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“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn

Paris was a lifelong dream fulfilled at a juncture in my life wanting a rebirth in cultural experience. Earlier in my career I worked in an American embassy which allowed me to appreciate the diversity in human relationships. That my lovely 20-year old granddaughter, Jessie wanted to go with me made it even more special.  We are 1/2 century apart in age, but the magic of this place spoke to both of us in the common languages of romance, love, cuisine, art and architecture.

 

 

 

We completed a wealth of research, so we could make the best of our time.  Jessie was busy checking out the university area and shopping areas and museums in the art district.  I was making reservations for all of the touristy monuments and restaurants.  When we compared lists, we noticed that we both had culinary experiences at the top. Spending a part of each day in outdoor cafes was a necessity.   Jessie speaks French which made it much easier to order food that we really meant to enjoy.  My dinner of beef tartare and escargot with a cheese platter for dessert was intentional and amazing.

 

I was already making plans to visit the Claude Monet’s Gardens.  Sitting in the same place where he painted his water lilies, gave me chills.  There must be hundreds of kinds of flowers in his gardens.  They permeate all of your senses. The colors and smells were exquisite.

From there onto the Palace at Versailles.  After touring the inside all Jessie could say was “well, that was tacky.”  Those three Louis boys certainly did know how to gild a lily.

 

 

The day we spent in Brussels was gastric heaven. We found the best Belgian Waffle ever and went in more chocolate shops than I am willing to admit.  We got most of our chocolate at Mary’s Chocolatier.  They also supply all of the chocolate to the king and queen. Somehow we were able to translate that into having had dessert with the royal family.  It takes only a little imagination.

Walking on cobblestone streets and crossing the Seine on the lovers bridge decorated with locks from newly engaged or married couples, eating lemon sorbet or crepes from street vendors, having to choose which pastry shop to get our breakfast from each morning were delightful. Seeing the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower or walking under the arches are things I’ve only envisioned from afar

Watching Jessie shop in the designer shops giggling as she tried on thousand-dollar dresses to the small boutiques and everything in between kept me laughing.

And walking around in the Louvre for nearly a day saving the viewing of the Mona Lisa for last.  This was nearly a religious pilgrimage.  There was an immediate hush as we entered the room where she resides.  I cried. But then I cry easily in the presence of extraordinary works of art.

Jessie and I both hope to return. She wants to study a semester abroad and I just want to be there soaking up the timeless beauty of centuries past and the culture of this beautiful magical city. As I walked down the avenues I could sense the centuries past, the artist, writers, musicians and scholars from around the globe walking the street and taking in the splendor.

Indeed, Paris is always a good idea.

*A romantic traveler

White House Interpreter: The Art of Interpretation by Henry Obst (2010)

The author was an interpreter for seven presidents. In this very accessible read he covers five of them. The importance of this work is gaining ground considering recent foreign policy events, conferences, summits and public and private meetings between leaders and other officials of different countries, where the interpreter (of spoken words) as opposed to a translator (of written words) has become increasingly significant in a world of purposeful misinformation and disinformation.

The interpreter, much like a lawyer, requires the strictest of confidences. In past practice while Obst served as an interpreter, unlike the current president, most past presidents  included other high officials at meetings between leaders of countries to insure accuracy of interpretation at the meetings, events and conferences.

Mistakes in interpretation occur even among the best of interpreters. To become an interpreter requires excellent language skills, a superb memory, general and specific knowledge of diverse subject matter and the ability to accurately interpret the substance of the communications along with the details.

The author covers Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. While with the president the interpreter has to pay attention to the smallest of details from body posture, facial expressions, the context of a word spoken, if a chair person removes a headphone and so forth. The interpreter does not translate verbatim, like a translator would, but takes notes to the degree that he or she refers to them for reference. The interpreter has to “absorb enormous amounts of useful information.” Humor, concentration, language skills and a deep understanding of social and historical constructs, foreign policy and high technologies is exceedingly important.

