Category Archives: blogs

Cops, Women, Movies and What I might blog about more if I were really a celebrity….

When the Aurora  theater shooting was perpetrated there was a whole series of issues in the way the event was handled that I found very upsetting. I wrote some things about police handling of the investigation that were among the angriest and most offensively worded things that I have ever written. It was a desperate attempt to attract more attention to reforming police procedure, reporting on mass shootings, reporting between agencies and public police relations. Of course I got no response from any of the parties I tried to offend — not the police, the mainstream media or the sort of half-breed institutions  that act as part media and part police. No response except some evidence that some isolated elements in both media and police took offense and put me on their enemies list. Fair enough, I have earned lots of enemies but although I hate reading those words I  still think that if I was not so universally ignored it might have prevented some of the horrors of police – public connections and relations that have plagued us ever since. Yes that is egotistical, but if you read this blog regularly you already know that I am fairly egotistical. Insulting the most capable group in society of inflicting harm was not a choice I made lightly even in the heat of anger.

O. J. Simpson’s legal team demonized the police so he could get away with murdering his wife and her associate or lover — his tactic succeeded despite the lack of any relevance to anything. I suggested that the police needed to disprove that a man dressed entirely like a cop, in a place cops were known to work and who shot with skill was not in fact a cop. I suggested that this lack of confronting that issue was inexcusable. I did it in ways that were over the top. But my goal was to start a discussion — I failed to achieve my objective where Simpson’s attorneys did achieve theirs. I never said a cop did it and I laid out the facts that Holmes probably did it and said so clearly to those few who can actually follow an argument they do not like.  But I achieved no discussion whatsoever of how to handle situations when a cop may have run amok. That was around this  time of year in 2012. All of the corrosive events since then may make many people (whose point of view I can’t respect) feel that such criticism contributed to the bad will sense. They are basically fools and self-deluded cowards but many of them hate people like me on sight so this won’t gain me new enemies really — they sense that I dislike the status quo they don’t wan’t criticized  as soon as they see me. Still I would apologize for how angry those words were if I thought it meant anything.
When the Lafayette theater shooting occurred in 2015 and the killer was not dressed like a cop in the view of hundreds of witnesses and the reporting was in my mind sane I said nothing negative about the cops or the cop reportage media industry. I focused on the victims and shared reported links about them such as this and this which emphasized their great human beauty as people. I also shared other links like this. Until this sentence I have never mentioned that Train Wreck is a disturbing movie which many people would find offensive and hard to watch in any of my other treatments of this topic. That is true although as I wrote with empathy in the Charlie Ebdo massacre I never took up the Je Suis Charlie Ebdo tag. I actually think Amy Schumer has some serious things to say in the film and they need to be said. I am not at all sure she says them in a way that deserves major feature film distribution acroos America. But until now I did not mention that and I did focus some attention on the killer and his horrible points of view which led to this crisis. A post or two on that shooting made this blog. So my criticism harsh as it was had a very specific context. Positive posts about police have appeared here , here and here. But that first post which I do not link but which is still here on this blog and elsewhere will haunt me for the rest of my life with a long and more complete line of ghosts than most people have.

So two lovely women who are part of the Acadiana community which I have loved and lived in were killed at a movie about women’s issues that were offensively portrayed by a man whose whole life was devoted to offensive behaviors and thoughts. the cops and media handled it well and that scarcely lessens the tragedy. That is not the kind of writing I would like to do about women, movies are cops but it beats the Aurora piece. I have blogged about the Louisiana Story and the Blob which have been big parts of my life. I have also blogged about other movies such as here  for LA LA Land,  here for a local film and here for the classic Belizaire the Cajun and here for other films. Films are a major interest of mine.

In my brother’s recent foray into feature films I had a chance to shoot the pictures below of an attractive young woman, Dasha Nekrasova a Belarus native who grew up in Las Vegas and lives in Los Angeles and is making a movie in Louisiana. It reminds me of a time when I was able to think of cops, women and movies all in a different and more hopeful way than I can now. It reminds me of a time when my past life was less complex. That being said I was never the kind of person cops look like and say “he is a good citizen and we want to be on his side” with any kind of universality. I have a certain instinct for trouble, am usually unhappy and they usually sense both things pretty quickly.
I have never really known what it is like to move forward in life without feeling that terrible tension between what was going on and what is tolerable in the world but I am trying to understand things better. All the good things in life get more distant to me as I age even when they are present. But I did  feel connected to something better seeing this girl/woman telling an American story.

 

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Presidential Politics and the Current American Mindset

So will the US ban all Muslims from entering the country for a time? Will it seek to get along better with North Korea and not so well with the UK? Will it deport tens of millions of aliens to Mexico by relative force across the country? Do those visions fairly represent Donald Trump?

Will it lie, deny, distort and obfuscate as long and as much as can be imagined when challenged on any wrongdoing in the White House? Will it sing the official praises of those who who sell human body part of members of our species deliberately dismembered? Will it find ways to blame working class white men and unidentified big businesses for larger and larger parts of the country’s problems no matter what the evidence may be? Is that a fair vision of a potential Clinton presidency?

