The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Racist Lie and the Liars Who Say It

       Should a disagreement equate a condemnation of another?  If you are condemning another person for what they believe--or what you think they believe--then you have essentially shut down a conversation that could lead to a better deeper understanding of that person and the beliefs they hold.

Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism
Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       The negative anti-Trumpist chatter continues on social media and not a day, nor perhaps an hour, passes without some news media pundit rattling off terms like racist in regard to President-elect Trump or his supporters.  My good old blogging friend Andrew Leon couldn't resist another post about the racism of people like me even though he was essentially repeating what he had said in his earlier rant post on the same topic.   Apparently Mr. Leon has no interest in conversations which lead to deeper understanding, greater tolerance, and perhaps a reversal on beliefs based on arrogance and misunderstanding--in fact he has stated that sentiment.  But then, since Mr. Leon apparently knows all and cites those who have PhD's, he doesn't need to understand those lesser than he or, in reality, those who see things from a different perspective.

       So blame whom you wish, my  President Trump Acclimation Series continues on until I am satisfied that more people understand the truth as I see it or until I am sated on my own words.

What Did Trump Say That Was Racist?

      From the beginning of his campaign we've been told that Donald Trump is a racist.  Suggested policies extracted from his speeches were proof of his racism said media, political opponents, and anyone else who wanted to spew that opinion.  While many who had known Mr. Trump for many years denied that any shred of racism existed within the man.  I think one had to listen closely to what Mr. Trump was saying to come up with any evidence of racism and on my part I found none.

       The comment section is where you can offer up any specific evidence that you might have noted that would be absolute proof of Donald Trump's racism.  But before I unleash those thoughts of yours, I want to eliminate some of the points that most of you would likely use with some my added clarification as I see it.  What Trump was saying always came across as pretty obvious to me, but that was hearing his words in context and not just picking out pieces presented literally to the extent that the meanings got distorted.  I'll try to explain...

Proofs of Donald Trump's Racism (and why they are not)

  •      All Mexicans are rapists, drug dealers, etc--Maybe it didn't come across clearly when the snippet was repeatedly played or recited, but he also said that most of them are good people and acknowledged they were looking for economic betterment of their lives.
  • Going to build a wall and "send back" those in the country illegally--Nothing to do with race, but merely a call for enforcing current immigration laws.  What's the problem with enforcing laws and having some sort of structure in taking immigrants into the country?
  • Judge Gonzalo Curiel--Because of the controversy about the wall Donald Trump merely pointed out that having a judge with a Mexican heritage could involve some bias in his Trump University class action suit.  This was not racism, but a legitimate concern about the possibility of not getting a fair ruling in the case.   
  • The Muslim Ban--I'll address more on this issue when I discuss the topic of "Islamophobic" and the Gold Star Khan family.  However I'll point out that Islam is an ideological system of belief that encompasses members of all races so any ban on Muslims is not racism.
  • Trump's description of the current state of Black communities--He was referring to problems in the inner cities as recognized by many Black leaders and others.  The intent was not to denigrate a race, but an offer to improve crime-ridden areas that are predominately Black.  Trump was suggesting solutions, outreach, and assistance to these areas and not to attack any race.
  • Housing discrimination lawsuit--This is a complex issue that occurred over forty years ago when Donald Trump was in the early stage of his career as a developer working with his father.  Racial discrimination was the issue behind the suit, but I would maintain that this was not necessarily a function of racism on behalf of  Donald Trump.  And even if it a factor of racism is involved here one can argue that this was more of an issue of time, place, and attitudes of those times.  People can change.

Not Always What Is Said, But Context

        Some of the other "evidence" of racism that detractors have pointed to are things like calling the Miss Universe winner of 1996 "Miss Housekeeping", calling a black supporter "my African American", and other similar things that don't come to my mind at the present time, but I'm sure some readers might want to bring up.  

         Firstly, keep in mind that Donald Trump has been an entertainer or has had the mind of the entertainer throughout his entire adult life.  Like many pop music stars, comedians, and other celebrities, he has had a tendency to say what comes across as outrageous things to certain people. These people are overlooking whatever the intended effect was meant to be or if perhaps it was a  misguided attempt to draw attention.   The scrutiny of those in the public eye can cause an outcry when they say something with relatively innocent intent merely to raise an eyebrow or evoke a guffaw.  

         Some might argue that saying anything that might be construed as racially insensitive provides a look into the true racist nature of a person.  And this can get incredibly nitpicky.   Our ultra-sensitive  PC culture is turning us into robotic uptight neurotics.  Yet most of us accept music, movies, books, comedians--you name the source--that do and say things that would get us in trouble in our own lives.  Maybe you say that those examples are different.  Remember, president or not, Donald Trump is different.  It's time for a change so let's give change a chance.

