Sunday, September 19, 2021
View Larger +
“All summer long we loved him for the same
Perennial inspiration of his lies;
And when the russet wealth of autumn came,
There flew but fairer visions to our eyes-
Multiple, tropical, winged with a feathery flame,
Like birds of paradise.’’
GET THE LATEST BREAKING NEWS HERE — SIGN UP FOR GOLOCAL FREE DAILY EBLAST
From “Uncle Ananias,’’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
“Incessant company is as bad as solitary confinement.’’
— Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), English novelist
View Larger +
There’s lots of talk and worry about coyotes in and around New England’s urban areas. We’d better get used to them. They’re smart and opportunistic. Their increasing numbers show how some wild animals can and must adapt as people take over more and more of the Earth’s space.
You might call coyotes invasive species in these parts, but then so are we, if you go back far enough. And maybe, like dogs, their canid cousins, they too will ultimately be domesticated. Maybe even raccoons, who have also become suburbanites and even urbanites, will be domesticated. They’re quite intelligent creatures. (Even moose, who aren’t smart, are wandering into some New England cities, such as Worcester.)
But keep your house cats inside. Coyotes will kill and eat them. But then, cats kill many, many songbirds so….
Meanwhile, gird yourself for the colorful Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species moving into southern New England, aided and abetted by global warming. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture reports:
“The spotted lanternfly causes serious damage including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling and dieback in trees, vines, crops and many other types of plants. In addition to plant damage, when spotted lanternflies feed, they excrete a sugary substance, called honeydew, that encourages the growth of black sooty mold. This mold is harmless to people; however, it causes damage to plants.’’
If you see any of these execute as many as you can. But happily, it will take a while for Burmese pythons to make their way up here from Florida.
I love those quaint Rhode Island “fire districts’’ that act as private clubs and block access to beaches by the general public. And some don’t even fight fires. When will the state seriously review their legal status?
View Larger +
He Deserves a Big Statue
The bookish William Blackstone (1595-1675) (also called Blaxton) was an Anglican minister who might have been the first permanent white resident of what is now Rhode Island, moving down from Boston and settling in today’s Lonsdale section of Cumberland in 1635, the year before Roger Williams founded Providence. The Blackstone River and a bunch of other things around here are named for him.
In the future Cumberland, on the east bank of the river that would bear his name, the reclusive and apparently kindly and tolerant intellectual read, wrote, tended cattle, planted gardens, and cultivated an apple orchard; he came up with the first variety of American apples, the Yellow Sweeting. He called his home “Study Hill,” and it was said to have the largest library in the English colonies at the time. Sadly, his library and house were burned down in 1675 during King Philip’s War, the very bloody and destructive conflict between Native Americans and English colonists that lasted from 1675 to 1678 and changed the course of American history. Blackstone died in 1675, just before the outbreak of the conflict.
Consider that his friends included the Narragansett tribe chiefs Miantonomi and Canonchet and the Wampanoags’ Massasoit and Metacomet. Metacomet is also known as King Philip (to mark the friendly relations his father, Massasoit, had with the English), whose followers were the ones who destroyed Blackstone’s home.
But now some Narragansetts want a new stainless-steel sculpture of Blackstone at the corner of Roosevelt and Exchange streets in Pawtucket taken down. They’re trying to make him into some sort of symbol of the brutal white takeover of their lands and the vast suffering and death of Native Americans that accompanied the English colonialization of what the English named New England. But Blackstone is a pretty inaccurate example of white aggression!
It’s appropriate that his statue remain up, given his importance to the history of the region. It’s not as if this is a statue of the likes of the cruel slaveowner, and traitor, Robert E. Lee. Such works are best kept in museums. (There are no statues of Hitler in outdoor parks in Germany, despite his historical importance.)
But why not see if a statue of a Native American chief from Blackstone’s time in Rhode Island could be commissioned to be put up near Blackstone’s? It would be culturally healthy if we had a wider range of historical figures represented by our public statues.
Here’s a nice crisp biography from the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame:
View Larger +
More Bad Gaming Ideas
Another bad idea: for Massachusetts to allow table games at the commonwealth’s lone slots parlor, at Plainridge Park Casino, in Plainville, and to permit slot machines at certain veterans clubs – both aimed, of course, at getting more state tax revenue. Plainridge, for its part, wants to be able to better compete with the casinos in nearby Rhode Island.
Thus would come a further expansion of a business that especially preys on poorer people, that can become addictive and that can lead to such crimes as embezzlement, fraud and robbery. Oh well, states are addicted to gambling revenue just as some gamblers are addicted to betting.
Racial Demographics and Politics
Backers of African-American candidates in Boston’s depressingly low-turnout primary mayoral election on Sept. 14 were frustrated that the two finalists weren’t Black. Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, and Annissa Essaibi George, the daughter of Tunisian and Polish immigrants, will face off in the Nov. 2 election. A Black person has never been elected mayor of Boston, despite a large African-American community – about 22 percent of the city’s population, at least in the 2010 Census, with 17.5 percent Hispanic and 8.9 percent Asian. The populations of the last two groups have grown substantially since then.