This blog post does not attempt to answer any of those questions.  This post does assert that while I am doing other things I am still committed to the political commentary in this blog. It is a little different than the commentary any where else. It is very much my own.  Some of that commentary begins just now.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

It looks like there will be a race for the White House between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There may be surprises or a third significant candidate but it appears that those two will lead the charge for the major parties in this country. This post is a chance to simply link together a few thoughts and references for this blog which began during the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. I still have a few more posts in my series Emerging Views but this post is about the developing presidential election and what all of that will mean for this blog and other aspects of life, culture and politics. While this blog is obviously a particularly small voice in the world of news and information it is not clear that America has the kinds of voices today which Time and Newsweek represented in the 1980s and 1990s. Those were far from perfect times and those two famous weeklies were far from perfect media outlets.  Perceptions of bias and the wrong kinds of selectivity were often stated and were justified.  But these news and culture magazines did seem to capture a sense of where American political energy and interest were in a way which no handful of media outlets do today. Rush Limbaugh, the ABC, NBC,Fox, CBS, Yahoo and Google News programs taken together cover a lot waterfront. I am not sure they bring together a sense of the country as those two magazines and handful of their peers once did. I wonder where and how this great debate and discussion will play out.

To safeguard liberty we must be able to adapt to the changing times.

To safeguard liberty we must be able to adapt to the changing times.

Before there were blogs forming a blogosphere there were letters to the editor in journals and magazines and I had quite a few published. That includes on published in Time. I recently wrote two long letters to Time although they really do not publish much in that way. Here they are reproduced nearly in entirety. The first discusses the state of political discussion in America from a particular point of view.

 

 Nancy Gibbs and Colleagues

Time Editorial Staff
225 Liberty Street
New York, New York 10281-1008
Ms. Gibbs (not to insult those who actually read this),
I am responding in part to the cover of the May 23 issue on Rana Forohaar’s careful rendering of her book into a lead article on capitalism. There is some alarming material in the article in the sense that it raises concerns that pose a threat to all of us. But the tone is perhaps other than alarmist. The cover was sort of evocative of covers that have appeared over times past with a contemporary take and for whatever mix of nostalgic and critical reasons I liked the cover and its kind of conversational approach to saving the U.S. economy. I also saw much of the same use of concepts of gate-keeping, source identification, making comparisons between varied crises and challenges for perspective and all these little traits reminded me of Time over the decades. But this time my reading was influenced by another experience that I will only mention and leave to any reader’s imagination as to how it influenced my reading of Time. The experience involved an interaction with an institution In some ways not at all like Time, yet both have played a role in the great and American intellectual commons which is distinct from a world or civilization based heritage or any regional or sectional intellectual ferment. That institution is one of the officials in the particular sport of television. I published a review in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television in the early nineties and since I have no plethora of academic publications that is yet another reason for me to be more interested in the NIelsen process than most. Thus I found it stimulating.  
Just about the time your issue was hitting stands and libraries I had a chance to participate in the Nielsen ratings. It gave me the opportunity to think a bit more clearly about the ways in which all that we know as mass communication is changing and about how our society is changing. I deal a good bit with issues of social change and and communications and I do it in my blog, Facebook profiles and other places which are possessed of much longer comments on these events than you have time to read from an over the portal source. A look at my Twitter feed and profile would quickly tell you two things: I do have some influential followers although the number is small and I just added Time to those I am following as I started typing this email. It is not that I never viewed your tweets — I just don’t remember to add people and institutions to my list.  My Linked In profile which should be available herealso show some other connections. The relatively long and bizarre path through life depicted there is not a fiction, doubtless there are some errors and some of longstanding.But every thing in it is at least close to the truth or has simply evaded my limited attentions as an editor of the profile.
Time has bigger fish to fry than my little corner of the media world. Your recent issue of May 23 seeks to address Capitalism, feminism with Megan Kelly, mental health with Kristen Bell, Jodie Foster discussing the meaning of her movie and how Sadiq Khan hopes to combat extremism. You do this in a way which is fairly coherent, clever and informative and makes someone like me want to write you a letter even though no letters to the editor appeared in the issue about which I write. But it is clear is it not that there are forces almost of the type found in YA literature which challenge Time’s capacity to marshal an argument, stage a debate and aid in the creation and dissolution of any consensus in these United States. Much of this is blamed on Culture Wars by some who keep up with news from the eighties and nineties. However, this year it is notable that energies channeled into supporting Hillary Clinton, Donald trump and Bernie Sanders all find focus in places near your offices in New York City. They really do not seem to be cultures at war. More like a single culture not able to deal well with the people who make up the culture. I on the other hand am one of the real outsiders compared to New York and D.C., Jackson’s demise as a face on currency in favor of a Broadway promotion of Hamilton will hurt tourism associated with the Battle of New Orleans and I will feel it more than most  — although being too disadvantaged to feel it much.   I did live in New York for a year as a child and in a vague and general way I am part of the numerous constellations of enclaves the best of New York journalism used to seek to stay in touch with but I think finds it more difficult to do these days. I believe Time  is bringing to bear a great number of important questions and people are reading Time and yet I am not sure the influence on a national dialog is very great.  The recent past was not perfect but there was a conversation going on about its imperfections when your mentors were young. But the costs are not trivial, I care about fur trappers, cowboys, loggers, oilmen and stevedores. Most of all farmers and fishermen have made up large parts of my life and I consider myself an ardent environmentalist. Likely any relationship with New York journalism would experience plenty of frictions from that area of tension alone.   
The magazine you lead is really defined in part by a set of relationships with Newsweek, Life, Business Week, National Review, U.S. News and World Report and a handful of journals just as much as it is defined by its relationships with readers, advertisers, interviewed talent and newsmakers. It is easy to see that  Life andNewsweek are relatively defunct, National Review is less than it was under the leadership of the late William F. Buckley and the others are struggling at least as much as Time to find their way forward in the current era and into the future.  
I am fifty-one years old and had a letter to the editor appear in Time in the days when voice mail was means of communication that was in vogue. That was sometime around 1993 and I was more optimistic, less bitter and more hopeful of a positive future for myself and the people, communities and values I care about in an emerging American society. I think the tone was perhaps more strident and angry than the tone of this email but I was less alienated. This year is a special year for many observers of and participants in American culture, with its communication focused at actual vocal human beings in attendance at the excited and seemingly burgeoning rallies for Trump and Sanders and the coverage of those events. This makes this political season a year about a different kind of dialog. But this is not coming out of nowhere,Black Lives Matter, Occupy, pro and anti Confederate Flag rallies, Hispanic identity rallies, anti-immigration rallies, the rallies at the Papal visit and with the Pope near the border all form a compelling national dialog. In addition David Duke’s endorsement of Donald Trump reaffirmed that the pure blogosphere ( in which Duke is a player) can make a difference at least for a moment in the news cycle. My own blog is right here. Or you can drag and paste https://franksummers3ba.com/ into your browser. Isn’t it also time to admit that many of the mass shootings are acompanied by political statements which are fairly serious, reasoned attempts by Muslims, White Supremacists, East Asian Americans, military veterans, African Americans and the victims of bullying. They feel alienated and that there is no real recourse in our major social and political process. The  focus on guns and mental illness to the exclusion of everything else these people are expressing is perhaps a real sign of profound bankruptcy as regards our national conversation. I myself would like radical change and I outline it in my blog.  But how change is achieved matters almost as much as what changes one seeks.

