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Posts tagged ‘commentary’

25
Oct

RE-BLOGGED: Should we try to Auto-Correct Humanity In This Strange And Lonely New World?

[This excellent post by Steve is so good, in my opinion, that I would like to take this opportunity to re-blog here on Sometimes, with an accompanying post of my own in a separate article, which will be published later today.]

11
Oct

Who said Girls are Not Good at Math?

One of the things I always wanted to understand is the wonders of Math.

My algebra teacher said “try, try again, if at first you fail.
An understatement…like trying to teach Math to a whale.

Here is a poem I’ve penned (so to speak) which conveys the point I am trying to make for no reason than thanks from those fortunate old lads and lasses that never had ME in their math classes.

Is it true what they said, that girls don’t know math?

There was an old lady named Madge,

who didn’t get Math as a girl

as hard as she tried, the more her brain fried.

I’ll get this, I will,

if its the last thing I do, she said as she studied

and figured

in spite of the glaze on her eyes.

Don’t confuse me with squares and axioms or paradigms

paradoxes, place holders, equations or boxes.

Then one day a bit of “New Math” gave her some clues

where a pencil and paper would only confuse

It was grey matter that made a much better board

for figures and signs and all sorts of

Math Tricks.

Finally!  Eureka!  a breakthrough, Madge said

as she solved two plus two

and started to realize what she could do.

One more life time should master Madge’s math disaster.

Beginning all over without being reminded that

 “Girls are NOT good at Math.”

19
Sep

What Do Readers Really Want?

So far I’ve published 105 posts, covering all kinds of subjects from poison ivy to politics.

Hmmm…do I see a pattern here?   Just kidding.  Poison Ivy is real and annoying, and Politics–surreal and ridiculous sometimes.

I’ve written about myself…mostly adventures and quirks.   Other posts featured butterflies, Cuba, TV shows, Will Smith, the Aztec Calendar, and the Word Police.   Even after studying the list of posts, I am still at a loss to say what my readers really want.  Articles that I personally like are almost never the ones that Readers like….or at least leave comments about.

Computers, specifically my personal love/hate relationship with  the “machines,” seems to be something a lot of readers relate to.  I think this is due to the us-against-them attitude most of us have.  Most readers, as most writers, use computers these days.   Few comments (or posts for that matter) are of the type of people that are embarrassed to say they love computers…or for that matter make the ridiculous claim — “I am not computer literate and proud of it!”   Or even more idiotic–“what would I do with a computer?  I have no use for one.”   This last comes regularly from acquaintances–and relatives or occasional friends–who actually in real life would get the MOST out of surfing the net and communicating with friends and family on email.

Well, ok—I should talk.   I resisted getting rid of my wringer-washing-machine, and had “no use” for a microwave oven.   That lasted for about two minutes each (20 years apart) before temporary sanity took over.

Now and then I post a politically-oriented comment.   I admit to having strong opinions, and like my Grandma Myrtle,”– always have something to say.”   OK.  I admit it.  I am as Abe Lincoln would say “four score and one years old.”   (I don’t want that silly “young” applied.)    I am an Historian, specifically Latin America, and United States History.   My degrees and advanced study qualify me to comment on historical matters, in my humble opinion.

I have had very few, if any, comments to my political posts.  Other current events are also things I post about now and then.   But these are usually not the posts my readers comment about.

I love to write about and post photos about lighter issues–like my garden, and my great-grand-kids.   Flowers are especially popular–and I do understand why.  My own favorite blogs and posts from the people that I follow, are travelogues, adventures in wild places that I can no longer hope to visit, and the flowers, birds, trees, sunsets, miscellaneous subjects.

Raising children….I no longer have any young children that I am personally responsible for.  My grandkids have kids, and they do a fine job of raising them.  But I LOVE the mom’s who write about daily adventures raising their children.  These blogs have stories and issues that I can personally relate to–even back in the day.   Being a Mother is not easy, and part of raising future generations is a great job.   I know…from experience.  Many of the worst problems of the world could be, or can be, solved by the Moms’ addressing of such things as male dominance, and general respect for women as equals.

I like to read about other bloggers adventures in Blogging, too.    There is a lot of camaraderie among bloggers, facing the same triumphs and tribulations.

In other words–I am personally and as a blogger interested in just about everything…and my own Blogging reflects that general interest.

