Political Statement–November 8, 2020   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the United States of America

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I, as one trained in historical methodology, prefer to think, speak, and write in the past tenses.  This tendency spills over into the rest of my life.  Therefore, when thinking, speaking, and writing of an episode of a completed series, for example, I do so from the perspective of one looking at the past.  I also place that episode in context of that series, for context is key to interpretation.  I know this from my historical training.  This is how I think, speak, and write.  To expect me to do otherwise is to expect me to be someone other than myself.

Many people have attempted to transform me into someone other than myself.  All of them have failed.  They have not transformed me into a fundamentalist, a social-cultural historian, or anything else I find repugnant.  I have maintained my integrity as myself, sometimes at a high cost.  I have decided to accept the advice (ironic within the context of Hamlet),

This above all:  to thine own self be true

And it must follow, as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I have long been reluctant to issue statements about unfolding events.  I have wanted to watch them play out before commenting on them.  I have had opinions, of course.  I have “cussed and discussed” in private.  And I have kept almost all of that between God and myself.

Today, however, I am ready to make the following statements, in no particular order:

  1. I continue to reject debunked conspiracy theories and those who peddle them.  I reject the vast majority of conspiracy theories anyway.  I prefer Ockham’s Razor and have a healthy respect for objective reality.
  2. I reject politicians and pundits (especially Donald Trump and cultists thereof) who lie at least every other time they speak or tweet.
  3. Donald Trump and cultists thereof are menaces to the republic.
  4. Counting votes cast within the scope of the law is crucial to the democratic system.  Doing so is not a threat to that system.  If counting votes in a state in which one’s preferred candidate is winning is okay, so should counting votes in a state in which one’s preferred candidate is losing.
  5. Presidents of the United States of America come and go.  The United States of America persists.
  6. Nobody who uses totalitarian language and tactics (certainly not routinely) is worthy to be the President of the United States of America.
  7. Remember that members of the United States military swear loyalty to the Constitution, not the President, of the United States of America.
  8. As many leading Republicans lament, voter suppression has become a major tactic within that party.  Whenever a political party’s base keeps shrinking, that party’s responsible path forward, for the sake of the country, is to broaden its base, not seek to decrease the number of voters.
  9. The United States of America will be stronger when both major parties accept objective reality, including science, such as that of climate change and COVID-19.
  10. People are entitled to their own opinions, but never to their own facts.  Objective reality is what it is.
  11. The United States of America should have a finely-honed election infrastructure.
  12. Given the Electoral College and the state (Georgia) in which I reside, my vote may count this year–for the only time since 1992, my first Presidential election.
  13. I support the abolition of the Electoral College.  Every vote should count.  I grant that this is easy for me to write, given that the Democratic Presidential nominee has won the popular vote in every election from 1992 to 2020, except for 2004.  I also note that the Democratic Presidential nominee lost the election in 2000 and 2016.  Furthermore, I acknowledge that John Kerry would have become President, despite coming in second place in the popular vote count, in 2005 if he had carried Ohio in 2004.  I try to avoid hypocrisy.  “Every vote should count” is a mater of principle for me.
  14. Bigotry should have no place in electoral politics.  It does, unfortunately.
  15. I have spent most of the last four years tuning out the news most of the time.  My refuges have included cat videos, Bible studies, hagiographies, and science fiction.  I have tuned out most of the news to preserve my spiritual and emotional health.  I may pay more attention to the news on a regular basis soon, if the political atmosphere becomes less toxic.
  16. I stand by every statement I have made about Donald Trump on this and other weblogs I maintain.
  17. I anticipate the administration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.  I do not envy them, however.  They have their work cut out for them.
  18. This country and the world will suffer from the effects of the Trump Administration for a very long time.
  19. Whenever a political party becomes indistinguishable from a religious cult, something has gone terribly wrong.
  20. I, as a matter of principle, refrain from participating in a political cult.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Enough, Already!   Leave a comment

I am tired of political advertisements.