 One of the mysterious casualties of Hurricane Katrina and a host of other troubles was the loss of a daily New Orleans newspaper in the Times Picayune. The Advocate from Baton Rouge seeks to make up the slack, but I do not think this will be without some dire consequences down the road.The decline of newspapers has been discussed all my life. I worked for or with and have been published in a variety of papers that there is only  a small chance anyone in the initial review of this letter will know. Among these newspapers are the Abbeville Meridional (principal voice of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana since the 1850s), Gannett’s Daily AdvertiserThe Vermilion ( student paper for UL now then USL)and Bonnes Nouvelles ( the Vermilion Parish edition of a  chain owned by connected members of the Dardeau family). 

My Facebook friends list has the publishers and journalist of many Catholic and also of many regional outlets. The  list also includes the principal editor of the Queer Times and a number of space related blogs. Yet I cannot help but wonder if I am more alienated from the center you represent than ever before. Would it be to risky for Time to interact with me given perhaps some position or other in my blog?  The question is not purely rhetorical. I admit I would still love to have a byline in Time. I do not pretend that I am the only and best qualified person wanting to publish in your pages. I think your recent issue did a credible job. I enjoyed it although less perfectly than in the past and did not read every word. But I do wonder is Time very committed to a sort of national conversation? Committed in the way so many others are to so many other things? If not, then who is?   

— 

Frank W. Summers, III
Frank “Beau” Summers

The next letter I wrote to Time was related to an article I had read in their pages related to the  South China Sea and the brewing tensions there.  It is less to the point of this post than the first but it is not irrelevant:

 

Timelords (is that the correct form of address?),

 
Fiery Cross Reef is vital to Chinese military interests. There artificial island should be expanded with a more naturalistic artificial coastline. We need a very civilized rival somewhere in the world to justify maintaining our investment in traditional military assets. We need traditional military assets to have a long term future. The Philippines and the United States have a vital interest and real claims in the region are indeed held by several powers as described in the article.
 
The total story is a complex one. But where are the calls for the kinds of dispute resolution which the vast and costly international legal system and the United Nations could possibly actually resolve?
 
There are not yet any real bad guys in this story. It may turn out in the long run that a real belligerence must arise in this region. I wish that were less likely than it is… However, if the United Nations, the various systems of mediation and other institutions are worth anything then many people should be calling for them to be fully used here.
 
I also believe artificial islands must become major priorities for many of the world’s great powers. Learning to address the issues related to such projects ought to be both an American and a global priority.
 
Sincerely,
 
Frank Summers
Foreign Expert
People’s Republic of China
2004 to 2005
Students & in English Corner meeting on Campus SDIBT Yantai.

Students & in English Corner meeting on Campus SDIBT Yantai.

