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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.
   ―  Thomas Jefferson
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On This Day In:
2017 The Best?
2016 Timely Opinions On “The Donald”
Even Allowing For Coincidence
2015 First Things First
2014 Without The Other
2013 Earn This
Seeking A View
2012 Stumblin’ Along My Way
We’re Proud Of You, Jr!
Union Card
Two Philosophies
2011 Simply Unpredictable
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The Power of Myth”  1988©
Today’s review is for “The Power of Myth“, which is a book based on interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers that were the basis for the PBS television series of the same name and the same year.  The book was timed for concurrent release and follows the interview format with editing provided by Betty Sue Flowers.  In fact, the book chapters follow the episode breakdown of the series.
The interviews deal with the universality and evolution of myths in human history and how myths fit (or don’t fit) in the modern day social structure.  Campbell mixes personal experience with stories from many epochs, cultures and civilizations to offer up a thesis that modern society is moving from old mythologies and traditions unique to their times and locations to a new global (and possibly unified) mythology.
Campbell believes myths are the stories / legends / fables which make up their culture.  Campbell believes there are universal “truths” which mankind tries to describe using these myths and this explains why the myths are common around the globe.  To him a “myth” is a way of defining the rituals and oral histories we pass from parents to child.
Because the “myths” of any prior generation were limited by location and technologies of communication, Campbell believes we are in a transition period which is trying to integrate all of the “great” traditions (religions, beliefs and myths) of the past with the rapidly changing technologies of a modern life supported by increasing amounts of technology without concurrent social and moral reinforcement.
Basically, modern culture specifically lacks a social structure to transition males from childhood to adulthood – the traditional “rites of passage”.  Campbell feels this problem is significantly less for females because their rite of passage to adulthood is observationally physical.  On this point, I disagree with Campbell as I don’t believe the completion of puberty is the actual rite of passage from childhood to adulthood except in the most biologically literal sense for males or females.
I found the book fascinating but difficult to read. I find it curious that myths (creation, death, heaven, hell, reincarnation, resurrection and ascension) are common across epochs and continents. I am less convinced that all individuals seek to be “heroes” and to find their “bliss”.  It is my observation that the vast majority of folks (male and female) just want to get on with life and enjoy it (life) and their families with as little hassle as possible.
Final recommendation: highly recommended.  I feel the book is very deep and full of insight – both in word and ideas.  I will be including quotes from it periodically.  My own copy is now high-lighted through large passages of the book. (LOL)
One final note: this book took me almost two years to read, even though, at barely 230 pages, it’s not very long.  This is because it is (was) intellectually challenging (to me) and I felt the need to pause periodically.  The result was start, stop, weeks pass, start, stop, etc.  In the end, I moved on to other books and then (after 90+ pages), when I finally got back to it, I felt I’d lost the train of discussion and started over from the intro.  So, reader be warned…  Well worth your time, but you’ll need to be better disciplined than I am.
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On This Day In:
2017 Happy Meeting Day 33 (And Counting)
2016 Picture Perfect
2015 Life Showed Compassion
2014 And Then I Met Her
2013 Defining Maleness
The Run Continues
2012 All Set
2011 Not Always

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Here is what I have learned about race:  You can’t go over it.  You can’t go under it.  You can’t go around it.  You have to go through it.
When we testify in court, we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  This is important, because anything but the whole truth and nothing but the truth will lead us astray.  Yet that is the story of American history that most of us know, particularly as it relates to race.  To move forward, we must commit to tell the whole truth about our past.  To move forward, we must find that new space on race here; a zone of belief that holds promise for a nation committed to justice for all of our people, making right what we have failed to do and insisting that we will do what it takes to reach the next threshold for humankind.
   —  Mitch Landrieu
Mayor of New Orleans, LA
From his editorial: “Repairing the story of race in the South
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 2 April 2018
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On This Day In:
2017 Streaking Tales
2016 Singular Reality
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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I see how my work inspired millions of young people around the Middle East to make their own contributions.  With every video, vine, and meme, I see the youth using the Internet to challenge the hideous propaganda machine.  They are finding ways to make fun of these brutal dictatorships, and in a small way I feel that my show is still going on.  A revolution is not just an event, it is a long process.  And the process might start with those young people losing respect for the establishments that controlled and brainwashed their parents through religion and fake nationalism. Those young people are questioning everything.  Nothing is off limits and nothing is taboo anymore.  Questioning in itself is a prequel to a revolution.  The fall of the social, religious, and military idols that controlled the Middle East is already happening.  Those idols are losing their most important asset, being respected and being revered.  The young generation is not taking the bullshit again.  They may rule for a while with fear and brutality but the respect is long gone.  It is just a matter of time.
   —  Bassem Youssef
From his book: “Revolution For Dummies
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On This Day In:
2017 Dream Of Dreamers
2016 Dear Automakers
2015 And Some Not So Brave Too
2014 In My Lifetime…
2013 Democracy
2012 Borrowed Expectations
2011 Not Necessarily True

