protests...fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. And whether these take place in Turkey, Egypt or Ukraine, pundits often speculate that the days of a ruling party or government, or at least its unpopular policies, must be numbered. Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.
This muted effect is not because social media isn’t good at what it does, but, in a way, because it’s very good at what it does. Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.
I'd rather just sign a petition than escalate action...
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Sunday, March 16, 2014
The Blood-sweetened Beverage
[S]o necessarily connected are our consumption of the commodity the misery resulting from it, that in every pound of sugar used, (the produce of slaves imported from Africa), we may be considered as consuming two ounces of human flesh.
- William Fox, An Address to the people of Great Britain on the propriety of abstaining from West Indian sugar and rum (1791)
Over at dKos:
When I thought of boycotts in relation to people's movements, the first thing that popped into my head was the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s and Rosa Parks—that history is still being revisited to reflect the role of women in those battles. Though we learned a smidgin about slavery and the Civil War when I was in grade school, no one ever taught me about a boycott of "slave-grown" sugar, nor did I learn much about women who were abolitionists, other than a mention perhaps of Harriet Tubman leading enslaved people to freedom, and Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Well, imagine if we were taught about such things...we might actually understand collective nonviolent action can be powerful. Can't have that because then everybody would turn into Quakers and the world would go to shite.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014
March To The Salty Sea
What hope shall we gather, what dreams shall we sow?
Where the wind calls our wandering footsteps we go.
On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi gave some parting remarks at Chandola lake to those who came to see his party off as they began the Salt March:
There were rumours of my arrest last night. God is great, mysterious indeed are His ways. I am here to say good-bye to you. But even if I were in prison, with your strength I could come back...
[B]e prepared to offer yourselves as civil resisters. Let there be no flinching. Your way at present, however, lies homeward; mine straight on to the sea-coast. You cannot accompany me at present, but you will have an opportunity to accompany me in a different sense later. . . .
The purpose of the March and this satyagraha was, in part, to break the British monopoly on salt manufacture through a form of economic non-cooperation (Method 90: Revenue Refusal). By making their own salt, Indians would deny a small, symbolic amount of tax monies to the Raj in defiance of an unjust law that was part of the larger injustice of occupation.
By itself, that action wouldn't amount to much, so Gandhi had to generate what we'd call buzz today, hence the March. It generated popular interest in every locality his party passed through, and the media propagated the message far and wide.
Before embarking on this first stage of the satyagraha, Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin on March 2:
I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed.
[I]f you cannot see your way to deal with these evils and my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the 11th day of this month,1 I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the salt laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land the beginning will be made with this evil. The wonder is that we have submitted to the cruel monopoly for so long.
It is, I know, open to you to frustrate my design by arresting me. I hope that there will be tens of thousands ready, in a disciplined manner, to take up the work after me, and, in the act of disobeying the Salt Act to lay themselves open to the penalties of a law that should never have disfigured the Statute-book.
It might seem odd at first blush to alert the authorities that you plan on breaking the law, but civil resistance is all about letting the people in power know what you're doing and why. That way they can either amend their ways or be provoked into counterproductive actions that undermine their authority and give power to the resisters.
A few days before the March ended in Dandi, spoke at a prayer meeting:
Another piece of information that I have received is that the Government intends to use fire-engines to stop us. We have prepared ourselves for death from cannons and guns, compared to which this is nothing. Of course, even with jets of water, the Government can kill us through torture. It is certainly painful. However, you must bear in mind that not one of us will retreat. I do not think the Government will be so cruel, but we must be prepared.
The March arrived at Dandi on April 5:
That I have reached here is in no small measure due to the power of peace and non-violence: that power is universally felt. The Government may, if it wishes, congratulate itself on acting as it has done, for it could have arrested every one of us. In saying that it did not have the courage to arrest this army of peace, we praise it. It felt ashamed to arrest such an army. He is a civilized man who feels ashamed to do anything which his neighbours would disapprove. The Government deserves to be congratulated on not arresting us, even if it desisted only from fear of world opinion.
Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law. Whether the Government will tolerate that is a different question. It may not tolerate it, but it deserves congratulations on the patience and forbearance it has displayed in regard to this party.
If the civil disobedience movement becomes widespread in the country and the Government tolerates it, the salt law may be taken as abolished. I have no doubt in my mind that the salt tax stood abolished the very moment that the decision to break the salt laws was reached and a few men took the pledge to carry on the movement even at the risk of their lives till swaraj was won.
If the Government tolerates the impending civil disobedience you may take it for certain that the Government, too, has resolved to abolish this tax sooner or later. If they arrest me or my companions tomorrow, I shall not be surprised, I shall certainly not be pained. It would be absurd to be pained if we get something that we have invited on ourselves.
Then on April 6 (as reported by The Bombay Chronicle):
When they made a beginning in the morning he had himself picked up more mud than salt, but after washing and cleaning he could get two tolas of pure quality which was sufficient for his day’s requirements. That was only a beginning but that signified great things.
In an interview, Gandhi suggest everybody ough to engage in this civil disobedience:
Now that a technical or ceremonial breach of the salt law has been committed, it is now open to anyone who would take the risk of prosecution under the salt law to manufacture salt wherever he wishes and wherever it is convenient.
My advice is that a worker should everywhere manufacture salt and where he knows how to prepare clean salt should make use of it and instruct villagers to do likewise, telling the villagers at the same time that he runs the risk of being prosecuted. In other words the villagers should be fully instructed as to the incidence of salt tax and the manner of breaking laws and regulations in connection with it, so as to have the salt tax repealed and it should be made absolutely clear to the villagers that this breach is to be open and in no way stealthy.
This condition being known they may manufacture salt or help themselves to salt manufactured by nature in creeks and pits near the seashore, to use it for themselves and for their cattle and to sell it to those who will buy it, it being well und- erstood that all such people are committing a breach of the salt law and therefore running the risk of prosecution or even without prosecution to be subjected by the so-called salt officers to harassment. Thus the war against salt tax should be continue...
Gandhi was not arrested at this point. That would happen a bit later when the satyagrahis escalated, announcing their nonviolent raid on the Dharasana saltworks. But this was a real turning point in the struggle, massively mobilizing the Indian people while not alienating more moderate members of the Indian National Congress.
Sometimes big things start with a mere handful of mud...
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Monday, March 10, 2014
We pretend to believe that retaliation is the law of our being, whereas in every scripture we find that retaliation is nowhere obligatory but only permissible. It is restraint that is obligatory. Retaliation is indulgence requiring elaborate regulating. Restraint is the law of our being.
- MK Gandhi, Young India, March 9, 1922
One way to refuse cooperation with a regime is to engage in Method 122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance:
In many situations, the making of speeches and the publication and distribution of literature which call on people to undertake some form of nonviolent noncooperation or nonviolent intervention themselves become acts of defiance and resistance. This is especially so in those countries where any call for resistance, especially for illegals acts of resistance, is itself illegal or seditious.
Now sedition is a rather subjective thing, and often used too loosely to describe a variety of acts. I think colloquially it is taken to mean "advocating stuff that upsets the status quo." Sometimes it's criminal.
We in the US have had a long history, from the Alien and Sedition Acts passed in during John Adams' tenure in 1798 to the Sedition Act of 1918 under Woodrow Wilson to the Smith Act that was signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt (and remains on the books to this day). Sadly, there are plenty of examples of trying to suppress dissent in the recent past, too.
You most likely know where I'm headed with this. On the same date that Gandhi wrote in Young India about non-violence, he also instructed people what to do in case he was arrested:
The rumour has been revived that my arrest is imminent. It is said to be regarded as a mistake by some officials that I was not arrested when I was to be...It is said, too, that it is now no longer possible for the Government to withstand the ever-rising agitation in London for my arrest and deportation. I myself cannot see how the Government can avoid arresting me if they want a permanent abandonment of civil disobedience, whether individual or mass.
