PBS Shined A Light On The KKK

PBS ran a documentary on the KKK in North and South Carolina today, which I had the good chance to view. It was revealing information about the Klan and it’s history, it’s actions, and it’s mission in the Carolinas. We see very little of the Klan today, although it still exists and is still active. There is a movement to revive the Klan in the South and it seems to be growing.

The revealing part of the PBS documentary was the recorded statements of the Klan leaders of the time. Motivations they asserted for their forming the Klan, and for their behaviors echo loudly today in the voices of the Tea Party, most Republicans, and most who identify as “conservatives”.

“Enforcing the law, family values, abiding principles of the founding fathers, white supremacy, defending freedom, returning to our glorious past”, all phrases used today to justify widespread suppression of “those” folks. It is rampant in our political and social arenas most noted in the social medias, and cable TV faux news channels, and the NRA. Revealing how much the new movement groups parallel the old Klan.

The Klan is not so visible today, it just went underground. It wears a suit and tie today. We see it draped in the robes of religion, academia, political parties, flags, badges, and uniforms. It shares the same extreme agendas as the radicals who attacked the satirical paper in Paris. It shares the same extreme agendas as those who carry out ethnic cleansing and racial bias. It shows in the rabid broadcast of fear mongering, slanted reporting, factual misstatements, actual lies.

Look around and you will see the Klan in full operation today, not in the hooded robes of yesterday, but now posing as leaders of conservative religions and political parties, of self-appointed voices of the masses, as evangelists, and proponents of “The True Faith” and respected reporters on Faux News.

And some as candidates for public office, some who were elected in the last go-round.

PBS shone a light on the Klan that needs to be broadcast throughout the nation, and seen by the people who should be alarmed by the resurgence of the far right movement toward anarchy, and the implementation of their form of Sharia Law.

Thank you, PBS, for airing the historical truth about the KKK. Now take it another step to show how the Klan is working today.

An Historic Day For Virginia

In the annals of history, ever since the founding of our Virginia Colony, our Commonwealth, up until the present time, no elected governor of our Commonwealth has ever been convicted of a felony. Some may have deserved that fate, but until now, not one Virginia governor flaunted the rules to the point that they were indicted, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to serve time for a felony. Until now.

Today the court handed down to the perpetrator a wrist slap of two years incarceration in a minimum security facility. This governor not only took money under the table, he flaunted it, then blamed his wife for his transgressions when he stooped to blame it on her. She was also convicted of several felonies, for which she will be sentenced in due time.

These two were a handsome couple sharing the limelight, upwardly mobile in the conservative political world with a shot at national office, even a shot at becoming president. Now defeated, and now laid out for all the world to see their true values of “honesty, unselfish public service, dedicated to conservative family values, conservative principles, truth, justice and the American Way”. Their dirty laundry is now hung out for all to see, an embarrassment to our Commonwealth.

How did this come to pass? How did this man and his wife manage to rise to such heights before their true identities became to light? Trace his rise from his religious education, his upbringing, his immersion in conservative politics, and his supporters and those who would be his friend for personal gain, and you might tease out a thread of meaning. It is thin, but it is revealing. It shows a rapid rise in the ultra conservative, radical religious right, among those who now dominate the conservative movement, including several well know religious leaders, not to exclude those in Virginia Beach and Lynchburg.

Were these two merely pawns in some larger plan? Pawns? Doubtful. More likely egotistical, ambitious and self-serving panderers who used their personal and religious affiliations and business connections to gain prominence and to further their desires for national prominence. Was he guilty of bad judgment, or of just poor choices of friends and associates, or was he the dupe of Johnny Williams? Only he knows for certain, but the fact that he used his office and position in ways that were blantantly illegal speak loudly.

What was once a man held in high esteem by GOP leaders and by conservative across the nation for his “Family Values”, even as their possible nominee for president, is now a convicted felon. His hubris and his unwarranted pride, his arrogance and his blind obedience to his handlers, has brought him down, crashed and burned.