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Andrew McCabe was the Deputy Director of the FBI under Director James Comey.  Director Comey was fired by President Trump, who then appointed McCabe to replace Comey as Director.  Comey refused to “pledge” his loyalty to Trump and when McCabe supported Comey’s statements in Congressional testimony, Trump subsequently forced McCabe from his position, too.  McCabe “fell on his sword” to protect the FBI after an Inspector General’s report of improper handling of the Hilary Clinton’s e-mail investigation during the 2016 Presidential campaign.  The result of the “improper handling” was to the benefit of Trump and hurt Clinton’s campaign.  I am not aware of any evidence this effect was intentional by Comey, McCabe or the FBI.
I have heard some Republican supporters / Conservative analysts offering up the suggestion Attorney General Jeff Session fired McCabe in order to maintain his own (Session’s) position and thereby “protect” Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.  In essence, Session has fired a man with over 20 years of distinguished FBI service for personal and political reasons to punish McCabe and satisfy President Trump’s vindictive personality.  Session is himself a pitiable (if not tragic) figure in this drama because he has been subject to Trump’s “personality” and diminution, but that still (in my opinion) does not justify his actions in this matter.
My reaction to the Session’s firing of Andrew McCabe from the FBI at 10PM on a Friday night less than two days before his scheduled retirement can be summarized by a few quotes from the movie “Judgment At Nuremberg”  (1961)…  (in these quotes Janning represents Session and McCabe is the “one” man.)
Judge Dan Haywood:  Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure.  We believe he loathed the evil he did.  But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part.  Janning’s record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial.  If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts – if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs – these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes.  But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men – even able and extraordinary men – can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination.  No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget.  The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs…  The murder of children…  How easily that can happen!  There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the “protection” of the country.  Of “survival”.  The answer to that is: survival as what?  A country isn’t a rock.  And it isn’t an extension of one’s self.  It’s what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult!  Before the people of the world – let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth… and the value of a single human being!
Later in the movie…
Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood…  the reason I asked you to come:  Those people, those millions of people…  I never knew it would come to that.  You must believe it, You must believe it!
Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it “came to that” the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.
Also:
The following is the reaction of the former head of the CIA to President Trump’s mocking Tweet about this firing:

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan’s reaction to Trump’s mocking of McCabe firing.

History will be a harsh judge of Trump and those in Congress who protect his Administration by trying to halt an unhindered and complete investigation of Russian interference in our last Presidential election and Trump and his campaign’s collusion with Russia in their efforts to get him elected and undermine our country.
America will triumph over Donald Trump and Vladimir Putkin.
Please do not take anything above as a defense of AG Session.  I did not like him as a Senator and did not support his nomination to Attorney General because I did not (and do not) believe Session is able to defend the laws of the United States independent of his own opinions – particularly laws supporting Civil Rights or Equal Justice under the law.  I also believe he knew early on that the Trump campaign was involved with Russia.  I am not (yet) convinced Session was personally involved in the collusion with Russia, but I feel it is highly probable based on his “selective memory” and failures to recall (29 times) during his testimony before Congress.
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On This Day In:
2017 Odds Are
2016 Prayer, Too
2015 History, n.
2014 See It Sometime
2013 Precious Friend
2012 It Couldn’t Be Done
Feeling Surrounded?
2011 Surprise!

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I have one life and one chance to make it count for something.  I am free to choose what that something is, and the something I have chosen is my faith.  Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort.  My faith demands that this is not optional, that I do whatever I can, whenever I can, wherever I am, for as long as I can, with whatever I have, to try to make a difference.
   —  President Jimmy Carter
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On This Day In:
2017 Are You Confused?
2016 The Golden Mean
2015 To Infinity And Beyond
2014 Taken Back
2013 Windows Or Doors
2012 All Rise
2011 Vote Weight

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)  —  movie review
WAAAYYY back in August 2016, I wrote a post about a documentary, a movie preview (“trailer”), and a few comments on something I’d discovered on YouTube which I then called “trailer reviews”.  Here is a link to that post for anyone who would like to read my earlier post:  https://kmabarrett.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/conscientious-courage/
At any rate, the movie came out and, for whatever reason, I never have reviewed it.  This post corrects that mistake.  (My earlier post was about the documentary / subject of the movie and not on the actual movie.)
The film is a typically formatted two-part military tale focusing on the World War II training (pre-military life / boot camp), and then, (actual) combat experiences of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who was a pacifist / Seventh-day Adventist Christian, who refused to touch, carry or use a firearm or weapon of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The medal was for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa (April to June 1945).  It should be mentioned, the movie implies the battle shown was a few days / nights long.  In fact, it (the battle shown) lasted a couple of weeks and the battle for the island several months.  Also, Doss received medals for two acts of courage in combat (on two other islands) which preceded this battle on Okinawa, so his courage was already known by his fellow soldiers before the events depicted in this movie.
Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, and Hugo Weaving (Mr. Smith from the Matrix movies) as his father, with Sam Worthington (the blue guy in “Avatar”) as Doss’ company commander and Vince Vaughn as his drill instructor and platoon sergeant.  The film received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Sound Editing, and winning the awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
First we are introduced to Doss as a child and learn about his desire to be a doctor.  We also meet his girlfriend and future wife.  (Normally, I would describe all of this as “Blah, blah, blah…”, but in this movie, the background really is important to the story – imagine that!)  Doss joins the Army and is placed under the training of Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn, who is surprisingly good in this wise-cracking, but non-comedic role).  Despite being skinny, Doss excels physically but is cast as a coward to his platoon for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays.  Howell and Captain Glover (Worthington, who looks surprisingly old in this role) attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons but are overruled, as Doss’ religious beliefs do not qualify as a mental illness.  So, instead, they try to make life hard on Doss.  One night, Doss is beaten by some of the members of his own platoon, but Doss refuses to identify his attackers and completes his training.
Doss intends to marry Dorothy (his girlfriend played by Teresa Palmer), but his refusal to carry a firearm leads to an arrest for failing to follow a direct order by a commanding officer.  At his trial, Doss pleads not guilty, but before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal with a letter from a former commanding officer (of the father) stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by an Act of Congress.  The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.
Doss’ unit is deployed to the Pacific theater, and during the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’ unit is told that they have to climb and secure the Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”).  In the initial fight, Doss saves several wounded soldiers.  The platoon camps for the night, which Doss spends in a foxhole with Smitty (played by Luke Bracey), who was the first squad-mate to call Doss a coward back in his training platoon days.  Doss tells Smitty his refusal to carry a rifle comes from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a pistol.  Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage and the two reconcile.  This last is definitely meant to create a “heart-felt” moment and my immediate reaction was: this guy is either going to be a friend for life or he’s going to be a “redshirt” (LOL – StarTrek TOS reference for you nerds out there).
The next day, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment.  Smitty is killed (ha! a redshirt), while Howell and several of Doss’ squad mates are left injured on the battlefield.  Doss hears the cries of the wounded and dying soldiers and goes back to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff’s edge and belaying them each down the cliff face by rope, each time praying to save just one more.  The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below.  When day breaks, Doss rescues Sergeant Howell and the two escape over the cliff while under enemy fire. Just a historical note on the escarpment / cliff face.  The escarpment is actually about a 300-400 foot “overall” rise which is topped by the last 30 to 40 feet of sheer cliff.  This last bit – the cliff face – is given a bit of dramatic enhancement by the film’s director (Mel Gibson) who makes the last bit seem like the whole thing.
Captain Glover tells Doss that the men have been inspired by his courage and faith, and that they will not launch the next attack without him.  With new reinforcements, they win the battle.  When some Japanese soldiers fake surrender, Doss saves Captain Glover and others by slapping and then kicking (nice Spidey move) enemy grenades.  Doss is wounded in the leg by the kicked grenades blast, and Doss descends the cliff, holding the Bible his wife gave him.
The film switches to archival photos and footage from the documentary to show that Doss receiving his Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for rescuing the 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge.  The notes state Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991, and, that he died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, his fellow soldiers reported Doss saved over 100 men.  Doss estimated he “helped” 50.  His CMoH split the difference an said “75”!!!
So, what did I think? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I loved the documentary; I cried during the preview (okay, maybe I just welled up a bit); and, I loved the movie (and, yes, I did cry)!!  This is not a movie about war – which is what I originally thought it was going to be about.  This is a movie about the human spirit, faith and courage.  Needless to say – final recommendation: very highly recommended.  One note of caution: like several of Gibson’s movies, this one is graphic in the display of violence and in the horrors of war.  As such, it is not appropriate for the very young or the squeamish.
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On This Day In:
2017 Talent Hates To Move
2016 Looking To November
2015 It Isn’t The End
Prospero’s Precepts
2014 Friends
2013 Learning Bitter
2012 Remembrance, Minstrels & Going Off To War
May I Have More Happiness, Please?
2011 There Is No God, But God
2010 Another Running Book…

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