This work is a useful reference source and draws attention to the need for academia to offer more coursework in the field of interpreting. It moves beyond language itself and involves understanding diverse cultures and how we communicate with each other on all levels of society and not just from a presidential perspective.

Americans have been denied the healing effects of cannabis since Harry Anslinger, former head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1931 – 1962, pushed through legislation that was designed in secrecy and deception for 2 years.  The result was the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act that made hemp and marijuana illegal for any use.  Most historians know that Anslinger’s actions were at the request of Randolph Hearst ( how do you like or respond to that, Jann Wenner) and Dupont petrochemicals. Hearst owned millions of acres of forest that supplied paper for his newspaper empire.  Hearst knew that his land would be found out to be worthless unless he could find some other way to make high quality paper, cheaper, by using the wood pulp from the trees of these plush lands, destroying our natural resources.

A new machine had been invented to easily strip fiber from hemp to create paper and was proving to be successful.  Dupont had a similar reason.  The fiber from the hemp plant was of greater quality to a new nylon fiber that Dupont was creating.  The same fiber was more cost-effective than what Dupont had created.   From this greed, both Hearst and Dupont needed to stop the threat that cannabis could provide.  Anslinger and others utilized their own strategy from the newspapers of Randolph Hearst and convinced Congress and the American people who there were dangers lurking in the usage of cannabis and found a new name for the cannabis & hemp plant by calling it “marijuana” which is the Spanish slang for cannabis.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Pharmaceutical industries testified against the Tax Act because cannabis was already known to have many medical benefits with no known side effects.  Dr. William Woodward, both a physician and attorney for the AMA, testified on their behalf.  He said “This law is ignorant, and can possibly deny the world of a wonderful medicine, especially now that the medical world was just beginning to discover which ingredients in cannabis were active.”  Woodward also testified that the only reason the AMA had not come out sooner against this legislation was that they had not been made aware that this “killer weed” in question was the same cannabis used in our country by the medical community with safety to treat many disease entities for over 100 years. Dr. Woodward and the AMA were quickly denounced by Harry Anslinger and the entire congressional committee and rudely excused from further testimony,  At this point hemp and cannabis aka marijuana was enforced as 100% illegal and NO further medical studies would be done for nearly 30 years due to the demonization of this herb by Americans, contrary to scientific testimony.

In 1964, Professor Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague, Yechiel Gaoini, at the Weizman Institute of Science in Israel, isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant as tetrahydrocannabinol, THC.  Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had studied another main constituent of cannabis, cannabidiol, CBD.

To Be Continued…..Cannabis, The Whole Plant….The 1960’s “Up in Smoke” with Cheech & Chong

*Sue DeGregorio – Rosen is a founding member of the Cannabis Nurses Network, a global network of nurses dedicated to the education of whole plant therapy. www.cannabisnursesnetwork.com

Artist: Signe Ruddy

He looks delighted

His eyes his hands

precious commodities

Closing my eyes

rushing sounds impart

Pushing colors inward from dark

Squeezed through sockets

fingertips following pathways

Propelled breath’s

tailwind Elfin spiral sparks

ground fires ignite elliptical tides

Rainy day washed blues

Red ochre sand stained footprints

Grounded pebbled toed yang  jumps

Yin crawls in.

*Expressionistic artist, poet, mental health professional & lavender farmer.

Androgyny, the opposites within by June Singer (2000)

We live in the “Age of Androgyny,” not the Age of Aquarius, the author observes.

To appreciate Dr. Singer’s study, it probably is a good idea to become familiar with the concepts of psychiatrist Carl Jung’s works and the construct of archetypes. Singer’s work is scholarly and verbose and one has to sift through the study to get to the core meaning of the cultural issues she discusses. It’s worth the effort but requires patience.

