Monthly Archives: October 2016

North Carolina and the Evolution of Voter Suppression

My latest blog on my newest book: Since the Supreme Court in 2013 effectively lifted preclearance requirements for states and counties with a history of race discrimination, states have passed a ra…

Source: North Carolina and the Evolution of Voter Suppression

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Women successfully fought their way into the legendary Mavericks big-wave-surfing competition — Quartz

Women have been taking off on some of the world’s biggest, scariest waves for years. But virtually none of them could compete in professional events since the sport’s largest competitions remained closed to female surfers. That era is likely over. On Oct. 19, the organizers of the invite-only competition at Mavericks announced its first women’s…

via Women successfully fought their way into the legendary Mavericks big-wave-surfing competition — Quartz

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Dear Diary: March 30, 1976


A note to the archeologist:  March 30, 1976, was Tuesday, dawning under the sign of Aries. The US president was Gerald Ford (a Republican). People in the USA were listening to “Disco Lady” by Johnnie Taylor. In the UK, “I Love To Love,” by Tina Charles was in the top 5 hits. “The Bad News Bears,” directed by Michael Ritchie, was one of the most popular movies.   “Curtain” by Agatha Christie was one of the best sellers in the US, according to the New York Times (then referred to as the Gray Lady).  It was a strange time.  The Bicentennial & the AIDS epidemic were coming in July.  So was Queen Elizabeth… to Boston Harbor!

Dear Diary:

Tuesday March 30, 1976

Really, I have been going through some bad times lately. Today, as an example, these things happened.

1) I almost missed the bus and had to run all the way to the stop.  I would have had to walk & it’s over two miles & I would have been late & gotten more detentions & who needs that raft of shit about it from my hypocritical, alcoholic, despicable parental units (one biological, one step).  At least, at last count.
2)  My Geometry teacher was absent, and he gave us another fantastically hard worksheet to do in his absence.  Of course, I didn’t do a bit of it.
3)  I let slip something that Melinda told me not to tell anyone, and now Kelly C. is mad at her.  I have begged all of them not to tell me any secrets as I don’t know how to keep them (except for the secrets at home, which is necessary to avoid being killed).
4)  I found out my best Eng. teacher is going to be gone for 5 (five) weeks and we’re having some lame substitute.  What preparation for Hatley’s next year!  I probably won’t even get to be an editor on the student literary magazine that his junior class screens work for.  Ha, Ha, ha!
5) While practicing driving, I left the emergency brakes on in the Beetle throughout, perhaps ruining the car.

And, the list of things that have happened in the last few months are not so hot, either.

(1)  My grandfather (who I hadn’t known at all since I was 18 months) died.
(2)  I got in a car accident the first time I actually drove with my learner’s permit.
(3)  My mother resumed her alcoholism.

(4)  I got into a horrible fight with my stepfather.  I am literally his red-headed stepchild & he is on his way out the door.  He’s sleeping on the fucking couch & my mom is begging him to go to counseling but it’s already too late because he’s fucking my mom’s best friend.

I found that bitch’s hair combs in the Beetle between the seat & the weird heater controls that look like a plucked roasting chicken.  That’s why I left the fucking emergency brake on accidentally, I was breathing so hard & felt so cold inside.  She was supposedly my mom’s best friend!  Her own husband just dumped her, supposedly  because she was cheating on him.  Cheating on him with who???  My mom’s best friend has decided she wants my stepdad.  She needs a new man who will let her be the boss.

My mom needs her husband of 11 years to keep loving her.  My mom loves that asshole still.  He’s mean.   My stepdad has decided he will start over.  There is no starting over, not really, not ever, not once you have a child with someone.  What about my little brother?  What about me?  My stepdad has been in my life since I was four years old!  Shit.

(5)  I got in a fight with a girl in PE because I asked her to be quiet when we were trapped in the locker room because of rain (the boys always, always, always get the gym when it rains) & I wanted to work on my Physics problems.

(6)  I sprained my ankle running out to the car to roll up the windows because mom asked me to, in the rain, and I am (as they have impressed upon me) as “graceful as the bird they call the elephant.”

(7)  I’ve lost hope for a boyfriend. Nothing good will ever happen to me. I’m fat, ugly, have zits, and don’t have any friends because I am an alien from another planet and I don’t truly understand this fucked up human world.  Dogs make sense.  Ducks make sense.  Dolphins make sense.  Flowers make sense.  Ants make sense.  Even cockroaches make sense, once you see the world from their point of view.  Humans don’t seem to have any stable point of view at all!  Where is Spock when you need him to ask you to the prom?  Nowhere.  I look at the stars & pray to whoever is out there to be rescued from this awful movie.

As I look back on this, it seems incredibly full of blatant self-pity.  C’est la vie.  Ah, yes… tomorrow is sure to be a good day, too.  I’ll probably have to go out on the road in Driver’s Ed and I can’t even drive.  Probably on Federal Highway!  Probably right at the corner of Federal & Oakland Park!  Right by the entrance to my neighborhood!  In front of my friends!  Having a wreck on Federal & Oakland right in front of the Kenann Building!  The one with the beautiful tile mural & plus it’s actually ROUND.

Also, we’re doing nifty Physical Fitness tests!  That ought to be good for a vomit, 2 strokes and a sprinkling of heart attacks.  I play golf & tennis & swim & climb trees.  I am not that fast… I am stubborn & don’t give up.

I am really tired of this sequence of events. I hate everything.  If I don’t get out of this rut of badness, I think I’ll lose my crackers.

