April 10, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: October 15, 2016

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RAMBLER OF THE WEEK

In a “jingle-jangle morning” a long time ago, a young folk singer from Minnesota began a complex and rambling journey that has continued through my entire lifetime and still goes on today. His trek reached a culmination this week when the Nobel Prize committee awarded Bob Dylan the prize for Literature.

Today we proclaim him our Internet Monk Rambler of the Week.

cupigljw8aajxwnThis article in the Daily Beast outlines six paths Dylan has traveled throughout his musical career, complete with representative songs from each era.

  1. Protest singer (1963-65)
  2. Electric Troubadour (1965-67)
  3. Country Prophet (1967-74)
  4. Rock Star (1975-88)
  5. Rebirth (1989-99)
  6. On the Road Again (2000-Present)

Another way to trace Dylan’s pilgrimage is to note how his spiritual/religious identity has changed over the years. An article in Sojourners outlines these changes.

  1. Raised in a Jewish family, he married and raised five children in the faith.
  2. In the late 1970’s after a divorce, he was baptized a Christian. Two of his records were openly oriented to this perspective, but his actual faith journey was complicated, as he continued to attend synagogue and write lyrics that questioned the faith as well as promoting it.
  3. In subsequent years, spiritual themes continue to appear in Dylan’s work in darker, more mystical tones.

NPR interviewed Sean Wilentz, Princeton University professor and historian, and author of the book Bob Dylan In America, and asked him about Dylan’s work and his thoughts about the singer-songwriter being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Bob Dylan, like many if not most literary greats, is an alchemist. He manages to take materials from here and there and to turn them into something different — to make them larger, to make them his own. And Dylan started out working in the American folk song tradition, which is actually the Anglo-American folk tradition, and he took songs that had been sung for hundreds of years and turned them into different works of art.

He’s continued in that vein — Dylan’s career is a series of breaks. I mean, he’s not a person who’s done the same thing throughout and improved on it — he’s rather diverged quite sharply from period to period, but always bringing it together into something that’s a vision very much his own.

Anna North at the New York Times admires Dylan, but doesn’t think this particular prize was appropriately rewarded. North wishes the Nobel committee would reserve it for those who specifically produce literature rather than giving it to someone who is indeed a writer, but whose identity and vocation is more in song. Sean Wilentz thinks this wrongfully denigrates the fact that good lyricists are indeed creating a literature that is worth contemplating, within the context of musical settings.

Well, I would hope that after this, songwriters, serious songwriters — Leonard Cohen’s name comes to mind — would be taken seriously as writers as well. Because they are writers. And it’s really that simple. There’s been this artificial — what do we say, snobbism? — about what literature is and what literature isn’t. I hope that, as much as Bob Dylan has broken down these barriers for his entire career — I hope that this award will help break down those barriers for songwriting generally.

Indeed, Carl Sunstein at the Salt Lake Tribune asserts that “Bob Dylan has surpassed Walt Whitman as the defining American artist, celebrating the capacity for self-invention as the highest form of freedom.”

At any rate, kudos to a man who has been on a long and sometimes strange rambling journey, who has accompanied us on our life travels for over five decade, and who has in many ways helped to define those travels. Congratulations to our Rambler of the Week, Bob Dylan.

• • •

STORIES FROM THE WEEK

B/w line of pregnant mothers with hands on bellies✎ DISTURBING HEALTH NEWS

More bad news for the health care system in the U.S. The rate at which women die during pregnancy or childbirth has been rising in the U.S. over the last fifteen years, according to several new studies.

Diane Rehm did a show on the subject this past week, and what the studies show is alarming. One person she interviewed was Marion MacDorman, a maternal and child health researcher at the Maryland population research center at the University of Maryland. MacDorman reported that the maternal mortality rate increased by 27 percent from 2000 to 2014 for a group of 48 states and Washington, D.C., and that the rate nearly doubled in Texas between 2010 and 2012. The maternal mortality rate is the rate of women who die as a result of complications of pregnancy or childbirth. And this can extend beyond pregnancy itself; it can be up to one year after pregnancy. Rates in the U.S. are at 23.8 per 100,000 live births, compared to rates like 4-8 per 100,000 in countries like Germany, the UK and Japan. In Texas in 2013, the number was 35.8. By contrast, California, which has intentionally focused on the issue, the rate decreased from around 21.5 in 2004 to 15 in 2014.

A situation like this should be deemed intolerable in a country like ours.

01-worlds-oldest-footprints-engare-sero-ngsversion-1476115208177-adapt-1900-1✎ ANCIENT FOOTPRINTS

A fascinating find, reported in National Geographic:

Nine miles from the volcano the Maasai call the “Mountain of God,” researchers have cataloged a spectacularly rare find: an enormous set of well-preserved human footprints left in the mud between 5,000 and 19,000 years ago.

The more than 400 footprints cover an area slightly larger than a tennis court, crisscrossing the dark gray mudflat of Engare Sero, on the southern shore of Tanzania’s Lake Natron. No other site in Africa has as many ancient Homo sapiens footprints—making it a treasure trove for scientists trying to tell the story of humankind’s earliest days.

Some of the tracks seem to show people jogging through the muck, keeping upwards of a 12-minute-mile pace. Other prints imply a person with a slightly strange, possibly broken big toe.

Yet more tracks suggest that around a dozen people, mostly women and children, traveled across the mudflat together, striking toward the southwest for parts unknown. The mud tracked it all—including the dirty droplets that fell from their feet with each step.

