Advertisements

Category Archives: History

Respect to our Indigenous Brothers & Sisters

My first foray into blogging was at Blogger, where I posted as The Cranky Curmudgeon (https://crankycur.blogspot.com/). My very first post was on Thursday, February 23, 2006, and you can read it here. I posted reasonably frequently for a while, but I’ve always been somewhat sporadic in my writing, mostly because I get deeply involved in my work and just haven’t been comfortable spending time coming up with subjects, then researching and writing about them. Now that I’m semi-retired and, more importantly, my girls are growing up (my oldest just graduated High School last week) I have more free time. I also would like to see if I can make a little money writing and posting to my blog is great practice. I’m contemplating a book about the Peace & Justice movement in Los Angeles during the late sixties and early seventies, when I was extremely active. That’s another story.

My last post to The Cranky Curmudgeon was on February 1, 2014, which seems a bit weird as it was long after I started Systems Savvy (where you are now) and over two years since my previous post at the end of 2011. I suppose I could do a little archaeology and figure out what I did back then, but I’ll leave that for some other time. What’s important now is I just want to share this video. I believe it was created to run during Super Bowl XLVIII. Unfortunately, it didn’t (as far as I know) and it really should have, IMO. It makes a very important point, which I don’t think has been satisfactorily settled yet. So I’m offering it here, where a few people may view it and it will remain until the Sun goes red giant and swells to engulf our planet. Which means it will be viewable for at least another billion or so years. Hope you enjoy it!

Advertisements

Reservoir Goodness!

I’ve only been following this chart for a couple of years, but this is the first time all of the reservoirs shown in it have been above their historical average. A lot of them are also fairly close to their maximum capacity. It would be nice if this trend continues for a few years. I’m tired of drought conditions. We still conserve water; I hope everyone in California does. Actually, I hope everyone, everywhere is thoughtful about water usage.


“Not a Big Fan”

The original anti-fascist movement prepares to disrupt a large Nazi gathering.

In an interview with Piers Morgan that aired on June 4, two days before the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, in France, Donald Trump was asked if he wished he had served in Vietnam. His response: “Well, I was never a fan of that war, I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was a terrible war. I thought it was very far away. At that time, nobody had ever heard of the country.”

I wasn’t a big fan of the war in Vietnam either, but I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the Spring of ’66, just as things were beginning to heat up again. I failed my physical, as I was born with club feet, which required surgery to correct my left foot when I was five years old. The doctors saw the four large incision scars on my foot, ankle and shin, and nixed my service.

I argued that sailors don’t do a lot of marching and I should be able to make it. They let me in. When I arrived at the United States Naval Training Center in San Diego, I immediately suspected I had made a mistake. As the bus I was on drove into the camp, I could see numerous company’s of men marching on the largest blacktop (we called it a grinder) I’d ever seen. As it turned out, marching was one of the things we did a lot of . . . and it was hell on my arthritic ankle and my shortened Achilles tendon.

There was on thing, one punishment that was meted out to us that sealed my participation and my eventual discharge. During graduation ceremonies, we would be required to bend our left leg at the knee so we could rest our rifles against the inside of our thighs (so the rifles wouldn’t clatter to the ground) while we screwed our white hats onto our heads in preparation for demonstrating some physical exercises with those rifles.

When our Company Commander thought we needed some admonishment or straightening out, he would make us stand in that position for up to a half hour. It required me to bend my left ankle in a way it just wasn’t capable of doing, as I have a shortened Achilles tendon. Needless to say, it was becoming quite painful after a while. All the marching wasn’t exactly helping either.

I decided to go to sick bay, where they x-rayed my left ankle and, after reading the film and seeing I had arthritis in my ankle, I was offered an honorable discharge. I declined. When I went back to my company, to a man they all told me I was an idiot and that I should take the discharge. Two days later, I decided they were correct and by early July I was a civilian, with a DD214 that said I served 1 month and 23 days. It also said I had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

I don’t think of myself as a veteran. I have never attempted to get veteran’s benefits, making a conscious choice after my discharge to not use benefits that others needed far more than I did. I know I wasn’t officially in long enough to quality, but I believe I could have made the case they should never have let me in and the hours and hours of marching and painful standing at “five-and-dive” exacerbated my medical issues . . . but I chose not to try.