I have had serial crushes on almost every guy I know and nothing has happened.  I’m destined to be a shriveled, worthless little old person.  I’ll probably flunk out of college, (knock on wood)!  This summer will not come soon enough, although I’ll probably not get that job at LaDera Citrus in Ojai.  Then I really will go nuts.  Oh, fuck it.  Now for the good things.

1)  I might make the honor society.
2)  I think I did extremely well on my report card.
3)  I haven’t died yet.
4)  I still have 1 (one) friend.

That’s all, folks!


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Giant Redwoods, a poem

illustration muir woods 2

Giant Redwoods

(Statements in italics taken from Ethics, by Baruch de Spinoza)

Look farther and farther toward thin blue sky, until the green feathery tops of the trees are like the northern pole on some dream planet.  Put the anger back in its bottle. These trees are generous.  Hatred can never be good.

Your carsickness from the ride up the mountain begins to fade, leaving behind a breathless, weepy echo not unlike your first religious fervor.  Hatred is increased through return of hatred, but may be destroyed by love.

When have you not been afraid?  The random can be scrutinized for meaning, the puzzle solved, when surveyed long & carefully enough.  Anything may be accidentally the cause of either hope or fear.

These trees have plenty of time.  As a child, you stared at Jesus’ sad face for hours, wishing you could marry him  — wondering what it was that made him love you.  Could you sacrifice yourself for the sins of the world, if it was that simple & necessary? Cathedrals turn us small and vulnerable again, for reasons both blessed & cursed.  Devotion is love towards an object which astonishes us.

Vague, starry eyes like yours feel at home here; the air is weighty, burdensome & solemn. You’ve loved trees before; this is different.  These trees have plenty of time – more time than you.  If we love a thing which is like ourselves, we endeavor as much as possible to make it love us in return.

Your nerves are suddenly frozen, by the unaccustomed richness of perfect light.  Your guide is tall & slender, hesitant to speak.  Her mother has the tattooed forearm of a Polish Jew of a certain age.  The knowledge of good and evil is nothing but an idea of joy or sorrow.  Sorrow is [a hu]man’s passage from a greater to a less perfection.

These trees have plenty of time.  She touches your wrist, and for a moment, you, too, want to grow taller, leaving the surface of the earth behind forever.  Shyly, she picks up a tiny pinecone, smaller than a toy.  You both laugh when she tells you this is their seed.  Joy is [a hu]man’s passage from a less to a greater perfection.

These trees have plenty of time.  And all around, their wise, fallen, hollow bodies litter the ground like the bones of saints.  Childlike, you understand a wish to die here, never to leave this hush.  They’re only trees – your neck bent back as far as it will go; only trees, yet wondering if the giants can hear your thoughts.  Love is joy, with the accompanying idea of an external cause.  Love and desire may be excessive.  When the mind imagines its own weakness, it necessarily sorrows.

Is there anything we have less power over than our own tongues?  These trees have plenty of time, growing wise as the Buddha, in their silence.

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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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A Life Worth Living, the BCCI, the Judiciary and Salt

Wise words.



Is a Life Without Justice Worth Living?

Just Yesterday, met a Grand Old man of 83, Mr. Poulose, whose leg got broken recently in a traffic accident. He is in Severe pain, and the doctors told him that medication would bring relief for only a certain period of time, and if he wanted to go for it, the medications themselves would cause side effects. The Long and Short of it, – Mr. Poulose decided to face the pain, and is bearing it without Medication.

Right this fine morning, as I switch on the TV just to know what is new, find that the BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India, means the ones who control all the money from the TV rights and the ticket sales!!!) are Not going to Implement the recommendations of the Lodha Panel (one under a judge of that name…

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Conjoined Twins, a poem


Conjoined Twins, a poem

Her entire pregnancy was uneventful until the second stage
of labor. Mother pushed and pushed, but we babies could not
budge. Surgeons came, made quick cuts necessary to disengage
us from the womb — found our joined skulls, an impudent topknot.

Mother wouldn’t let them separate us, she said the risk
outweighed the benefits. We learned to walk as best we
could; I, the taller, faced front in hopeful arabesque
while Sister followed. She didn’t mind, droll legatee

of my cranium, girl I never see. Despite our closeness,
we live in opposite ways; I view her face only in mirrors,
with my one good eye — our skin melts together, flawless,
pearly. A nice thing is, we never suffered night terrors.

We have never been alone. When they say, look, Siamese
twins, I want to scream. That is not the proper name for
our arrangement. Sister says, let them talk — I think she’s
crazy to let it pass, but I don’t say that. A big furor

won’t help at all. One trick we are good at is peace.
Negotiation has been our forte since that first incomplete
division; the moment each cell refused the other’s release.
We have minds of our own, thank god, and life is sweet

when you know where you’re bound. I go off to work,
Sister goes too. I sing while I type up my data, she reads
her mysteries, we break for lunch. My boss goes berserk
every once in a while; he’s got the same kinds of needs

for perfection we all possess. The one worry I have
not tamed is which of us will die first. I hope
it’s not me — how would she walk? I am the brave
one, the one who catches bugs. I would try to cope

without her. Once, in the night when she fell sick
with the flu, I held her until the shaking stopped,
until the fever broke. I wondered then, all dyadic
jokes aside, what if we had been cut apart, clipped

early into two separate forms? If it ever comes, will life
on my own be any easier? I’d save some of her long hair,
for sweet remembrance. She’d be a sharp phantom pain, a wolf-
gray stone with my birthday — my head a floating solitaire.

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