The footprints are near  Ol Doinyo Lengai, a volcano that looms over Lake Natron, a place of pilgrimage for the Maasai people. The team of excavators that unearthed them think that the ash-rich mud containing the footprints originally washed off Ol Doinyo Lengai’s flanks, making its way downhill to form the mudflats. The mud’s surface quickly dried out, preserving the prints in a cracked crust. Another flow of debris then buried the footprints at least 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

✎ RUSSELL MOORE’S ELECTION DAY QUANDARY

Ana Marie Cox at the New York Times recently interviewed Russell Moore about the quandary he finds himself in regarding the presidential election. Here is part of what he said:

One of the places of common ground that I’ve found between people on the right and the left is a common commiserating about how bad both of these candidates are.

…I understand why people across the religious and political spectrum would conclude that they have to wrestle with their consciences and vote for one of these candidates. I’m pro-life, pro-family, pro-racial reconciliation, pro-immigrant and pro-character in office, so no matter what happens in November, I lose.

We here at Internet Monk sympathize with Russell Moore and find ourselves in the same quandary. So today we offer our second alternative candidate for your consideration on November 8.

Here’s a talented (?) guy who finds himself out of work and might be interested if the right person asked him. I know he seems a little clueless, but since when has that ever stopped someone from running for president?

✎ C’MON CUBS, WIN ONE FOR BOB!

The TV cameras love to look for celebrities at ballgames, and during the recent Cubs series, comedian Bill Murray was the star most featured.

But there’s another comedian, 87 years old now, who likewise lives and dies with his beloved Chicago Cubs, and that’s Bob Newhart.

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In a story at Fox Sports, Bob, a Cubs fan from the time he was a young kid, described how he was actually there the last time the Cubs reached the World Series.

Newhart said he first visited Wrigley Field when he was six or seven years old and grew up going to games with his mother. And when the Cubs won their most recent National League pennant in 1945, a 16-year-old Newhart was among the fans celebrating during the team’s victory parade.

“They had this big motorcade down LaSalle Street, and I was there in the crowd, cheering the victorious Cubs — that’s before they had divisions and all that — before they played the Detroit Tigers,” Newhart said. “So I was there and I’m cheering, yelling to Phil Cavarretta and Stan Hack and Nicholson, Andy Pafko in center field. And they’re all waving back. It was great.”

Ever optimistic, Newhart thinks this year (or maybe 2017) will certainly see them break through and win the Series.

“It looks like it’s going to happen, if not this year then next year,” Newhart said. “But boy, the way they do it — I’m 87 years old, and I can’t take this anymore. Would it be too much to just rout the other team so I wouldn’t have to go through this every game?

“But it’s been a joy,” he continued. “And you know, how much more time do I have left? So if they blow it this time –”

Newhart pauses.

“But I don’t think they will,” he said, picking his thought back up.”They just look too good. So go Cubs, go.”

✎ ANOTHER MIRACLE BY ST. TIM OF TEBOW

Meanwhile, speaking of baseball, the hagiography of St. Tim of Tebow — now trying to make it for the Mets in their minor league system — continues to grow. That transcendent news source, Charisma News, offers a breathless account of how “Tim Tebow’s Prayers Stop[ped] Baseball Fan’s Massive Seizure.”

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While other news outlets were content to simply report Tebow’s good deed of helping a man in need, Charisma goes right to the scene and brings us eyewitness accounts captured on tweets, such as:

“Tebow signing autographs. Fan has what looks like seizure. Not moving. Tebow puts hand on him and says a prayer. Man breathes. WOW.”

Eager to confirm their theology, Charisma immediately pronounced this a supernatural intervention: “The violent seizure reportedly stopped moments after Tebow prayed with him. The miraculous healing had many people take to social media expressing their amazement at the power of prayer.”

• • •

LAUGHS FROM THE WEEK

✎ Photo of the Week

Members of the Erie Otters, perfectly aligned on the bench at an Ontario Hockey League game against the Niagara IceDogs.

Members of the Erie Otters, perfectly aligned on the bench at an Ontario Hockey League game against the Niagara IceDogs.

✎ Babylon Bee Headline of the Week

John MacArthur Series On Engaging Modern Culture Now Available On Audio Cassette

✎ Reformation Month — Luther Insult of the Week

luther-oct-15

• • •

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

jbareham_160815_1180_a_0014-0How are Christian humanitarian groups faring in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew?

Are we turning into machines?

What went wrong with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone?

Do teens need contemporary worship?

Women – what should you pray for in a future husband?

Is Mr. Trump the victim of a political smear campaign?

Why don’t we hear more about the Christian Left?

Could this prove to be another “Gulf of Tonkin” incident?

After this election season, how might we heal and move forward?

 

Comments

  1. Klasie Kraalogies says

    First?

  2. The increase of deaths occurring during childbirth could have something to do with the fact that women in developed countries are having children later in life, for a number of reasons, where the risk is greater.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      That was my first thought. That and the rise of “natural” child birth.

      • Actually, in developing countries, more problems with both mothers and children are caused by too much intervention than by too little. I suspect that number has to do with lack of affordable prenatal care, especially with an influx of immigrants, and perhaps the ongoing substance abuse epidemic.

        • Actually, in developing countries, more problems with both mothers and children are caused by too much intervention than by too little.
          Don’t be offended, but I find this comment irresponsible. The models we have are nothing like linear, and this is far too simplistic. The closest 2D model we have correlating health outcomes with medical intervention looks like a right skewed, platykurtik distribution.

          • Agreed, Doc F. One of my oldest friends is a Certified Nurse-Midwife who grew up as an MK in various parts of Africa. Her mom was an OB nurse. My friend knows, far better than most Americans, how little most other nations have (per medical tech and facilities, from the most badic of basic supplies on up), and how thin on the ground trained docs and nurses are in most other countries. Her parents were dealing with it all the time, and though she hasn’t practiced abroad, she has contacts with docs and nurses in and from various regions in Africa. These folks all have to be a bit like “mad genius” inventors; able to creatively improvise a whole lot of things due to lack of money and equipment. I have also known medical missionaries who worked in a number of countries in W. Africa – same thing. (And as true in nearby countries, like Mexico and Jamaica) as it is in Africa, most of Asia, most of Latin America.

            I think the frightening rise in maternal and infant deaths in certain parts of this country (like Texas) are directly related to severe cuts in funding for women’s health. There just isn’t any getting around that.

            “Natural childbirth” isn’t to blame, though untrained lay midwives might be, in some cases. But all Certified Nurse-Midwives in the US have advanced degrees and training like people wouldn’t believe, and a lot of them are involved in “natural childbirth” and home births. They aren’t stupid about it – OBs are *always* on call for CNM-assisted home births, in case complications arise. And people with a history of complications are not accepted by CNM practices as candidates for home births.

    • Initially that crossed my mind as well. However the mention of European stats made me rethink this idea. Europeans have children statistically slightly older and with a higher rate of “alternative” methods.

      • tophergraceless says

        Yeah I think the big difference between the United States and Europe when it comes to maternal death rates is simply the fact that almost all European countries have national health systems which means poor women get better care as soon as they get pregnant. The U.S. really does have one of the worst health care systems in the world. i mean it works great if you can afford it.

    • I would say a both age extreme, young teens have children at a higher rate in the US than most (if not all) developed countries but usually in combo with other causes. However teen births are decreasing in the US.

      Some reasons I’ve seen include

      1. Better reporting of maternal deaths. This could explain the rise within the US but not the difference between the US and other developed nations (most of which have better reporting in the first place).

      2. More women who are already in ill-health including obesity related diabetes or hypertension getting pregnant (this may well be in combo with higher age)

      3. Lack of accessible pre-natal care especially for the poor. http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/01/health/maternal-mortality-rate-u-s-increasing-why/ This may be cost related as well as time related (if taking time off from work to see a doctor means not getting paid or risk being labelled an unreliable worker or possibly fired).

      4. Increased number of c-sections

      5. Lack of ob-gyns (or even doctors at all) in many rural parts of the country. Lack of tested standards by doctors/hospitals for pregnancy and delivery.

      • #5 is so true it hurts. Where I grew up, there wasn’t an OB/GYN in the *county* for about 25 years. Needless to say, it’s a rural area, but it’s not out in Montana or Alasks. It’s in a Mid-Atlantic state.

    • If that were true we’d expect increases throughout the develop world instead of just being limited to the United States .

  3. I love early-mid-career Dylan, but I think the Nobel foundation should create a new category or two. Literature: the written word, not songwriting.

  4. George would be the first “fake handicapped” person to be elected President. I think the first latex salesman also.

    • Is Vandelay Industries still in business?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Yes. Which one? There is Vandelay Industries in San Diego, Portland (Maine), Boynton (Florida), and Minneapolis. The one in Florida seems nearest in description to Mr. Castanza’s employer.

        This came up in a meeting at work once… looked it up in the Dun & Bradstreet database. 🙂

  5. After this election season, how might we heal and move forward?

    For starters, we could stop insisting that our country revert to a mythologized “Christian” and/or “great” status. One, it wasn’t as good as most of its proponents misremember it being. Second, demographically, economically, and culturally, that time is gone. Forever. It is time, WAY past time, to learn to live as a disempowered minority in a non-conservative secular society. If we want people to seriously consider Christian faith and morality, we’re going to have to do it the hard way. By *demonstrating* it in our own lives. Even without (or, gasp, AGAINST) the legal and political support structures of society.

    • It is time, WAY past time, to learn to live as a disempowered minority in a non-conservative secular society.

      Don’t you mean as disempowered minorities? I mean, it’s not as if the Christian Church is monolithic. We have deep disagreements within the community(ies). It’s unlikely that we will be a single subculture at the margins of a secular society; we are plural, like the world that’s formed us.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “I mean, it’s not as if the Christian Church is monolithic.”

        This. I, for example, look at Clinton and see a lifelong Christian whose life work is informed, albeit imperfectly, by her faith. But I don’t conflate “Christian” with “American white Evangelical Protestant.”

        • How do you define her as “Christian”? Because she was raised in a particular tradition? As I see it, what is portrayed in media, there is nothing in her that could be identified as “Christian” except for some left wing ideas that were borrowed from Christian ideals. The same could be said for Trump’s claim of Christianity, although he has made a mockery of that claim by his words and behavior in a manner much more apparent than Clinton.

          • Hillary Clinton seems to be a fairly active Methodist.

            http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/we-know-plenty-about-clintons-religion/
            perhaps even worryingly religious from some nones’ point of view
            http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

          • Clinton is very conversant with the Bible. When she talks about it, she actually knows what she’s talking about because she’s been reading it all her life. She has recently said in interviews that she believes in God, in the resurrection of Christ, and that her faith played, and plays, a central role in all of her life. People who know her well say it’s not uncommon to see her carrying a Bible, or reading one. Now, that may all be a sham and a lie, a politically motivated deception; but if it is, it’s definitely a more convincing performance than Trump’s, who is obviously as ignorant of the Bible as he is of the Constitution.

          • ^ +1

          • For me, this is a perplexing and confounding thing about H. Clinton. The Capitol Hill corruption, which seems to be real, is all mixed up with what seems to be real concern for the poor, and real faith. It’s a distasteful mix, I don’t like it. But with Trump, all that’s apparent is the corruption; he wears it in his rhetoric and his body language and his perpetually scowling face. I can’t believe he gives a fig about Jesus Christ.