America has a lot on its plate right now. It is not mostly China which challenges us in the world. Our policies from Syria, to Iraq, to Israel, to Afghanistan and on to Europe are at least subject to serious question. This blog has been questioning policies throughout the Obama presidency. It has also been the place to put forward some policy proposals — many of them radical which may be up for discussion or may be ignored but are not being deleted from this site.  It has also made many correct predictions and some dire predictions about the possibilities of the Obama Presidency that may not turn out to be the case. While that was always hoped for by me and others around it nonetheless does undermine the credibility of the blog if things do not get significantly worse than they are before January.  My own life in these years has arguably been more and more ineffective with a few bright spots and counter trends not disproving that general direction. But while I  have problems and many others do as well I am not sure mine are the problems that resonate with the electorate per se. At least they are not likely be determinative of the outcome of the election. Yes I need better opportunity and more money but not in the same way as some other people whose needs better represent more voters.

America has many challenges to face and this blog is full of my thoughts bout meeting those challenges. but so far there is little evidence that this blog will be a major factor in shaping the key discussions of these matters at the heart of our political discussion.  I myself am more than a little weary and the worse for wear.  But I began this blog to express a point of view and influence the American mindset and I will continue to try to do that.

The earliest post on this blog was provided by Word Press but I could have deleted it. I am not sure if I edited it at all it appears here. 

It is reproduced here:

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

My next blog post was a kind of manifesto lifted from a series of Facebook notes just a few months earlier in its release on Facebook. You can read it here if so inclined. The idea of a very personal blog with a political view is quite manifest but not so much presidential politics. In fact specific politics as the term is often  are not much in evidence in that post.

The next post, which appears here, lays out some geopolitical ideas, visions and policies. It takes tongue in cheek a limitless ambition and scope as part of the nature of this blog.  I had nothing much to say about presidential politics in the manifesto.

The first post dealing with presidential politics in this blog links here. It was a reposting from a now long neglected or abandoned user blog I had on Politco.

I reproduce the long introductory segment of it here below. I cannot say that none of my views have changed or evolved but many have not:

I feel a certain amount of sympathy for Barack Obama. I choose to start with that line because I consider myself to be one of the people most opposed to Barack Obama within the spectrum of legitimate politics. However, I don’t think that there is any doubt that we have reached the point where Conservatism can be looked at as something which has merited the term “crisis”. America is in a crisis and I believe that it will prove to be a very grave crisis. However, conservatism is in a far greater crisis. For argument’s sake let us say that the terms right and left, Democrat and Republican describe a real political dynamic which matters in this country. I would argue that on the right in this country we have lots of politicians who use the label“conservative” but actually we have a collection of Libertarians, Tax Avoiders,  Moderate Neo-Fascists , Ultra-Reformed  Protestant Theocrats, and Anglophile Antiquarians who collectively squeeze a weak and demoralized conservative group of Americans who hardly matter at all.  Some of these five never discussed groups would be Conservatives if there really was a Conservative Movement for them to be part of , on the other hand many fundamentally despise Conservatism.I voted for George Bush the first time and almost certainly would have voted for him the second time if I could have made it to Beijing’s American Embassy in time to vote. However, I missed that election. I voted for McCain-Palin in the most recent election. I also voted for Mary Landrieu a Democrat this year. Through my life I have voted for a collection of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  My sympathy for Barack Obama comes into play in this regard. Like Obama (and a lot of other people)  I have had to make the best choices I could at any given time. By the time I was old enough to vote I had forged a lot of bonds and relationships which included fundamentalists, communists in other countries, resentful Moslems, white supremacists, black radicals and lots of other people who don’t fall into the neat safe categories that President mills like mid century Yale Law normally produce in quantity.  If I were to have made a run at the US Presidency there would be people some folks would like as little as I like Rev. Wright and David Ayres. Despite all that colorful background I have lots of self-respect and more oddly yet, I think of myself as an authentic American Conservative. Arguably, I am one of the only American conservatives who could be optimistic about the Obama example. Because if such an oddly positioned person of such a background as Barack Obama can be President of the United States then maybe I could at least get elected parish assessor, city dog-catcher, county councilman, water-district representative or something else somewhere in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Somehow I don’t think Obama’s election signifies anything nearly that hopeful for someone like me.  I am able to accept that there is not likely to be a government paycheck in my future. That is unless you include the kinds of fellowships and part-time job checks form school boards and universities which I have gotten in the past. I don’t hate liberalism but I know that Liberals are more likely to take a political interest in those with odd and quirky backgrounds than conservatives are. I am able to say that I have won a few elections. I won a seat on Dorm Council in College, I was elected as Outstanding Graduate in my department , college and university for that particular commencement exercise at a different school. Then In China  a few years ago I organized elections among my student for various class and subgroup offices. Then there are a couple of elections where I was elected to post that I can’t discuss here by groups that like their privacy.  None of those races seem very much related to the Presidency or even a governorship however. In most of these races my political philosophy was not a central aspect of what people were electing me for or voting against. Many people hold office for other reasons than political philosophy. People vote for friends, members of their race or class, to keep seniority in a legislature or because they are personally opposed to the candidates opposition. But in  the big leagues there are always some questions of political philosophy that become important. I would argue that Conservatism is usually not on the menu.I think that a coherent expression of American Conservative political philosophy would require at least one very long book. If someone hasn’t read any of the books which have helped to from my opinions then an article or two would not make the great sweep of ideas stand clear. Here I am going to do something very different. I am going to propose ten unthinkable planks in a platform in an aggressive conservative movement. I don’t think that conservative means passive. Some of these would even require constitutional amendments. I believe that these planks would probably unpopular and are largely undemanded but that is because Conservatism is largely dead. I think that passing something along these lines would be essential to setting our country on a good conservative path. I believe struggling for something like this would be essential for rebuilding a conservative movement.