If racial identity is to be many voters’ main criterion for supporting someone, then the prospect of a Black mayor in the future looks dim because of the growing percentage of Bostonians with Asian or Hispanic backgrounds.
Do we want in our multi-ethnic quasi-democracy for race/ethnicity to be the main determinant in choosing candidates, as opposed to policy positions, experience and character, at least in some elections?
Keep the Pandemic Cooking?
In the face of obvious scientific facts, why do so many members of the GOP/QAnon Party continue to undermine efforts to stop COVID by mass vaccination? One is just ignorance – reflecting the failure of public schools to teach basic biology, especially in Red States, where schools tend to be underfunded. And then there are social media and right-wing radio and TV, which make their money promoting lie-based conspiracy theories.
But does it also reflect the wish of GOP leaders to hurt the economy by keeping the pandemic going and thus damaging the Democrats in 2022 and 2024? Anything for power? That in turn would help the cynical plutocrats who bankroll the Republicans and hope for even more goodies for themselves in return. The fossil-fuel sector, hedge funders, the Koch Brothers and real estate developers (like the Trump Organization) eagerly await new bonanzas.
View Larger +
It’s nice that George W. Bush, one of our worst presidents, denounced the domestic terrorism displayed in the assault on the Capitol by Trump cultists on Jan. 6. But in endlessly promoting an atmosphere of fear and anxiety after 9/11, causing two unsuccessful wars and overseeing policies that widened socio-economic divisions and helped cause the Great Recession, he played a part in creating a climate that spawned the likes of the larcenous traitor Trump, who knows how to rile up bitter, anxious people who feel left behind.
Pushing Back on Beijing, but….
The U.S., Britain, and Australia have formed a new defense pact to try to thwart further aggressive expansion by China, pushed by dictator-for-life Xi Jinping. Let’s hope that more nations in the Asia-Pacific region join. As NATO has been crucial in defending large parts of Europe from Soviet/Russian aggression, so a NATO-like organization is needed to push back against Chinese aggression.
BUT, this deal was clumsily done in one very important way.
France had a 50 billion euro deal with Australia to supply its navy with diesel-powered submarines that it now has to scrap with this deal, which calls for Australia to build eight nuclear subs with U.S. and British technology. France, a crucial NATO ally, feel overlooked and bypassed by the Biden administration. Making matters worse is that France was blindsided – kept out of the talks that produced this pact and not even warned about its announcement ahead of time.
How to lose an ally! How can we make amends?
View Larger +
The Collegiate Sports Biz
Thanks to the great columnist Chris Powell for this in a column about the University of Connecticut:
“Having just been appointed president of Huxley College in the Marx Brothers’ 1932 movie Horse Feathers, Groucho’s Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff quickly diagnoses the institution’s failure. ‘This college is a failure. The trouble is,’ he tells the faculty, ‘we’re neglecting football for education.”’
It’s nice to see big-time college sports and the cartel called the National Collegiate Athletic Association coming under increasing pressure to boost compensation for the “student-athletes” who bring in the big bucks. And now athletes at some schools can make money off commercial endorsements.
But how perverse that colleges’ sports programs have become far more about making money than about “higher education.’’ That’s why some head coaches in the biggest programs — football and basketball – make more than the presidents of their institutions.
Academic leaders in other Western countries express astonishment at such commercialization of colleges. So much for “the life of the mind’’.
We still don’t really know why the FBI seems to have covered up the sex crimes of Larry Nassar, the former osteopathic physician who as the team doctor of the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team molested many girls and young women.
Public schools, many of which have flat roofs, are fine places on which to put solar panels, whose cost drops every year.
Filling the Hours
After reading Dr. Edward Iannuccilli’s recent delightful column about how one (if lucky) can spend time in one’s eighties, I thought of what still seems strange to me, eight years after leaving my about 10-hour-a-day job (except on news-crises days, when it could be much longer): having so much control of one’s time. It can be unsettling to have to make one’s own schedule, evoking sometimes a bit of guilt: Why am I not still tied to the wheel? Without the structure of “going to the office,’’ you must more directly face the chaos of daily life while seeking to make some sense of a life in its last innings, and try to forget some bad stuff and remember the happy times.
Of course, not many decades ago, when life spans were shorter, many, perhaps most people (such as my father) died while still on the job, or very soon thereafter. Years of post-retirement freedom (if you have enough money and health to support it) seems an immense luxury.
To read Dr. Iannuccilli’s column, please hit this link:
The transformation of Little Compton and Block Island into extensions of the Hamptons continues apace, and it’s rather sad.
Varieties of American ‘English’
“I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English.’’
— H.H. Munro, aka Saki (1870-1916), British writer
While in a few spots it’s as difficult to understand as some particularly obscure American dialects and vocabulary, Robert Hendrickson’s book American Talk: The Words and Ways of American Dialects is generally lots of fun.
Naturally, I found his exploration of the various accents and word usage – and where they came from (e.g., East Anglia, in England) — in New England as they’ve developed since early colonial days particularly interesting. But the stuff about “Brooklynese,’’ the varieties of Southern and Appalachian (Scots-Irish) English, Rap English, “Spanglish’’ and words coined Out West and Hawaii is also engaging.
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Credit: Source link