          • I think the idea that Hillary Clinton is less of a Christian than any of us comes from 20 or so years of anti-Hillary propaganda. From what I’ve read, I would consider her to be more of a practising Christian than any of the other presidential candidates with the exception of Mr. McMullin, who I believe is only on the ballot in eight states. But, who am I to judge whether someone practices an acceptable level of Christianity?

          • Richard Hershberger says

            In addition to what the others have said, I reject the notion that those ideals are merely incidental to Christianity. There is the all too common sense that the Christian ideals that matter are the pevlic issues. Stuff like universal access to healthcare is at best a nice thing, but not in the same league–and in practice many self-identified Christians will fight against it tooth and nail.

            Of, to put it another way, I said she is Christian, not white American Evangelical Protestant. Her background is Methodist, and her concerns are entirely within the Methodist tradition.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “The Capitol Hill corruption, which seems to be real, is all mixed up with what seems to be real concern for the poor, and real faith.”

            Yes and no, on the corruption. Yes, in that it is unavoidable when dealing with varying, and conflicting, interests. You are trying to get something done. To accomplish this, you have to persuade someone else to help you. He has his own things he is trying to get done. He will help you if you help him. His priorities may be things you would not help with, all things being equal. But now your choices are to be squeaky clean, yet irrelevant, or effectual but at the price of doing things you would ordinarily not do. Notice that the people who consider “compromise” a dirty word also tend to be absolutely useless at actually accomplishing anything. Clinton is not useless.

            But if what you mean is that she is peculiarly corrupt, this is a different matter. This notion has become an unexamined background assumption. The thing is, the proposition is testable, and has been tested. She has been investigated multiple times by highly motivated persons with ample resources at their disposal. They consistently come up empty, or nearly so. Don’t be fooled by the spin. Look at the content. Whitewater was a big fat nothing. Benghazi was a screw up, but of the sort that inevitably happens in any administration, and very modest by the standards of, say, Bush’s or Reagan’s screw ups. The Clinton Foundation stories are spun as “this is a reason for great concern” but if you read the actual content you find scrupulous care to avoid conflicts of interest. The email server is your best bet for something resembling a real scandal, but you have to be willing to overlook that she was following the de facto standard practice of her predecessors. There is a scandal here, but it is not a scandal about Clinton in particular.

            In short, the generally accepted idea that Clinton is peculiarly problematic is largely based on the principle that where there is smoke there is fire. This principle is a good rule of thumb, but only if you keep in mind that it can be gamed. It might be not a fire, but someone with a smoke machine.

          • When people say Clinton is corrupt (at least from her left) I don’t think they mean significantly more corrupt than the other members of the ruling class, or in a way that’s illegal. The whole financial industry // government revolving door is totally legal, and totally a problem.

          • Richard,
            Wait: When you say that H. Clinton was following the de facto standard practice of her predecessors, are you saying that they had private e-mail servers installed in their homes for purposes of receiving official e-mails? Which ones did that? Did any of them, to our knowledge, destroy tens of thousands of those e-mails, which are government property? Which ones did that?

          • Iirc, Condi Rice had a private email server. I don’t have links ATM, but they should be easy to find.

          • But which predecessor(s) had a private e-mail server installed in their home(s)?

          • Robert – I hope the following is helpful. As to your question, i don’t know the answer, but some quick Googling should turn ip a lot of info.

            http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/5-things-you-might-have-missed-in-the-clinton-email-report/

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > to learn to live as a disempowered minority in a non-conservative secular society.

      I’ve been a disempowered minority my entire life. Hows that cloning technology coming?

      > demographically, economically, and culturally, that time is gone

      Shrug; a time that never was cannot be “gone”. You are dismissing the mythology, and at the same time endorsing it.

      • The “golden age” aspects of the myth, yes. But the cultural and economic dominance of white middle-class evangelicals was a fact, and that dominance is what can no longer be reestablished.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > But the cultural and economic dominance of white middle-class evangelicals was a fact,

          No, I do not believe this is even close to true. Or it depends.

          Evangelicals [white middle-class] had a *PERCEIVED* dominance because there isn’t one America – there is **at least** two: The coasts [including Chicago-land on Lake Michigan] – which have a super-majority of the population, and The Middle – which has a super-majority of the land-area. The coasts have been, are, and will-be the economic turbo-charged engines of American culture and economy; and the Evangelicals never reigned there. But Evangelicals did, still do, and will continue to hold significant economic and cultural power in the vast region in between.

          Listen to people in each region – they all view themselves as ‘normal’. Their history is The History.

          The interesting question to me is: Who will the Evangelicals become next? Because they are not a static group with static values/focus. They are clearly in flux right now.

          Stats: The 100 largest metro areas consume ~13% of the land area, contain >70% of population, and provide >75% of GDP. They also contain 75-90% of built-infrastructure value. This leaves 25% of GDP for the remaining 86% of the land-area. Then you factor in the rather bizarre way the Constitution proportions political power – and you have the zany reality that is America.

          • “This leaves 25% of GDP for the remaining 86% of the land-area.” It’s efficient use of resources. Manhattan is about 22 square miles and contains Milkions of people; rhe county in which I live is over 300 square miles and contains about 35,000 people, about 20% of which are Amish. If you are wanting to use resources to benefit the greatest number of people where do you go? I’d bet on the population centers where the greatest need is. There was no electric power available here until FDR mandated it. Why? It wasn’t cost effective for the electric company. There are still area with no internet service because it isn’t efficient for Internet providers to offer it for the few people there.
            As a friend of mine categorized it: We aren’t godforsaken in my area, we are people forsaken.