I advised the Working Committee to suspend mass civil disobedience...becauae that disobedience would not have been civil, and if I am now advising all provincial workers to suspend even individual civil disobedience, it is because I know that any disobedience at the present stage will be not civil but criminal. A tranquil atmosphere is an indispensable condition of civil disobedience. It is humiliating for me to discover that there is a spirit of violence abroad and that the Government of the United Provinces has been obliged to enlist additional police...
He also admonished his followers to not engage in any demonstrations or hartal upon his arrest, nor should they revive mass civil disobedience, and they should strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence.
Gandhi was, in fact, arrested at Ahmedabad late at night on March 10, under Section 124, Indian Penal Code. His parting words were that "all who bore patriotism and love for India should strain every nerve to propagate peace and goodwill all over India, among all communities."
The authorities charged Gandhi with sedition for writing three articles in Young India:
- Tampering with Loyalty (September 27, 1921)
- A Puzzle and its Solution (December 15, 1921)
- Shaking the Manes (February 22, 1922)
I know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would still do the same. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also last article of my creed. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am sorry for it. Their crime consisted in the love of their country.
I am here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest Penalty. In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be the inflected upon me for what in law is a deliberated crime and what appears to me be the highest duty of a citizen.
The only cause open to, judge, is either to resign post and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that I am innocent or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.
He was sentenced to six years in prison, though he was released early because of illness (he was 53 at that point and had an appendectomy two years into his prison term). Wonder if the CEO of Hobby Lobby would be willing to demand the harshest penalty of law to defend his principles and effect change...
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Sunday, March 02, 2014
Yooks Versus Zooks
There's another butter battle brewing:
“Have no fears,” said the Chief. “Everything is all right.
My Bright Back Room Boys have been brighter than bright.
They've thought up a gadget that's Newer than New.
It's filled with mysterious Moo-Lacka-Moo
And can blow all those Zooks clear to Sala-ma-goo.
“You just run this to the wall like a nice little man.
Drop this bomb on the Zooks just as fast as you can.
I have ordered all Yooks to stay safe underground
While the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo is around.”
As I raced for that Wall, with the bomb in my hand,
I noticed that every last Yook in our land
Was obeying our chief Yookeroo's grim command.
They were all bravely marching,
With banners aflutter,
For their country!
And Right-Side-Up Butter!
That's when Grandfather found me!
He grabbed me. He said,
“You should be down that hole!
And you're up here instead!
But perhaps this is all for the better, somehow.
You will see me make history!
RIGHT HERE! AND RIGHT NOW!
Grandpa leapt up that Wall with a lopulous leap
And he cleared his hoarse throat
With a bopulous beep.
He screamed. “Here's the end of that terrible town
Full of Zooks who eat bread with the butter-side-down!”
At that very instant we heard a klupp-klupp
Of the feet on the Wall and old Van Itch klupped up!
The Boys in HIS Back Room had made him one too!
In his fist was another Big-Boy Boomeroo!
“I'll blow you”, he yelled, “into pork and wee beans!
I'll butter-side-up you to small smithereens!”
“Grandpa!” I shouted. “Be careful! Oh gee!
Who's going to drop it?
Will you…? Or will he…?
“Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We'll see.
We will see…”
Happy 110th fricking birthday, Dr Seuss.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014
Speaking Of Dead Poets
An excerpt from The Arsenal at Springfield:
Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,Given to redeem the human mind from error,There were no need of arsenals or forts:The warrior's name would be a name abhorred!And every nation, that should lift againIts hand against a brother, on its foreheadWould wear forevermore the curse of Cain!Down the dark future, through long generations,The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,I hear once more the voice of Christ say, "Peace!"Peace! and no longer from its brazen portalsThe blast of War's great organ shakes the skies!But beautiful as songs of the immortals,The holy melodies of love arise.