What is the mindset or set of mindsets which will shape American destiny in the coming election cycle?  Where are we headed as country?  This blog will still be involved in tracking these questions and any answers that it can find.

Features Of this Blog: Part One, the Glossary

I want to take today’s post to comment on and improve the accessibility of some of the features of this blog. I am not sure how logical that is as this post will be buried in posts more quickly than the features themselves but here we go. I will start my little tour:

I have a glossary which is important to the  subjects discussed in this blog. I have the first page linked  earlier and also three more pages . This glossary will define many terms and proper nouns which would not be familiar to most readers.

While the  glossary is only four blog pages it is as long as a booklet if printed out.  The formatting on this post is not the formatting used in the glossary. It differs in that I have used the quotes feature to expand the margins and thus lengthen the column. But otherwise this is directly lifted from the glossary. I hope to use two of the definitions as examples of what you might find there:

Zouaves  Here this almost always will refer to the Louisiana Zouaves of the War Between the States although the French Zouaves do enter a bit into the historical interests of this blog as well.  Zoavisme was a movement brought to Louisiana from France by an odd hybrid of military drill instructors and actors who toured Anglophone, Acadian and Creole regions of the State before the war. Yankee or Union Zouaves played a role in that great struggle and there were a significant number of of other Confederate Zouave units. But the Louisiana units are the most famous even in a history which often ignores Louisiana and are often called Louisiana Tigers by a variety of people . Unlike most Federal Zouave units, most Confederate Zouaves were not autonomous “regiments”: Louisiana followed this trend  or started it and these men  were often companies within larger units. The cognomen “Louisiana Tiger” is a venerable term  which dates from the Mexican War although Acadian fighters were sometimes known as gamecocks, crocodiles, alligators, Les Loups, and other animals Louisiana’s fighting animal was mostly the Tiger  and  the term refers to any Louisiana state trooper LSU athletic teams but all this has little to do with Zouaves. None of the Mexican War Louisiana “Tigers” were Zouaves for example.  The earliest, and most famous Louisiana Zouave unit was Confederate officer  White’s Company B (the “Tiger Rifles”) of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat’s First Special Battalion, Louisiana Volunteers, aka “Louisiana Tigers”.

This can be confusing because Lee’s Tigers is a term correctly applied to all Louisiana soldiers that served in the Army of Northern Virginia. These are not to be confused with the Louisiana Zouaves  who were the “Louisiana Tigers” or “Coppen’s Zouaves.” These names have been confused with “Louisiana Tigers at Gettysburg.” Coppen’s Zouaves were at Gettysburg, but they were not then known as “Louisiana Tigers” in any way related to the unit although they may have been called Tigers in a broader sense.  Captain White’s Company B, “Louisiana Tigers”, of Major Wheats’s First Special Battalion, were not at Gettysburg, having been disbanded after Wheat’s death at Gaines Mill in 1862. There are two other Zouave units of company size for which I have little documentation but believe existed for a small part of the war.

This one comes at the end of the alphabet and has its limitations and challenges that are unique to the word and its history. Here is another example from elsewhere in the glossary, in this case I have three definitions that fall in order here:

Post, here means Lauren C. Post This is the writer of an important little book on the edge of serious scholarship called Cajun Sketches. It has photographs and writings about the Acadian people of Louisiana.

 Pontalba, Madame Celestin Pontalba, Baronesse Micaela Almonester de Pontalba was the wealthy investor and patroness of architecture who helped her  architect to redesign the decaying Place de Armes in New Orleans into Jackson Square in the center of the old city and French Quarter. She was the successor to charitable, commercial and public building projects organized by her Almonester ancestors.  By the time she built The Pontalbas (as the whole project is known) she was bo longer the rather beautiful woman she had been she had one lung, a rotting finger and little left of the others on one hand and one of her breast was mostly a prosthesis. She also had metal fragments left in her chest. All these physical ailments came from being shot by her father-in-law the Baron Pontalba. While she and her husband later Celestin Barone De Pontalba seem to have ended life both separated and in love their marriage is a rather horrid tale of conflicts between the greater property rights enjoyed by women in Louisiana and the lesser (almost nonexistent ) rights of women to property among the European Nobility — in this case Napoleonic Imperial French Nobility. In the state she is rumored to have had an affair with Andrew Jackson for whom she named the Square. Except for naming the Square for him, them both being alive at the same time and capable of consideration in such matters and   her being rather independent and a Louisianian all things seem to be against this. All time lines seem wrong to me. Who knows what is possible but it does not seem possible they were together in the right ways and times.

Prince Camille de Polignac This man was a French Prince and Confederate General who fought in Acadiana during the War Between the States. Since that time Liaison a la Maison de Polignac has been an office in the Maison de le Roialso seated in the Tout et Rien. This person is supposed to a De Polignac.