          • I think these statistics, like all statistics, can be a little misleading. How much of that 86% is actually inhabited and worked? How much of it is national parks, deserts, mountains, etc. For farming purposes the best I could find is that it uses 51% of the land area of the United States. Of course there are other uses that can be found for these areas other than farming. There is timber, oil, and mining. And generally the people that do the work in producing these resources don’t get the lion’s share of the dollar they make. So how much of the GDP being credited to the city actually starts with resources taken from less populated areas for pennies on the dollar? Like most things, it can be complicated.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            The coasts have been, are, and will-be the economic turbo-charged engines of American culture and economy; and the Evangelicals never reigned there. But Evangelicals did, still do, and will continue to hold significant economic and cultural power in the vast region in between.

            I remember Slacktivist commenting on this at one point, somewhere in his multi-hundred-post page-by-page critique of Left Behind. (Too many posts in that series to search, so this is from memory.)

            It began as a commentary on how in LB, everything is kicked off by a magical Miracle-Gro fertilizer (spread it on the desert and immediate crop yields of TONS per square meter, no water necessary). Slack then speculated on the implication of this — as in WHY LH&J chose this particular (and unrealistic) start. He extrapolated that Evangelicals are concentrated in rural areas (flyover country) and have always distrusted those Wicked City Folk who economically dominate them — THEM, God’s Faithful. (Kind of like the opening situation of Atlas Shrugged re the Objectivist Men of the Mind.) The conclusion of Slack’s ramble was that Left Behind Miracle Gro was wish-fulfillment to take control away from the Wicked City Folk and return it to the Righteous Country where it belonged due to Moral Superiority. (Cue Church Lady Superiority Dance.)

            This also fits in with the post-Second Coming New Earth — nothing but American small towns filled with the Righteous all over a zero-hydro New Earth — Mayberry after Pleasantville after Mayberry after Pleasantville in a global mythic American Evangelical Midwest, with NO cities or oceans at all. (Just Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce Drenched in Butter…)

            When I first mentioned this to someone, he told me about the old conflict between nomad tribes and town dwellers. And how the nomads eating sand out on the steppes paint a dark picture of Those Wicked Cities to prevent their young from leaving the sheep dips for the easier life and opportunity in the towns.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          If we manage to move past equating ‘ “Christian” and/or “great”’ with “white middle-class evangelicals” that will itself be a great blessing upon the country.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Agree. But that is going to take at least a generation. At the same time it is not true there is still a loud chorus asserting that it is true; and even after that chorus fades away [if it does] it will continue to echo in popular culture for ~20 years.

            We have yet to go through the phase were the villains in movies are Christian Fundamentalists.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            We have yet to go through the phase were the villains in movies are Christian Fundamentalists.

            Though there are rumbles in that direction. My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) told me in a lot of TV shows he could tell who the bad guy was in the first 30 seconds — the one with the Bible who spoke in Christianese.

            But will it get to the point of equivalent to Der Ewige Jude?

          • Well, visit or live in any area with a large population of either Latin American or African immigrants, and it becomes abundantly clear who goes to church and who doesn’t. Hint: it’s not so many white folks. 😉

            Whether Catholic or AoG (and everything in between and besides), the vast majority of xtians in the world are not white. And that’s not a new phenomenon, despite all the palaver about the “global South.” What *is* a relatively recent development: white American awareness of the broad reach of xtianity in regions that are outside of N. Ametica and Europe (including western Russia + Ukraine, too).

  6. On the future husband link, I hope this isn’t universal, and is negotiable, otherwise #6 and #21 disqualify me from the running before we even get started. I’d be willing to work on #10, and #24 (I’m not actually sure what a quesadilla is), and have a long way to go in some respects for 27/28. Otherwise, if this is the bar of entry, I guess the best way to find out is in list form, I’ll get ready for a life of bachelorhood 🙂

    • Before I got married, I had this list and more. After I got married (and became privvy to the secret lives of married couples), I realised that if I had to write that list again, it would be 1) May you be faithful (not just referring to sexual fidelity, but faithful to your vows – love, cherish, honour, sickness, health etc) and more importantly, 2)May you be solvent! (Financially!)

      Happily my husband is all of those and more… 🙂

    • Scratching my head over that list…

      She doesn’t want a husband, rather, that looks more like a CraigsList add for a BF or a room mate who won’t be a major irritant.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        >a BF or a room mate who won’t be a major irritant

        That sounds like an EXCELLENT pre-qualification for marriage. Who wants to live with a major irritant?

        One of the best ‘list items’ I ever heard: choose someone who likes the people you hang out with. A BF/GF who dislikes your friends – bad idea.

        The self-aware irony of this list bodes well for her, IMO. We all want seemingly mutually exclusive things from our partners; which makes it a feature-not-a-bug that most people are entirely comfortable living with paradox.

      • If you are not marrying your best friend then you are making a big mistake. Fortunately for ME, I DID marry my best friend and it has lasted 37 years so far. I am looking forward to 50 years as a goal, but God and nature have the last say on THAT one!

        • Wow – congratulations Oscar! Any top tips?

          I’m only 3+ years into this marriage thing… have some way to go. I did marry my best friend, so that’s a good thing I guess…even though initially I didn’t think we’d make it past year 1 (more me than him, really).

  7. On the one hand, I love most or even all of the music he produced from the early 1960s through the 70s (not so familiar with his work afterward). I sing his songs to myself at work and home, because they touch deep parts of my heart, in fact they formed my heart and inner geography in significant ways, and I find a kind of freedom in them that is not often matched by my everyday experience of reality.

