Friday, August 17, 2012

U.K., England & Great Britain Usage

Every history student and anyone who wants to be an informed citizen of the world should have to watch this video. A friend of mine recommended it when I mentioned I have a hard time keeping straight what can and can't be used interchangeably (brought on by the Olympics, no doubt). Take a look. It's truly brilliant and the most informative source out there on keeping it all straight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The King

Congratulations to Felix Hernandez! Twenty-third perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball, the second at Safeco Field this season and the first for the Seattle Mariners organization. One of the greatest performances I have ever seen. Well done, King Felix, well done.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Editor's Note: I'm bypassing TGIF Tunes today to share the lyrics to a song that is a lead-in to a piece I've been writing for several weeks. There are numerous videos available on YouTube for this song, but I thought the lyrics truly spoke loudest and were best presented in simple black and white. Look for a piece on Japanese internment in the days to come.
Kenjiby Fort Minor
My father came from Japan in 1905He was, 15 when he immigrated from JapanHe, he, he worked until he was able to buy this patchAnd build a store
Let me, tell you the story in the form of a dreamI don't know why I have to tell it, but I know what it meansClose your eyes, just picture the sceneAs I paint it for you, it was World War IIWhen this man named Kenji woke upKen was not a soldierHe was just a man, with a family, who owned a store in L.A.
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always didBacon and eggs with wife and kidsHe lived on the second floor of a little store, he ranHe moved to L.A. from JapanThey called him 'Immigrant'In Japanese, he'd say, he was called, EsayThat meant 'First generation in the United States'
When everyone was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the JapsBut most of all afraid of a homeland attackAnd that morning when Ken went out on the doormatHis world went black 'causeRight there, front page news, three weeks before 1942"Pearl Harbour's been bombed and the Japs are comin'"
Pictures of soldiers dyin' and runnin'Ken knew what it would lead toJust like he guessed, the President said"The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away"They gave Ken, a couple of daysTo get his whole life packed in two bagsJust two bags, couldn't even pack his clothes
Some folks didn't even have a suitcase, to pack anything inSo two trash bags, was all they gave themWhen the kids asked mum, "Where are we goin'?"Nobody even knew, what to say to themKen didn't wanna lie, he said, "The US is lookin' for spiesSo we have to live in a place called MandinarWhere a lot of Japanese people are"
Stop it, don't look at the gunmenYou don't wanna get the soldiers wonderin'If you gonna run or not,'Cause if you run then you might get shotOther than that, try not to think about itTry not to worry 'bout it bein' so crowdedSomeday, we'll get out, someday, someday
As soon as war broke outThe G.I. came and they just come to the houseAnd you have to come all the Japanese have to goThey took Mr.Lee, people didn't understandWhy did they have to take him?Because he's an innocent labor
So now, they're in a town with soldiers surroundin' themEvery day, every night, look down at themFrom watch towers up on the wallKen couldn't really hate them at allThey were just doin' their job andHe wasn't gonna make any problems
He had a little garden, with vegetables and fruits thatHe gave to the troops in a basket his wife madeBut in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life savedPrisoners of war in their own damn country, what for?Time passed in the prison town
He wanted them to live it down when they were freeThe only way out was, joinin' the armyAnd supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed onAnd ended up flyin' to Japan with a bombThat 15 kilotonne blast, put an end to the war pretty fastTwo cities were blown to bits, the end of the war came quick
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wifeBut, when they got back to their homeWhat they saw made them feel so aloneThese people had trashed every roomSmashed in the windows and bashed in the doorsWritten on the walls and the floor 'Japs not welcome anymore'
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside
He, looked at his wife without words to say
She looked back at him, wiped the tears away
And, said, "Someday, we'll be okay, someday"
Now, the names have been changed, but the story's true

My family was locked up back in '42
My family was there it was dark and damp
And they called it, an internment camp

When we first got back from camp, uhh
It was pretty, pretty bad, I, I remember my husband said
"Are we gonna stay 'til last?"
Then my husband died before they close the camp

© Mike Shinoda, 2005

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hitchcock: A Swerve to the Right

Editor's Note: The following op-ed was printed by the Idaho State Journal and appears here with permission of the author.


It is by now a platitude that the Republican Party has, over the past several years, moved strongly to the right.  How and why this has occurred, however, is far from clear.  Does the change represent a shifting of the views of average Republicans?  Probably not, according to most commentators.   Rather, the party has come under the control of a different segment of the Republican rank and file, a segment that has always held more conservative views and finally succeeded in acquiring the power to set the agenda and the policies of the party according to its own beliefs.
As to why the shift to the right has occurred, consider the issue of abortion.  Republicans have opposed abortion for many years, but recently they have been on an unprecedented campaign, at both the state and federal level, to actually deprive women of the right to have abortions -- a right to which the Constitution, according to the Supreme Court, entitles them. 

Republican tactics have included legislating regulations that harass Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, that require pregnant women to undergo medically-unnecessary ultrasonic scans in an effort to coerce them into choosing not to have abortions, that shorten the time period within which abortions may be legally performed to 20 weeks and less (a clear violation of the “viability” standard in Rowe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey), and, recently, that propose to eliminate some of the traditionally-accepted justifications for abortion, viz. rape and incest.

What has driven the Republicans to violate their own oft-proclaimed commitment to personal freedom, to de-regulation, and to keeping the government out of the private affairs of the citizenry?  What has led them to go so far as to back away from an acknowledgement that the circumstances surrounding a woman’s becoming pregnant are relevant to the moral permissibility of abortion?
In previous columns I have discussed the findings of psychologists regarding the cognitive biases of radical conservatives.  When confronted with a moral/social situation that calls for analysis and decision making, conservatives are drawn to the simplest analysis and to the decision which appears to represent complete certainty.   The simplest analysis is one which identifies the fewest factors as relevant to decision-making; the greatest certainty is attained through the application of some moral principle that can be claimed as undeniably true.
In the case of the abortion problem, radical conservatives have formulated an argument that exemplifies these biases.  They select one factor in the situation -- the nature of the fetus -- as relevant, claim that “personhood” is part of that nature, then invoke a moral absolute -- the impermissibility of willful murder – to generate a decision.  In other words, the argument is: All human fetuses are persons; killing a person is wrong; therefore, killing a fetus is wrong.

Someone less driven towards simplicity and certainty would find the abortion problem to be far more complicated and less amenable to a clear solution.  The fetus is, after all, intimately connected to and dependent upon another human being, its mother, and that mother’s welfare, interests and rights are directly impacted by the life or death of the fetus.  Furthermore, while the species of the fetus is scientifically ascertainable, its “personhood” is not; in fact, there is no agreement on what “personhood” actually means or when, if ever, it is appropriate to apply that label to a fetus.   Neither is it the case that the killing of one human being by another, even when willfully done, is always a case of “murder.” 
The radical right chooses to ignore these complexities in favor of a simple syllogism, and it has fastened upon this simplistic argument with a single-minded tenacity.  Moreover, it has begun to take note of one of its implications: that the circumstances under which the fetus came to exist are irrelevant.  If it is the “personhood” of the fetus that alone is decisive then, no matter how insemination takes place, whether through consensual sex or rape, killing the fetus is impermissible.

Another recognized cognitive bias of conservatives stems from their religious convictions. Catholic and evangelical sects explicitly condemn abortion, and underlying that judgment are a host of implausible assumptions about God’s existence, God’s interest in humankind, the special status of humans, the existence of souls, and so forth, all of which feed into the conservatives’ analysis of relevancy.  And their willingness to assume that there are such things as moral absolutes is, needless to say, heavily dependent upon the assumption that there is a divine law-giver.

Moderate Republicans tend to recognize that abortion is a complex issue and differing opinions are possible.  Even if they cannot accept the cogency of pro-choice arguments, they acknowledge that those arguments represent an honestly-held opinion that deserves respect.  For moderates, compromise is an option.  The new Right believes that its narrow analysis of the issue has put it in possession of God’s own truth on the matter.  It insists upon ideological purity and rejects compromise.  That is the essence of the swerve to the right: Republicans are no longer a political party, they are a crusade.