The duality of the universe and the interplay of male and female energies within all humans is explored. Though heavily influenced by Jungian analysis and the male and female as opposing energies there is the recognition of the commonalty of both male and female. And when discussing myths in her voyage and journeys through Gnosticism, Taoism, Kabbalah and so forth the study though intellectually thick at times offers provocative insights.

This is a worthy study of the cultural context of the concept of androgyny.  It does not offer enough substance beyond the metaphysical for this reviewer. It’s an engaging work if one appreciates Jung’s examination of the masculine, feminine dynamic.  The journey the author undertakes might have offered deeper insight into the Age of Androgyny from other psychological and sociological viewpoints but that was not her purpose.

She notes near the end of her study – when we are children we are all androgynous and as we grow we are “polarized” into thinking in terms of male and female and what that constitutes. We become lost “in the confusion of language” that transcends what we are. Biology is emphasized at the cost of conscience. Energy flows within and between the male and female in each of us. And the energy of the whole (both male and female within each of us) affects us beyond the biological scripts we are given as a “male” and a “female.” Her work also reminds me of the influence of the mythologist, Joseph Campbell’s take on paleolithic belief, that whatever you do to one strand in the web of life you do to the entire web.

This is in part an intellectually engaging study that remains relevant today. Times are changing. The literature on androgyny is somewhat significant in terms of the various topical aspects of the concept in some of its varied shapes and forms. There’s much room for further study and exploration of this Age of Androgyny for the general reader.

Artist: Signe Ruddy

 

Ehecatl (wind serpent)

 

There it was in the morning,

fluttering frenetically

wings buzzing humming invisibly moving;

Alighting on a little silver cup tracing grandmothers name.

Dragonfly: translucent, iridescent and Mesmerizing.

Hovering about the reading chair ancient wind serpent came and stayed.

Vibrating initiations for a path to midlife renewal.

 

Weeks later

Too large to vacuum

a dusty ball displaying only one folded  flapping wing.

 

A wing only….

 

How had this esteemed visitor disappeared?

Had some “other” devoured its parts leaving only a wing?

 

Only one wing…..

 

Had waning women’s path

Set awry from undisclosed fear

brought succulent esculent dragonfly

to disclose their most  secretive passion?

A Certain Crunch heard remembered or an

Imagined taste and flavor?

With Savory Balanced Bitterness and Salty Sweetness:

Courage settling Into a center

 

Digesting thus begins: forecasting calibration for body electric

as gestation for life begun.

*Expressionistic artist, poet, mental heath professional & lavender farmer.

Credit: Erica Faith
Artist/Photographer

Seashore Communiqué

The Impassioned Artist

NPJ Book Review: Faust’s Metropolis, A History of Berlin by Alexandra Riche (1998)

 Voltaire once observed: “We owe respect to the living and to the dead only truth.”

I’ve used Richie’s immense work as reference tool over the years to compare and contrast to other studies when digging deeper on a specific subject in German history including geography of which Berlin’s location is a separate book itself, along with its architecture and economic history.

Being familiar with Marlowe, Manning and Goethe’s work on Faust and the dynamic work of Butler’s The Fortunes of Faust, the history of the City of Berlin has parallels unlike Leipzig and other haunts of the famous doctor for which the author liberally and understandably draws a parallel theme. Each chapter is introduced with a quote from Faust. The author writes, “And like Faust, Berlin has two spirits in the same breast.”

That said, this work is vast in scope. It has it generalities but along the way there are numerous, brilliant insights in its 900 plus pages. The bibliography is excellent. The study contains a wealth of research even if a given scholar might disagree with the author’s assessment on a particular event. That’s the nature of historical studies. They are perspectives. From ancient history through the Cold War and the fall of  the Berlin Wall and after, this is an engrossing and accessible study.

In covering the 1930s, one can see a parallel between today’s waves of nationalism to those in Germany. “A few months before Hitler took power Siegfried Kracauer wrote: whoever stays any length of time in a Berlin hardly knows in the end where he really came from.” And as people were deported in mass from the country without judicial review a fear set in as people became complicit in the ruling elite’s frenzy for authoritarian control.