I am always correcting some typefaces, improving spelling and getting translations more accurate. There are no footnotes and I do check websites of place I have worked, Wikipedia and my own files regularly without being perfectly professional in the use of those sources. For these and many other reasons I call this a Glossary of Terms Casually Defined. But I think it may have some helpful information.  Check it out, it may be a bit better than these quote the next time you look at it.

 

 

Looking back to look forward…

One of the wonders of the internet is that one can write for such an unknown readership on a blog.  I have no real way of guessing how many of you have been in a dense woods, thicket or forest. However, those of you who have been in such places  many times will know that to go in one direction as quickly as possible one must be aware of many routes and directions from the place where one is at any moment.

There is a balance in all things including awareness of direction and time. The same Jesus Christ who asserted that am man who looked back after putting his hand to the plow for the Kingdom of God was unworthy of it is the Jesus who said be aler because you do not know the day or the hour when the thief or bridegroom may return. He is also the one who said to let the little children come to him for the Kingdom of God belonged to them and that John the Baptist was one of those who knew that the the Kingdom of Heaven was taken by storm and violence. That is not contradiction it is wisdom. In each metaphor or simile he uses there is  a use of the strict demands of living a particular situation well and lets that throw a light on human light as a whole.

I am very aware of past, present and future today. Past times shared with those dear to me in China and presently having a new Twitter follower who is Chinese. Thinking of time spent with women I have cared for and recent correspondence with these and some others.  Seeing my nieces and nephews grow up and remembering their parents growing up.   

We face the future results of the future with whatever resolve we can muster. Life often has us quite busy coping with present results of past reality. WE MUST LOOK  AROUND SOMETIMES…

I had a bit of a busy day today. Nothing compared to some levels of busy and frenetic living even in my own past but busy enough. I went to vote this morning. The Republican primary was closed only to allow its own members to vote. Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans all had to vote in their own party’s primary. However, Independents could vote either in the Democratic or Libertarian primaries but not in the Republican, Whoever I may vote for in the general election I was an independent voter today in the Democratic primary. Voter turnout was very bad. The two major parties attracted a little more or  a little less than 100,000 votes a piece across in Vermilion Parish where I live some precincts saw only single digit voter turnout. I worry not only about politics but about local crises like possible epidemics or other problems.

I then went to watch three of my nephews play in youth football game.  It was impressive enough. They are learning football lessons  for life in those games. It was not a huge crowd though.

Glen Beck’s Restoring Honor rally in Washington seems to have been well attended . I hope it was a good place to spend the time. However, I am anxious about this sense of how much is wrong here and yet I hear about rallies and see how they make people feel they are addressing people who do want to make things better. I hope our understanding is deep enough for good change, I also hope the voters and relatives near me who were absent from polling place and football will be back around and feeling ready to contribute where needed.

There is a lot going on in America, Louisiana and the world. We must address it and plan for the future. To do that we must also know where we are coming from and how we got where we are.

South Louisiana Blues

In my last post I blogged on the anniversaries of the 9-11 attacks and the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg. But before we even get to those we have the anniversary of  Hurricane Katrina which I remember both as all Americans do and as a Louisiana native does. For me it falls into an arrangement with the memory of our devastating follow-up hurricane here in the western part of coastal Louisiana — Rita.

We face the uncertainty of this BP Oil Leak and we still deal with all the storm damage which is as bad as it is in part because of damage to the coast caused by other bad behavior from oil companies. Thank God we are struggling with all this because it proves we are not dead. There is a lot of sadness in the story of so much of the world. I think sadness is actually an important part of humanity and human life. However, we are really having our share here. We have known numerous very rough storms, the 9-11 attacks and the levee collapse that made Katrina what it became. Now we are dealing with the largest ecological disaster in our country’s history.

It is not that things cannot get worse. They can get a lot worse and very possible they will get a lot worse. There are some improvements in New Orleans since Katrina. Before Katrina seventy percent of New Orleans Schools were failing  now sixty percent are passing and only forty percent are failing. There is the Musicians Village put together by Harry Connick Jr. and the Marsalis family as well as their backers. There is the movement back of some celebrities and environmental lobbies who are investing talent and interest in rebuilding the city and the region.

I was partly inspired to write this post by shows I have seen on LPB lately as well as by Anderson Cooper’s show emphasizing the anniversary of Katrina. However, we face as many reminders of all of these crises as anyone would like pay attention to today and any day here on the coast..  

The story goes on but there is a lot of sadness in the story. Maybe the time to write some more music about all of this is very much here.

Just a Note on the Blog Readership

This is the nineteenth  day on this month’s calendar page and this  is already the month with the most views in the history of this blog. In addition it makes for four consecutive months with increasing viewership and  a rise in seven of the last eight months. However, there is plenty of up and down by the day and week. Nonetheless, I want to thank all of you who have chosen to make this a more effective form of communication than keeping a diary or slipping notes into bottles and throwing them into the sea.

Awareness of Pain: A Post With Many Links

I think that most people who read this blog with any sense of fairness will recognize that I advocate much more sweeping and radical constitutional change in the United States than almost anyone with prominent access to prominent media advocates. It is a basic truism (and almost a basic truth) that in order to justify advocating  radical change a responsible person must have already found or must promptly find very serious problems and dangers that justify undertaking the risks inherent in making large changes. It is also fair to assume that regular readers will notice that in fact I have often pointed out very serious problems in this country. This post is about the awareness of those problems and dangers which beset our country. 

There is a film which by using Homer’s Odyssey set in the south of this country shows a bit of the gritty reality of our near past. It is part of a method of a awareness to watch such films and in that film there is song. The song does not  reflect the situation in the film. Go to the next link to find the film However, these lyrics are not taken directly from the film.

“Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190590/

Big Rock Candy Mountain

        C                                    F                     C
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there’s a land that’s bright and fair,
           F               C                   Am               G7
For the doughnuts grow on bushes, and there’s lots of cookies there,
         C                                F                C
For the dogs and cats are happy, and the sun shines every day,
            F         C              F          C
There are birds and bees, and the bubble-gum trees,
         F         C                    F         C
by the lemonade springs, where the whippoorwill sings
        G7                C
in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

It seems a pleasant and fun place doesn’t it? Yet we also live in beautiful world and being aware of it and what endangers it is also a sacred trust. Here is a post where I linked to others sharing the burden and duty of that awareness:  https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/bp-spill-environmental-awareness-links-questions/ 

Let’s get back to that song set in a film reworking Homer’s Odyssey with slightly different lyrics longer and a bit more on our point but similar. 

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the houses are built of blocks
And the little streams of sody pop come trickling down the rocks,
The soldiers there are made of lead, and they are very brave,
There’s a lake of stew, and ice cream too
You can paddle all around in a paper canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

If the soldiers were all made of lead one cannot help but wonder if it would be less important to fight just wars nobly and to seek peace. If ice cream fell like snow and lakes were full of stew then perhaps our agriculture and employment policy would matter less.  But for now we must be aware of how living things, people and communities do find their sustenance. Here is a post where I linked to others who were making us aware of what was at risk in the BP-Macondo Oil Leak:  https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/the-bp-transocean-gushers-risk-some-links-and-notes/

Now, we can return to  song which stands in for many other points of view. I recall, but have not checked, that in the film Brother Where Art Thou? they used the version of the song where the word “frogs” is replaced with “cops”. I think the cops version is the original there would be less food in a world where frog legs were toothpicks and that does not go with the song. On the other hand for someone who wants a free lunch the world would be more abundant if there were only cops with wooden legs and bulldogs with rubber teeth keeping him from other people’s property. 

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the frogs have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth,
and the hens lay hard-boiled eggs
There’s chocolate pie in all the trees, and jam in all the lakes,
Oh, I’m going to go where the wind don’t blow,
there’s a big free show, and candy snow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

The song is fun. Living in a world where policy is made on the basis of the idea the song represents but reality is what it is  would not  be fun for a whole lot of people. In many ways that is the world we live in today. Below is a link to a biographical entry describing the life and work of the physician who discovered that the horrors and deformities of leprosy must be understood almost entirely as resulting from the victim’s loss of sensitivity to pain.  

The Wikipedia Biography of Paul Wilson Brand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wilson_Brand

The use of leprosy and its horrors as a metaphor for the results of many of the ills of humanity and  society are not starting with this blog post. In fact the next link is one to a poll as to whether the denial of sin by atheists is precisely that kind of leprosy  we are discussing:

http://jyte.com/cl/pain-insensitivity-is-to-lepers-as-denial-of-sin-is-to-athiests

Old Testament prophets decrying impiety and humanity, Romantic poets decrying the loss of understanding of nature, Revolutionaries decrying the loss of national integrity or sanity — these are  all examples of a nation’s pain response and awareness. Life is made less frivolous and harder because of the pain we feel when we want to lose ourselves in the moment or the life time of doing whatever it is we would rather be doing. Documentarians have played an important role in recent decades and over much of the last century in pointing out what is wrong  with the world — a useful thing to know.

The first shows a part of the truth of how America becoming play obsessed and focused only on market discipline can play out in a complex world. There is a lot more that is only hinted at such as the destruction of some of the local Mardi Gras and Carnival traditions by visitors who only come for debauchery without the limits of traditions. There is also the fact that things may be much worse than the show portrays in China since they are not exposing anything but what they are told willingly enough. 

Chinese workers export Mardi Gras in Mardi Gras Made in Chinahttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436569/

The second film shows how complex struggles of oil and gas profits, ethnic values and wetlands management affect all of Louisiana and the nation. However, this is done in the context of a close-up portrayal of a few crawfishermen in the Atchafalaya who are not even filmed in an entirely accurate or honest way. The film is in many ways anti-Acadian in it biases and is only forced in the other direction by Katrina. The tendency is to represent swampers as typical Acadians and to represent all swampers as more cut-off from the larger economy than they are. But regardless of where it comes from it says good things with important images.

