Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Vietnam: Going Back Again

June 26, 2018

Blogger’s Block (Back to Vietnam)

Just as a segue, a few words about my creative process. Aside from my lame excuses, my procrastinating, or whatever else might be preventing me from sitting down and working on my blog, I’ll just call it “blogger’s block”, similar to writer’s block. You’ve seen it in the movies, the famous writer (not that I’m famous) sitting at his writing desk, coffee and cigarettes on the desk (not that I smoke or recommend smoking, although I do drink coffee). His waste basket, full to the brim with crumpled sheets of paper, is nearby. He stares at the sheet of paper in his typewriter, a chapter name at the top of the page, and a line or two of text, or possibly just an incomplete sentence. OK, “typewriter”, that’s an older movie, maybe he’s sitting at his laptop keyboard staring at the screen. At any rate he’s not happy.

My writing lapses aren’t usually that dramatic, but I do have them. Thank you, Tom (my gym friend) for kick-starting me by praising my work. Be patient, I’ll take us back to Vietnam in a few minutes, honest – this one is dedicated to you.

Options, Options, and More Options

How about this, I’ll include you in my thinking/decision process, kind of as my virtual writing assistant, helping me decide the content for the next installment of my Vietnam blog. OK, OK, agreed, kind of a not-so-subtle way to get people to comment on my blog.

I have a 36-page double-spaced draft that I wrote nine years after my return from Vietnam. I used an IBM Selectric typewriter, and the draft is on the original paper. Many authors still use typewriters, and some like John Le Carre’ (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, etc.) write out their manuscripts in longhand. His wife types and edits his manuscripts, which I think is very cool. Anyway, my thought was to just go through my entire 12-month Vietnam tour and select highlights, like the one in my last post, “A Dark and Stormy Night” . As I have already done, I am using some of the text from my nearly 40-year-old draft, for example, the Preface that follows is from “Vietnam Ten Years Ago – A Sailor Remembers”.

“The following narrative is the product of my memories and feelings about a personal experience and the desire to share the experience with others – a retrospective look at something which happened ten years ago. Since that time, it has rattled around in my head, I have discussed it with others, and I have written about it.
The memories of my year spent in Vietnam have not been naggingly painful or filled with nightmarish, melodramatic flashbacks (as others have experienced). In fact, some of what happened was quite pleasant. There are other memories I would rather forget.
Occasionally, I use real names in the narrative, because I remember some of them. However, I have no intentions of misrepresenting actual events or offending any of the real people involved. (Bernie Blazek, October 1979)”

More Options

Keep reading, Tom, we’re getting there.

So, the previous option would be to take my original draft and present it as a blog. Probably not the best choice, presenting over 10,000 words in my blog. Choosing “highlights”, as I’ve been doing, I think is better.

I also thought about getting “political” by addressing the question, “Are wars bad?” I’ve seen the Ken Burns TV series about the Vietnam War, and I was there for a year, but I think that question is beyond the scope of this blog. I will mention just one thing, a snippet from the Michael Berry Radio broadcast from Houston, Texas. You can Google him if you like. On June 6 this year, he dedicated a good part of his show to D-Day veterans, many of whom died in Normandy, France.

Berry talked about an 18-year-old who was drafted. One of the things struck home, about the young man, whose whole life was ahead of him, a girl friend, a future family. He didn’t enlist, but when he was drafted, he went willingly. He never came back. Say what you want about Michael Berry’s political views, but I think he called this one correctly.

OK, one more snippet about a bumper sticker (I may be misquoting it, but you’ll get the idea) that I saw in my neighborhood. “Except for overcoming communism, fascism, Nazism, and slavery, wars have not accomplished a thing.”

I guess one more option would be a musical/pictorial blog, kind of like I’ve done with other topics. By the way, I have to guide you down the music trivia path, just for a moment. If you read the first Vietnam installment I did, I included a song titled In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. You should read this Tampa Tribune piece about the song . . . veeerrry interesting!

OK, Tom, I’m running out of gas on this installment and need to go have dinner. Please feel free to comment and/or make a suggestion (or anyone). ‘Backatcha’ with more later.

The music and pictures are either symbolic or just for entertainment.

Canned Heat: Can’t Find My Way Home
Huey Lewis and the News: The Power of Love
Canned Heat: Let’s Work Together
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: Helplessly Hoping
Supertramp: Take the Long Road Home

 

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The X-Files: 2018 (Part II)

April 17, 2018

 

Building All is Love: “Where the Wild Things Are” (movie soundtrack)
“The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still, small voice of conscience.” Mahatma Gandhi

A Frame of Reference

Thinking about John 8:32 that I quoted in Part I – OK, admittedly I’ve taken a single verse from the Bible out of context, but I’m just trying to establish a frame of reference. The verse does make sense, right? Obviously, the misinformation, the subterfuge, the biased media reports, and, in my opinion, the indifference of the general public in wanting or caring about the truth have not served to establish an environment of trust in the good ole USA. When you go to the doctor, you want the truth, right – doc, what is the prognosis? I’ve had some very good doctors who were straight shooters and gave me good advice.

Does It Matter?

OK, you may ask, what’s the X-files connection? As Mr. They said in Part I, Does It Matter?” Hopefully, the issues I bring up and the points I try to make will help you connect the dots.

Imprimis Potpourri

Blogger’s Note: I give full editorial credit to the authors of the articles.

I’ll be including snippets from several Imprimis articles. Obviously, feel free to read each of the articles in their entirety, but as I said before, it’s thought-provoking but not light reading.

You Are Not Generation Z (Patrick L. Sajak, Host Wheel of Fortune)

Remember, this is an address to a graduating class in Texas in 2017.

“In short, I’m not sure there’s much need to inspire a group like this. So let me suggest  a pitfall to avoid going forward, a pitfall not only for this year’s graduating class, but for everyone in every corner of American society today. It has altered the way we talk to one another and perceive one another. It has perverted the notion of free speech and poisoned the academic environment. It has turned the American political system on its head, creating a situation where opposing views are not only unwelcome, they are deemed to be signs of evil intent. It has pitted friend against friend and has caused rifts within families. I’m talking about identity politics, the attempt to divide Americans and set us against each other. The attempt to classify and categorize us by all sorts of measurements and standards. To a great degree, those who are making these attempts are succeeding. And their efforts are changing our country in fundamental ways.” You really should read all of this one, especially on page 7, right column.

Next Up?

I’ve decided to continue the Imprimis material in a future blog.

I’ll be including:

  • Are We Free to Discuss America’s Problems by Amy L. Wax.
  • A More American Conservatism by Larry P. Arnn.
  • Immigration in the National Interest by Tom Cotton.
  • The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards by Michael Goodwin.

 

 

 

The X-Files: 2018 (Part I)

March 23, 2018
Vitamin String Quartet:  The Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to the Who – Tommy

 

What’s Up, Rufous Blog? (Blog of the Week: March 23, 2018)

What happened to the Rufous blog you may have asked – actually I did do a post on February 23, my birthday – but my so-called “blog of the week” has been more of a “blog of the month”. OK, multi-tasking doesn’t always work (some experts say that “single-tasking” is actually more efficient). Multi-tasking only works if you don’t forget to do the higher priority items on your list, which in my case is blogging.

Blogger’s note:  The following quote is not totally  in context with my topic, but it struck a chord with me so I wanted to include it.
Quote from Life in Oregon, February-March 2018:
“Think about how the conversation in America, in Oregon, would change if each of us assumed the best of the person who disagrees with us. Together, let’s think about and interact with people on the other side of the issues as if they are potential allies, not enemies.” (ORTL president Harmony Daws, January 14, 2018, Oregon Right to Life annual Roe v. Wade Memorial and March in Portland, Oregon)

Politics or TV?

Did I tell you about John le Carre’, who writes his books out in longhand, then gives the manuscripts to his wife who types and edits them. He’s 86 and just published a new novel. A would-be writer could get inspired by David Cornwell (his real name). I also write out my content longhand in my bright green composition book before transferring it to the blog. Always, I’ll have several blog ideas going, like something political (always a challenge to be “correct”) or like today I have a blog about TV. Maybe I’ll include some “politics” too in this blog (spoiler alert).  :}

The X-Files – The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

I was never a big fan in the past, but the new season 11 caught my attention, in particular episode 4, which I found very interesting on many levels. If you’ve watched it, you may have noticed that the stars (in my opinion), David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, have aged fairly well. OK, enough small talk, here’s my rehash of episode 4. Kudos to the producer and writer, Chris Carter, Darin Morgan, staff writers Brad Follmer and Benjamin Van Allen, and (wait for it) David Duchovny. Episode 4 has some humorous moments, maybe satirical/tongue-in-cheek is a better description, compared to the paranormal or whatever you normally expect from X-files – like a more recent episode with the drones spying on and pursuing Fox and Scully.

OK, having mentioned the producer and writers I think I’m OK legally in quoting the dialog (yes, I paused the TV and wrote it down). If you’re a fan and missed it, you should watch episode 4.

As Long as the Truth Gets Out

Continuing . . . take this scene, about 44 minutes into the episode, Mulder and another character named “Mr. They” are in this wonderful sculpture garden with all these statues. Mulder is having a conversation with Mr. They.

Mulder:  “As long as the truth gets out.”

Mr. They:  “They don’t really care if the truth gets out because the public no longer knows what’s meant by the truth.”

Mulder:  “What do you mean?”

Mr. They:  “Well, I mean, no one can tell the difference anymore between what’s real and what’s fake.”

Oh, ouch, OK, is anyone picking up on the political angle here? I have no idea what Chris Carter and his staff of creative people were trying to accomplish with episode 4, but it’s kind of fun to speculate, eh.

Mulder:  “There’s still an objective truth, an objective reality.”

(Transition to main story line)

Mr. They:  “So what? I mean, you take this Mandela effect.”

Mr. They (quotes George Orwell):  “He who controls the past controls the future.” (More quotes later)

Mr. They:  “Well, believe what you want to believe, that’s what everybody does now anyway.” (Slight break in the dialog)

Mr. They:  “All you really need is a laptop.”

Mulder:  So that’s what this has been all about, the spread of online disinformation.”

Mr. They:  “Maybe?”

Mr. They:  “You know, our current president said something truly profound.” He said, “Nobody knows for sure.”

Mulder:  “What was he referring to?”

Mr. They:  “Does it matter?”

The previous scene lasts only about two minutes and ends with a great shot of Mulder standing in front of a statue with its arms outstretched, as if to say, what’s going on.

The scene shifts to a parking garage, with Mulder and Scully talking to another character, Reggie, who says, “We found the truth that’s out there.”

Rather than risk spoiling the rest of the episode, I highly recommend you watch episode 4 just to see the ending.

The Red Mustang

The next scene shows Mulder, Scully, and Reggie driving down the road in a red Mustang convertible and then the final scene . . .

Tip: Google “x-files season 11” to get more reviews and analysis.
Definition/primer on innuendo:
  • Veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation.
  • The use of such allusions resorting to innuendo.
Example:
His reputation has been damaged by innuendo.

One or Two (or Three) More Quotes

Voltaire: “To hold a pen is to be at war.”
Voltaire:  “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.”
Read more at:  Voltaire Quotes.
John 8:32:  “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV Bible)
Next Up:  “The X-Files 2018 (Part II)”. Just a hint, expect some content based on my favorite Imprimis readings. No surprise there. Feel free to peruse the Imprimis issues.
Definition of “Imprimis”:  In the first place used to introduce a list of items or consideration.
Antonio Vivaldi:  The Four Seasons, Summer (Presto)

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Journalism 201: Part II

June 29, 2017

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See the note about the picture at the bottom.

Looking Back: What Happened at Crystal City? (Part I)

If you’re a reader of my blog, you may remember this Journalism 101 post from last year, a four-part series about Crystal City. If you missed it, you should check it out. A lot has happened in our world in the last year, and this blog has been stewing and simmering in the pot.

As a Journalism major in college I learned a few things about that whole process of gathering information. However, now I’m more concerned about how we as individuals interpret and react to information and the apparent trends that I see. I’ll try to focus on what’s been on my mind.

What’s the Point?

Without getting into a discussion about “fake news” and “real news” and all the different varieties of “media”, I’ll just throw some ideas and questions your way.

Would you say that social issues should be examined on a purely emotional basis or should rational and logical thought be involved?