The mass of the dictator’s supporters and officials were seeking to be greater than ever before. “A young SA recruit told the journalist Louis P. Lochner that he enjoyed beating SA prisoner because it was safe to assume that he is guilty, else he would not have been arrested and brought here…Berliners were not inherently evil, as immediate post-wat histories liked to make out… but many were naïve, cowardly, greedy or indifferent in an age when such weakness could mean the difference between life and death.”

From the tragedy surrounding WWII to the Marshall Plan for relief while Berlin was decided between East and West thew author covers the varied stages Berlin’s existential nature.

Richie’s provocative History of Berlin is remarkable as it is engaging and creates more questions and the desire to know more. This remains a worthwhile read.

How do you ride the wave of Inspiration? 

In Greek mythology, there were nine daughters or Muses who some scholars believed to be the primordial Goddesses of Uranus and Gaiea. Other scholars suggested they were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Regardless, the daughters were considered the Goddesses of Inspiration. They affected a variety of areas in Science, Arts and Literature.

In our modern world, the energy from the word muses still carries on in words such as, “music” “the muse” “museum” “amused” and I am sure you could think of more. 

Just like The Muses, the spirit of inspiration lives within each of us if we but reserve moments to tap into the inspiration. Some like to say feeling inspired is living In Spirit or Flow.  Perhaps that is true but think about it. All the things we see and experience today were once just a thought until someone felt inspired to create it.

So, what ideas are you having recently? If you feel inspired then the energy to manifest it into this reality exists within and is waiting for you to hear its rhythm as if it was knocking at your door. It might be as facile as being aware of those around you for they may be feeling and sensing the same thing. Knowledge and inspiration depends on each of us.  It is both a concept and an act.

So how does one ride the wave of inspiration?

It’s simple, by taking action! Whenever you get an idea, take action. That action might be writing it down first because the idea or thought will eventually leave you as new information bombards your mind every day through social media among many other influences.

 So as you breathe in the ideas take time each day to jot them down. You might not be the person to give birth to a particular idea, but you hold a piece of the puzzle that may help someone else. Ideas build on each other and serve as inspiration as they affect the importance of our relationships.

 My thoughts are not new ideas, they are the culmination of study, self-examination and experience. Each of us has an opportunity each day for a fresh beginning and the inspiration we gain can in turn serves as an illumination for others. Our own humble self-awareness assists in our inner peace and that in turn affects the entire world around us.

I am transitioning to living and breathing en femme. The hormones I inject are rapidly transforming my skin; hair, body fat distribution and my breasts are already a full B cup. New feelings and emotions flood my thoughts and senses. Things once familiar, now viewed with a different perspective. Moving through social situations and public life as a teacher call upon my utmost attention to my presentation as female. I am glad that I can do this and be “passable.”

There has been some attention drawn to the term ‘passable’ as tacit approval of the sexist, male generated vision of what a woman should look like. Although, I agree that transgender women should be able to dress, act, and appear, as they will, personally I feel much safer if I am ‘passable’ in public. This is a reality that some of us find quite disarming in this hostile social environment.

As hostile as it can be at times, I truly see real change in social values. I see greater acceptance of transgender women. There has been a backlash against the trans-haters and the anti-trans vitriol being spewed by public figures and religious leaders. The average person may know a trans-woman or have some familiarity with the concept of what it is to be transgender. All of the attention both positive and negative will have a normalizing effect over time. This I can be sure of. The transgender movement is in much the same place as the lesbian/gay movement was 30 years ago. Over time, being lesbian or gay became socially acceptable and tolerated. Therein lies my hope for trans-people.

I am transitioning in a turbulent period in our shared history, true, but I am not alone. I have a voice. We have a voice. Our voice is getting louder as more trans-women assert their rights as individuals. Our voice is getting louder as we find more allies in our lives and in media.

I am very fortunate to have found not only a staunch ally, also a loving, kind man who respects me as transgender and loves me fiercely. We live together and we have slept in each other’s arms for over two months. Our bond has gone from just physical attraction to a love relationship. Our bond is strong and he is not ashamed to be with me in public because I am trans. He is proud that I am transgender and he has told his friends and family just that. We tease each other about marriage and love like any cisgender couple would. We inhabit a very special and rare place in our culture as a couple with a trans-woman and a straight, cisgender man. We both realize this and prize our time together. Life is good.

*Transsexual teacher/activist/lover of languages/anthropologist  (Medium.com)

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

A black and white photograph

alone on a dresser without clothes

in an empty clapboard house

the genes of a forgotten past

a period in history filled with hurt,

the forlorn captured

in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

 

The wind howled across the fields

a dustbowl shattered lives

tattered garments covering

skeletons

of humans in used trucks and cars

as they made their way west;

“Damn fat rich bastard” an Okie shouted

as the banker took his land.

 

Protectionism was the password

a Republican Congress

Hawley Smoot Tariff narcissism

made law earlier

but it was just a symptom not a cause

isolationism and protectionism

was the viral disease

as the rich got richer

and the poor sought relief

a sign alongside the road read:

”This is your country

don’t let the big men take it away

From You!”

 

“This is the breadbasket of the world

but we’re starving,” an old man moaned

his suit coat worn through at the elbows

two days without food and tears in his eyes

sitting on the curb of a city street.

 

The polarized became increasingly angry

fighting amongst each other

power resided in those who controlled

the debt

for the common man was the pawn,

even when the child cried, “mommy it hurts,’

the other’s point of view seethed and spit

though empty inside

where the darkness dwells,

and the love of God was missing

in the middle of a cold night,

“Stranger these are tough times

and don’t I know it,” a weary faced man finally stated.

 

“We never saw it coming but we should’ve

it was staring at us in the face,”

said a woman whose silk stockings

were decorated with holes.

 

“I’ve been through hard times,

but not like what’s coming”

and Woody kept singing

…”the hard working folks have done something

that the bosses, his sons, his wives,

his whores and his daughters have failed to do…

they sang their way through the whole dirty mess.”*

 

And the crowds of men and women out of work

walked passed stores vacant of affordable goods

ghostly haunted banks money withdrawn,

and those with wealth lurked in the shadows

while those without felt the ache on their backs.

 

And oil was spread over hogs and other beasts

shot and dumped into rivers along with food,

“Best not to feed the hungry and lose money,”

the owners stated,

while too many children of Man were admonished

for simply asking: Why?

 

The downstream of a generation lost

under the rubric

the beginnings of the scripture of prosperity

while the Social Gospel was speeding into the past,

and loathing and hurtful words were repeated

civility loss

“why should I pay a preacher

to make me feel guilty,

when I can do that all by myself

without charge,” was a familiar echo,

to purposefully change thinking

means to rewrite the past

so as to comply with the now

and still people followed like sheep

it was too much to think about

besides the trains ran on time

at least for the politicians.

 

*from Woody Guthrie, A Self-Portrait (an exceptional work)

 

The male population is what we read about when we view what’s going on in “The war on drugs and the war on crime”, which we are learning is more of a war on minorities and women.

Did you know that women are filling up our jail cells? Did you know that most of the women behind bars are mothers? Did you know that most of these ladies are single parents, having sole responsibility for their children that are left behind? Minority women are affected by this “war”. It’s a war on women, that we are beginning to recognize that is not only unfair and unjust but that also sets limits on these same women, these same sole providers from being able to apply for help within the system, in both welfare, child support and drug treatment programs.

A perfect example is the recent comments made by President Trump’s present attorney, Rudy Giuliani, when he remarked about Stormy Daniels and her line of work. He stated he had no respect for women that work in the adult film industry, yet he defends a man who has used many women in that same industry, the man who sits in the highest office in this country. A blatant and ignorant double standard comment, and the typical attitude concerning women and people of color made by the former mayor of one of the most, if not the most, diverse cities in the nation.