Angels of the Basin:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1338547/

Then we have the vast problem of angry,ignorant and hate-filled black racist destroying this country in so many ways with the support and formation that has poured in from the west-hating Moslem world for centuries but especially the last fifty years. We ignore all the signs and are headed to destruction but at least our reports give us some of the relevant factoids:  

Omar Thornton ‘s recent shooting is a good example: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20012557-504083.html

However, we have many others as well. We can turn to Wikipedia to remember the Fort Hood Shooting. However let us not remember how much racial-ethnic and religious and social forms of non-awareness contributed to this disaster. The way we have handled the aftermath is a terrible disgrace as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hood_shooting

Then we have two movies that show a somewhat unfavorable vision of the military and those who serve in it as well as showing why the enemy would not be so ready to flee at their approach. However, the movies are also full both of whole and partial truths as well as humane insights.  I recommend watching them both with a critical eye  but not disparaging the critical eye they turn towards our country and armed forces.

The Lucky Ones: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0981072/

Brothers: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765010/

The truth is that we have so very much to do as soon as possible if we are to be in any way successful as a society. We have many enemies and competitors around the world who will try to keep us from making and then securing the right transitions. However, we are full of internal problems that are far more dangerous. The time to act is here and will not last forever. However, awareness of the pain is the first step towards healing the wounds and pains.

In the models for change I have described here I have set forth a path that can lead to a btter future. But getting there will not be cheap and easy.

Blogs and Newspapers, Among Other Things

August 2, 2010 was the most viewed day on this blog up to now. One can’t help wondering however if someone’s pet happened to keep clicking the button on a computer. I have written for paid by stand and subscriber publications without advertising. I have also written for traditional American newspapers paid by both advertising and purchase and I have written for papers given out for free but funded by advertising. All of those give one a greater connection to reality than a blog like this does. First of all one can drive around and see one;s  work on newsstands and on tables and in hands and there is no doubt that it has been distributed. I know a lot of people and some of them are quite honest. However, I also know some of the most committed deceivers around and it is not inconceivable that a few of them could click a way at my blog to run up my markers. There is always some advantage to distorting one’s opponent’s view of  reality.  

It is also true that this blog is more personal even than a column.  I really do whatever the heck I want. One joy of newspaper writing is that even a truly honest person (and lets face it few of us are always in that category) can usually blame some of  his or her work’s worst faults on someone else.  Here,  I could clearly do better on almost any given measure if I personally undertook what was necessary to improve.

Another big difference in this blog is that I can and do add lots of links on some days and everyone reading it can choose to click-through to other sites. While in magazines and newspapers mostly one must deal with all one has to say in one place.

Another advantage (and also a disadvantage) is that I can go back and correct my blog posts here. There is not that chance with newspaper and magazine articles.

All of these little differences add up to create an enormously different experience. The differences are even greater and more numerous than I have suggested. Here a wide variety of my personality traits and writing interests are brought together in one place. In this blog I lack the attraction provided by numerous other writers, photographers and editors contributing to the work each day.

But the physical limits are the most different of all. There is so little certainty about where, how and if one’s writing and other work is being read and scanned. In some cases however, this can be a real blessing. One hears from someone who enjoyed a piece they would not likely ever have seen in a printed venue. It seems to me that all mass media have their place in the world.

We really sort of need film, newspapers, magazines, radio, blogs and other venues to make the world we have become function. I am adjusting to blogging a little at a time.  Whether making that adjustment will turn out to have been a good or bad idea and process will not be clear to me for a long time.  The blog provides a great outlet for expression for me right now. It will take a bit longer to see whether it provides a really good means of communication.

Looking at the BP Macondo Oil Leak Today

Here is a list of observations and factoids related to the BP oil leak as of right now. This is kind of quick and slap dash but here they are for your consideration:

1. Depending how you measure the same coastline can be measure as 1,000 miles long or 500,ooo miles long. However, at least 500 miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline have been at least partly oiled.

2. At least 3,500 wild animals have been documented as killed by the oil leak.

3. Eleven men lost their lives in the initial explosion and at least two others have died in related post explosion events.

4. Rescued animals have still been lost to local areas in order to save their lives.

5. Many thousands of fishermen, shrimpers, oyster farmers, crabbers and sports guides have lost work.

6. Many seaside hotels and resorts have lost business.

7. Seafood processors, brokers, shippers and restaurants have lost business.

8. Suppliers of sport fishing and hospitality and travel industries have lost business.

9.  The oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico has lost money due to the moratorium and have caused workers to lose paychecks.

10. Pollution assessment and clean-up are still not completely designed and defined for completion.

11. There are some good effects of all this tough questioning and thinking going on that are hard to assess just yet.

12. My blog is back to normal almost.

Thanks, Congratulations and/or Whatever…

May was the second most viewed month that this blog had enjoyed since its inception. The sole month which surpassed it was October, 2009.  Then June was the most viewed month in the history of the blog but only beat out the earlier record by a slim margin of a few percent of total views. This month which has not yet ended as I post this, but is only hours from ending, is the most viewed ever. The number of views is multiple double-digit percentages of increase over the previous record.  I am not claiming that this is predictive not do I know the origin of more than a few dozen of the thousands of view in the total history of the blog. However, I would like to thank readers for pushing us up past this milestone. You notice I am not mentioning total numbers. Let us just say that I used to occasionally grace a front page that received tens of thousands of paying customers views and this is not in that league at all. I do appreciate those of you who stop by on any given day — including this one.