My eyes usually glaze over and I tend to start humming, “la, dee, da,” to myself when I see or hear an advertisement.  I skip past them in podcasts, too.  I am a person.  I am a human being.  I am not on this planet to consume any given product someone is advertising.  I do not exist solely to keep corporations profitable by purchasing their wares and services.  Advertising is frequently dehumanizing.

I have managed to avoid many political advertisements by not watching television.  I cut the cord more than a decade ago, so avoiding cable and satellite television has become part of my lifestyle.  And I dropped out of Facebook about four years ago.  I have also promptly added political mail to my recycling bin.

That leaves YouTube.  I skip advertisements on YouTube whenever I can.  Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

I have an appointment to record a podcast on episodes 21 and 22 of Starhunter Redux tonight.  Yes, I have also watched these episodes many times and written blog posts about them.  I also like to discuss an episode or episodes when it is/they are fresh in my mind.  At lunch time today, I started watching episode 21, Travis (Redux) on YouTube.  (These episodes are available for free at the Sci-Fi Central channel.)  I had to watch a political advertisement before the episode started.  I had to watch a second political advertisement before the opening credits sequence ended.  Then I had to watch a third political advertisement before the first scene after the opening credits concluded.  I closed my browser, switched to the computer to which I had downloaded the episode, and started watching the episode minus advertisements.

Victory!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Blogging Update   Leave a comment

Above:  My Desk, October 24, 2020

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SUNDRY THOUGHTS is one of seven weblogs I maintain.

Especially attentive readers of this weblog may know that I most recently added a saint here on July 9.  Perhaps some of them wonder what I have been up to vis-à-vis blogging.

I have spent most of my blogging time at BLOGA THEOLOGICA recently.   I have been taking a deep dive into the Old Testament at that weblog.

I also refer you, O reader, to ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONSADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS will become current at the end of November.

Be well!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted October 24, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

One Year After Bonny’s Death   2 comments

Above:  Bonny Thomas

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BONNY MARIE OGLESBY THOMAS

(JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019)

My dearest Bonny,

may you have found 

the peace and wholeness

that eluded you on this side of the veil.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted October 14, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Bonny Thomas (1965-2019)

Tagged with ,

A Man Without Malice   2 comments

Above:  The Flag of Canada

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

REST IN PEACE, JOHN TURNER.

John Turner (1929-2020) did this weekend.  He was an attorney, a cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (1984-1990), the Prime Minister of Canada (1984), and the leader of the opposition (1984-1990).  Turner was a dedicated public servant and a devout Roman Catholic.  He understood the difference between the personal and the political.  Turner stood by his principles without demonizing those who disagreed with him.

Tributes have come from across the political spectrum.  Some of the kindest words have been those of a longtime friend and political opponent, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who defeated Turner in the federal elections of 1984 and 1988.  According to Mulroney, Turner eschewed the politics of personal destruction.  Also, as Mulroney recalled, Turner had no malice toward anyone.  Mulroney had plenty of policy disagreements with Turner, whom he always respected and admired.  And Turner carried himself with dignity in public and private life.

That lack of malice was a great personal and political virtue.

I live in a politically polarized society in which malice is ubiquitous.  Many politicians demonstrate malice daily.  Many of their supporters (a host of them conventionally pious) applaud them for their malice.  We need more simple decency in political life.  We can start by demanding it of politicians for whom we vote.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted September 20, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2020

Tagged with , ,

Vote Suppression   Leave a comment

Above:  The Gerrymander

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Vote suppression is wrong in all circumstances.  When a political party seeks to boost its electoral odds to suppressing votes, it damages the structure of the republic.  Such a party deserves scorn for doing so.

I know enough about United States history to list vote suppression efforts since the earliest days of the republic.