    On the other hand, I’m ambivalent about the idea that the “capacity for self-invention” is “the highest form of freedom”. This is something that bothers me about Whitman as much as Dylan, and the American spirit for that matter. If self-invention, and self-reinvention, means that we are able to leave behind old forms of existence that were oppressive and killing, and shape new forms that allow for freedom and thriving for ourselves (and others), then I’m all for it; it it means that we simply are reformulating and repackaging ourselves like product, as if the real self isn’t one behind the different reinventions, then we are deeply confused and/or we are on a project of deception of ourselves and others. At one end of the spectrum is the wife who divorces her abusive husband and “starts over” in a “new life’; at the other end is Donald Trump, reinventing “the truth” (i.e., lying) about himself, others, society and reality in general like a whirling dervish of deception.

    The greatness of America, and by extension of the human spirit in general, for good and ill is found in this ambivalent capacity for “self-invention”. I think this is what makes Dylan a great artist: he is aware of, and has explored, this ambivalence with his songs and public personae, giving expression to both ends of the spectrum and all that lay between. In this way he’s given us glimpses into the heart and soul of America, and humanity.

    • So, when will the Mothers of Re-Invention be awarded the Nobel?

    • My favorite Dylan album…his Christmas album! It is creepy and cynical, just the touch I look for in the Christmas season. His take on “I’ll BE Home For Christmas” makes me want to lock my doors while peeking out the peephole to make sure he doesn’t get in.

      • Lol! His voice does sound like death-warmed-over at this point, doesn’t it? As I’ve said, I haven’t kept apace with is music output for the last 30 years; I’ll stick with the first 20 of his career, when his voice was merely annoying and nasally. I love that old stuff.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Dylan’s voice was never his strong point.
          It was his way with words and imagery.

        • His blatant rip-off of Brave Combo’s polka arrangement of “Must be Santa” is wonderful, though! I love the video. Dylan’s from Midwestern polka country, and I’m so glad he included that track. The rest is, to me, unlistenable.

  8. When this election is over, it won’t be over.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is never over. It always goes on. Which is comforting.

      And remember – the election is not about the presidency. It is about a long list of people, many of whom are Class-A examples of the human species. And in many places there are ballot measures whose impact will still be rewarding their population after both candidates – and us – are food for worms.

      Politics does not end at the White House, it is every last village.

    • flatrocker says

      Absolutely.
      On November 9th there will be losers.
      And they won’t be pleased.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Some Trumpistas are already mumbling about Armed Revolution if Hillary Steals the Election.

        I’ve got to check back with my contact who was making odds for our first Military Coup or Dictator before 2020.

        • Some of them tried to get a head start in Kansas; fortunately, the FBI, with the help of an informant, was able to stop them. There will be more of this in the coming weeks and months, perhaps years, because these lunatics feel empowered by the lunatic at the top of Trump Tower.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Remember the movie Network?

            “I want you all to open your windows, lean out into the street, and yell with me I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!!!”

            THAT is what built Trump’s constituency. Trump is a symptom, not a cause.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            But this is a RETURN to a kind of NORMAL. America has always been a place riddled with militia groups. There is no reason to over-react about that; it does not mean we are coming apart.

            Through the 1960s and into the 1970s the NORMAL was several hundred domestic bombings a year! Some years climbed toward 1,000. That is America. The kooks running around in the earlier decades didn’t have modern weapons.

            How quickly we forget. We have been BLESSED with some, relatively, VERY PEACEFUL decades. To me, it looks like America will revert to its formula. And nearly everyone will still go on about their lives unaffected. America is a very big place.

          • I’m sure the FBI has been very busy over the past 8+ months re. domestic terrorism. This election seadon + police shootings of unarmed black people reminds me of the worst of the 1960s, all over again. Which is to say, it’s like a nightmare that won’t quut. I haven’t heard so much hateful, inflammatory speech since I was a young girl, nor seen so many violent attacks on groups of people targeted by people either in office or, in this case, running for office. The GOP’s “Southern strategy” has finally shown itself for what it’s always been, though God knows, racism is everywhere in this country.

            It would be such a relief to see a comprehensive ban on assault weapons and a de-militarization of police forces.

          • I hope you’re right, Adam. I know that, historically speaking, violence is the American way of life, and “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” But there’s a bad feeling in my gut that keeps saying, This time it’s different…., like an infernal mantra.

          • Patrick Kyle says
          • Do you think anyone here is going to approve of the firebombing, Patrick Kyle? It’s unacceptable to firebomb the Republican headquarter building, just as it’s unacceptable to attempt to bomb an apartment building full of Somali immigrants. Political violence at the polls or anywhere else, and threats of such violence, is unacceptable.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      No, of course it won’t be over. You people contribute to it just as badly as the rustic ignoramuses in fly over country that you disdain. I read this whole thread and you have Robert F and Christiane bagging on Texas as backward and oppressive. You have Eeyore, telling Evangelicals to give up participation in the political process and embrace their fate as Helots in a godless culture. The contempt for rural people, especially Christians, drips off these threads, only matched by the disrespect shown anyone with Conservative political views. You guys do the same thing you accuse us of doing. You conflate political and cultural issues in with the Christian Faith so they ultimately become shibboleths and litmus tests of your fidelity to Christianity. Immigration for example. You take some passages out of the OT and one or two from the NT about being kind to strangers and wayfarers and and apply it to mass immigration (legal and illegal) and it’s now magically a test of your Christian ‘Bona Fides.’ Horribly managed and fiscally irresponsible federally mandated insurance schemes and welfare programs are sacrosanct out workings of the Christian ideals of ‘helping the needy.’ To even question them brings howls of protests from many in these threads, accusing people of lacking Christian charity for the poor. Never mind that the programs are often shot through with mismanagement, increase the budget deficits, breed dependency, and often have a great deal of fraud. But I can’t say that in these circles and still be considered a good/serious Christian. I often chafe at the condescending and self righteous attitudes from some of you.
      I grieve that this country is headed for trouble. A fight is baked into the cake, so to speak. So be it…

      • Oh calm down, my guess is 66% of the folks on this forum are from rural areas, I am. And blaming “spending on poor people” on the budget deficit shows a pretty serious lack of understanding of the composition of the federal budget. The only really large program is Medicaid, which by dollar amount is mostly nursing care for the insolvent.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          Nah, none of those programs contribute to deficits at all….It’s all those other programs that do.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          “And blaming “spending on poor people” on the budget deficit shows a pretty serious lack of understanding of the composition of the federal budget.”