After I was discharged, I became more and more opposed to the war and, by 1968 I was involved in the anti-war movement. I also joined a group of leftists, including a bunch of lawyers from an organization called Bar Sinister, in a Hapkido class. I could do most everything, but kicks that involved using the heel of my left foot were problematic and I almost broke it sparring one time.

We eventually morphed into a security team, doing everything from protecting demonstrators to armed security work for people like Jane Fonda, Roger McAfee, Hortensi Bussi Allende, and Vietnamese students in the U.S., among many others. I believed then, and I believe now, I was serving my country by opposing a cruel, illegal, and unjust war; a war that was killing my friends, one of whom it was my solemn duty to serve as a pall bearer for not too long after graduating High School.

I’m proud of what I did, though I frequently have wished I had tried a little harder to stay in the Navy. I do believe my work in the anti-war movement was important and valuable. Nobody paid us, and hardly anybody ever thanked us, but we prevented a lot of bad shit from happening . . . and helped, in many small ways, to end the war in Vietnam.


Yes . . . and Nancy Best Get Crackin’

I just came across this tweet from Teh Donald™, which I’m quite sure is part of the collection of tweets where he has previously said something about someone else (usually Obama) that is actually applicable to his presidency. Donald John Trump has severely wounded irony and satire. It remains to be seen if we’ll ever recover a normal, decent sense of humor.

I’m also (not sure this is the right word) “pleased” to see this very special one was originally born on my 67th birthday and will now follow me all the days of my life . . . which are far fewer than they were even then.


Bertrand Russell And Fascism

A friend of mine on Facebook shared the following quote by Bertrand Russell, which was sent to Sir Oswald Mosely in response to a request by Mosely to debate the merits of fascism.

There is no doubt in my mind the Trump administration, and the bulk of the Republican Party that’s currently enabling him, are fascists. They have every intent of restricting our freedoms and keeping us in relative poverty and misery, all so a few may get wealthy at our expense. We must not allow this to happen. We must not give away those precious rights and freedoms we’ve won, and that so many have suffered to gain.

The original anti-fascist movement prepares to disrupt a large Nazi gathering

Dear Sir Oswald,

Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism.

I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us.

I should like you to understand the intensity of this conviction on my part. It is not out of any attempt to be rude that I say this but because of all that I value in human experience and human achievement.

Yours sincerely,

Bertrand Russell *

* You can find a photo of his letter at: https://flashbak.com/bertrand-russells-delicious-response-to-british-fascist-oswald-mosley-383946/


Angst Was The Right Word!

I’ve started blogging again here at Systems Savvy and needed to do some research on my history doing so. I came across the following blog post on another, now defunct blog site, The Cranky Curmudgeon, which I wrote on October 29, 2008. I entitled it “Talk About Your Angst!” I forgot I wrote it and I’m somewhat amazed that my characterization of the Bush admin sounds quite similar to my characterization of the Trump admin. We’re doing something wrong . . . bigly!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Barack Obama Makes a point during debate with John McCain

Well, here we are . . . what is it? . . about six days out from what I’m thinking is the most important election of my lifetime. Any election involving Nixon, Reagan, or either of the Bush gangster family was, of course, important, but this one – whew! After eight years of so thoroughly screwing up everything they touched, I am on pins and needles waiting to see if we get a brand new start at fixing things, or if we get something possibly worse than George Bush.

I think I need to explain something too. Although I take the position George Bush and his administration screwed up everything they touched, I think it’s important to note they did exactly what they had planned to do all along. The failures were not truly failures, as they fit into the general plan. Don’t think for one moment these criminals weren’t working toward the dream so famously articulated by Grover Norquist when he said his goal was to shrink government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

I have no doubt that is exactly what has been going on, especially when government means services for the people, as opposed to handouts for the well-connected. We have witnessed the most massive re-distribution of national wealth, certainly in my lifetime. Now, perhaps, we can see some of that bleeding stanched.

Six more days! I am on pins and needles. We so desperately need to take this nation in another direction; to back away from the arrogant unilateralism and the move toward the so-called “unitary executive”; the use of torture and the spying on our own citizens; and the outright flaunting of the Constitution when it serves the narrow interests of the administration.

Obama has created one of the flattest campaign organizations ever, thanks in large part to his team’s understanding and use of information technology. Let’s see if they can translate this knowledge into a new politics of engagement and involvement . . . and – dare I say – democracy.