Some say the two years of incarceration is much too short, that more severe punishment is warranted for the broken trust and the corruption. I agree that two years is a minimum of time locked up in a prison for the crimes committed. Perhaps more time would suit better, but with banishment forever from the boundaries of the Commonwealth, from ever serving in a position of trust or public office, from teaching or speaking in any public forum or from publishing any book or paper regarding his political career or the trial or his actions for which he has been convicted, unless all revenues arising from all such actions are contributed in total to the Treasury of the Commonwealth. More time in prison would do no more to rehabilitate him, and only cost the public more. He is ruined as far any future political career. So be it.

The Commonwealth will go forward, bearing the stench and stain of corruption wrought by this governor and his wife, and those who abetted their illegal actions. It is undeserved that the people of Virginia are saddled with this stain, but we will go forward, with a close eye on those to whom great power is given, and in whom great trust is invested.

Starting A New Year 2015

New years is a time of reflection on the past, and thoughts of the future, and a traditional time to contemplate our lives. Today I have been doing a bit of that be scoping out the pictures posted on FB of in “You know you grew up in Roanoke when . . .”.

The hundreds of old photos of Roanoke from the mid 1800’s to late 1970’s are interesting from a historical standpoint, and bring back memories from my childhood. Growing up in Roanoke was a remarkable experience, and I treasure many of those memories.

There are some which interest me in another way. A few pictures are of the old Shoney’s restaurants that were popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s as local gathering places for teens and families. They served fast food with curb servicers on roller skates at some locations, and the parking lots were roomy enough to spend time with friends. Hamburgers, fries and shakes, plus strawberry pie were favorites.

Some viewers of those old photos remarked how they missed those days, as “the best years of my life.” Maybe they were pretty good for some, but I remember working long hours for 50 cents and hour, and not making enough to buy but a few gallons of gas at 25 cents. Going to Shoney’s was a special event that could only be afforded by skimping on something else.

The Shoney’s on Apperson Drive in Salem was a favorite gathering spot for my crowd, and the DJ booth on top with “Jivin Jack Jackson” spinning tunes was fun. Meeting girls was the main event in any case.

So, I like to remember the good times, but I hate to think that those were my best days. I like to think that, at 77, my best days are still ahead. Don’t you?

Growing Up In Grandin Court, Passing Remarks

Sadly, Jean Wood Eavey passed away yesterday, Wednesday December 17, 2014. Jean was determined to pay a visit to the Reunion at the Grandin Court Rec Center in November, and she made it. But her time was short.

As one of the seniors of the Grandin Court group, Jean enjoyed her reunion with old friends, and made a number of new ones. So glad that she was able to attend.

Nancy Wood Phelan posted a memorial to her sister Jean in today’s Roanoke Times. It was a remembering of growing up as the little sister, and very touching. I still have warm memories of Nancy and the Lee Wood family next door on Montvale.

We are aging, and will follow Jean in time. Let’s remember to remember those who were so important to us, who were, and are, a part of our being. They helped us be who we are, and will always be a part of our lives.

Rest in peace Jean.

Jim

Life, The Big Bang Theory, Or An Experiment Gone Wrong ?

Scientists studying the universe tell us that the universe is growing. They can tell by the red-shift in the color spectrum. By reversing the projector of time, the universe was at one time extremely small, contained in what is called a singularity. In effect, the entire total of existence was only a spot, just a point, which exploded into the universe as we now see it. That was billions of earth years ago.

The expansion is not slowing, as the laws of physics would expect due to the loss of energy as it expands. Instead, it is growing at a faster rate, at almost the speed of light. Something is driving the expansion, some invisible force that has not been discovered as yet. Perhaps there is another reason: not a mysterious force, but by the direct action of a “creator”.

Let’s imagine. Perhaps: In an experiment exploring “singularity” far away in a laboratory beyond the limits of our imagination, a tiny bit of energy was squeezed into an infinitely small space, and allowed to evolve as it would. That bit of energy could not be contained in the singularity condition; the laws of physics would not allow that. It exploded into what is now our universe. So far we are in compliance with current science.

This new universe was pristine, sanitary, free of any infection, including any life forms. Pure physics. Observing this new condition as it emerged, the experimenter wondered what would happen it was inoculated with some form of life, a single cell creature without a brain, or of a sense of destiny, conscience, morals. It would be a grand experiment in evolution to see what would happen over time, to see what would develop. Simple gene coding along a spiral of amino acids would do. Only it must be confined to a small and isolated place so that it could not escape into the real existence.

After a long time, nothing had changed. The system was static, the same as it was when set up, and no new life forms had emerged. Drat that. Maybe a small nudge would have an effect, just a minor tweak of the genetic codes, here and there. The creator tampered, and things began to happen. Single cells divided, and those divided again. Evolution started with interesting changes reacting to the environment. Another tweak or two, and life forms began to expand.

“I’ll change the environment again and see what develops,” said the experimenter to no one. Life forms changed even faster, into what appeared to be slightly intelligent beings. It was a successful experiment. Did the experimenter get an “A” on it? No. No grade. That was not to be. No grade for this unfinished experiment. A reprimand perhaps. Would the experiment be abandoned? No. The creator went on to other projects, like black holes, and super novae, and other more interesting experiments, but returned to the first project.

Ah, said the experimenter. I’ll infuse learning, the ability to reason.” And that infection was introduced to the mix. All was well for eons, until the growth of new beings erupted from Eden, over-filled the site, and learned how to escape out of the confines.

It was a problem. This new life form had emerged into the universe and was expanding beyond the limits the experimenter had set. It was hostile, to itself and to its neighbors, its home and possibly to the rest of existence. It could not be eradicated: that was against the universal laws of life. How to protect from what had become a serious threat? The answer was to isolate that experiment gone bad from the rest of existence.

The experimenter isolated the badly infected life forms on a tiny insignificant planet, on an outer thread of a far away minor spiral galaxy. That should isolate the infection from the rest of the universe, and be protection from spreading further. Problem fixed. Only it didn’t stay fixed for long.

The spread if this gone-wrong life-form experiment as it leaked out of confinement, had the real possibility of infecting the entire peaceful universe. In pure panic, the other galaxies choose to run away as fast as possible. Ergo, the “red-shift” effect we see today.

So, life and the Earth as we know it is really an experiment that went badly wrong. The universe is trying to keep well away from possible infection.

Or not. At least this is one possible explanation of the origin of life on Earth: Mankind created by accident, isolated, and abandoned by the creator when the experiment went bad. Its just as good an explanation as any other I’ve heard so far.

Be careful what you wish for?

Writing Is Not Easy

Posting to a blog is fairly easy: just type what comes to mind in chain-of-thought style. You only need an good idea to fill out the rest of the page. On the other hand, a short story is difficult. Condensing the story to a few hundred words and keeping it together, is a challenge. A novel, on the other hand, is really hard. I admire authors who can put together a long story that keeps me interested.

Not only do you need a plot, really more than one, you have to invent and develop characters that come alive on the page. They have to be believable. They have to engender feelings: either the reader likes them or hates them, but they must be real.

Novels require development of scenes and descriptive passages into which they place the action. That can take hours of writing and rewriting. Usually, it requires a personal knowledge of the scenes to come across well. The exception is the fantasy world that some writers are able to create from whole cloth.

But the hardest to get down on paper is the personal experience that entails real emotions, a personal trip through life that the reader can relate to. The emotions can get pretty strong when relating personal things. I admire Beth Macy for her work, for the many articles she had produced, and for her best seller book “Factory Man”.

Years ago, a dream I had was so real that I woke MR and spent the next four hours relating the story. It was complete, with characters, names, addresses, phone numbers, and other details that I had no to reason to know, like the license numbers of a taxi in London, and addresses of houses in Berlin. I wrote a manuscript, just an outline of a mystery novel based on a contemporary event, which was left hanging when I lent it to a friend.