          Case in point. Can’t. Even. Question.

        • I’m from rural, flyover country myself. Just saying. Afaik, neither Robert F nor Christiane live in big cities, though they’re both in areas that have a larger population than the area where I live.

          Contrary to the assumptions of many, rural areas are no more monolithic than urban areas, though from outside, they might appear to be.

          • Oh, fwiw, I’m officially a poor person, too. PK, you make some pretty offensive assumptions about low income people, across the board.

            Aldo fwiw, the Affordable Care Act has given me decent health coverage for the 1st timr in decades. Am all for a single-payer system, though. People in rural areas would be among the biggest beneficiaries, as doc/nurse ratio per population in most rural areas = medical professionals and resources are thin on the ground at the best of times.

          • I live in a rural area. I do blue collar work. I have no disdain for working class people; I’m one of them. I’m not officially poor, but don’t let that fool you, my wife and I are poor, we barely get by. Your generalizations don’t hold water, PK.

        • I did the “balance the budget” exercise in the NY Times some time ago. I slashed the military budget to just a bit of a % over what Russia spends. The Empire wouldn’t like that, of course. Our gurkhas in uniform are the only thing keeping the American dollar afloat at this time. I don’t know how I’d respond to $4 an ear corn and $12 a roll toilet paper.

          But the budget ‘problem’ was solved. I even had money left over for infrastructure, schools, and healthcare.

          If I was Tsar, the Navy wouldn’t go out any farther than Bermuda or Guam.

  9. A man who says that his accusers’ claims that he groped them are ridiculous because the accusers are so unattractive smears himself.

    • That Other Jean says

      Also: are there no mirrors in his house, or doesn’t he show up in them? God’s gift to womanhood he is not, even before he opens his mouth.

      • Only fun house mirrors in his world, and what they reflect is hilariously clownish or appallingly frightening by turns, so he never looks in them. Know not thyself, his oracle has uttered, and in this one thing he obeys…

        • Oh, he has a mirror. But he’s not using it check his looks: he’s using it for reassurance that he has power.

          And how do you know you have power? When you can just take what you want, and ‘they just let you do it.’

    • Itsm that for the past several months, pretty much every slur and inflammatory statement he’s made about HC is actually an accurate reflection of him. But if my hunch (and that of many others) is correct, there’s, sadly, no wsy that he’ll own up to it or accept it as his responsibility.

      Vety sad, infuriating and surreal, all at the same time.

      • numo, If your observation is correct, then his current charge that Clinton was on amphetamines at the last debate would indicate that he was actually the one using illicit substances. And, given the way he kept sniffling at both debates, well ….

  10. Hypocritical of the US to condemn Russia and Syria for bombing civilians in Aleppo, while supporting and supplying the Saudis bombing of Yemeni civilians, and now positioning to engage in direct warfare against Yemen.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Agree, 100%. This game of condemnation and counter-condemnation is theater of the absurd. Thugs to the right of me, thugs to the left of me, …

      • I honestly have a hard time understanding the distinction between terrorism and the military tactics of nation-states. Creating terror in civilian populations for the purposes of attaining political goals seems to be a common practice of national military and terrorist group alike.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > hard time understanding the distinction between terrorism and the military tactics of nation-states

          I’ve surrendered on that one: A uniform makes one a soldier, otherwise one is a terrorist. Thus the distinction is entirely technocratic – and non-moral.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Terrorists are nation-states without political power.

          Just as Cults are religions without political power.

        • Robert F, i think HUG is right about this. I wish we lived in a different kind of world, one where “Might Makes Right” wasn’t true, but…

          • Oh, I know he’s right, numo. It’s just that in my more childlike moments I sometimes forget, and start to think that it might be otherwise….

  11. A lot of discussion has occurred while I slept in this morning. ;o)

  12. I have one thing to say about Dylan; Everyone sings Dylan better than Bob.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Like I said above, his voice is NOT his strong point.

    • That Other Jean says

      Amen to that! When he was first played on the radio, I remember disc jockeys calling him “A man who sounds like a dog with its leg caught in barbed wire.” They were not wrong.

    • Especially Joan Baez. She had a head start on everybody else singing Dylan.

      A friend of mine says, if Bob Dylan can sing anybody can sing.

      • Ted – yeah, but not that many people are able to pull off good *interpretations* of Dylan’s songs, I think. I don’t think Baez had half the interpretive punch (in her versions of his early work) that he did.

  13. I’ve owned a Note4 two years now. I really like it. Maybe the issue with the N7 battery has more to do with the manufacturer–kind of like the Takata air bag thing. ?

  14. Christiane says

    “the maternal mortality rate increased by 27 percent from 2000 to 2014 for a group of 48 states and Washington, D.C., and that the rate nearly doubled in Texas between 2010 and 2012.”