         Feel free to leave your comments--my readers have been great so far leaving respectful comments that continue the conversation.  Add whatever you think I didn't touch upon or address what I've said above.  Be as specific as you can if citing an example as I'm trying to avoid a repetitive accusation of being racist from someone who doesn't really know me well.

       Also be careful not to cite what Mr. Trump supposedly said if your source is coming from a media spokesperson or anyone who is not the President-elect himself.   Something that most of the time was misunderstood by the commentators is that they often took things literally while missing humor and a bigger picture painted by the entire speech.  When Donald Trump spoke on the campaign trail, the words I heard were often incorrectly conveyed to the television audience which is why so many people disliked Trump if they were consumers of those sole media sources.  The future President was not speaking to the benefit of the political pundits and professional communicators, but he was speaking to the regular people.  A lot of us understood.

       Is there an example of racism in Donald Trump that you feel I've overlooked?   If there were organizations generally thought of as racist who supported Trump for President, do you hold the President-elect responsible for that?   Do you think that under certain circumstances or if pressed to some extreme that everyone has a potential to be racist?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Road Ahead (#IWSG) and #BOTB results

      Do you ever wonder where the hell you're going?    I've never liked traveling without a map--or these days my GPS--and yet I often forge ahead through life with few or no long range plans.  Seems crazy I suppose, but then again I avoid the disappointment of plans that get screwed up.  

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

         This question ties in with the question asked in my previous post, What Does Retirement Look Like For You?   Since I am retired now, any thoughts of a future writing career are certainly tied into my life in retirement as it is. 

          Then there is a question of will I be around in five years?  I live with the intent of going strong for many years to come, but then I look at my father who suddenly left his life before he even actually retired from his job.  I don't think he was planning on such a quick earthly departure, but it happened to him just as it can unpredictably happen to me, you, or anyone. 

        Do I have a writing career ahead of me?  Will I even still be blogging if I reach that five years in question?  My life strategy has been to not have much of a strategy.  I live, I learn, I forget, and tomorrow comes before I realize that today has passed and yesterdays are distant memories that are more like pages from a book than any actual life I've lived.  

        I've lived a life worth living and continue onward as though it will never end.  There are few plans for me other than I plan to have fish for dinner tonight, have company coming over for dinner on Saturday, and in a couple of weeks my kids and grandkids are coming to visit for Christmas.  But that latter plan seems like a long time right now.  Five years is forever, but it is also like a blink of an eye.

        Perspectively speaking, I'm lousy at writing as a business.  And sadly in a way, I don't particularly have much concern about it.  Happily, I have a contentment with life and an optimism for the good things ahead, if not in this world, in the infinite eternity of God's grace.  

         I'll write as the spirit moves me and if writing success is somewhere in the years ahead then that is exactly what was meant to be.  For now though, the spirit is moving me to clean the kitchen and straighten up my office.   Then after a good night's sleep tonight, I'll look forward to another great day of being alive.  

Battle of the Bands Results

      In some ways my previous Battle using the song "Scandinavian Shuffle" provided a somewhat unexpected outcome. But then maybe it should not have been any real surprise.  I think both versions that I used are extremely good.  My dilemma of choosing a favorite is so difficult that I'm tempted to forego making the choice at all.  And either way I choose would be of no consequence to the outcome of this highly lopsided contest.   Therefore I'm going to go with the big winner which was the vocal ensemble Real Group.  

       I'm usually partial to violin music, but I do enjoy a good a cappella group.   So did most of the voters in this Battle...

Final Vote Tally

Real Group         18 votes

Mads Tolling         4 votes

Next Battle on Thursday December 15th

       In my next Battle I'll be staying within the Christmas spirit without resorting to actual Christmas songs.  You'll probably be familiar with the song I'll be using which may or may not be derived from another musical piece with which you may not be familiar.  However before we get to that Battle I'll be continuing with a couple more posts in my President Trump Acclimation Series--yes, I'm continuing with this as long as I keep seeing silliness online, on television, and elsewhere.  Wow, that could be a long, long time.   Then again I might just get fed up and move into the wilderness, off the grid, and surviving off the land.   Probably not, but you never know.

        What do you foresee in your life five years from now?  Are you a careful planner or do you just live relatively randomly?    Are you optimistic about the coming year?


Monday, December 5, 2016

What does retirement look like for you? (Question of the Month)

         If you haven't done so yet, please vote on my current Battle of the Bands post which can be found here.  

Question of the Month

       The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants. 

What does retirement look like for you?

        As one who is already retired I have some advice for those who aren't: Make sure you're financially prepared!  My job history never provided for any type of retirement plan other than Social Security and in all honesty I never thought about it that much.  Besides, my retirement was kind of forced on me--I didn't expect it when it came as I had planned on working much longer.

         When I was last employed I was working as a manager of a wholesale costume company near Los Angeles. I'd been working there for 18 years when my branch was shut down due to economic situations and changes in the way the industry was starting to do business. In a sense, the internet had a hand in my job loss and the internet has had a control over my life ever since.