She was a college literary professor. It was lost in a move and the copy I had on the computer was fried when the hard drive crashed. I tried to reproduce the plot threads and characters, but they just don’t seem alive. Somehow the inspiration that started the story faded into the foggy mists of yesterday. It was a thriller, and had plot twists that would keep the reader flipping pages. Intrigues in DC, office scenes in Crystal City, secret trips to Europe, escapes across the Bavarian Alps, and dark houses behind the Berlin wall. Strange romances, spies, and car chases, all happen to the lead character. The Lockerbie crash was a kicker.

So, maybe one day I will recall the details, get it on paper and present it to you for review and critique. But don’t stay up late waiting.

Jim

Dobby Is At It Again

All homes have a elf. Get used to it. Some are nice, pleasant and helpful; most are mischievous, impish, and tricky. Ours is referred to as “Dobby” for lack of a better name, from the Harry Potter series. He makes himself known from time to time with pranks and tricks, probably from boredom when we are away.

For instance, the new microwave oven won’t work for MR. Nothing she or I can do will make it nuke anything. Until she is not around, and then it works for me. Sometimes, like today. Except for oatmeal, or rewarming coffee. Frustrating.

Then there is the clothes dryer, which left clothes damp after two cycles. A burned our heating element? Nope, just because. After tinkering around for an hour or so, it works fine. And then the dryer at Laura’s, which quit when the drum drive belt broke. No particular wear showing that would cause the break.

A week ago I noticed something wet under MR’s car. It was not the AC condensate that appears to drip out after a hot day on the road. It looked like transmission fluid, slightly pink, and about two ounces on the garage floor. I checked all the fluid levels and they were up to full. Where did the oil come from? Perhaps from the power steering reservoir, but it was also up to snuff.

Drove it five hours to NC: no leaks. Until we were getting ready to return to H’Ville. There was oil running across the garage floor, more this time. More checks and the fluid levels still OK.

Back in VA, down to Roanoke, and back to H’Ville and no leaks. All fluids, including the power steering, shows full. Until this morning, when it was dry. No fluid at all. And none on the floor. Where did it go? Dobby at it again? Refilled the reservoir and drove it about 25 miles, and no visible leaks or loss of fluid. I’m thinking of spying on Dobby tonight to see what he is doing to the car.

Frank’s lawn mower wouldn’t start. Even boosting the battery from the truck didn’t work. The engine just would not turn over. Was it a bad starter? I hauled it to the garage to get it checked out, and as I was pushing it from the truck, something popped. I cranked it over, and BROOOOM. Dobby at it again. At least Frank is happy.

Toilet seat loose. Tighten. Loose. Tighten. Loose again. RE-Tighten with under-the-breath curse at Dobby. Now it stays tight.

Of course, there are the normal lost car keys, missing tools, clippers that mysteriously move from one place to another behind a crate, books that are hidden under the bed, and lap-tops that jump cAPS loCK up and dOwn on its own. Try working an on-line crossword puzzle with Dobby messing with the keyboard. The car keys somehow show up in the exact place I was looking for them, only hours later.

And the new TV screen that has started to flicker, usually from start up, and sometime all evening. It’s like the horizontal sync has gone crazy. Gives me a headache. After one or two well aimed threats, Dobby fixed it, and it is now working fine. For now at least.

I’ll give Dobby this: his hi-jenks are more a bother than real trouble. They are simple to resolve most of the time. I can fix most of his tricks, but I am a bit worried about the power steering thing. If MR was to lose power steering on the way to Roanoke, she would probably end up in the ditch, if she was lucky. For that reason, I’m taking to car to have it exorcised. Maybe a spell to protect it from more of Dobby’s pranks.

Tonight the TV started to go bonkers. Again. My head is hurting, and MR is not happy that Wheel and Jeopardy are a mess. Maybe I can find something to amuse Dobby, so he will give us a break.

I wonder if Dobby had anything to do with the election outcome yesterday?

Shazzam