Category Archives: Hope

Arne Carlson – a decent Republican

From his Facebook:

Seeing visuals of how the Trump Administration is treating children being “ processed” at our southern border, takes me back to 1947 when my parents decided to return to Sweden. They decided to send me to live with my grandmother and uncle who lived on the island of Gotland located well out into the Baltic Sea. This would give my parents time to find jobs and housing.

They put me on a train from Goteborg to Kalmar on the opposite coast. They gave me some money and notes with the appropriate Swedish words. The plan was for me to get off the train in Kalmar and then follow the signs directing passengers to the ship to Gotland.

When the train arrived in Kalmar, I got off and started looking for the signs with Gotland on them. But, I could not find them. Clearly, I was in trouble.

Within minutes, a young lady approached and asked me where I was going. Fortunately, she understood English and informed me that the ship to Gotland was not in service. The season for summer travel had just concluded.
The young lady identified herself as a member of the Police Department and that she would help me.

The only ships to Gotland were in service in Stockholm and that was some distance up the coast and the next ship left the following afternoon. The Police Community Officer put me up in a hotel room and brought in a huge smorgasbord. This was all paid for by the public.

I tried to be as helpful as I could in supplying the names of my relatives. However, I did not have their phone numbers nor even knew if they had phones. My mother’s maiden name was Magnuson and trying to track down my relatives with this popular name was a challenge. Before I went to sleep, that wonderful Officer said they had located my uncle and all was well.

The next morning, I was escorted to the train to Stockholm, greeted by the conductor and led to my seat. When we arrived in Stockholm, the conductor led me off the train and into the service of a Stockholm Police officer. He had a wonderful sense of humor which I so much appreciated as we went to the ship.

Once there, a ship’s officer greeted me and escorted me to my small cabin and helped me prepare for the overnight journey.

Early the next morning, the ship put into the port of Visby and there I could see my wonderful brother, Lars, waving and pointing to my relatives whom I had never met.
What an absolutely joyous occasion.

Here I am some 70 years later with such pleasant and warm memories all due to marvelous public servants who knew the power of love and kindness.

Why can we not treat the children on our southern border with more compassion After all, they only seek a better life.
Is that not what the American Dream is about?

Bonhoeffer vs Hitler and and the attack on my nemesis

For the last two months I’ve been avoiding the last great organization of my house – the higgledy-pigaledy files I’ve successfully brought together up in my three year-old-office. Two months ago I was about to attack them when I let myself be distracted by, of all things, stamp collecting. I left roughly one third of my office floor with stacks of yet to be filed stuff.

I’ve been waiting for something to kick me into gear again. I cranked up the heat an hour ago, and its pouring out furiously with the zero temps outside the roof above. But I got distracted again. This time it was by the gift my daughter got me for Christmas. I’d let everyone know I wanted a copy of the book below on the right. Its called “The Faithful Spy.”

Next to it is a book I randomly found as a remainder. Its chock full of historical cartoons of Adolph Hitler’s rise and fall. Recent events call this man to my mind. I’ve been nibbling at it for a couple months.

I parked myself and began reading the book about the attempted assassin who Hitler would later execute for trying to topple him from power. I haven’t read a book since I finished one on Napoleon right after getting back from my trip to France in October. I think I need to read a good book on a sobering subject to light a fire under myself. After that and after the office clean up I’ll have run out of good excuses not to start writing my own book.

“Hate helps no one…” Tommy Rukavina’s last letter

The last time I remember seeing tiny but obstreperous Tommy Rukavina he crawled out from under a table at a candidate’s forum I was attending as a Republican candidate for the legislature. Tommy died yesterday. After cleansing my front yard by replacing Cheeto Boy with a new snow sculpture I know just what to post under the picture of the new one. Its the last letter Tommy wrote to my favorite Minnesota newspaper, the Timberjay, before he passed on to that Union Hall in the sky. God go with you Tommy!

Hate helps no one, love solves everything
A letter from Tom Rukavina
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2019 5:33 pm
Tom Rukavina

This is the last letter to the editor we received from Tom Rukavina (who over the years submitted many). At the request of a reader, we are posting it on our website….

Marshall, Your editorial on xenophobia touched my heartstrings. As your readership may know, I am currently in the University of Minnesota Medical Center receiving excellent care after my bone marrow transplant on Nov. 14.

Every day a nurse walks in who is a little different than me. She or he might be Somali or Hmong or Japanese-American and have a little bit of an accent – just like those old Croats I used to listen to on the northside of Virginia. Or, my nurse’s assistant may come in to take my blood pressure and tell me how she fled the war in Liberia when she was a young woman and what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here in America.

Then the housekeepers come in, they’re in a hurry, they say hi. They are Somali or Ethiopian or Liberian. One was a male who stopped emptying the wastebaskets and talked to us. About how he came from Ethiopia five years ago because of tribal conflicts. He already had a master’s degree in chemistry and is now working two jobs while going to school to become a pharmacist so he can give his three children a college education. He was particularly proud of his four-year-old daughter whose teacher told him was extremely intelligent. He told us his dream is that she will grow up to do something good for her country – this country, America.

I could go on and tell you that one of my transplant doctors is from Brazil and my primary oncologist is from India. She came to get her degree at the U of M and decided to stay on here to pay back for the great education she received from our state.

So, it’s puzzling to me that some of my friends and their children have forgotten that they are the children and grandchildren of immigrants. That they came to America for the same dream, to make life better for themselves and their families. And they were treated as badly as today’s immigrants. I can’t help but relay the story told to me by one of my dad’s best friends.

They had milk cows on the northside of Virginia and it was Bruno’s job, as a 12-year-old kid, to deliver the milk in the morning to the mining locations – Lincoln, Higgins and Minorca – which sat above the hill north of Virginia. One early morning on his way to deliver milk, he saw smoke coming from the top of one of the mine dumps, so on his way back after delivery he decided to climb up there and investigate. It was a smoldering cross put there by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the Slovenians and Croatians because they were Catholic, and the Finns who they claimed were radicals. He also happened to notice there was a little book on the ground. He picked up the book and put it in his pocket and he brought it home to his father.

His Italian father couldn’t read English so they brought it across the street to another Italian immigrant who could read English. The book contained the membership list of the Virginia KKK. Rinaldo got so scared he threw the book in the kitchen woodstove and burned it, because it contained the names of some very important “American” people in Virginia. To this day I still remember some of the names that were told to me that were in that book. Much to my surprise I’ve kept those names to myself, and all of you knowing my big mouth, it has been a chore to not blurt them out at times. But, among the descendants of those individuals were many good people. My hope is that someday, the descendants of those people who are currently creating so much hardship for our new immigrants, will learn that people are people no matter their color, religion or country of origin. That they are good people coming to the land of the free for the same reason our ancestors did.

On a final note, I can’t help but think that if not for the care of all these wonderful Somali and Liberian and Ethiopian and Brazilian and Indian and Hmong and Japanese immigrants that I’ve met here, I might be six feet under.

Hate helps no one, love solves everything.

Tom Rukavina
Pike Twp
via University

Honest Abe vs Dishonest Don

A couple times a year I notice that two cartoons on the Trib’s comics page share a similar theme. Today was such a day. From Non Sequitur:

And from Pearls before Swine:

I don’t enjoy being the optimist preoccupied with the empty half of the glass or (in this case) with the forty percent empty. The 40% is made up of Americans who still think Donald Trump is doing a good job while shrugging off his hourly lies and treating them as some sort of veiled truth. Yes, the 60% full side is the recently elected Democratic House of Representatives, but I also remember that all it took to elect Hitler in 1933 was just short of 40%. That feeble percentage is the kind of number that keeps deep-state Republicans in control after all their messing about with election laws and gerrymandering.

Its often asked what Trump supporters would have done had Obama done the sort of things Trump does daily. Unlike Trump Obama told only one truly epic lie when he insisted that Americans could keep their doctors if the Affordable Health Care Act was enacted. It was worse than just a white lie, but compared to Trump, its notable, even laudable in its singularity.

Abraham Lincoln famously asked Americans to remember their “better angles.” Trump only encourages our better demons.

My old ally turned critic sent me a couple more emails with no text but simply links to commentaries suggesting that black americans were attempting to make white Trump supporters paranoid by making our elections fraudulent. Then he sent me this Wikipedia entry on “Aunt Jemima” to school me on what he thought of Stacey Abrams who is at the forefront of calling out Republican electioneering scams.

I replied to Jim:

I guess you were being ironic calling Abrams a name that suggested she was obsequious when you seem to resent her for being just the opposite of obsequious.

If anything she has the stones you had when you rallied for Bob Short. You’re giving her short shrift….no pun intended.

The Lost Children of Tuam

For the past two months I’ve read very little. No books. I’m looking forward to the end of this campaign so I can once again look beyond the Duluth Schools.

I woke at 3:30 and trudged up to my office to work on the mandatory Finance Report that will be turned in Monday it having been due yesterday, Friday. After returning to the accounting later this morning I paused to look at the New York Times online.

I have some Irish in me, although my Dad always joked that it was orange not green. The haunting photo above lured me into an extended story about human indifference and one woman’s quest to bring the dead to light if not life. Maybe it was the adagios I had playing on Pandora in the background but I used up a couple of tissues wiping tears away. Tales of human decency often do that to me.

DACA

How much has America spent educating 800,000 children illegally brought into the United States by their parents as infants and toddlers? If its anything like what we pay to educate kids in Duluth its a lot. Multiply $10,000 per year, times 12 years of public school, times 800,000 and you get $96 billion dollars thrown into the Rio Grande.

Forget the humanitarian issues of punishing the innocent. Forget the windfall for Mexico for our nation to send this incredible investment back to them. Cold hard finances all by themselves offers a compelling case to keep these children who will constitute an important economic resource for the US in future years.

Trump roared during the campaign that he would toss them all out. He seems to be reconsidering right now. But it was an Obama executive order that brought these 800,000 out of hiding and into his cross hairs. This dream is a nightmare.

On Being

I caught the end of a BBC broadcast early this morning which I found engrossing and then tuned into On Being while I ironed wrinkly t-shirts brought back from China – all short sleeved.

It was the second time I heard Margaret Meed’s anthropologist daughter Mary Catherine Bateson being interviewed on “On Being.” Claudia was up early and listened too. Bateson is a practicing Christian unlike her parents who did read the Bible but as Atheists/Agnostics. It was a thought provoking interview even the second time through.

Bateson was raised with her Mother’s ethos of participating in life while at the same time being an observer of what is actually happening during that participation. Back in 2015 when I first heard this interview I concluded that this perfectly described how I went through life. Another way of describing this quality is “mindfulness” or even “living in the moment.” Except that, living in the moment suggests not paying attention to the past or the future and that is not me. I think of the past and the future at all times.

I joked ith Claudia that we were like one of Bateson’s cells (nucleus and cell) originally different creatures which back in the primordial past combined and found our synergy to be a survival tactic for our separate selves. Bateson used this as a metaphor for marriage. She also noted that it was easier for a couple in the past to stay together because they mostly didn’t live beyond 35 years and never had a reason to separate after raising children because that was generally the end of their life expectancy.

Fear and silencing in 2016?

The initial reactions of many in the wake of Donald Trump’s election have been fearful, ugly, gloating and generally panicky. There is an abundance if not an excess of caution. There has been local Radio talk-show indignation and Facebook hand-wringing over an evidently Anti-Trump message slipped into a school trophy case. It seems proof that political animosity works both ways. The tremors across northern Minnesota Schools yesterday from a vague threat is likely one more manifestation of this sorry situation.

I’m afraid that one more consequence of this election result is a powerful urge to cover our eyes and ears. At Tuesday’s school board meeting Supt. Gronseth expressed unhappiness with the student at Denfeld who took a picture of racist grafitti and posted it to Facebook to show how things were at the school. I’ll bet the police who have just charged a jumpy policeman in the Twin Cities with manslaughter may feel much the same way about Internet Videos. Silence is Golden.

I disagree. Communication is golden.

Yesterday a speech by an African-American historian was given at East High but then canceled for Denfeld when it was deemed inappropriate and perhaps an incitement to bad behavior. That’s a shame because the Denfeld students showed remarkable maturity and creativity in the face of the racist grafitti found on a bathroom wall. They countered it with a student led campaign to retake the school’s walls with positive and uplifting post-it note messages. According to one source this is what they missed when Dr. El-Kati was silenced:

“According to 3 equity minded individuals who all saw El-Kati’s talk yesterday at East, they are in complete and utter shock that Denfeld did not get to hear the awesome messages that El-Kati delivered. His main theme was moral character, and also touched on many topics and historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, John Lewis, Frederick Douglas, Quakers, MLK, war, Minnesota tops in education, Duluth is wonderful, power and privilege, among others.

“They said Denfeld kids needed that talk more than East kids.”

I was unaware of the speech which the District had contracted until the Superintendent offered this post script to his email to School Board members about the “non specific threat.” This is all I know of why Dr. El-Kati’s Denfeld appearance was canceled:

Oh– and Dr El-Kati’s visit did not go as well as hoped. He did not deliver the planned message. He did not meet the terms of the contract. After things did not go well at East, it was decided that the Denfeld presentation would be canceled.

Judging by the superlative response of the Denfeld students to racist grafitti I have every confidence that they could have handled whatever Dr. El-Kati had to say. I wish my confidence in our students was more widely shared.

Speck # 6 The League of Democratic Women Voters

This is a report from a reliable source who attended the pre election meeting of Duluth’s League of Women Voters:

At one point a member got up and harangued the audience telling them that they had to go out and register voters to prevent a win by Donald Trump. Whether the candidate’s name was actually mentioned or not that was the obvious message. Not everyone was happy to have it put so bluntly.

The good old LWV ain’t what it was when I moved to Duluth in 1974. Back then it was a bipartisan group composed pretty equally of Democrats and Republicans. That began to change that year with Roe v. Wade. Two years earlier I went to a Minnesota State Republican convention that approved a “pro choice” plank in its platform. That soon changed as Republicans began to see a huge Catholic block that opposed abortion and as the party’s operatives began encouraging protestant preachers to oppose abortion. At first the protestants, soon to become the Moral Majority, opposed abortion because it made promiscuity consequence free. Saving “babies” was more of a Catholic thing initially. I’ve always thought that for southern Christians, still smarting from having northern Christians chide them for their racism, defending unborn babies gave them back some moral ground.

Over the next decade, as once solid Republican League members fell out of favor with the new pro-life Republican Party and all but disappeared taking their pro-choice views with them, the League became a mostly Democratic bastion in practice if not in principle. Its one more casualty of a divided nation. That doesn’t exactly excuse its local members playing partisan politics. BTW – They especially like to dabble in our local school board.

Speck # 3 a rumor of a threat against Trump

By now all of Duluth has heard of racist grafitti on our high school walls. Today a rumor got to me that the Ordean East Trophy case had a vague threat against Donald Trump placed on or in it. The rumor says it was there for a full day and that a parent took a picture of it and furthermore that the Duluth police and even the Secret Service came by to inspect it.

The log (or beam) Jesus talks about will tempt many partisans to only see the crimes of “the others” not those of their allies when people overreact to the consequences of this election.

A million dollars worth of damage attended the Anti Trump marches in Oregon. I found Black comedian Dave Chapelle’s comment about this noteworthy – “Amateurs.” If it was my storefront I’d be furious but it was pretty small potatoes however ugly. Four years after the post King assassination riots I took a bus through Baltimore and gawked at blocks worth of blackened storefronts behind metal bars. I know that every crowd attracts troublemakers and that all too often they are not anticipated before the crowd arranges itself. The crowd is both an attraction and a good hiding place for mayhem driven far more by mendacity than fury.

So the issue to consider in the case of the rumor, should it prove to be true will our District Administration be even handed in dealing with it……if it has or will raise its ugly head?

I suppose I could make calls to confirm this but to me the more important point is that we should not take sides. In fact, a threat to the president of the United States is a bigger deal than a racial epitaph.

Remember Johanna’s post-it notes.

Speck #2 Kids

What’s the matter with kids today? That was the question asked in the 50’s musical Bye Bye Birdie. After watching my generation’s reaction to the recent election I’d have to answer – Not much.

Before I left the School Board in 2004 Mary Cameron was clamoring for us to bring back student reps to Board meetings. I must tell you I didn’t discourage Mary but I thought the idea sort of silly. They couldn’t vote. They’d be board stiff. It looked like frosting.

After three years back on the Board I no longer have that opinion. Sure, They can’t vote. Yep, I imagine they are often board. But no. They are not frosting.

I talked briefly to Spencer Frederickson from East high and I was buttering him up by telling him how bright I’d found his predecessors. He said of them that Paul Manning was very political and Jude Goosens very articulate. I added that I saw in Spencer a person with a deep well of caring….or something to that effect. I wasn’t really buttering him up it was the truth.

This conversation took place after our student representative from Denfeld, my seatmate Johanna Unden, was lauded by the Superintendent for the video she shot and posted to Facebook in reaction to the hateful messages scrawled on the walls at Denfeld. The reaction? To have hundreds of students place post-it-notes all over Denfeld’s walls with positive messages written on them. This is how to fight the gremlins escaping from Pandora’s box and much better than pronouncements of “no tolerance” for hate.

Time and time again I’ve seen our students rise to all sorts of occasions. East Robotics students helping Denfeld’s lagging Robotic’s program. Students advocating for more counselors to help depressed kids organizing to make sure minorities were not left out. Working to make new Freshmen student feel welcome in strange new schools. They put the adults on the school board to shame by comparison.

I told Spencer how I remember the old days when Central students shouted unfriendly taunts at East “cake eaters” at Hockey games and how the East students responded with a cheer telling Central kids that their parents worked for the East kid’s parents.

Sorry for the false labeling of this post. There is no speck here. You will find them in the next few posts.

Seeing the Speck in their eyes

Confirmation bias has become a subject of great interest lately especially as it relates to the US Presidential election.

As a cerebral sort myself I want to roll my eyes when someone repeats as gospel something they prefer to believe rather than pick it apart to see if it really adds up. My Buddy would call this being “tribal.”

Jesus is quoted in the Bible on this point with a brilliant observation about people: Mathew 7:5

America won’t heal as long as people with a log in their eyes are only able to see the specks in the eyes of those they disagree with. My Dad, an anti papist if there ever was one, told me that the one thing he particularly admired about Catholicism was the act of confession. That’s not a very popular thing in Today’s America of self absorption. We prefer the ancient Egyptian’s approach to self criticsm. We write “books of the dead” to tell the gods how wonderful we have been so that the gods will let us into Heaven. The Egyptians thought they could sweet talk their gods into ignoring their less than noble qualities.

I’m not sure I’m much different. Like most Americans I can clearly see the specks in a lot of other people’s eyes. To help get the recent election results out of my system I need to write about a few of those specks.

Rank Vote

I don’t have a category for just “politics” or “elections” so I’ve lumped this post about Ranked Choice Voting under “hope” and “moderation.”

My Buddy has become a fan of Karl Schuettler’s blog “A Patient Cycle” and he sent me this link to Karl’s very sensible appraisal of the debate over ranked choice balloting. This is Karl’s last paragraph but the whole post is well worth a read for those still pondering the question.

From http://apatientcycle.com/ :

The shrill tenor of the debate and dismissal of critics as simpletons or bigots is especially ironic, given the claim that RCV is supposed to reduce negativity in campaigns. Somehow, RCV has become part of a religious cause; one that is incapable of self-reflection and above any criticism, and considers the cause more important than the deliberative democratic process it needs to go through to become reality. If only it were actually a cause worth fighting for.

Mondale lauds Reagan

From my Buddy:

http://millercenter.org/oralhistory/interview/walter_mondale:

Martin

I’m curious, as someone who has run for President and has served as Vice President, did your feelings about your average fellow citizen change as a result of these experiences?

Mondale

I told somebody afterwards that I think I would have voted for Reagan if I weren’t running, because he is a nice guy. He never was mean to me. I was never mean to him, and look at that campaign. It was a pleasant year, I think, for Americans. I think we ended up a united country, and so I could see why the average American liked the guy. They thought he was stable and good. They had a lot of memories about Carter and me that weren’t very good from the tough times we’d had, and that was a cloud over my campaign. Even though I could explain it, people don’t all hold doctorate degrees in political science and sort out this stuff. They have to deal with moods and feelings and tendencies, and he persuaded them that it was morning in America, feeling good, and it worked.

My Mom always told me you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Of course, no one ever censured her.

Please mark your calendars for the Karen Lynne Burmeister Show

I asked Loren Martell to file for the School Board seat in District 3. He warned me that he has some personal priorities which will severely limit his campaigning. First among those priorities is setting up a showing of his late wife, Karen Lynne Burmeister’s, art work. A long time teacher at Marshall School she succumbed to an aggressive cancer far too early leaving Loren alone.

This showing is an act of devotion to her memory to share Karen’s talent with the community.

In Loren’s final summing up column in the Duluth Reader he concluded with this information about the show:

*Personal note. Not everything in this world is hardball politics. My late wife, Karen Burmeister, was an art teacher and a very talented artist. I’m having a retrospective show of her artwork in the Duluth Art Institute. For those who don’t know, the Art Institute is in the old train depot on Michigan Street, just below the main library. The exhibit will run from Sept. 10 through Oct. 4. The opening reception will be held from 5pm to 7pm, Sept. 10. The whole town is invited.

Give Peace a Chance

I am a cat. If there is a closed door I keep hanging around it waiting for someone to open it. There are so many closed doors.

This post is a flight of fancy before the one I must write today which is coming up next. But, before I could steel myself to write the next one I tarried to listen to NPR’s morning edition. There are three news segments I will mention but I’ll save the one that has pushed me to the blog today for last. First up…..

I listened to Obama’s continuing interview with Steve Inskeep. He gave a subdued argument for the nuclear arms agreement that’s been fashioned with Iran. I’m in the minority that supports it. I tend to discount every criticism of it emanating from Republicans because from the beginning of his Presidency they have howled like wolves that he is the Antichrist. What he’s aiming at is what is so needed; some rapprochement between Sunni (Arab) and Shia (Persian) Islam.

I’ve mentioned a fantastic book that I’m 97% finished reading to Claudia, My Promised Land. (Kindle keeps track of where you are in a book by percents not pages). I selected it to read to Claudia in anticipation of our pilgrimage to Israel while taking a course on peace keeping.

The last chapter is a disappointment. Its far too much like some of my long winded rants in Lincolndemocrat. I did check to see what its’ author, who frets about a nuclear Iran, thought about Obama’s negotiations with Iran. Apparently he’s deeply skeptical of anyone’s being able to wrestle good sense out of the Ayatollahs. I disagree. I think a new generation of young people will change Iran for the better.

The next piece that heartened me was this remarkable story about North (yes I said North) Korean entrepreneurs. The millenial generation may change that Kafkaesque land. An old public service ad formed the basis for my continuing hopefullness:

When I was in grade school I saw this Voice of America Ad over and over on television. I had faith at a tender age that this ads’ contention that leaking western music and news behind the Iron Curtain would lead to the end of the Cold War. And that is almost exactly what happened. I believe that the same thing is now happening in North Korea. BTW I still love this song.

I suppose that this ad helps explain my confidence in free enterprise over the Cold War era closed economies. My Dad was always convinced that communism would fall of its own accord. I think more broadly that given the siren song of freedom most autocracies will fall as new generations tired of the same old – same old strike out to escape the mental fence imposed on them. I’ve always been sorry that the Berlin Wall fell just after my Dad died because his faith predicted it.

And that leads me to the final story about the book written by Elizabeth Alexander in memory of her husband a refugee from Ethopia’s Eritrea. Her husband of 16 years survived the war that my high school roommate Bedru Beshir most likely did not live to see. It was actually part of a succession of wars the first described in the book Surrender or Starve. It led eventually to the liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopia and then to a never ending war between the two nations which still sputters on.

The thing about the story that caught my ear was Alexander’s description of her husband who had endured years of hell. He was light hearted, cheerful and optimistic. We were told before Bedru arrived at our home in 1968 that Ethiopians were taciturn severe and no nonsense. In some respects this was true of Bedru but I have to wonder now if that wasn’t more a result of growing up in a repressive society which would exact terrible penalties on those who would not conform to its strictures. I suspect Bedru died in prison.

When he arrived I took what I knew of Ethiopia and projected it onto him enthusing about his Emperor, Haile Selasie. Bedru reacted to my enthusiasm rather awkwardly. I’d learned that the Emperor was regarded as a hero by the West for his brave, futile defense of Ethiopia in the 1930’s when Hitler’s ally Mussolini invaded it. Little did I know that Selassie’s regime got hold of Italy’s old province Eritrea after World War II and ruled it as gently as Mussolini had ruled them. Eritrea was largely Muslim while Ethiopia was largely Coptic Christian. Bedru was a Muslim. His treatment upon his return has always been a powerful lesson to me about how the world should not work.

When Bedru came to the US he was proud to show us pictures of Eritrea’s great city Asmara. Ms. Alexander’s husband was a resident of Asmara.

Bedru could speak five languages Trigianian, His native language with something like a 275 letter alphabet, Amharic, Arabic, English and Italian. Its a pity that so many nations waste talented people just to hang on to power.

No Lance Armstrong

And thank goodness.

What is happening here? The Spanish runner who is behind refuses to overtake the African runner who thought he had crossed the finish line and slowed up not seeing the real finish.

Just when you think utopian Christians…

will never get a clue by deluding themselves that they can cure homosexuality.

Others are opening their eyes and seeing that their strident call for chastity is not very practical:

80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex – slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults…the article also asks a question that rarely comes up in discussions about abstinence movement. Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years. Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 – or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

Borrrrrrring! I endorse this.

I was sent a link to this homily with the advice that if it looked too boring I should just read the last four paragraphs. That’s what I did. Here is the whole piece which I skipped. Here are the last four paragraphs:

Isaac Bashevis Singer once told an interviewer that the purpose of art was to eliminate boredom, at least temporarily, for he held that boredom was the natural condition of men and women. Not artists alone but vast industries have long been at work to eliminate boredom permanently. Think of 24-hour-a-day cable television. Think of Steve Jobs, one of the current heroes of contemporary culture, who may be a genius, and just possibly an evil genius. With his ever more sophisticated iPhones and iPads, he is aiding people to distract themselves from boredom and allowing them to live nearly full-time in a world of games and information and communication with no time out for thought.

In 1989 Joseph Brodsky gave a commencement address at Dartmouth College on the subject of boredom that has a higher truth quotient than any such address I have ever heard (or, for that matter, have myself given). Brodsky told the 1,100 Dartmouth graduates that, although they may have had some splendid samples of boredom supplied by their teachers, these would be as nothing compared with what awaits them in the years ahead. Neither originality nor inventiveness on their part will suffice to defeat the endless repetition that life will serve up to them, as it has served up to us all. Evading boredom, he pointed out, is a full-time job, entailing endless change of jobs, geography, wives and lovers, interests and in the end a self-defeating one. Brodksy therefore advises: “When hit by boredom, go for it. Let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom.”

The lesson boredom teaches, according to Brodsky, is that of one’s own insignificance, an insignificance brought about by one’s own finitude. We are all here a short while, and then, poof, gone and, sooner or later, usually sooner, forgotten. Boredom “puts your existence into perspective, the net result of which is precision and humility.” Brodsky advised the students to try “to stay passionate, ”for passion, whatever its object, is the closest thing to a remedy for boredom. But about one’s insignificance boredom does not deceive. Brodsky, who served 18 months of hard labor in the Soviet Union and had to have known what true boredom is, closes by telling the students that “if you find this gloomy, you don’t know what gloom is.”

“Boredom,” as Peter Toohey writes, “is a normal, useful, and incredibly common part of human experience.” Boredom is also part of the human condition, always has been, and, if we are lucky, always will be.

Live with it.