Friday, May 29, 2015

Benny Carter - Sweet Lorraine - (Bar Jazz, 1958)

Benny Carter - Sweet Lorraine - (Bar jazz, 1958)
with E. Hines, S.Manne and L. Vinegar

Ella Fitzgerald ft Nelson Riddle Orchestra - My One And Only Love (Verve Records 1959)

Ella Fitzgerald - I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) Verve Records 1957

Gerry Mulligan & Johnny Hodges - Bunny

Gerry Mulligan Ben Webster In a mellow tone

Ben Webster - Solitude

From the album "Big Ben Time" recorded in London in January 1967, with Ben Webster ( tenor sax), Dick Katz (piano), Alan Haven (organ), Spike Heatley (bass) and Tony Crombie (drums).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marco Rubio: "Legalized gay marriage is ‘a real and present danger’ to the survival of Christianity"  --  A headline at "Raw Story"

If that's all it takes to kill Christianity, it's really become weak and meaningless -- don't you think?

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Headline

A headline on "Right Wing Watch":

"Mike Huckabee: Duggar Family The Victim Of An 'Insensitive Bloodthirst'"

You're saying WHAT about sexual abuse within families, Mike?

Is it "normal" in right-wing Christian families?

Was it just "youthful indiscretion"?  --  you know, the things that "nice" white boys get away with, while black children get a felony conviction and jail time.

Oh yeah, it wasn't just within the family, he also fondled a stranger.  Perhaps some sex education, instead of just "good christian home schoolin' " would have been in order.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ten Ideas to Save the Economy #3: Expand Social Security

The latest from Robert Reich  --  at least someone is making sense!
Please follow link to original.

America is on the cusp of a retirement crisis. Millions of Americans are already in danger of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement, and the problem is getting worse.
You hear a lot about how corporations are struggling to make good on their pension promises, and how Social Security won’t be there for you in retirement.
Baloney on both counts.
Corporations are awash in money, and they could afford to provide their hourly workers with pensions when they retire. Years ago, they routinely provided “defined benefit” pensions – a fixed amount every month after retirement.
Nowadays most workers are lucky if their company matches what they’re able to put away. The typical firm does no more than offer a 401-K plan that depends entirely on worker savings.
But many workers get such low pay during their working lives that they haven’t been able to save for retirement.
At the same time, the cost of pharmaceuticals keeps rising, taking an ever-bigger bite out of retiree incomes.

That means Social Security is more important than ever. Today, two-thirds of seniors derive over half of their income from Social Security, and one-third of seniors rely on it for at least 90% of their income. Without it, the poverty rate of our seniors would be 45% instead of 10%.
Social Security will be there for you in your retirement. The problem is it won’t pay you enough.
That’s why it’s important to expand Social Security – not cut Social Security benefits.
We can afford to increase Social Security benefits, as well as help ensure the solvency of Social Security, by eliminating the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.
Unlike the Medicare payroll tax that everyone pays as a small portion of their total incomes, the Social Security payroll tax is capped. Any income over $118,500 this year is exempt from it. Which means a billionaire pays the same Social Security payroll tax as someone earning $118,500.
This isn’t fair and it’s not sensible. Billionaires and millionaires should pay just like everyone else.
Scrap the cap, and not only is Social Security more secure for you and your kids, but it will be able to pay out even more benefits in your retirement.
America’s seniors, who paid in to Social Security over their lifetimes, deserve enough retirement income to live on.
If wealthy Americans pay their fair share, we can make sure tomorrow’s seniors get the Social Security they truly need.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What We Are When the Striving Ends

Here are some important words from "Time Goes By"  --  a blog for and about old folks.  Please follow link to original.

