A Really Big Show
What a glorious May morning! Brilliant sun, deep blue sky, temps heading to around 70. Heaven on Earth, babies. And, BTW, did you catch the sky show last night? The waxing moon sat prominently and directly between Mars and Jupiter and just a thumbnail above the bright star Spica.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Who needs TV?
Oh, and the show goes on — over the next few nights the planet Saturn muscles into the picture from the southeast as Jupiter begins its exit to the west. I’ll be out there tonight, watching.
From Sky & Telescope
Sound & Vision
The beauty of the human voice, illustrated by science. Baritone Michael Volle was strapped into an MRI machine and recorded while singing a song from Wagner’s opera, Tannhäuser.
Imagine, little kids must learn how to position their tongues, lips, teeth, uvalae, and countless other structures, minute and large, to create language. And they must do it all blindly. You don’t really think about your teeth and lips when you speak do you? That is, unless you’re worried there’s a fleck of spinach on them.
Thanks to University of Chicago Press manuscript editor Renaldo Migaldi for pointing this out.
I had a hell of a conversation with a dear friend the other day. This fellow, who doesn’t wish to be ID’d, is one of the biggest liberals you’ll ever meet. And I mean that in the old sense of liberalism, the sense of a guy who attained adulthood in the 1960s. His loyalties and sympathies, always on display, are four-square with blacks, Jews, Latinos, the poor, those of other countries whom our military is threatening — the kind of guy Norman Lear based his All in the Family character Mike Stivic on or his Maude.
Now, this fellow lowered his voice and said, “Mike, you’re the only one I can say this to without worrying about being yelled at.”
Fair enough. I took that as a compliment. I like to hear opposing views and hashing them out with my friends and even those I’d never met before. And this, I could tell by the look on his face, was preamble to my friend advancing an opinion for which he feared he’d be torn to shreds in his liberal circles.
“I want to talk about abortion,” he said.
“Mike,” he said, “I am so fortunate I’ve never had to make a personal decision on abortion. I have to tell you, I really believe life begins at conception. If I’m to be consistent in my overall respect for life, I have to say I wouldn’t take the life of a fetus.”
Natch, I didn’t yell at him, nor did I tear him to shreds. I disagree with him, deeply. But that’s alright. I told him I respected his position but I believe the fetus is an adjunct to a woman’s body, over which she has ultimate control. She’ll be the one who has to carry the fetus to term, to birth it, to feed it, clothe it, send it off to school, nurse it through illness, put up with its deranged adolescence, and even possibly endure its descent into drugs or crime. If a woman doesn’t think she can bear those responsibilities, she has a greater responsibility to not bring that future child into this world. In a profound way, it’s the ultimate act of love.
And he said, “I agree with you.”
He told me he stood strongly for a woman’s right to choose. But he just needed to confess to someone his feelings about conception and a certain sanctity of life.
Funny — isn’t it? — how we’ve turned discourse into a minefield wherein smart people are jittery about saying what they really believe. Why am I the only guy my friend could say these things to?
And the upshot is, his view on abortion is boilerplate liberal.
I’ll say this: The only reason I’d yell at somebody or tear them to shreds is if they confess to me they’re voting for Donald Trump. Now that’s a sin.
Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) and other Hillary harassers are now admitting nothing could have been done to save the lives of the four American victims of the Benghazi attacks back in 2012. This pretty much kills their assertion that Hillary, well…, killed Ambassador Chris Stevens along with a mid-level foreign service officer and two security contractors by ordering the military to “stand down” once the violence started.
Because, you know, Clinton is such a murderous she-devil that she actually wanted to see Americans shredded by enemy bullets. She did, after all, put a bullet into Vince Foster’s brain after midnight in a DC park one night. Or, at the very least, she bade her Nazi-Commie-Lesbian henchmen do the dirty work.
So is this going to end the endless congressional investigation into the former Sec’y of State’s capital crime? Prob. not. Those who hate Hillary — and there are tons on both sides of the political spectrum — will continue to associate her with Benghazi. Others, who are sane, don’t even think about Banghazi. Neither attitude is going to change between now and November. Gowdy and Co. will want to remind voters of the association all the way up to and including Election Day.
We’re living, babies, in a holy land wherein politics is nothing more than professional wrestling write large. There are the Good Guys and there are the Villains.
The 2016 Election
May 19th Birthdays
Johns Hopkins — Yes, there was a fellow after whom the noted hospital and university are named. He was a Baltimore merchandiser who made it big — really big– back in the early and mid-1800s. He sold goods out of Conestoga wagons and then was an early investor on railroads. He became one of the richest men in America. He also was an early abolitionist and a noted philanthropist. He earmarked his millions to be given to any number of charitable organizations after his death, including seed funding for a free hospital and an orphanage for “colored children.”
Ho Chi Minh — The driving force behind the Viet Minh revolutionary independence movement in what was then called French Indo-China (later, Vietnam). He became the post-colonial Vietnam’s first president after the French were ousted. Ho also was a poet. Several historians have observed that many peasants in South Vietnam displayed in their homes photographs of Ho and John F. Kennedy next to each other.
Malcolm X — Born Malcolm Little and later assuming the Muslim name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, he led several lives, including that of orphan, vice peddler, Muslim minister, social activist, Black nationalist, and, ultimately, integrationist. His friendship with Cassius Clay eventually led to the boxing champion’s conversion to Islam. Malcolm X was assassinated in February, 1965, likely by rivals from the Nation of Islam, an organization he quit in 1964.
Loraine Hansberry — Her play, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway. She fought for civil rights in American and the end of colonialism in Africa, writing that blacks should employ “every single means of struggle: legal, illegal, passive, active, violent and non-violent…. They must harass, debate, petition, give money to court struggles, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing hymns, pray on steps — and shoot from their windows when the racists come cruising through their communities.” Nina Simone wrote the song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” about her.
Dick Scobee — Commander of the space shuttle Challenger when it blew up 72 seconds into flight in January, 1986. His last words, uttered a moment before the explosion and heard countless times in footage of the incident, were “Roger, go at throttle up.”
Joey Ramone — The Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman.
Nicole Brown Simpson — Domestic abuse and murder victim.
Jodi Picoult — Bestselling American author, she studied at Princeton and Harvard and then worked at a number of odd jobs before she became a writer for the Wonder Woman series issued by DC Comics.
On this day in 1536, Anne Boleyn‘s head was separated from her body. Her husband, King Henry VIII so desired to divorce her that her spurred the creation of a new religion, the Church of England. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any evidence that she did anything remarkable in her life other than fail to produce a son for the king.