Women are one of the fastest-growing segments of the prison population. From 1970 to 2015, the number of women in prison grew by approximately 1,000 percent. That is tragic statistic. And although the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s female population, it also represents 30 percent of women imprisoned.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics there are 8,500 women in federal prisons on drug charges, 24,700 in state prisons and 27,000 in local jails. Sixty three percent of these women have not been convicted

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.6 Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2016.

Mothers of minor children make up 60 per cent of women in prison. Two-thirds of these parents are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, a substantial proportion of which are drug law violations. More than 5 million children (one in every 14) have a parent who is or has been incarcerated. The racial disparities seen in the incarcerated population replicate themselves among the children left behind: by 2008, one in nine (11.4 percent of) black children, one in 28 (3.5 percent of) Latino children and one in 57 (1.8 percent of) white children had an incarcerated parent. Eighty four percent of parents in federal prison and 62 percent of parents in state prison are housed 100 miles or more from their children. Pregnant women who are incarcerated for drug law violations often do not receive prenatal care. Children are routinely separated from their imprisoned mothers, causing irreparable damage to the child.

Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics.18 1 Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Female prisoners under State or Federal jurisdiction,” Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool, www.bjs.gov.

Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon, “States of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context,” (Prison Policy Initiative, 2015) http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/.

Ibid. 4 Carson, “Prisoners in 2015,” Table 9. 5 Prison Policy Initiative, “Women’s Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017” https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017women.html Source: Western and Pettit, Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010.

Prisons and jails commonly use restraints (handcuffs and shackles) on women in labor and during delivery, regardless of their histories. According to a 2015 shadow report to the United Nations Committee on Torture, “Only 18 states have legislation in place that restricts the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, 24 states limit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates only through institutional policies, and 8 states do not have any form of regulation at all.” Washington DC and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have also banned or restricted this practice, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes because it puts “the health of the woman and fetus at risk.” The long-lasting penalties and exclusions that follow a drug conviction have created a permanent second class status for millions of Americans, who are often banned from voting, getting a job, securing a student loan and accessing housing or other forms of public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

A 2013 report found that more than 180,000 women have been affected in the twelve states that maintain a full lifetime ban for people with drug convictions. Due to the extreme racial disparities in drug law enforcement and sentencing, these collateral consequences disproportionately affect women of color.

Our society still today has a limited understanding of the inequality that women truly suffer, regardless of the #metoo movementIt is as important to educate the public to speak up with courage and conviction about the injustices and social stigmas that are inflicted upon all women. #metoo.

New World by Kathryn Thompson

 

Your large hands travel across
and around
the curves of my soft body,
your fingers trace a gentle glowing pleasure,

 

a curled, knuckled wake still trembles

 

long

 

after your touch has gone,

I can hear your breath,

honey tonal,

hear the moans.

our juices spread, sucked and licked.

Outside and closing the owl hoots

while we
bound by our history, finally entwine

 

upon the hallowed mattress of love.

The trickster smiles,
our hearts, red, dark suns, chthonic,

 

outside and closing the raven caws

 

as your fingers, like grace greet my skin
seeks the well,
spreads the lips,

 

and whisper profanities like a holy prayer,

outside and closing

the wild cat, upon the roof top, keens into the night.

 

My kiss
is just a shadow away, from the rise of your chest

 

I inhale your vulnerability,
breathe warm light upon our shared breath,

 

in you I seek extension,

seek solace, seek completion

 

and you will remain until I shrivel and slip from your sepaled embrace.

Hold,

don’t permit the diminishing,

 

the buzzing upon the liminal
the ritual upon the dream
the shining of stars, straining to align.

 

This chamber of tides,
I hold in the name of our love,

 

and outside and closing
the wild cat keens, the raven caws, and the owl hoots,

 

you the wingless angel, the only mortal,
to know my love.