The Irony is as Thick as the Karma

Venceremos Brigade-FBIWhen I returned from a two-month working journey to Cuba in 1973, the FBI showed up at my door with questions about my trip. I had been a member of the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade, and a small part of my education for the trip was the admonition to politely refuse to speak with them, which is what I did.

It was a short, pleasant conversation. I told them I wasn’t going to answer any questions and they asked me if I was sure. I said “yes” and they said “have a nice day” and left. That was it.

My years of activism had brought me to the attention of many law enforcement agencies, chief among them the LAPD and the FBI.

All to say, there’s been little love lost between me and these organizations . . .

Yet I’m really looking forward to what James Comey has to say.


Triple Blast From The Past!

I have been learning Photoshop for a while now and, although I’m not doing much of anything constructive with it, I do like to play around and give a little substance to some of my thoughts and ideas. Most of what I’ve done has been shared on Facebook, which has been my primary conduit to the world, along with this blog.

However, I think it’s time I started sharing my work, if only as a way to preserve it a little better than Facebook does. Usually, I’m thinking about making a statement and using PS to do it. Here’s one I posted today, with the comment “Triple blast from the past! Three memorable alticons deliciously blended into one. 

Nambian Covpepe

Good for . . . nothing.

I should also point out that, for the past two months I’ve been posting on Facebook on behalf of the Simi Valley Tourism Alliance, and I’ve felt it necessary to use PS several times to create useful graphics to include on some of these posts. This was especially true because, even though I specified in my proposal to them that members of the Alliance would be responsible for providing much of the content, that has yet to happen and I’ve been required to create almost all of it. It’s not difficult . . . but it most definitely is time consuming.

PS – I was in a hurry on this one, so didn’t take the requisite time I would have needed to change those “F”s in “P”s. Nevertheless, I think it makes the point I wished to make.


Free Access to “A People’s History”

A People's History

A Classic . . . and Important . . . work!

Most historians in the U.S., as far as I can tell, tend to believe in the “Great Man” theory of history; the belief that history can be largely explained by the impact of great men, or heroes; highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill used their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.

Howard Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States, takes the exact opposite view; that history is made by the people, the masses, the average working man and woman who comprise the body politic, and whose lives tell the story of a society’s development. Individuals are seen as products of the society in which they grew and came to prominence, representatives of the people or oppressors of the people, but not apart from the “salt of the Earth”.

If you ever wanted to read this wonderful book, but haven’t gotten around to it, or you’d like to be able to peruse it before taking the plunge (it is a formidable, but entertaining, read) you can find the book in its entirety at History is a Weapon. I believe this particular book is more important than ever, as we become more and more politically active and strive to wrest control over our government, which has been hijacked by vile white nationalists, religionists, and science deniers. I’ve included the link to the book below.

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html


Thanksgiving: Passover For Indigenous People

Passover is a very meaningful holiday for Jews. During the seder, the ritual dinner that’s served that evening, the story of bondage by the Egyptians is recounted and thanks are given for their release after a series of plagues are visited upon the slaveholders, culminating in the slaughter of first-born Egyptians and the successful escape via Moses’s parting of the Red Sea.

Turkey Unfriended

Oops!

Thanksgiving has been a meaningful holiday for we “Americans”, first celebrated in 1621 but not officially until 1863, when President Lincoln declared it a national holiday. It was meant to celebrate the good fortune of the original Pilgrims, as well as that of all of us who came to live in this land.

Much as we have learned Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America wasn’t exactly as benign and wonderful as we were led to believe (certainly when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s), we now know the generosity of those indigenous people who provided for that first Thanksgiving we now celebrate, was rewarded with hatred and genocide.

I can’t speak for everyone but, as far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving is now a holiday in which we celebrate the love of family and friendship, as well as remember how deeply racism, nationalism, and white supremacy are rooted in our national identity. In this time of deep despair over the backward direction our nation is heading, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to a history that includes everyone, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, or any other distinguishing characteristic, as well as seek what objective truth there is, absent favoritism, nationalism, and whataboutism.

I hope everyone has – or had – a wonderful holiday, filled with love and generosity of spirit. I also hope everyone remembered – and remembers – we are far from blameless and sometimes we have – and do – stumble on our journey toward a “more perfect union.”


%d bloggers like this: