Photos from the Sunnywood Estates 4th of July Parade, Tucson, Arizona:
As you can see, we’re in our annual monsoon season … the overcast greatly reduced the temperature (if not the humidity), and it was pleasant outside. Of course the parade was at nine in the morning. Any later and it would have been too hot, overcast or not.
After the parade we all walked over to a neighbor’s home for a potluck brunch. We hosted a few years ago and I suppose our turn’s coming round again. There are 33 homes in the neighborhood, but about half the residents don’t participate, and of those remaining not all are able to host neighborhood gatherings: some of our elderly neighbors are no longer up to it; others go away for the summer; a few are probably grinches (but you didn’t hear that from me). Still … how many of us live in neighborhoods where there are enough motivated residents to organize events like this? We think we’re very lucky to live here with such a bunch of great people.
It is indeed a glorious fourth!
It’s day five of a painful sore throat, the kind where 1) you dread having to swallow and 2) you have to swallow constantly. I stopped at the corner CVS yesterday to get something for it, and, since there wasn’t anyone in line, visited the “minute clinic.” The five-minute strep test was negative; the PA said I probably have allergies. I walked out with Flonase and Claritin. Still too soon to tell if they’re helping. Gargling with salt water, drinking tea with honey, all the standard home remedies.
These drug store minute clinics are pretty cool. In and out in no time; insurance picks up the tab. I suppose urgent care clinics have their place, but my memories of those places are all negative: waiting for hours to be seen, surrounded by crying babies and coughing adults. But maybe I was lucky with the minute clinic. Maybe there’s normally a line. Still, I think drug store clinics, manned by physician assistants, are a great response to our medical needs. Would we have minute clinics without Obamacare? I suspect not.
I’m trying to reprogram an old GPS navigation device our daughter gave us. I bought a Garmin for the new truck. It came with online support: new maps and databases whenever I want to download them. This older one, which I want to set up in Donna’s car, doesn’t seem to be supported any more. It’s a Mio, a brand I never heard of (Polly, when she gave it to us, said it was a TomTom, and maybe Mios and TomToms are the same thing). In any case, online support is nonexistent, so Donna will be driving around with outdated maps. If money happens to fall from the sky, I’ll buy her a new Garmin.
We plan to get a new trailer for the motorcycle, probably an enclosed one, which we’ll have to keep in the open area alongside the house. The neighborhood association didn’t like it when I parked our old motorcycle trailer there … they didn’t like our wood and rock piles either, or the garbage cans … so we’re thinking about building an RV gate beside the house to hide the open area. Donna thinks it’ll be cheap. I think otherwise.
Grandson Quentin is coming for his annual visit this Friday. Donna has him signed up for a week-long robotics camp at the U of A, so apart from the coming weekend he’ll be busy every day of his visit. Granddaughter Taylor, meanwhile, has moved back to Las Vegas from Seattle. She’s living at home and planning to relaunch her college career at UNLV. The kids — Quentin & Taylor’s mom and dad — aren’t coming to Tucson this summer, so we probably won’t see them until Thanksgiving (I can’t remember if we’re going there or they’re coming here).
I DVR’d the season three opening episode of Under the Dome, and good lord it was horrible. I don’t know what we’d do without Netflix and Amazon streaming TV … there is nothing worth watching on regular TV.
Please forgive me, I’m grumpy with this sore throat. More bloggage when I’m feeling better.
You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.
A rainbow of books to commemorate the historic Supreme Court of the United States ruling on same-sex marriage
Well, two steps forward, one step back: in spite of the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, books with LGBT themes and characters are still widely challenged. Here’s an interesting article about ongoing parental challenges and “vigilante censorship” in Vermont schools.
It’s not just Vermont, nor is it just high school: an undergraduate in Yucaipa, California has complained to college administrators that four graphic novels taught in an English course are pornographic and violent. Two of the four graphic novels, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, contain depictions of transexuals and lesbians. I haven’t read the other two, but wouldn’t be surprised if they touched upon non-traditional sexuality as well.
This month, parents and conservative activists went after the Hays, Kansas public library for setting up a display of of books to commemorate LGBT Pride Month.
An elementary school teacher and an assistant principal in Chapel Hill, North Carolina have resigned after parental protests over the classroom reading of a gay fable written for children. The teacher read the story to his class after some of his third-graders began to bully a student they perceived to be gay.
A Los Angeles, California high school teacher has been suspended for reading a passage from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to his class. The offending passage included this: “The duke and the king worked hard all day, setting up a stage and curtain and row of candles for footlights. … At last, when he’d built up everyone’s expectations high enough, he rolled up the curtain. The next minute the king came prancing out on all fours, naked. He was painted in rings and stripes all over in all sorts of colors and looked as splendid as a rainbow.” I don’t know what’s LGBT about that, unless the objecting parents are keying on the words “naked” and “rainbow.”
But then there’s this, a giant and wholly unnecessary step backwards: a high school English teacher in South Windsor, Connecticut was fired after showing his class a video of Alan Ginsberg reading his poem Please Master. Before we get all het up, perhaps we should read the poem ourselves. I did, and all I can say is this: “Teach, what the fuck were you thinking?”
Meanwhile, in non-LGBT book banning news:
A North Carolina challenge to the inclusion of The Kite Runner on a high school honors English class reading list exposes an emerging conservative strategy: 1) pass laws requiring teaching abstinence as the primary way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; 2) interpret those laws to mean schools can teach abstinence only; 3) challenge books you disapprove of by claiming that since sex in any form other than abstinence can’t be mentioned in class, teachers can’t assign books that mention sex. Coming soon to school districts near you, you just watch.
Yet another elementary school teacher has been fired, not for reading LGBT fables or assigning books that have dirty parts, but for mentioning Sandy Hook to students who asked why they had to participate in safety drills. I can extrapolate from this that books with anti-mass shooting and/or gun control themes will soon be on conservatives’ book banning lists.
After all this, we need some good news:
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho parents’ challenge to the inclusion of Steinbeck’s 1937 novella Of Mice and Men on a ninth-grade reading list has been rejected by the school board.
An Albany, New York parent protested that the “level of violence and explicitly sexual passages” made Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale “unacceptable as a high school reading assignment.” Happily, the school review committee disagreed and the highly-regarded novel will remain on the AP English class reading list.
James Comey, the director of the FBI, says the murder of nine African-American churchgoers at a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, is not terrorism. His reasoning?
Terrorism is act of violence done or threatens to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry so it’s more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don’t see it as a political act.
Ahem. Didn’t the killer tell investigators he wanted to start a race war? Is that not an attempt to influence the public? Is that not a political act?
When it comes to Al Qaeda, haven’t we been told, over and over, that the political purpose behind their terrorism is to provoke the West into a religious war where the ultimate winner would be Islam?
My guess as to what the Charleston killer meant when he said he wanted to start a race war was that by killing those black churchgoers he hoped to provoke African-Americans into arming and defending themselves, perhaps even to seek vengeance against racist whites, thereby creating an armed conflict between blacks and whites, a race war which ultimately would be won by whites.
How is that different from Al Qaeda? How is that not political?
I would have expected the FBI director to say something more along the lines of “Well, the killer acted alone and wasn’t part of any terrorist group; therefore what he did was a hate crime, not terrorism.”
Yeah, but … if an ISIS- or Al Qaeda-inspired “lone wolf” shot some of our countrymen dead, we’d absolutely call it terrorism. The killer might not be a card-carrying member of a terrorist group, might never have had contact with members of a terrorist group; nevertheless, we’d say he’d been radicalized by that terrorist group and had carried out the attack in their name.
The Charleston killer, we’re now hearing, was radicalized by white racist groups with clear political objectives, in particular the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to the White Citizens Councils that fought integration across the South during the civil rights battles of the 1960s. The CCC is dead-ass racist and segregationist, and many deep-South politicians are members or supporters. It’s not a stretch to say the CCC is the KKK minus the robes and burning crosses.
I’m left with the inescapable conclusion that, as far as conservative political leaders and even the “liberal” media are concerned, it’s not terrorism if a white American does it.
This would be a good place to insert Martin Luther King’s remark about the arc of the moral universe. You know, to counter these dark thoughts about the intractable nature of racism in the USA. Instead, I’m going to insert some remarks from President’s Obama’s speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery freedom marches:
We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress, this hard-won progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.
Yes, things are better. A lot better. But the CCC and KKK are still with us, and there are plenty of radicalized young white supremacists … potential terrorists all … out there. So yeah, celebrate the two steps forward, but don’t gloss over the inevitable one step back.