Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Simone's Thought For October

If I have to be anti anything, I am anti anti-intellectualism. Can we please stop dumbing down America? I want to live in a country where being smart is cool and curiosity is a good thing. Where thinking deeply and asking thoughtful questions is not mocked or derided. Where complex issues are not reduced to black and white simplicities. Where knowledge and education are not sneered at, as if they are somehow dirty and suspect. Where ideology and dogmatism do not beat down critical thinking and reason like a bellicose bully.

"An American will tinker with anything he can put his hands on. But how rarely can he be persuaded to tinker with an abstract idea."

- Leland Stowe

Leland Stowe (November 10, 1899 - January 16, 1994) was an American journalist noted for being one of the first to recognize the expansionist character of the German Nazi regime.

In the summer of 1933, Stowe visited Nazi Germany. Shocked by its militarism, he wrote a series of critical articles that was not published as the articles were seen as too alarmist. Stowe published the articles in a book, Nazi Germany Means War; it was, however, not a success.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Real America

Colin Powell reacts to a photo of a soldier who died in Iraq:

“I stared at it for an hour...Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?”

"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that [Obama] is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

"I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith."

"And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life."

Khan was an all-American kid. A 2005 graduate of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., he loved the Dallas Cowboys and playing video games with his 12-year-old stepsister, Aliya.

His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.

His father said Kareem had been eager to enlist since he was 14 and was outraged by the 9/11 attacks. “His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go,” Feroze Khan, told The Gannett News Service after his son died. “He looked at it that he’s American and he has a job to do.”

The photo was taken by Platon for the New Yorker. The quotes and text come from interviews with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama in October

are from
in KC

It's October! The mad season, the season of Simone. The gift that keeps on giving. It started off with a Rocky Mountain High in Colorado, thanks to my sister Michele. Elk and aspens and ALTITUDE. Followed by a groovy par-tay at my sister Laura's wedding, where I busted a move on the dance floor with my 84 year old mother and all my sibs. Say what? Freaky stuff!! And now comes the kicker. An Obama rally right here in KC. This Obama mama was happy!

Under an autumn sun and a brilliant blue sky, Lilah and I waited for two hours to hear Obama speak. We got through the gate around 4:00, with thousands coming behind us. People in the crowd were smiling, laughing, staring off into space, checking their cell phones, looking straight ahead, looking back at the dark-clad figures (armed guards?) perched on top of the Liberty Memorial Museum roof. A black helicopter circled overhead. A bus pulled up to the speakers' tent, raising excitement. Now and then a chant went up from the crowd, "O-bam-a!! O-bam-a!"

When Obama arrived, the crowd began cheering. Everyone started pushing forward. I jumped up and down, trying to catapault myself over people's big heads. Lilah and I had each brought a book to read, so I used them as a footstool, and balanced on my tip-toes. And there he was -- Obama for real. White shirt, skinny arms, ears sticking out... I couldn't get over how close we'd gotten. I lifted Lilah up, again and again, shouting, "Can you see him?" She nodded and grinned. He was shouting and pointing. Making his points. The crowd responded: "Yes We can!!

It was a beautiful evening, said Obama. And oh my land, Yes It Was! A lovely mellow light enveloped his emphatic stump on taxes. The middle class. Healthcare. Ending the war in Iraq responsibly. "HEL-lo!!" a woman near me shouted. "I like having my husband around!!"

When it was over we watched his caravan leave. A couple of sleek, black cars with flashing lights on the back, followed by a couple of SUVs, and still more sleek cars. Lilah thought she spotted Obama in one of them.

We headed downhill towards Crown Center, where I'd parked the car. There were roadblocks and throngs of people moving in every direction. One park official estimated 75,000. I'd always wondered what it would be like to be in a crowd that size. Turns out you're largely oblivious. You're only aware of the people right around you. The same way we're oblivious to the rest of the globe.

Crown Center was over-run by Obama folks that night. Obama shirts and Obama buttons every which way you turned. Lilah and I stood in a long line waiting to eat at Fritz's, the vintage hamburger joint that delivers your food by way of a miniature train that runs just below the ceiling.

I had seen all colors and ages at the Obama rally. I'd even seen old white people with canes! And here in Fritz's was another ancient white couple. The woman was bent over and the man looked pale and shriveled. But darned if he wasn't wearing an Obama button. They'd been at the rally too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stayin' Alive!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim.

The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Stayin' Alive" almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute.