Thursday, April 23, 2015

Then, Then, Now

Greetings all -

In the wake of revelations of mass surveillance, the tv show The Prisoner often has come to my mind; and to the minds of many others as well.  It certainly was a brilliant series and Patrick McGoohan was a fine actor - who also had some comedic flair (anyone who saw him on Murder, She Wrote, or in one of the epicodes of Columbo he was on, could tell you!)  But the overall theme of being surveilled and fighting for freedom is certainly current today.  And with The Partiot Act and Section 215 possibly seeing sunset this summer, we should be aware and be pressuring for an end to this unconstitutional mass surveillance.

But sometimes one just needs a poem to get things out!

Then, Then, Now

Dedicated to my Father and to Patrick McGoohan

Watching the original airing of The Prisoner
Was vetoed by this then high-schooler’s parents
Despite protests that it would not cause me nightmares

It was years later
When I, then finally an adult professional,
Faithfully watched the rebroadcast
Of all the episodes in order
Together with my Father
Dad and I were transported to The Village each week
To follow the adventures of Mr. McGoohan’s character
As he sought his freedom

The concepts explored in that series decades earlier
Echo through to one now a bit more mature
And slightly more cynical
As revelations have exposed the realities
Of our own “Village”
So in the spirit of Number Six
And in memory of two gentlemen
I raise my voice against mass surveillance
And declare:
“I am not an IP Number to be tracked,
I am not GPS location information to be followed,
I am not metadata to be collected and sifted through;

And now, a couple of links:

Here is the transcript of a great interview with Mr McGoohan himself. 

And here is more activist info on opposing Section 215

P. S. 
It would be REALLY nice to get a comment now and then...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Will the World (Europe, U.S., UK, etc.) Show Compassion?

I caught in passing some reports of emigrants being rescued off the coast of Italy, with a sad number of them dying very recently.  This was on BBC World News America; I don't know if this has been covered in very many other outlets.  It needs to be.  And people need to care, and to make those in positions of responsibility care.

It seems as though a European program assisting Italy has ended and Italy is calling for help in handling the problem.  Here is an op-ed from The Guardian that outlines some of the issues and makes the point that these people (yes, human beings) are fleeing from horrendous circumstances.  It should be clear that the nations of the world should not turn their backs on these people trying to get to better circumstances; often fleeing destabilization in which the West has certainly had a hand.  Solutions must include trying to find ways to improve the situations in the home countries of the emigrants as well as coping with refugees.  These people need our prayers and support.  Let us hope that some real solutions can be instituted.

UPDATES:  There has been another tragedy.  The EU ministers will be meeting.  I really hope they can find ways to solve this problem. Pope Francis has called on the EU and the world to act.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hail the Dancers!

I have been so pleased about this since I first read about it on the NPR News site (link to follow in a bit). This topic may be a bit of a departure for this blog, but I thought it so worthy of note:

Dancers Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack became the first , yes, first African-American pair to lead a major U. S. production of the ballet Swan Lake.  They danced the roles on Thurs. night with the Washington Ballet.  They will do the honors again on Sun. night.  I DO wish I could see them...

It seems so strange that this hasn't happened before now, but - hey, we'll take the victory however it comes (a grad school buddy once said).  That they have been given this opportunity and it seems to be getting GOOD press and support, it's a welcome positive development in us marching toward each person becoming all he or she was meant to be.

So here are some goodie links for all you faithful readers:  

First, the ones with videos:

short article with video clip of rehearsal

BBC article with short interviews 

A nice earlier video of Ballerina Misty C.

And last, but not least:  the NPR article  
     I think you'll find their stories inspiring for many reasons: their talent, their perseverance, the mentors who took an interest in them and others, and of course their triumphs.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Adventures In...(2015)

Here's something a bit different. I've been thinking a while about trying to convey that the way the world is now, it sometimes feels as though I'm Alice in some strange Wonderland.  So here goes:

Adventures In…(2015)

     I could have sworn that the world was turning faster, faster as I fought dizziness and drowsiness.  But it soon became clear I was not in my own bedroom any more. I was sitting in the grass in some strange place, still slightly dizzy.

     I looked up and noticed a grinning cat in what seemed to be a nearby tree.  The fact that he seemed to change colors every so often, from gray and black striped to yellow and white striped just made the place seem that much stranger.

     “So where am I?” I asked, though not expecting a reply.

     “Well, you are here, of course,” the cat answered.

      A bit startled at meeting a talking cat, I nonetheless managed to say, “But where is that?”

     “Between yesterday and tomorrow,” the feline replied.

     “I asked where I am, not when,” I retorted.

     “But if you know when you are, you also know where you are, for you cannot be in two places at the same time.”

     I nodded, as there did seem to be a certain logic to that. “But what kind of place is this,” I continued. “My head is still spinning while just sitting here.”

     “What kind of place were you expecting,” he asked.

     “I wasn’t expecting to be swept up to whatever this place is as I’m not even sure how I arrived here.”

    “It does seem as though the world-spin has brought you to just this sort of place.”

    “But why?”

    “Maybe you were in need of adventure?”

    “Adventure? I don’t think so,” I replied.  “Who am I supposed to be? My name’s not Alice.”

    Then I looked down and saw a silver handled mirror at my feet.  I reached for it and waved to the cat as I sought to find my way back to some sort of normalcy through that looking-glass.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Excellent Presentation, Real Challenges

This weekend I was able to watch Noam Chomsky's presentation from New Mexico in support of his book, Masters of Mankind. His message isn't exactly cheerful, but not devoid of hope, either.  He really lays out the concerns that challenge us.

It's definitely worth the time to view his presentation

And here is my effort at a visual summary of his talk:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bring Them Home Safely

Of course I have been noticing reports of the fighting in Yemen.  But quite recently it has been revealed that there are Americans stranded there, needing help from the U. S. - and NOT receiving it.

One of the first reports was about Mr. Mobley - and his situation was recently updated at The Intercept.  Then, I happened to read about more Americans left stranded in the chaos there in this article from The Guardian

Why aren't our State Department folks and the Defense people not doing - well, anything to help these people?  Isn't our government supposed to work for US, the citizens?  Seems as though if you're not well connected by wealth, position, or by diplomacy somehow, you're just on your own.

The level of unconcern is staggering. We have this from the wife of Sharif Mobley:  “Anytime I ever had contact with the embassy or State Department was through my initiation,” she told The Intercept in an interview last month. “And I get either no response or a weak response.”

Maybe I closed the Hall of Shame too early.  It seems as though this is one more exhibit, another outrage du jour.