It’s always good to vet your sources. As you know, because of the Internet, finding information is surprisingly easy.

Definition of “vet” (quoted from Merriam-Webster)
  1. To subject to usually expert appraisal or correction, e.g. vet a manuscript.
  2. To evaluate for possible approval or acceptance, e.g. vet the candidates for a position.

Randy Newman: Sigmund Freud’s Impersonation of Albert Einstein in America

Back on Track: Alternate Sources of Information

I’m throwing this blog installment out there as food for thought. Just a note about a web site that I found that (in my opinion) is a very good one, Hillsdale College. I receive and read the free monthly Imprimis digest. You also can sign up for the digest (and contribute to the college as I do). I included the Hillsdale College web site because the articles will give you a different perspective on some of the major issues – the questions about Syrian refugees, what is conservatism, the left’s war on free speech, etc.

Be forewarned that the Imprimis installments are well written but are not light reading and require some mental effort to absorb what the writer is saying. I’ll touch on and summarize some of their past topics.

Note that I don’t expect you to read all of these web articles, although you may find them very interesting, and even the sidebar articles are interesting if not controversial, e.g. the soapboxie site.

Another source: soapboxie.com

What Has Happened to Truth in Journalism?

A Real Need for the Real News

Before I get to some summaries of the Imprimis articles, I’ll throw in my “two cents worth”.

My Two Cents Worth – Some Things to Think About

Side note: In defining “media”, think of how we get our information, broadcast news, newspapers, social media (Facebook, etc.), TV shows, radio, and the Internet.
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry

Here are a few questions (rhetorical) to ask about using the media and becoming responsible users of the media.

  • Should we avoid all media sources?
  • Use mainstream media (Fox, CNN, and CBS) or try to find alternate sources of information?
  • Isn’t it more responsible to react to news by thinking rationally and logically rather than emotionally?
  • Should we be accountable for our own actions/reactions to the media?
  • Should we expect the media to be totally unbiased in their news reporting?

Imprimis Digest

As I said before the Imprimis Digest installments are not light reading, but I’ve made some notes, and I’ll try to give you the high points. Obviously, feel free to make your own interpretations and form your own opinions. I’m quoting the Imprimis summary statement next to the title on the web page for each Imprimis piece. Note the number of installments, all the way back to 1972.

Restoring America’s Economic Mobility (September 2016)

“Today the story of American politics is the story of class struggles. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.”

In Frank Buckley’s opening paragraph he talks about Marx and puts a historical frame around his subject. If you are a person interested in economics and like numbers and details, you’ll find this piece very interesting.

The author dives right into the meat of his article, discussing “economic mobility” in paragraph 4. There is a graph of the mobility rankings on page 2. Note that the U.S. and U.K. are rated low in mobility. He talks about education on page 3 and how we compare with Canada.

He touches on immigration briefly in one paragraph on page 3, “What abut immigration? Canada doesn’t have a problem with illegal aliens – it deports them”.

Who We Are as a People – The Syrian Refuge Question (October 2016)

“It is not beyond reason that a sovereign nation would be allowed to inquire whether the religious beliefs of an asylum seeker are compatible with the American constitutional order.”

A brief aside:
OK, take a break, inhale, deep breath, and ask yourself, “Why is the Rufous blog all of a sudden after all this time getting political, especially when I was so enjoying his pictures and music and his insights (nonpolitical) about life? Why am I now being asked to be accountable, to think about normal, every-day things in a different light and possibly make better decisions about issues that affect my life and the lives of others?”

More Imprimis

As I said above I’d try to give you the high points of the Imprimis pieces, and I do read them and use my highlighter and make notes sometimes, but to summarize all of that is very time consuming, so I’m leaving it up to you (isn’t there a song with those lyrics?). I.e. I won’t do the grunt work for you — if you’re interested in reading it, then the rest is up to you.

Thanksgiving and America (November 2016)

“The best expression of this aspect of Thanksgiving comes from Benjamin Franklin, who called it a day “of public Felicity,” a time to express gratitude to God for the “full Enjoyment of Liberty, civil and religious.”

A More American Conservatism (December 2016)

“If American conservatism means anything, then, it means the things found at the beginning of America, when it became a nation.”

I found this one very interesting because I know how we like our labels, “conservative”, “liberal”, etc., and this piece does a good job of explaining conservatism in its true sense.

The Left’s War on Free Speech (April 2017)

“In the weeks following the Citizens United ruling, the Left settled on a new strategy. If it could no longer use speech laws against its opponents, it would do the next best thing—it would threaten, harass, and intimidate its opponents out of participation.”

And last but not least and probably the most relevant piece to this blog . . . I love this one!

The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards (May/June 2017)

“Last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility.”

That’s it guys, for the Imprimis Digest, just a sampling. There may be a Part III for this topic (haven’t decided yet). I hope you found this information to be informative and enlightening.

BTO: Takin Care of Business
Picture credit: Schroders is a British multinational asset management company, founded in 1804. The inscription means “Evolve your investor nature.” Beyond that I don’t know the picture artist, but note that those are his hands in the picture. Very cool!

Is It Time to Vote Yet?

October 25, 2016

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Rob Dougan: Furious Angel (music from The Matrix)

Do the Right Thing

What could be more timely and apropos than a blog about the 2016 national election, eh! I’ve been reading (actually listening) to a Tom Robbins book titled Tibetan Peach Pie (2014). What a treat! Long time since I read Another Roadside Attraction or Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Robbins is 84 and living in La Conner, Washington, more or less in my neck of the woods.I only mention him because he was a newspaperman for many years and talked a bit about how much fun journalists have with writing headlines for their articles.

I was thinking about what the title for this piece should be:

  • Election 2016: Anyone Have a Good Write-in Candidate
  • Synonyms for the Word “Circus”
  • My Namesake (Bernie) Dropped Out of the Race – Dammit!

As an aside, let’s look at the word “circus” as in political circus. According to Merriam-Webster (MW) online one of its definitions is: “a place of uproar or confusion”. Some of the synonyms are:

“Babel, bedlam, madhouse, scrum (British), and three-ring circus”.

The Related Words are even more interesting and nonetheless applicable to what we, as Americans, have been subjected to in this election year:

“Bustle, commotion, pandemonium, racket, ruckus, tumult, turmoil, brouhaha, clamor, clatter, din, hubbub, noise; chaos, confusion, disarrangement, disarray, disorder, havoc, hell, mess, muss, shambles.”

I hear a voice saying, what’s the point. Be patient.

What’s My Take On It?

In the days when I was working in an office – I’m more or less retired now – I felt that my political and religious beliefs were personal and therefore not up for discussion or debate. Besides, have you ever noticed that when you discuss politics or religion with anyone, close relative, friend, or total stranger, the discussion is usually one-sided or unidirectional? The other person talks, stops talking, and you talk, but they’re not really listening to what you say, they’re thinking about what they want to say next to reinforce or emphasize THEIR point.

However, having said that, I think we all have a moral obligation to examine the issues and stick to our own beliefs. You may alienate or disagree with a friend or relative by taking a stand, but that shouldn’t matter. As someone once said, “do the right thing”.

To restate my main point, should we vote our conscience regardless of any distracting and probably very biased information about the issues and the persons for whom we are casting our votes? (Anyone know of a good write-in candidate for president?) Spoiler alert – beyond that last question, I’m not telling you who I’m voting for, as I said, it’s personal.

How Does One Make an Intelligent Choice?

I could do an entire blog on information sources, can you trust the media, etc. etc., but I’ll do that one later. In the following short list, I’m including links to an Oregon site (voter’s guide) and some non-local sites, including one about media. There is so much out there (in the internet universe), but obviously, not all sources will be trustworthy and/or unbiased.

A Few Sources You Can Look At

Oregon Family Council Voter’s Guide

League of Women Voters Education Fund (very informative and user friendly source of national election information)

Independent Online News Sources (good information about independent news sources)

A Closing Poem

This poem was sent to me by a close relative, it has nothing to do with politics, but take it to heart. This poem is best read outside, in a loud voice, with your arms out-stretched. Lowercase letters and punctuation were intentional by the poet. Enjoy.

e.e. cummings (1894–1962)
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening inimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Canned Heat: Let’s Work Together


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