Friday, March 19, 2010

Equinox

Now the springtime zephyrs urge us to spread our wings and fly (sometimes in pairs) apart.

Remember the bonechilling autumnal gusts that made us clutch together and don garments?


video

The Great Scarf of Birds – John Updike

Playing golf on Cape Ann in October,

I saw something to remember.

Ripe apples were caught like red fish in nets

of their branches. The maples

were colored like apples,

part orange and red, part green.

The elms, already transparent trees,

seemed swaying vases full of sky. The sky

was dramatic with great straggling V’s

of geese streaming south, mare’s-tails above them.

Their trumpeting made us look up and around.

The course sloped into salt marshes,

and this seemed to cause the abundance of birds.

As if out of the Bible

or science fiction,

a cloud appeared, a cloud of dots

like iron fillings which a magnet

underneath the paper undulates.

It dartingly darkened in spots,

paled, pulsed, compressed, distended, yet

held an identity firm: a flock

of starlings, as much one thing as a rock.

One will moved above the tress

the liquid and hesitant drift.

Come nearer, it became less marvelous,

more legible, and merely huge.

“I never saw so many birds!” my friend exclaimed.

We returned our eyes to the game.

Later, as Lot’s wife must have done,

in a pause of walking, not thinking

of calling down a consequence,

I lazily looked around.


The rise of the fairway above was tinted,

so evenly tinted I might not have noticed

but that at the rim of the delicate shadow

the starlings were thicker and outlined the flock

as an inkstain in drying pronounces its edges.

The gradual rise of green was vastly covered;

I had thought nothing in nature could be so broad

but grass.

And as

I watched, one bird,

prompted by accident or will to lead,

ceased resting; and, lifting in a casual billow,

the flock ascended as a lady’s scarf,

transparent, of gray, might be twitched

by one corner, drawn upward an then,

decided against, negligently tossed toward a chair:

the southward cloud withdrew into the air.

Long had it been since my heart

Had been lifted as it was by the lifting of that great

scarf.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dancing in the Streets

". . . Swinging, swaying, and records playing -"

Let's not forget, compadres.

" - Summer's here and the time is right . . . : There'll be dancing -

Everywhere."

Nothing to dance for just now though, is there?
So let's just dance for nothing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Noam Chomsky Reflects

From an interview with Amy Goodman at the Harvard Memorial Church, Cambridge MA. (Rush transcript)
- Sponsored by Harvard U Extension International Relations Club. Democracy Now! Aired 15 March 2010.


The lesson that we ought to learn, there was a split in American public opinion, very sharp split, very visible, in the early ’70s, between elite opinion—you know, newspapers, Harvard faculty and so on—on the one hand, and the general population, on the other. Not the antiwar movement, the general population. In elite opinion, articulate opinion—and that you can read, so it’s easy to document—the most extreme condemnation of the war was that it was a mistake which proved to be too costly. OK, that’s about as far as you can go. Among the public, about 70 percent, in polls, said it’s not a mistake, it’s fundamentally wrong and immoral. OK? It’s a very sharp and significant split. And I think the lesson we ought to learn is, to bring it to today, that, say, when Obama is praised for opposing the war in Iraq because he thought it was a mistake, we should recognize that to be on a par with Nazi generals after Stalingrad who thought that the two-front war was a mistake. The issue isn’t was it a mistake; it’s whether it’s fundamentally wrong and immoral. Well, that’s the lesson that has to be drawn. That’s what the public probably already understands, but we have to do something with them and organize with them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thomas Jefferson - Retrieved from the Texas Memory Hole

Alert to all teachers lucky enough to choose your own textbooks and to school boards, administrators, and department heads: Eschew choosing textbooks from publishers that revise content to please the Texas Education Board. All textbooks - not just those that have been revised.

BANNED: A framer, but allegedly a dangerous radical:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.