3
Jul

They did WHAT to Bubblewrap?

DSC03047Some things just should never change.

Like bubblewrap, the impossibly satisfying packing material that is used to protect all sorts of products…from computer components to special delicacies like chocolates or fragile cookies…during shipping from factory to consumer.

For anyone who has been marooned on Mars for a couple of decades, bubblewrap is made of two sheets of clear (or colored) thin plastic, pressed similar to a waffle to trap air within small bubbles–which is what gives bubblewrap its strength, and its name.

It does sound sort of silly, but bubblewrap has proven to be effective in its capacity for protection of items during shipping.

Well, now they have decided to…take out the bubbles!

For bubblewrap’s successor, I envision some variation of that plastic-foam stuff, that may be as strong, cheaper to make, and possibly less complicated to make. Even so, the foam sheet is boring; it doesn’t make noise, reflect light, or offer any residual benefit to its original purpose.

Perhaps the best thing about bubblewrap is its inherent entertainment value. Bubbles are for popping…and for some reason the rapid staccato popping sound is a free-bonus to a recipient of something that comes wrapped in bubblewrap. Show me a person of any age that can resist squeezing the individual bubbles to hear the sound they make…not unlike fire-crackers.

Simple pleasures rarely last indefinitely. Pop pop pop…

23
Feb

Who am I to have an About Page? Part 2: Me and the War

In the first installment of this feature, Who Am I to have an About Page? http://mumbletymuse.com/so-who-am-I-to-have-an-About-Page-?/   I started out as a newcomer to the world on a Friday the 13th, and by the end of Part One I had been to California and back, eaten part of a persimmon and part of a gourd, and had finished Kindergarten.  Which pretty much sets the stage for the second part of my life story.

Part Two:        ME AND THE WAR

That would be the Second World War, WWII, The Big One– the catalyst for the rise to world dominance of the United States.  I was eleven when the war ended in 1945, and I must say that I was one patriotic little girl.  I was so proud of the accomplishments of my country, in which we had emerged mostly safe and sound (those of us who had not been killed during the war years, of course) and had the distinction of being THE leader of the Free World.

But let me skip the rhetoric and get on with MY part of the War, which began in 1941…along with the arrival of my baby sister when I was eight and a half years old; my brother was six.  It was just us three until near the end of the war in 1945, when another sister joined our merry band.

One thing I recall about grade school is that there was a Congresswoman who regularly was permitted to leave fliers advertising her prowess in the U.S. Congress on our school desks.  She would come in and talk to us about how important it was for our parents to vote for her. Despite having been told, on my very first day of first grade,  by the teacher to “go home and never come back again,” as I explained to my parents when they picked me up walking home from school about an hour after classes began,  I did indeed continue with my education.  I remember well the adventures of Dick and Jane, Baby, and Spot, the stars of our first level readers.

The main thing going on everywhere was THE WAR.   We went to the movie theaters, and were treated to black and white newsreels showing bombs dropping from airplanes, Hitler’s marching troops in huge showy choreographed formations, and in-coming shipments of USA- flag-covered coffins.  We recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and read The Weekly Reader, a newspaper produced especially for school children at various levels. My grandfather taught me about television.  He had a floor-model radio, which had a large window area for tuning various stations on the radio, and he said that some day, after the war, we would be able to look at windows like that and see actual movies and real people talking and singing and the like.   I was properly impressed…this was undoubtedly the source of my great love of electronic stuff.

Then the newspapers, The Cleveland Press, The News, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer told us every day how many soldiers had been killed in battle, and kept us well informed about the terrible evil enemies of the United States on all areas of the world.   Toward the end of the war there was news about Hitler’s atrocities, and the Japanese cities evaporated by TWO atomic bombs.  The pictures were everywhere in magazines and newspapers. The newsreels at the movies were relentless in presenting the horrors of war, and these were incomprehensible to American kids, who had thankfully never had bombs dropped on them.

Movies themselves, presented on monster screens in huge movie theaters that always reminded me of palaces (not that I had ever been in a palace) also presented the great block-buster films of the 40s…complete with horror stories about the war. So this brings Me to the end of the Great War, and the beginning of the phenomenon known as THE COLD WAR.