  1. Gerrymandering (a practice older than the label) dates to at least 1788, when Patrick Henry of Virginia tried to draw Congressional district lines to deny James Madison a seat.  The germane historical records tell us Madison won the seat anyway.  The term derives from Elbridge Gerry, the Governor of Massachusetts, who presided over the redrawing of district lines in 1812 to favor his (Jeffersonian) Republican Party.  A famous political cartoon from the time depicts a district the shape of which resembles a salamander.  Gerrymandering entails politicians choosing the voters, not the voters selecting the politicians.  The practice suppresses votes by making voting futile for many potential voters.  Many may choose not to vote because there is no point in doing so.  In 2020, too few Congressional districts are politically competitive.  Some politically secure seats exist apart from gerrymandering, of course.  However, many exist only because of the practice.
  2. The annals of the John Adams Administration (1797-1801) document the Naturalization Act of 1798, which made the minimum period of time to naturalize fourteen years, as opposed to the previous standard of five years.  When one examines the politics of the late 1790s, one realizes that the Federalist Party was trying to maintain its grip on power.  One may also understand that the targeted immigrants were Irish, therefore anti-British.  Perhaps one recalls that the Federalist Party, with its pro-British foreign policy, was unlikely to receive the votes of naturalized Irish-American immigrant men, who tended to favor the (Jeffersonian) Republican Party.  The historical record also tells us that the Naturalization Act of 1798 backfired on the Federalist Party when immigrants hastened to complete their naturalization process than voted (Jeffersonian) Republican enthusiastically.
  3. The Democratic Party committed vote suppression in the post-Civil War South in the name of restoring and maintaining white supremacy.  Methods of vote suppression for nearly a century included lynchings, other forms of violence, informal social pressure, poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and literacy tests.  Literacy tests varied widely, from having to read Latin to guessing how many jelly beans were in a jar.  In Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1890s, voting officials used a literacy test to prevent the brilliant W. E. B. DuBois, a professor at Atlanta University, from registering to vote.  DuBois was literate, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
  4. The Republican Party has been committing vote suppression lately.  Some party officials have even candidly admitted this, without apology.  Their efforts have often had a racist edge, given the rate at which African Americans vote for Democratic candidates.  Since the Republican Party launched its Southern Strategy in the 1960s and began to appeal to White Southern racists, some portion of that party has maintained the Southern Strategy.  Donald Trump has made no secret of his racism.  His dog whistles have been so loud that one does not need canine ears to hear them.  And he has called neo-Nazis “very fine people.”
  5. Voting by mail is safe.  Trump, one who has voted via mail, is lying about it being untrustworthy.  I recall having voted absentee–by mail–more than once.  Some states have much experience conducting elections entirely via mail.  Actually, I prefer voting by mail.  I recall that, earlier this year, I sat down with my ballot, looked up candidates, and marked my ballot.  I also remember that, more than once, I wrote in “None of the above,” even in uncontested races.
  6. No political party has a monopoly on vote suppression.  No major political party in the United States has a clean record regarding opposing this practice.

I hesitate to apply “sacred” to secular institutions, such as the republic.  However, some principles come close to being sacred.  Among these principles are these:

  1. Any political party that has difficulty appealing to voters should seek methods of appealing to them without betraying the highest ideals of human equality.
  2. In a republic, governments should facilitate voting by citizens, not discourage it.

Here I stand.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fifteen Years in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I grew up moving with my family every two years, on average.  Since 2005, however, I have lived in Athens-Clarke County.  I have recently acquired my third address within Athens-Clarke County.  I have put down roots.

I moved to Athens-Clarke County on Tuesday, August 9, 2005.  I was about to start a doctoral program in history at The University of Georgia.  My major professor cut me from the program in the Fall Semester of 2006.  This action was unjust.  I was neither the first nor the last graduate student to run afoul of a misanthropic major professor.  I remained in Athens, though, and build a new life.

