Category Archives: Books

Maya Angelou – RIP

maya angelou
I have been struggling with what to write about Maya Angelou. She was a force that made everyone take notice. What could I write that is sufficiently thoughtful?

Charles Blow wrote it for me.

The news of Maya Angelou’s death arrived with the abruptness of a great twister — violent, without warning, tearing things up and flipping things over.

I ached the way the soul aches in the world when a great soul is lost from it.

I have a group of writers I call my literary mothers and fathers: Alice Walker and James Baldwin and Toni Morrison and Alex Haley and Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes. And yes, Maya Angelou.

This is not because I knew them, but rather because, through their words, they have nurtured me, inculcating in me a sense of myself that sustains me. They helped me to see myself and love myself when I felt least seen and least loved.

They saved me. (more…)

Please take the time to read the whole article that Charles Blow wrote. It is a fabulous tribute to a wonderfully human woman. Let me just say that I’m happy that Maya Angelou got the praise which she so richly deserved. Many people who are great never get a chance to shine in the national spotlight. Maya Angelou did. She got the chance and she really did shine.

News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Aaron Alexis, Economic Austerity

My barber for the last seven years has died. Mr. Willie L. Shivers was a wonderful man. He was 93!! He was still very active. Hell, he was more active that I am. If you have seen the movie Barbershop… that was Mr. Shivers. He always had something to say. He was thoughtful and kind. He didn’t mention the fact that he was a World War II veteran. When you think about it, is that all you want from someone? Mr. Shivers will be missed. He is survived by two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Government shutdown – well, here we are again. It’s been a little over a year since we’ve heard the phrase “government shutdown.” Now we face discussions (or arguments, rather) over the federal budget and also about raising the debt ceiling. Last week, some lukewarm bill looked like it was coming to the floor before Republicans killed their own bill. Paul Krugman has more – So, now we face the imminent threat of a government shutdown and/or a U.S. government default because Republicans refuse to accept the notion that duly enacted legislation should be allowed to go into effect, and repealed only through constitutional means. The cause for such GOP threats of chaos is ensuring that tens of millions of Americans continue to lack essential health care.

Terrie Hall has died
Terrie Hall has died

The woman in the CDC’s anti-smoking ad has died. She reminded me of Yul Brynner’s ad that he took out before he died.

Look, we always are trying to find the “key” to any mass murder. There seems to be this reflexive, knee-jerk reaction that we as Americans have to these incidents. We foolishly believe that if we had only unlocked one or two things, we could’ve seen this coming. Hogwash. The one thing that is clear is that we are terrible at predicting individual human behavior. It turns out that Aaron Alexis was in the VA hospital system. Although he had some ringing in his ears and some other disorders, he was not labeled as a paranoid schizophrenic. There are no simple answers. Investigations into how he slipped through the cracks and had clearance to be on a Navy Yard base will be ongoing for the next several months. Don’t expect there to be any specific revelations. We’ve seen how these investigations work. They simply will be inconclusive. On the other hand, there is one thing that is clear from this latest shooting incident. The NRA is completely wrong that a good man with the gun will beat a bad man with a gun. We simply need fewer guns. No other country in the world has the number of mass shootings that we do. BTW, did you read the sad note from the mother of Aaron Alexis?  Continue reading News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Aaron Alexis, Economic Austerity

2013 Martin Luther King Jr Reading & Reference List

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(Blogger’s Note—This is the 6th updated version of this list.)

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King Jr was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole. Continue reading 2013 Martin Luther King Jr Reading & Reference List