1sunfight’s Weblog

November 30, 2008

The End of an Era

Filed under: Daily Observations,Economics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 10:15 pm
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books1Yesterday, starved for a good book to read, I drove off to my favorite bookstore. It was ideally situated between two universities making it the dumping ground of their intellectualism. I loved that bookstore. It was an enchanting place, with stacks of books everywhere, shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling stuffed with books of all kinds. There were ladders to help a person reach the highest shelves, and stepping stools for the shelves just out of reach. I used to go in there and perch myself precariously either on a stepping stool or one of the ladders. It was at this bookstore where I found the complete works of Simone de Beauvior including her works of fiction. Yesterday I found this Atlanta landmark gone. I stood there in the cold, pouring rain peering through the plate glass window. The place was completely vacant, not a book, magazine, or soul in sight; it was as if the bookstore never existed. I felt like I lost a friend. I will never find those rare books that one can find only in places like that.

Deep sigh. I drove off to Barnes and Noble, a fine bookstore chain, but it’s not “Bookstore” (that was the name of that place). Barnes and Nobles is pleasant, but so corporate. I will have to get used to it, because even Oxford Books is long gone, another Atlanta legend in bookstores. It was such a unique bookstore, it catered to everyone, their likes, and the rarities; whatever you wanted it was there and if it was not they would get it for you. People would drive from surrounding states to shop there. It was the first of its kind; you could select a book, read some of it before you bought it. Inside the bookstore you could find people either sitting cross legged in an aisle, or on one of the many stairs that were there. But, what helped to make Oxford Books endearing was the coffee bar and sandwich shop that would serve specialty coffee long before that was in vogue. You could find all kinds of desserts, sandwiches, and people reading books there, some even playing chess. Now Oxford Books is nothing more than a memory and a legend that is told in stories over coffee in corporate Barnes and Noble.

One of the things I will have to get used to is the higher prices for books. I used to buy books on the cheap, not anymore. I bought Philippa Gregory’s novel “The Boleyn Inheritance” for $16. A paperback for the outrageous sum of $16! I can remember buying hardcover books at Oxford Books and “Bookstore” for that same price. My how times have changed. Corporate America has taken over the bookstore market in Atlanta, and taken out all of the charm that goes with private sellers.

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Hillary Clinton to be Announced as Secretary of State, Monday, December 1st

081130_obamaclinton_2971It’s finally official: President-elect Obama will appear with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in Chicago on Monday as he names her secretary of state, a remarkable reunion of once-bitter rivals.

The news conference at a Chicago hotel is scheduled to begin at 10:40 a.m. Eastern.

Obama plans to roll out his entire national security team. He’s retaining Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon and is naming retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser.

Politico.com

CNN

During the primary season Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were bitter rivals, there is no question about that. Their rivalry was one for the books and a rivalry so fierce it threatened to tear the Democratic Party apart at a time when the outcome for the election favored a Democratic victory. Somehow I never doubted that Barack Obama would win the Democratic nomination and I never doubted that Hillary Clinton was a team player. She certainly proved that during the Democratic Convention when she called for the nomination of Barack Obama by proclamation, a historic first.

I tuned in to watch most of the debates, beginning with debates prior to the start of the primary season. I listened quite intently to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom I supported on their positions, although I always supported Barack Obama for president. It was the South Carolina debate where I had made up my mind that Barack Obama was most definitely the better choice. I did not appreciate her performance in that debate, or her husband’s behavior campaigning for her in South Carolina. The debates wore on and the rivalry grew. The more vicious the primaries became the less and less I listened. In the back of my mind I knew that in spite of their rivalry I knew they would come together.

It did not surprise me in the least when she was not vetted for the vice presidential nominations, not because of the rivalry, but because I felt she would probably serve the nation’s best interest in another capacity. There was never a doubt in my mind that Barack Obama would put Hillary in his cabinet. He did not disappoint me either, he did what I thought he would do, he put Hillary Clinton on his cabinet in one of the most prestigious positions there is, Secretary of State. This position is well suited for her.