I have been active in St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church since August 2005.  As time has passed, I have become more active, in different ways.  People have come to think of me whenever a task needs an organized person to complete it.  I have, therefore, come to lead the lectors and the money counters, to choose movies for a film series, and to teach a Sunday School class.  That class has moved to Zoom on Thursday evenings since the pandemic started.

My life has been in a drawn-out transitional state since Bonny died on October 14, 2019.  Her death drew boldfaced double lines through my life, with “before” on one side and “after” on the other.  Parts of my life have fallen away.  I have not regretted the departure of most of them.  I have been in a stage of simplification, reorientation, reevaluation, and rebirth.  The process has not ended.

I wonder what I will become.

I still hope for a new, professional relationship to The University of Georgia (UGA).  I bear the university no ill will.  I also recognize that I am the kind of person who can fit in there, if only someone will answer one of my applications for full-time employment there affirmatively.  I have no relationship to UGA, as of today.  Whether that status will change depends mostly on others.  A university or college campus is my natural habitat.  UGA offers an inviting habitat with many opportunities to put skills and talents to productive use.

2020 has been a terrible year, mainly because of the pandemic.  2019 had been my worst year to date before COVID-19 started spreading as far and wide as it has been doing.

Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that I will be alive and well a year from now, I wonder what my life and the world will be like.  I pray that the answer will be “much better.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging   4 comments

Above:  Lambda, the Eleventh Letter of the Greek Alphabet

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I created SUNDRY THOUGHTS on July 27, 2009.  In time, I spun off seven weblogs from it.

Much has changed since my tenth anniversary of blogging.

  1. I have completed and published lectionary-based devotions for dates through the end of church year 2020-2021.
  2. I have spun PUNS BLOG back into SUNDRY THOUGHTS.
  3. I have added more saints to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.
  4. I have written the episode guide for seasons one and two of Starhunter Redux.
  5. I have written perhaps the definitive episode guide for The Chronicle:  News from the Edge (2001-2002).
  6. I have openly grieved for Bonny Thomas (1965-2019), whose death has forever altered my life.

One does hope to improve with experience.  My recent blog posts are of a generally higher quality than my earliest ones were.  Most of my earliest blog posts no longer exist, nor should they.  When I read an old blog post and think,

I can do better than that,

I may delete that post and seek to do better.

I plans for more blogging.

  1. I intend to return to lectionary-based devotions eventually, of course.
  2. I plan to revise and update A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days off-and-on until I can no longer do so.
  3. I have plans for blogging at BLOGA THEOLOGICAI intend to blog my way through 2 Kings 22-25, 1 Esdras, 2 Chronicles 34-36, Ezra, and Nehemiah, with a portion of Sirach 49 included, in one project.  The spreadsheet for that project constitutes evidence of my detail-oriented nature.  I also plan to blog my way through 3 Maccabees, with a portion of Sirach 50 incorporated into that project.  Furthermore, I plan to blog my way through 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees, with a portion of Sirach 45 included in that project.  The spreadsheet for that project is also ready.  The first and third projects entail parallel passages.  And, given that strict adherence to chronology is not the organizing principle of Ezra and Nehemiah, I will read those books out of chapter-and-verse order.

I have read all 78 book of the Russian Orthodox canon of scripture.  However, I did that more years ago than some of my former students have been alive.  Reading some of these texts again has, therefore, been like reading them for the first time.

Blogging is a hobby and an outlet.  We should all be cautious what we reveal on the internet, which retains everything.  Stories of people fired because of posts on social media outlets abound.  My use of social media is limited.  I belong to my Nextdoor Digest group, for example.  My major contributions to it are helpful hints in response to other members’ questions.  I know I probably will not get into trouble for answering a neighbor’s request for information about which local thrift stores send out trucks to pick up furniture.  Likewise, I know that my weblogs are public.  I hope they edify others at best.  May other posts be merely harmless, perhaps amusing.  Calling a spade a spade, so to speak, is fine; I will not excuse the inexcusable.  However, I seek to call spades what they are without publishing content I should not publish.  And I feel no obligation to express most of my thoughts.