Interesting background on Longfellow's poem from NPS:
“The Arsenal at Springfield” was originally published in Graham's Magazine in May 1845; it was reprinted at the end of 1845 in The Belfry of Bruges and other Poems, a volume that technically has a copyright date of 1846. As for the poem itself, it is widely known that the poem was not Longfellow's idea. As Cecil B. Williams notes in his 1964 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet's second wife, Fanny, was "at least partly responsible" for the writing of the poem. As Williams explains, on the Longfellows' "wedding journey in 1843, they visited, among other places, the arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts, with the result, Fanny said, that 'I urged H. to write a peace poem.'" Likewise, as Thomas Wentworth Higginson notes in his 1902 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fanny sometimes "suggested subjects for poems."
Fanny was not the only inspiration for the poem, however. As Higginson notes, on the trip to the arsenal, Longfellow and his wife were also joined by "Charles Sumner, just then the especial prophet of international peace." Sumner was a noted crusader for peace, and, as George Lowell Austin notes of the poem in his 1888 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Life, His Works, His Friendships, a large influence on the poem. Austin, who had known Longfellow, recounts a conversation in which the poet told him that "The Arsenal at Springfield" "was suggested by reading Mr. Sumner's eloquent address on 'The True Grandeur of Nations.'"
As for the poem itself, critics have given it mixed reviews. Some, like Edward Wagenknecht, liked the poem. In his 1986 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose, Wagenknecht calls it an "admirably constructed poem" and says that it "is perhaps Longfellow's most effective plea for peace." However, others, like Newton Arvin, in his 1855 book, Longfellow: His Life and Work, have faulted the poem somewhat. Says Arvin, the poem "is only half successful if only because the anti-war theme is developed so fully in direct rhetorical terms." Still, in the end, Arvin approves of the poem, since it "takes off from a fine image — the burnished gun-barrels at the Arsenal rising to the ceiling like the pipes of a huge and ominous organ." Many other critics have been struck by the vivid imagery of the war organ.
In 1916, during World War I, George Hamlin Fitch notes in his essay, "Longfellow: The Poet of the Household," that the poem is "an eloquent plea for peace." In addition, citing the current state of affairs in the world, Fitch says that Longfellow's verses "have special force at this time when more than half the civilized world is engaged in the most destructive war ever known." However, not all critics praised the poem. The most scathing review comes from George Saintsbury, whose 1933 essay, "Longfellow's Poems," notes that while he likes many of Longfellow's verses, he did not like "The Arsenal at Springfield." Says Saintsbury, the poem "is a piece of mere claptrap, out of harmony with some of his own most spirited work, and merely an instance of a cant common at the time."
There's just no pleasing some people.
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Monday, February 24, 2014
Making Nixon Do It
Loomis has a good piece about the frame that Nixon was liberal. I understand the attraction, but it's pretty silly. And really, the way he governed is a decent example of how millions of people create space for elected officials.
I think this applies to Obama, too, who "evolved" on marriage equality because of reality on the ground, fostered by people doing the right thing collectively. So his administration stopped defending DOMA, extended Federal benefits to all marriages, etc.
He ain't no liberal, either. But liberal/progressive policy is generally popular, not to mention correct from where I sit, so what else can we do to help a center-right kinda guy govern more liberally?
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
It's been very interesting watching the press report this mistaken bombing on American soldiers in a remote outpost today. First they started censoring the bad language and then started downplaying the whole thing as no big deal.
But I was struck by this comment:The soldier says the impact was so powerful that it knocked people to the ground.'After the initial realization that it had hit behind us, we were so scatter brained trying to figure out what happened. It hit so close to the guys in the tower it actually knocked the fill out of radios,' he said.
'Once the smoke had cleared and we realized that no one was seriously injured, we were just sitting there in awe as the anger started to build,' he continued.
I can imagine. I can also imagine how much it angers innocent villagers who find themselves on the receiving end of such "mistakes."
Yeah, yathink? I can't imagine why they hate us...