    Not surprised by this at all.
    Texas seems a very backward state in how it treats women and children, with a few wonderful oases of civilization in it for the privileged. My guess is that the red states predominate in the increased rate of maternal deaths, yes. The attitude towards women in the ‘bible belt’ is pitiful and in someways more comparable to a third-world country than any of the northern European countries which excel in actually fostering family values for the maintenance of health and well-being for pregnant women and new mothers (and fathers).

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Both California and Texas are excluded from the study results: “””California because it does not provide comparable data and Texas as a result of uncertainty regarding recent trends”””

    • In recent years, cuts made by the Texas legislature have resulted in the closure of dozens of family planning centers. These centers had provided many medical services to pregnant women. Put two and two together. Of course, the maternal mortality rate is far greater among poor black women, who had depended on these clinics for health care during pregnancy.

      • Christiane says

        “Of course, the maternal mortality rate is far greater among poor black women, who had depended on these clinics for health care during pregnancy.”

        if this is the case, then those closures were immoral . . . . and my guess is that not even the increase in deaths will move the legislature to act in the interests of these poor women

        I am not a fan of states that see their indigent populations suffering increase and are not moved by pity to take action to ease that suffering, especially when the state is rich in resources and there are many pockets of wealth in that state . . . . . Texas is one of those states where the ‘war on the poor’ outranks ‘the war on women’ and, dear God, where those two wars intersect, those women don’t have a chance

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “”” violent causes, including motor vehicle accidents, … occurred at a rate of about 15 per 100,000 live births, … four leading pregnancy-related causes of maternal mortality (hemorrhage, ….), which occurred at a rate of about 4.5 per 100,000 live births.”””

      Not classically Medical causes account for 3x the number of deaths as strictly medical causes.

      So how much of this comes down to differences in built-environment and life-style? In America we murder more people by automobile per capita than anywhere else; that has to sit in that 3x difference somewhere. The trend line for automotive-homicide-per-capita is on a solid upward trend recently.

  15. “A situation like this should be deemed intolerable in a country like ours.”

    The tip of the tip of the iceberg. The great majority of the rest of the world is rapidly finding the entire situation this country finds itself in as intolerable. It remains to be seen whether the good citizenry here wake up and join them, or hit the snooze button yet again, covers over the head. Just possibly Babylon is teetering as we sleep.

    I greatly admire Bob Dylan, tho I don’t listen to his music. He started out in the folk tradition, which I participated in momentarily, unbeknownst along with Janis Joplin, before finding it painfully pretentious and out of touch with reality. As did Dylan, as did Janis. The snobbery was best illustrated in the outrage expressed when he picked up his electric guitar, and I hear echoes this morning nearly fifty years later.

    Bob Dylan has steadfastly resisted the pigeon hole, as apparently the Nobel prize committee, and this provides me great comfort as I continue this life endeavor. I don’t read Walt Whitman either, but glad he’s still here outside the pigeon roost. While I long ago left the artificial world painted by Pete Seeger and the Weavers and the Kingston Trio, I find myself circling back in to my “Anglo-American” roots today listening to The Rankin Family (thanks, CM!), who strike me as more authentic and are connecting me with the grandmother from Nova Scotia I never really knew. If Bob Dylan has one consistent word for us, I would say it would be “keep on growing.”

  16. a pair of blackbirds
    atop a sunlit silo
    survey the wide world

  17. I rocked my babies to the music of Bob and Joanie..saw me through some distressing times..so I am glad for him.

  18. Been married 31 years.
    Didn’t have a list.
    Married my best friend.
    The word ‘divorce’ was/is not in our vocabulary. ( murder, maybe!)
    Though times? Yep. Saw them thru..still are…
    Good times ? You bet!
    But love isn’t a feeling, it’s a commitment…a lifelong one.

    • That Other Jean says

      Congrats! The husband and I have made it through 49 years, and are looking forward to 50. I had a short list:

      Have a sense of humor.
      Have a decent job.
      Have a sense of commitment.

      Like you, we’ve never seriously considered divorce. Murder, maybe. But it’s hard to hide a body.
      We’ve been through some hard times, and don’t doubt there will be more–but we count on each other.
      We’ve also had some great times, sometimes in the middle of the hard ones.

      You’re spot on about love.

  19. Attending a conference today and interacting with speakers and attendees has made me realize just how out of place I am in the Midwest. Apparently my turn-offs include: “country girl/small town girl at heart”, country music, “Jesus first!”, the tv show Friends, the movie The Notebook…

    Basically, 90% of the women here, the biggest farming town around.

    So I need to work on my ‘list’ lol.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Apparently my turn-offs include: “country girl/small town girl at heart”,
      > country music, “Jesus first!”, the tv show Friends, the movie The Notebook…

      I hope I end up around Minneapolis sometime so we can have a beer. All the above drive me nuts.

      And what on earth does “small town girl at heart” mean? It has to be code for something – – – which I probably won’t like; such as believing people are better off for lack of economic or educational opportunity.

      • There are so many women from Iowa/N S Dakotas/Ohio, who are here in the city for school and work but “just want to get back home”. Good for them.

        It’s harmless I think. They are just mostly country folk who come from a big family that has money where everyone hunts and drives pickups. Those are not bad things. I just recognize that those are things I’d only want in my life as an occasional diversion, and not a goal to ‘get back to’.

        I love the city. And this one is starting to feel too small.

        • Try another part of the country, maybe… or Chicago, if you’re set on staying in the Midwest.

        • Come to Atlanta. You’d love it. My kids do.
          I put up with it. There are a LOT of Blacks, and they run things. Not always to my satisfaction, but then, not always to their own satisfaction either. The potholes are getting fixed and the Atlanta PD is very professional. Unfortunately that professionalism extends to a zeal for apprehending speeders and stop sign miscreants. I suspect it contributes healthily to the budget.

          You could do a lot worse.