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Most Popular Names in the State of Georgia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie P @ 12:14 am

Every parent when they have a new baby want to give that new person a special name, a name that will make their bundle of joy special. Parents will toil away at finding just the right name for their baby; they will anguish over the name, not just for the newborn, and themselves, but to please their family, or friends. For some, the process is easy; for others not so easy.

Recently, the Atlanta Journal Constitution complied a list of the most popular baby names in the state of Georgia over the last 18 years. They are:  Hannah, Emily, Ashley, Christopher, and Taylor.  As a pet owner, I named my two cats my favorite names:  Rhiannon and Dylan.  What would you name your child or pet?


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November 29, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Filed under: Daily Observations,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 4:17 pm
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Milwaukee

Milwaukee

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2007 was to go home for Christmas, since I rarely do that. It seems that every time I go home for Christmas it is always bitter cold. It is like the universe knows I am going to Milwaukee, so that would be the perfect time to have arctic weather. There was only one time I was in Milwaukee when it was not cold at Christmas; it was a fluke. However, in 2007 circumstances prevented me from going back to Milwaukee, which worked out well for me. On the day that I planned on flying home there was a snow storm in Milwaukee. I doubt that I would have made it there, or the flight would have been an absolute nightmare. I loathe winter in Milwaukee; it is not that it is cold because the city is in a northern state; it is because it is located next to Lake Michigan, which makes the city like living in an arctic wind tunnel, which is the part I do not like. However, the years are passing by, more than I care to admit. In November my father turned 77, which is a mile stone on the paternal side of the family. Longevity does not run on that side of the family. My grandfather and uncle, my father’s older brother by ten years, were both dead by the age of 55; my grandmother lived until the age of 78. I have no idea how long other people lived to on that side of the family. They either stayed behind in Poland, or did come over, but because of a family feud in the 1930’s I never got to know them. My mother is no longer a spring chick; she is 71, but at least longevity runs on my maternal side of the family. In either case, I do not know how much longer either of them will be around, so a visit seems appropriate.

The years have flown by since I moved away in 1986. My young nephew is no longer young; he is a grown man with a wife and toddler. My other nieces and nephew have graduated from high school and now are in college. My brother turned 50 last April too. When he went to Hawaii with his wife and daughter he sent me pictures of them. I looked at the pictures, especially of my brother and wondered, when did it happen, when did we start getting so old? Then there is my sister. I wonder what she and her husband look like with the passage of time.

I know family drives me nuts, I think it is their job, but it is time to go home. I think it will give me an appreciation for my roots and my relocation to Atlanta.

Atlanta

Atlanta

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Christmas 2008 – Santa Needs a Bailout

Filed under: Daily Observations,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 2:27 pm
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slideshow_829879_mike111320081

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November 28, 2008

Free Speech in Open Societies

Filed under: Daily Observations,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 9:46 pm
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And so it was over the Thanksgiving holiday there was a vicious, inhumane, and despicable act of terrorism in Mumbai, India. This act of terrorism was so extreme in its nature that the best way to describe it is that this is India’s 9/11. World reaction can only be described as revulsion.

As a part of the coping mechanism of such unspeakable acts people flocked to the internet to vent their disbelief, their outrage. In one blog where people meet to discuss and debate current events, members went there to share their outrage, their disbelief and their anger. Words of condemnation filled the pages, words just words, continued to come in as the violence continued to rock Mumbai. Tempers began to flare; words were written that some took as hate speech, as a call to genocide. Still others believed that others words were that of apologists. One contributor left so angry because another contributor’s words were allowed to remain, because the words were perceived as hate speech tantamount to calls for genocide of Islam. The contributor vowed never to return. It was not long after that the conversation ceased and blog had gone cold.

So what to do when words become filled with hate? Censor or censure? When words become heated exchanges that are written to denigrate the other, is it time to leave permanently or stay to fight another day? The events of Mumbai and the exchange of words reminded me of another time, post WWII and the McCarthy Era.

My paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States during WWI from Poland. They experienced war first hand. They also witnessed the carnage of WWII and saw what happened in Poland, some to their own relatives. They came to hate Germans as only they could. But, it just was not my Polish grandparents who came to hate Germans; Germans were also hated in America during WWII and the years that immediately followed. My mother told me that she, her father, and his family did not speak of their German heritage for fear of reprisal. The Japanese were rounded up and put into internment camps during WWII as well. Fear and hatred of the enemy, both real and perceived, ruled the time.

My father, son of these Polish immigrants who came to hate Germans, met a woman of German decent, fell in love with her, and married her. My Polish grandparents would not speak to my mother until they learned she was pregnant, then the ice melted and they came to accept her, but it was not an easy time for my parents, for a while there was ostracism.

Before my parents met my father was in USAF, his rank was that of corporal. During his time in the air force he belonged to the Polish National Alliance, a fraternal society and Polish based insurance business. As a child I was made to join, and was taken to Christmas parties where cheap toys were given, Polish food was served, Polish dances took place, and some man came in the Polish costume that Santa Claus would wear. It was a harmless organization, but not for my father when he was in the air force. My father was in the air force during the McCarthy Era.

During the McCarthy Era my father was summoned to speak before a board to explain his communist associations through the Polish National Alliance. My father plead the Fifth. The Fifth Amendment is where one is not compelled to testify against themself. He was never convicted, he walked away a free man shaking his head in disgust at the whole event and McCarthyism.

McCarthyism was the fear and hatred of communists, just like the Germans were feared and hated in America during and right after WWII. Here we are in the 21st Century where some are engaged in the fear and hatred of Islam, both real and perceived. It seems the need to have an “other” to fear and hate is just as strong now as it was then. But, does that mean that those who speak their words of hate be censured or censored? Does that mean that those who are offended leave, or fight another day? The United States Supreme Court has argued this in the past, some of the best minds in the word, and it is a struggle for them as well. What do with free speech in open societies?

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President Elect Obama’s Weekly Address November 29

Filed under: Daily Observations,Obama,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 2:15 pm
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Transcript

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November 27, 2008

Obama on Religion and Government: A Call to Renewal

Filed under: Daily Observations,Obama,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 7:21 pm
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So the question is, how do we build on these still-tentative partnerships between religious and secular people of good will? It’s going to take more work, a lot more work than we’ve done so far. The tensions and the suspicions on each side of the religious divide will have to be squarely addressed. And each side will need to accept some ground rules for collaboration.

While I’ve already laid out some of the work that progressive leaders need to do, I want to talk a little bit about what conservative leaders need to do — some truths they need to acknowledge.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God’s test of devotion.

But it’s fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.

Finally, any reconciliation between faith and democratic pluralism requires some sense of proportion.

This goes for both sides.

Even those who claim the Bible’s inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages – the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ’s divinity – are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.

The American people intuitively understand this, which is why the majority of Catholics practice birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage nevertheless are opposed to a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.

But a sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation – context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase “under God.” I didn’t. Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats. And one can envision certain faith-based programs – targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers – that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.

So we all have some work to do here. But I am hopeful that we can bridge the gaps that exist and overcome the prejudices each of us bring to this debate. And I have faith that millions of believing Americans want that to happen. No matter how religious they may or may not be, people are tired of seeing faith used as a tool of attack. They don’t want faith used to belittle or to divide. They’re tired of hearing folks deliver more screed than sermon. Because in the end, that’s not how they think about faith in their own lives.

“A Call to Renewal” transcipt

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Scenes from Mumbai, India November 26 and 27, 2008

Filed under: Daily Observations,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 2:57 pm
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A Moment of Silence

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BBC Pictorial of Mubai

CNN Pictorial of Mubai

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Bush Pardons Pumpkin the Turkey on Thanksgiving

Filed under: Daily Observations,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 1:42 pm
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Bush

Pumkin

Pumpkin

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