         My blogging is an offshoot of being retired and not finding a suitable job replacement.  When I hit 62 I went ahead to go officially into retirement phase and collect my Social Security benefits.  I still keep an ear open for money making opportunities, but so far to no avail.

          Thankfully my wife is still working as a teacher so that we've been able to travel during the summers and other times of the year.  But when she's working, I'm pretty much holed up at home which is prime time for blogging activities or other endeavors.

           Since I never thought much about retiring, I had not much in the way of expectations about retirement.  It is nice to follow my own pursuits and not have to work for someone else all day.  Still, I do miss the work to some extent and especially the paycheck.

         When my wife retires in the next few years we'll have to figure out what to do next.  Our children and grandchildren live back east, which means we don't see them much now.  We might need to address that when she retires.  It would be nice to be closer to them so we can see them more often.

        To my thinking, getting older should include being with the immediate family more often and participating in grandchildren's lives.  My mother was fortunate to have a lot of family nearby or who visited her frequently.  That added a great deal to her life and I'd like to see the same for my wife and I.

            No matter what happens though I believe that God will provide the best for what we need.  My life has been rich with blessings and I feel that good things are ahead.

              Where would you most like to go to retire?   Do you like to be close to children and grandchildren?   Did you plan (or have you been planning) your retirement wisely?  


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scandinavian Shuffle (#BOTB)

     Have you seen the U.S.A in a Chevrolet?   For two decades I owned Chevrolet vans which I used when I was working in a roadshow crisscrossing the nation, so I guess I've actually seen the U.S.A. in my Chevrolets.

The Dinah Shore Chevy Show
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Musical Discovery

         Recently I've started watching reruns of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show on the Jewish Life Television Network (JLTV),  Does it ever bring back some memories!

          My parents used to watch this show when I was a child so I was inclined to watch it with them if I wasn't doing anything else.   While I don't recall much of what I had seen on her show, the iconic theme song "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet" has stuck with me throughout the years.

         Watching these episodes again I realized not only how innovative those shows were for their time (1956-63), but also the diverse talent that appeared on the shows.  The roster of entertainers was a who's who of American show biz as well as talent from around the globe.   For example, one stand out show that had a blues theme featured Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Hirt, and the Perez Prado Orchestra.  What a dynamite line-up that was.

         Another episode was a musical tour of Copenhagen, Denmark which featured a very fine musical trio called The Swe-Danes.  On the show they performed their song "Scandinavian Shuffle" which prompted me to look for it on YouTube later on that evening.  When I discovered that many fine cover versions were available I was inspired to use a couple in a Battle of the Bands which I offer below...

Battle of the Bands

    Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Scandinavian Shuffle (1960)

       Composed by Danish vocalist/violinist Svend Asmussen for his group The Swe-Danes, "Scandinavian Shuffle" was a popular hit in Europe as well as hitting the Billboard chart in the U.S.  Though his vocal trio was only around for a few years, Asmussen had an incredibly long history during which he played with some of the biggest names in jazz and pop.  His career spanned a period from 1923 to 2010 and, though no longer performing, he is still alive at 100 years of age.        

       Here are the Swe-Danes with their original version of  "Scandinavian Shuffle" (1960) in a live performance setting.  This is for your reference only--DON'T VOTE ON THIS VERSION!


The following are the versions for you to vote on:

The Real Group  "Scandinavian Shuffle"  (2015)

        This Swedish a cappella group cites Bobby McFerrin as their inspiration for doing the music they do.   The group was formed in 1984 and continues to perform and record great music. The Real Group has won numerous awards and has performed throughout the world.   They've released over 20 albums singing in English, Swedish, and other languages.   Their version of "Scandinavian Shuffle" is a tribute to the Swe-Danes.

  (The performance starts at about :20)

Mads Tolling Quartet  "Scandinavian Shuffle"  (2014)

        A renown jazz/classical violinist/violist/composer, Mads Tolling is best known as the lead player with the Grammy award winning Turtle Island String Quartet and for his solo violin work with Stanley Clarke's band.   Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Tolling now lives in San Francisco. His quartet has been together since 2008.

Time To Vote!

        Which of these two song versions do you prefer?   If you don't like either then try to play along and tell us which version you think is the least innocuous to you.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 
J. A. Scott  

Winner Announced Wednesday December 7th

           The outcome of this Battle will be revealed next Wednesday along with my #IWSG post.  I'll be continuing my President Trump Acclimation Series next week as well.  My next installment, a continuation of the post on "racism" which begins here, will be on either Monday or Friday depending on my willingness to get it done.  No matter what though, be here to see what's going on when it's going on.

           Do you miss the variety shows of days gone by?   What was your favorite television variety entertainment show?    Which do you prefer most--vocal or instrumental music?