Sign my petition to make ð a letter of the day on Sesame Street!
My favorite letter is ð, known as the eth and transliterated into English as the letter d but its pronunciation is closer to that of the th in the English word them. Example: Odin is the English transliteration of the Old Norse Oðinn. (Also see OÐIN, the apparently always-all-capital-letters name of a fragrance I stumbled upon via an interwebs search for "Odin".)
Tis a pity ð left English and lives today only in Icelandic, Faroese, and Elfdalian. (Yes, there's a real language called Elfdalian.) It's important to realize that the ð in modern Icelandic is a (usually apical) voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative. I mean, super-duper-pooper-scooper important. OK, it's not important to know that at all, and I don't even know what it means because I'm not a linguist, and I am also impatient.
Three boys dressed as a patriotic band celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, in the 1940s. (Bert Garai/Keystone View/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
July 4, Independence Day, is an annual federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration.
The Congress, two days before, on July 2, 1776, had unanimously voted for independence. The Declaration was drafted by a committee of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, but, largely at the insistence of John Adams, a delegate from Massachusetts and later second President of the United States, the large portion of the task fell to Thomas Jefferson, a delegate from Virginia and later third President of the United States. It is one of the most revered and famous political documents of the modern era. From the Declaration:
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. .....
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 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.
The Grand Union Flag or Continental Colors; a.k.a. Congress Flag; Cambridge Flag; First Navy Ensign; adopted January 2, 1776.
Happy Saint George's Day. Three hundred forty years ago, the progenitor of my maternal ancestors in America, Richard Buffington, left Marlow, Buckinghamshire, aboard the Griffin and crossed the Atlantic. A Quaker, he settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There's a village remnant of Buffington, PA and a Buffington Island in the Ohio River. If you're in the Big Apple today, swing by the England Day NYC free garden party (music, activities for kids, a costume contest), enjoy a pint of Old Speckled Hen USA at a participating pub, and help benefit The Queen Elizabeth II Garden and the charitable Saint George's Society of New York.
ISIS's notorious executioner Jihadi John has reportedly fled the jihadi group and is on the run in war-torn Syria and may have joined another jihadi group. Mohammed Emwazi, a British Kuwaiti computer science graduate turned murderer, is believed to have left the jihadi group after becoming fearful he might be killed by ISIS's chiefs. The British jihadi has not been seen in a propaganda video for nearly six months after the horrific beheading of Japanese photojournalist Kenji Goto.
My favorite comment seen on social media in response to this story so far is: "Ha ha, John. Wot go's 'round comes 'round."
That said, I'd rather that the SAS or MI6 nab this vainglorious and homicidal punk, that he face British justice at its most harsh and that, as a prisoner, he becomes a turncoat anti-terrorism asset than suffer the same fate that he inhumanly forced on his captives. That is my hope because it has certain practical consequences, even if the outcome overall is unsatisfying to one's baser desires, and because Christian charity, I believe, compels me to go beyond "an eye for an eye" thinking.
He's committed despicable, horrible acts.
The word Schadenfreude was made for moments like this.
Run, John, run! See John run! John, take your caliphate and shove it.
Poverty is a serious problem in America. Poverty is counted as earning less than about $11,500 or less than about $24,000 for a family of four. About 45,000,000 Americans, approximately 14.5% of the nation, lives below the poverty line.
[L]ack of savings, lack of employment possibilities and failing health will catch up with the overwhelming majority of the nation’s elders.... the overwhelming majority, not a small percentage who arguably made bad decisions throughout their working lives.
The "number of seniors threatened by hunger has doubled since 2001, and it’s going to get worse," PBS NewsHour special correspondent Sarah Varney reported last night, May 22, 2015.
[M]any poor retirees are living in gated communities, but the very gates meant to signify safety and status are hampering efforts to help those seniors who are struggling with hunger. ..... Only one-third of eligible seniors are enrolled in food stamps, compared to three-quarters of the eligible general population.
In fact, "nearly one in six senior citizens face the threat of hunger in the United States."
(Combine that fact with those revealed in other studies, and among those hungry retirees there's likely to be a disproportionate number of retirees of color and LGBT retirees.)
You'll be hearing a more about this...or perhaps experiencing it yourself. Varney ends her report with another alarming statistic:
Researchers expect the number of seniors facing the threat of hunger will rise by 50 percent over the next decade.
In other words, by 2025, about one out of every four senior citizens will be living with the threat of hunger.
At 94 years old, Beatrice—a pseudonym, because she wished to stay anonymous—till drives a beat-up, red Pontiac everywhere, even with her lungs semi-permanently in need of oxygen support. She’s always been independent—and still wants to be—but when it comes to food nowadays, that became almost impossible, especially after moving out of her son’s condo after he suffered a stroke.
“You know that [SNAP benefits and supplemental food programs] makes me feel very insecure to even talk about it, because, I [wasn’t] that type at one time. And to get this at 94, and to have these people help, it’s unbelievable.” she said.
Image: St. George slaying the dragon as depicted on the 2015 Gold Sovereign issued by The Royal Mint. From The Royal Mint: "When St George met his end on 23 April 303 AD at the hands of the pagan Emperor Diocletian, he could not have imagined that almost 1,700 years later, he would not only be the Patron Saint of England, but also the iconic figure who has spanned 198 years on The Sovereign, the world’s oldest surviving coin still in production.""
I've blogged about the Union flag before, and the UK and British history are favorite topics of mine, of course.
If Scotland votes for independence on September 18th, 2014, what will be the fate of the Union Jack? (Will Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bermuda, etc. drop it from their flags? Will Apple cut the Union Jack from the emoji keyboard? Whatever will Ben Sherman do without the Union Jack in designs—they love their variation of the RAF roundel even more, of course—unless they don't mind that it will sudden be retro.)
Here's one proposal from Atelier Words for the national flag of what they term the "fUK", the Former United Kingdom, which is being dubbed by some UK media outlets with the cheekier moniker and less naughty acronym, the "rump UK" (rUK).
From Atelier Works' website, here's the proposal, which is based on the Tudor rose—click on the image to enlarge it in a pop-up window.
Atelier did a version with green added, too, but that version violates the rule of tincture twice instead of only once. One way to not violate the rule of tincture is to make the yellow dot the green of the Welsh flag, but, unfortunately, the resultant flag positively screams, Happy Christmas! A black dot instead might make for a nice invocation of the poppy of Remembrance Day, but I suspect the red, white, black color scheme has a history among Brits that's very problematic.
From the Atelier website:
We love the fact that the symbol seems to cover so many aspects of the fUK.
It represents: - unity: people of opposing views happily living alongside one another - the fruitfulness of the British Isles: the verdance, the countryside, the gardens - did we mention gardens: Britain's favourite activity - the meandering, wiggly, organic paths that human lives and human interaction takes - growth - different petals, but one shared heart - the cycle of life: constant renewal
The British Bulldog forlorn with a wilted Scottish thistle and under a rump-UK flag (Cross of St. George representing England and the Cross of St. Patrick representing Northern Ireland), from the Spectatorarticle, "Without Scotland, England will be a weedy laughing stock".
A Victorian slum priest, campaigning for better sanitation, was told to stop interfering in secular matters. He replied, ‘I speak out and fight about the drains because I believe in the Incarnation’. Between 1885 and 1895, another slum priest, Father Dolling, transformed the poorest area of Portsmouth. He created a gym to promote physical fitness and dancing, but his ‘Communicants Dancing Guild’ disgusted a local evangelical vicar. ‘Who can separate the secular from the religious?’, asked Dolling. ‘Certainly the Master did not try to do so.’ He forced brothels to close, attacked army authorities for mismanagement and encouraged trade unions. The worship combined high ritual with hymns sung to homely tunes. Dolling, singing songs with servicemen, was very different from the bookish Tractarians. Why did priests like Dolling begin to connect Jesus with drains and dancing? They learned their incarnationalism and sacramentalism from a tradition which included the theologians F D Maurice, Stewart Headlam, Charles Gore and Henry Scott Holland.
Alan Wilkinson in the January 2001 online issue of Franciscan, a publican of the Anglican religious order the Society of Saint Francis, looks at the examples of Maurice, Headlam, Gore, and Holland. Read the article here.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a 1986 edition of a 1982 pamphlet Common Sense: A Guide to the Present Situation by Paul Williams. It wasn't until days later that I first spotted his name on it. It's noted on the back side of the title page but it's not on the cover. I didn't know at the time that Williams is considered by many to be the father of rock music journalism, that without him the science-fiction canon might lack Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and therefore cinema most likely lack Blade Runner (1982), or that early-onset Alzheimer's--triggered by a 1995 bicycle accident--finally claimed Williams' life less than two months ago.
Common Sense has nothing obviously to do with rock music, though the cynic may say it has something to do with science fiction. It's a call to self-actualization and the work of world peace in an age of nuclear weapons. You can read it online.
Paul Williams, a writer and critic who founded the alternative pop music magazine Crawdaddy, one of the first outlets for serious writing about rock music, and whose critical support helped rescue the science fiction author Philip K. Dick from obscurity, died on Wednesday in a nursing residence near his home in Encinitas, Calif. He was 64.
From the obituary also comes this summary of his remarkable early 20's:
He lived on a commune, smoked his first joint with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, became the manager of Timothy Leary’s short-lived 1969 campaign for governor of California, and dropped in on John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “bed-in” in Montreal long enough to sing on their recording of “Give Peace a Chance.”
Did he make it to Woodstock? [his second wife] was asked. “He hitched a ride to Woodstock in a limo with the Grateful Dead,” she said.
Williams was married twice, the first time to Sachiko Kanenobu, an Osaka-born musician significant in the history of Japan's music scene in the late 1960's--her album Misora debuted in 1972 and was reissued in 2006. She drew the cover illustration for Common Sense.
From the pamphlet:
A few people can build a bridge that can be walked on by many. ..... How dare I be discouraged in the work by anything so trivial as the fear of personal failure?
You can send donations to the Paul Williams family.
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia had a very
successful premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, but director Nicholas Wrathall and his team still need help with the final
archival materials and post production.