The newspapers treated us to daily headlines screaming of annihilation and pending doom.  A particularly horrible series presented by the newspapers contained in part a huge bulls-eye, with segments indicating the extent of the death shadow that marked Cleveland…with its four NIKE missile sites forming at once a horrible defense capability of retaliation.  The center of the bulls-eye, of course, meant instant end to everything…out in the suburbs the threat lessened sequentially until by a distance of thirty miles out some percentage of life might survive.

BUT that survival would depend on bomb shelters, which might delay death by radiation by a couple of weeks. As children we were conversationally proficient about hydrogen bombs, pros and cons of including guns amongdbomb shelter supplies, and just how bad radiation poisoning was. So that was pretty much what one little girl knew about THE WAR… The next era of MY ABOUT PAGE    will be coming up soon:  THE 1950s

please stay tuned…

12
Feb

Hey, news anchors…how about talking to US?

This thing about being left out during news broadcasts has bugged me for a long time. Some are more blatant than others. These are the choreographed news shows in which there are two anchors: let’s call them George and Mabel. They have correspondents out in the rain…or snow, or hurricane winds, or war zone…just standing there holding onto their microphones and trying to look chic AND warm (at the same time) in their parkas and rain gear.

George: well, here we are covering this gigantic snow storm, Mabel.

Mabel: yes, George. It is a gigantic snow storm. Let’s go to our correspondent, Tiffany, standing out there in the parking lot to show us what its like out there.

Hello Tiffany…are you there?

Tiffany stares into the camera for a few seconds, then:
Hello… Mabel and Geoge…yes, this is a really gigantic snow storm. Traffic is just about stalled out here.

(Traffic is seen behind Tiffany, moving slowly but steadily along.)

Geoge… yes, we can see that Tiffany. Mabel, can you see it too?

Mabel…well thank you for standing out in the blizzard there, Tiffany.

Tiffany…yes, thank you Mabel and George. Over to you in the studio…

George…thanks Tiffany, that is some storm out there. Try to keep warm.

Back in the studio Mabel says to George: that was some report on the storm out there which Tiffany has reported is bringing traffic to a standstill.

(More footage of vehicles moving along in the background. Tiffany is still standing there staring rather impatiently into the camera.)

Following the commercial break, the Nightly News With Mabel and George continues.

Mabel: here we have some great footage of some animals suffering out in the storm. Check this out, George.

George: yes, there they are…they seem to be having fun out there playing in the snow.

(Both laugh.)

THE AUDIENCE, AT HOME, WAVING…. “Hello, I hope Mabel and George don’t object to us sitting here at home listening in on their talk during the show.”.”

Well….I resent this feeling that I have every time I watch Mabel and George that I am just a fifth wheel, sitting at home watching the news as a spectator sport. The news is seemingly private conversation between the news anchors, with occasional input from the reporters out in the field.

I wish it was just as easy as switching the channel, but there are cooky-cutter teams of newcasters like Mabel and George chatting away to each other on all channels. We might as well be listening to an exchange of conversation among some strangers in an airport waiting room. The strangers are chatting away and bystanders…for lack of something better to do…listen in with blank expressions. Those sitting nearby the conversationalists rarely contribute any opinions or comments of their own.

In the past, before the nightly news became entertainment, the audience was included in the show. The anchors would address the “folks” out in the audience instead of each other. “So, take a look at this footage Folks.”

And while the Folks are listening in, the correspondents with the microphones included them in their report. “Good evening everyone, it is really raining up here on Capital Hill and these people walking by are really all wet. Back to you Mabel and George…”

Weather forecasters, who are often almost deliriously excited as a particularly interesting cold front approaches, tend to be more inclusive in addressing their reports. They still say the obligatory “Thank you Mabel and George, hope all the folks at home are battened down for the cold. You listeners over there in Hickburg should be especially attentive.” I appreciate that, Weather Person.

News anchors…please consider including us watchers in your conversation. You are not putting on a show (well, maybe so) and we really like to be included.

… and another thing, Tiffany, stop acting like you correspondents work for Mabel and George. You don’t, you work for us, out here in the audience.

18
Dec

Shades of Ricky Ricardo…or Cuba Rises Again

[This article was originally posted here on December 18, 2014, at the time of the original event.   I am re-posting it on the eve of the historic visit to Cuba by Pope Francis, on September 20, 2015.].