What We Are When the Striving Ends

Western culture is uniquely concentrated on striving. It is the whole of our lives.
Even in the womb, the fetus is barraged with Mozart. Toddlers must learn to walk and talk and eat without drooling, to run and jump and not put square pegs in round holes.
In school, there is reading and writing and 'rithmatic, history, science, government and a heap of after-school activities college admissions officers require of successful applicants.
From there it is the pursuit of career success: money, fame or – ideally – both as the ultimate prize. Workers are programmed by media, experts, coaches and bosses to strive, compete, perform, accomplish and achieve.
There is no time to think. If you're not busy 24/7 in pursuit of winning and, these days, crushing your competition too, you are ipso facto, losing.
There is always, whatever you have accumulated in the mid-years of life, a better job, more money, a bigger car, a more impressive home and a better school for your kids to strive for. Gotta keep moving forward.
Never a moment to think about anything else, about the value of what we are pursuing. It's just busy, busy, busy. Do, do, do.
Then after 40-odd years of working and striving, the busy-ness comes to a halt. We move into retirement and wonder what to DO. Even the word “retire” assumes work is the center of life and without it, the question automatically follows, what is my value now?
But wait. Before we can consider that important, universal question, there's more to do. Even in ageing, we are pressured to do it “successfully.”
By that, the mid-life adults still running the world, require that we must behave like younger people, like them. Seventy is the new 40 and they like us best when we hike and bike and run marathons, start businesses, learn a language or two, volunteer six days a week and never, ever admit to being tired.
Dr. Bill Thomas, in his landmark 2004 book, What Are Old People For?, speaks to this phenomenon:
”Anywhere adults are gathered together, you can hear the 'Adulthood Forever' anthem being played if you listen for it. It starts slowly, modestly: 'My mother is eighty-seven, but she's still as sharp as a tack; she lives by herself in Phoenix.'

“Such an unassuming claim is sure to be followed up with something more substantial: 'Well, my grandmother – she's ninety, but you would never know it; she manages her own stock portfolio and is finishing her master's degree in French literature.'

“Then comes the coup de grace. A man, silent until now, speaks up: 'My great uncle is ninety-six years old and he's just got back from climbing K2. He spends his winters in Florida because he likes to barefoot water-ski, in the nude.'”
Lots of old people are complicit in this adult game of one-upmanship in derring-do until we die. But it doesn't have to be that way and I don't believe it should be.
Dr. Thomas tells us that we don't need to buy into the cultural imperative to pretend to be young.
”The first sign that a person is preparing to grow out of adulthood is the dawning awareness of how heavy a toll is taken by the things he or she 'has to do'.”
Four years later, in The Gift of Years published in 2008, Joan Chittister took up a similar theme:
”This is the time of coming home to the self. I find myself stripped of all the accessories of life now. I am face-to-face with myself. And the fear is that there isn't one.

“I have spent my life being somebody important, and now there is nothing left but me...

“What am I when I'm nothing else? What's the left over of me when everything else goes: the positions, the power, the status, the job, the goal, the role, the impact – and all the relationships built up and woven around those things?

“...Of course I am all the experiences I have ever had, on one level. But on another level, I am only what people see when they look at me now.”
Because it has been shown to me so many times (and I firmly believe) that if it happens to me, it happens to millions of others, sometimes what I'm going through is what you get in the these electronic pages.
That is what this post today is about. I've been busy, busy, busy all my life. I didn't even stop when I was forced out of the workplace ten years ago; I already had this blog and I just kept going.
Now, three weeks into cutting my writing days from six to four per week, I have for the first time, run into myself and I have time now to seriously think about these and other questions that are part of what old age is meant to be.

My "words for the day".

By the way, I have GREAT difficulty reading any of the news feeds online.  I also can't stand reading newspapers   ----   they ALL read like "The Onion" or one of the super market tabloids (that's the "hard news" ones).  That's why I have so much difficulty finding things to post  --  it's all either self evident or crap.

The insanity gripping this country has me worried about our future.  In the past when this happened, we had the resources and growing population to weather the storm.  We were also isolated enough that it allowed us to recover when semi-sanity prevailed   ---   who knows what will happen now.

Once again, for the hundredth (or more) time  --  I'm really happy I'm 76 and will be gone before it gets too bad  ---  though I must admit I'd like to see the outcome.

Some Thought's For The Day (NOT original)

this from "Jesse's Cafe Americain"  ---  Please follow link to original.

"On the 28th of October 1940 Greece was given a deadline of three hours to decide on war or peace. But even if a three day or three week or three year deadline was given, the response would have been the same.
The Greeks have taught dignity throughout the centuries. When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the Germans, raising against it the proud spirit of freedom."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"If the Russian people managed to halt and reverse the German torrent at the doors of Moscow, they owe it to the Greek people, who delayed the German divisions long enough so that they could not bring us down to our knees."
General Georgy Constantinovich Zhoukov
"Until now we used to say that the Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say, that heroes fight like Greeks."
 Winston Churchill