When 2020 began, I had high hopes for it.  So much for most of those!  We may yet save our republic from internal threats to the Constitution of the United States of America–and from one–Donald Trump–in particular.  The Constitution allows for elections, after all.  And we will eventually get through the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.  We will do so sooner if we, as a people, act responsibly.

2020 may yet have a relatively positive end.  We, as a people, must accept our obligations to and for each other, though.  Mutuality must override individualism in the context of a public health emergency.  I do not like wearing a mask in public, but I do so.  This is about what I need to do, not what I want to do.  This is about what I have a moral obligation to do, not what I want to do in an ideal circumstance.

Next year, I hope to write about my twelfth anniversary as a blogger under much improved circumstances.

Be safe and well, O reader.  Take care of your neighbors and, therefore, of yourself.

Peace!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Detergents   Leave a comment

Opposition to puns should never deter gents from telling jokes about clothes washers.  No, these punny men should maintain their commitment to clean humor, no matter how others spin the witticisms.

Anti-Intellectualism and Right-Wing Populism   1 comment

Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Damn Lies

Stephen Colbert, during his years of hosting The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spoke, in the character of a composite of most of the on-air talent at the FOX News Channel of “truthiness,” defined as

the quality or seeming or feeling true, even when being false.

“Truthiness” is the quality of anti-intellectualism, of the distrust of expertise and reference works.  Objective reality, the character of Stephen Colbert said on October 17, 2005, is

all fact and no heart.

The television persona of Colbert rejected objective reality.

Objectively, surveys revealed that more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals did not get the joke.  More self-described conservatives than self-described liberals failed to realize that Colbert was playing a character.

That which Colbert said in political satire has become the governing strategy of the Trump Administration.  One may recall that, in early 2017, Kellyanne Conway used a now-infamous term:

alternative facts.

Her boss is a proponent and purveyor of alternative facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and what Samuel L. Clemens called

damn lies.

Anti-intellectualism is a political and religious tradition in the United States and elsewhere.  (Traditions are, by definition, old, so I choose not to call anti-intellectualism an “old tradition.”)    Related to anti-intellectualism is another tradition, distrust of science.  I trust science and consider myself an intellectual, of course.  Another cousin, so to speak, is the distrust of expertise.  I like experts, people who have read, studied, researched, et cetera.  They are well-informed, by definition.  I do not pretend that they are infallible, but I trust them before I trust an uninformed person on the street.  If that makes me an elitist, so be it.

Right-wing populism embraces truthiness and alternative facts as it rejects intellectualism, expertise, and science.  This tendency is proving deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing should NOT be controversial, but they are.  The Coronavirus will not vanish one day, magically.  No, it will remain with us for a very long time.  The Bubonic Plague still exists, but how often does it become a news story?  COVID-19 will eventually join the ranks of generally contained diseases that break out here and there, now and again, with limited effects.  We will get to that day sooner rather than later by acting responsibly, both collectively and individually, and by trusting that people who study this disease know more about it than people who do not.

Unfortunately, as human psychology proves, ego defense mechanisms are generally impervious to objective reality.  The least effective way to convince one to change one’s mind may be to present objective information, especially if one’s ego is invested in an erroneous belief.  Consider opposition to vaccination, O reader.  I understand why, centuries ago, when vaccination was new, that many people feared it.  However, given that vaccination has proven effective, fear of it is irrational and contrary to objective reality.

Aside:  I report that the worst reaction I had to an immunization was the exception to the rule.  My standard reaction is none, except for momentary discomfort; I despise needles.  I recall, however, that I passed out momentarily once.  On the other hand, I got a piece of chocolate, so I cannot complain.

This pandemic presents people with a choice:  Behave responsibly and reject misinformation or embrace conspiracy theories and racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and objectively false statements and those who peddle them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++