The bombshell news of President Obama’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba came as a surprise, sort of, to me as a Latin American Historian.  I always knew it was inevitable, and that Fidel Castro would defy death as a price for Cuba’s acceptance into the world family of nations.

Cuba has been off-limits to Americans for half a century, as travel was restricted to a few academics or journalists who went to the island 90 miles off the coast of Florida to study or report on conditions there.   Under United States travel restrictions, visitors who actually did manage to visit Cuba for most of the twentieth century were forbidden to buy anything in the way of souveniers, and only certain activities were permitted while there.

I did not make it to Cuba, although my credentials as a student and instructor of the history of Latin America would have allowed me to join a group tour to the island.  Although Cuba was not a specialty area for me, I was nevertheless fascinated by the island’s checkered relationship with the United States.   When the Cuban Revolution occurred in 1959 I was a young U.S.Army wife, and the news of Castro’s exploits brought fear to my heart as the soldiers were put on alert all over the world.   During the Cold War years we were all under heart-stopping dread, frozen with fear of war with the Soviet Union.  I can literally feel it now, fifty years later.

Jumping ahead, the remarkable thing about this new development in US-Cuban relations came as a surprise, an agreement hammered out under deep cover and released as something of a bombshell.  U.S. Presidents have for generations talked about the situation with Cuba, and on occasion there was even talk of easing tensions…but the rhetoric was never worth the political fall-out.  Opposing and making speeches denouncing Cuba and its membership in the Evil Empires of the World was the way to go.

The lateness of the opposition, the anti-Obama politicians, is such that they had to wing it, not having much advance warning (if any) to whip up and spin the details of the issue. I admit that I may be rusty on recent Cuban history, but it has been such a colorful example of outrageous and often ridiculous US cloak-and-dagger activities that details bear reiterating before the flux of negative propaganda hits the internet and social media sites.

Wall Street will be happy to see an end to the tunnel that has been the trade Embargo against Cuba for decades.  The US trade restrictions tightened a few years ago to close loopholes that allowed second or third- hand business transactions, thereby making it forbidden for a US or other international corporation to do business with another company that had any aspect of trade whatsoever with Cuba.

Far from being the end of the US-Cuban stand-off, this new development merely opens a new chapter.  It will be interesting to see how it all develops.

To paraphrase  Ricky Ricardo … “Lucy, there’s a lot of  ‘splainin…to do.”

to be continued…

10
Dec

Killing the Messenger…or, What Would Jack Bauer Do?

Often the” tattle-tale” gets in more trouble than the actual culprit.  The kid that breaks the vase while showing off baseball prowess  in the living room gets less flack than the sibling who tells on him.    The gang-banger who reports a robbery to police will be permanently ostracized by peers, while the robber gets off with a slap on the wrist.  This is one of the truisms of childhood, and  honor-among-thieves is often admired, at least secretly.

So in the current news circus–particularly the round-the-clock “spinning of yarns” news channel CNN–the cry of “kill the messenger” screeched onto the television screens immediately upon the bomb-shell reading of the Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA following the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11.

We may have been softened up or prepared for the report by the fictitious Jack Bauer. of 24 fame…who was on the television series the primary “interrogator” of enemies, and when he was forced to resort to torture techniques he “reluctantly” rose to the occasion and performed his talents for the good of the agency.   Unfortunately, sometimes the people Jack Bauer was forced to torture were not always guilty of anything.  Darn!  Jack always felt appropriately bad when that happened.

So now there are the inevitable cries of “political propaganda,”  and a scramble to soft-peddle or excuse terrible occurrences that we, as a nation under God, are not supposed to do.  Shock and awe!

Hopefully the fall-out of this revelation of disaster will reach back into the time of the Central American wars…Nicaragua and El Salvador, and throughout South America.   Iran-Contra is a good place to start.  As a historian of Latin American History, the familiarities of our government involvement “down there” are understood.  Of course then it was the Soviet Union that was the big enemy and any illicit activity was excused by Washington as “anti-Communism.”

The same loud voices against the “tattle-tales” who are revealing the information about torture in the new Senate report are from those who would be in the front lines denouncing such atrocities committed by leaders in other countries.

Killing the messenger is not productive.  Sometimes telling the public what is really going on in our name is not anti-American or political propaganda–it’s just the right thing to do.