When the great Persian King demanded the surrender of the weapons from the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas I of Sparta responded drily, molṑn labé (μολὼν λαβέ), meaning, having come, take them.
And although most have forgotten, when the whole world was falling into despair, the Greek people dared to defy the seemingly invincible Wehrmacht, and raised the hopes of all nations who yearned to remain free.   Greece in the Second World War.
This incalculable principle of the resilience of the human spirit may find some application in any number of situations we see today in our modern world, as it has done so frequently in the past.  
The Greeks may stand, and bravely fall again, and the cynics may say, 'see we were right after all.  We told you so.  It is foolish to resist.'  Or it may be some other people, at some other place.  But it will happen.
And at least they will have lived, and stood free, and upheld their legacy for a time when they could raise a hand.  And this is something those groveling at the feet of power, making snide remarks, quietly and unheard to themselves, hoping that they will be left for last by the global predator class, may never be able to say. 
And this is what frightens the petty despot and the tyrant, and makes a chill run through their heart.   They never know when the people will finally have the will to stand and say, 'enough.' 
And so, in retrospect, no matter how powerful, they always seem to finally go too far, into some needless excess of power, some abuse of propriety,  some excessive assertion of vain invincibility, and set into motion their own terrible decline and downfall.  Think of it.  Always.
Have a pleasant evening

Monday, May 4, 2015

Race, Class and Neglect

Again, the latest from Dr. Krugman  --  please follow link to original

Every time you’re tempted to say that America is moving forward on race — that prejudice is no longer as important as it used to be — along comes an atrocity to puncture your complacency. Almost everyone realizes, I hope, that the Freddie Gray affair wasn’t an isolated incident, that it’s unique only to the extent that for once there seems to be a real possibility that justice may be done.
And the riots in Baltimore, destructive as they are, have served at least one useful purpose: drawing attention to the grotesque inequalities that poison the lives of too many Americans.
Yet I do worry that the centrality of race and racism to this particular story may convey the false impression that debilitating poverty and alienation from society are uniquely black experiences. In fact, much though by no means all of the horror one sees in Baltimore and many other places is really about class, about the devastating effects of extreme and rising inequality.

Take, for example, issues of health and mortality. Many people have pointed out that there are a number of black neighborhoods in Baltimore where life expectancy compares unfavorably with impoverished Third World nations. But what’s really striking on a national basis is the way class disparities in death rates have been soaring even among whites.
Most notably, mortality among white women has increased sharply since the 1990s, with the rise surely concentrated among the poor and poorly educated; life expectancy among less educated whites has been falling at rates reminiscent of the collapse of life expectancy in post-Communist Russia.
And yes, these excess deaths are the result of inequality and lack of opportunity, even in those cases where their direct cause lies in self-destructive behavior. Overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, and obesity account for a lot of early deaths, but there’s a reason such behaviors are so widespread, and that reason has to do with an economy that leaves tens of millions behind.
It has been disheartening to see some commentators still writing as if poverty were simply a matter of values, as if the poor just mysteriously make bad choices and all would be well if they adopted middle-class values. Maybe, just maybe, that was a sustainable argument four decades ago, but at this point it should be obvious that middle-class values only flourish in an economy that offers middle-class jobs.
The great sociologist William Julius Wilson argued long ago that widely-decried social changes among blacks, like the decline of traditional families, were actually caused by the disappearance of well-paying jobs in inner cities. His argument contained an implicit prediction: if other racial groups were to face a similar loss of job opportunity, their behavior would change in similar ways.
And so it has proved. Lagging wages — actually declining in real terms for half of working men — and work instability have been followed by sharp declines in marriage, rising births out of wedlock, and more.
s Institution writes: “Blacks have faced, and will continue to face, unique challenges. But when we look for the reasons why less skilled blacks are failing to marry and join the middle class, it is largely for the same reasons that marriage and a middle-class lifestyle is eluding a growing number of whites as well.”
So it is, as I said, disheartening still to see commentators suggesting that the poor are causing their own poverty, and could easily escape if only they acted like members of the upper middle class.
And it’s also disheartening to see commentators still purveying another debunked myth, that we’ve spent vast sums fighting poverty to no avail (because of values, you see.)
In reality, federal spending on means-tested programs other than Medicaid has fluctuated between 1 and 2 percent of G.D.P. for decades, going up in recessions and down in recoveries. That’s not a lot of money — it’s far less than other advanced countries spend — and not all of it goes to families below the poverty line.
Despite this, measures that correct well-known flaws in the statistics show that we have made some real progress against poverty. And we would make a lot more progress if we were even a fraction as generous toward the needy as we imagine ourselves to be.
The point is that there is no excuse for fatalism as we contemplate the evils of poverty in America. Shrugging your shoulders as you attribute it all to values is an act of malign neglect. The poor don’t need lectures on morality, they need more resources — which we can afford to provide — and better economic opportunities, which we can also afford to provide through everything from training and subsidies to higher minimum wages. Baltimore, and America, don’t have to be as unjust as they are.