 

The Gods always demand that I taste you first

… each and every time.

 

* An over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

Scribes, Scripts and Books, The Book Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance by Leila Arvin (1991)

This work effects curiosity. I took a course decades ago from Professor Leila Arvin. Her research was always intelligent, thoughtful, in-depth and complex with invaluable insights. In the preface of the work she sums up two idiosyncrasies she possesses: “chutzpah and courage of imperfection,” which she acknowledges was coined by the existential psychologist, Rollo May. And, I like imperfection.

I found the professor to be an eloquent, quirky and engaging intellectual. She states when she undertook this “work of passion” (my words) that “I have written this book to gather the scattered information on writing and the handmade book into a continuous history, whose progress has been determined by the principles of tradition and change.” Her aim was in effect …to demonstrate just how these principles “have determined the form of the Western book from ancient times to the age of printing.”

The overview is extensive. This is a scholarly reference tool, not a coffee table work, though it may appear as such. Whether it’s cuneiform tablets, the Hebrew book or Egyptian book, etc., there are details for the curious to consider in this age of digital books.

One example of a detail worth noting: The Egyptian book was the papyrus scroll. “In addition to serving as a writing surface, papyrus provided Egyptians with raw materials for boats, sails, shoes, clothing, rope, mats, fuel, even chewing gum and its roots were eaten by the poor.” Now this may be the interesting part for some readers, “The Egyptians leave us no instructions for transforming the papyrus plant into a writing surface.” Or at least no directions that archaeologists have found. The same could be said of other things such as pyramid building. One would think a high technology civilization would leave instructions. Then again it might require an engineer to translate an engineer’s how to instructions. Perhaps it was such common knowledge that people would shrug their shoulders and say even a child knows the answer regarding papyrus (my speculation).

Of course this is but one small example of the voluminous number of examples the author provides. Another example, is when she discusses the Greek and Hellenistic book and notes: “Just as Greek script came from the outside world, so did the major materials for making books. Ironically, but not illogically, while her literature endured, most classic Greek books did not.” Whoever has the raw material is in effect a major player.

Latin works and codices and so forth are also covered. The description of scribes, where and how they worked and the time spent in the scriptorium is insightful.

In summary, this remains an exceptional historical overview/reference tool and a path for further research. It’s the kind of work that you drink from, so to speak, to be savored and compared to other emerging wells of knowledge.

The American presidency is an expanding fault in which it is now descending. The fault is both a chasm of political illiteracy and a chasm of weakness. It increasingly appears as a moral defect and failing that elected Donald Trump into the highest office of our country, the office of the President. We allowed this to happen despite being fully aware of this man’s manipulative behavior and transgressions of human dignity.  We allow him to continue despite his many weaknesses, his frenzied, irresponsible and reckless tweeting, his inability to lead this country, and some of us who are supporters continue to do so despite the direction that Donald Trump is taking this country.

The Trump Administration mimics a fracture in the crust of this planet accompanied by a displacement of one side of the fracture with respect to the other in a direction parallel to that fracture.  That fracture is “We, the People”

There is no argument, no excuse that can change this description. No matter how biased an individual or group is or becomes, this act of defiance within our own country has legitimized live-in conditions that are comparable to a Third World country. The question is whether the polarization is irreversible.

We have people living under dire conditions.  Take a good look at our city streets, littered with a homeless population in the richest country in the world.  Take a good look at areas like West Virginia where the oil and gas industry write its own laws, the teachers are among the worst-paid in the nation, and the Opioid epidemic has reached peak levels.

Therefore, we need to ask who President Trump really is?  We all know his blank promises about making America great again.  We also all know that he refers to people as “animals” when he speaks of immigrants and sanctuary states, such as California.

Because Donald Trump was elected president he is responsible for our issues, and he took on that responsibility when he was sworn into office. There is no more “past blame” that he systematically and continuously uses to excuse his inability to obliterate any of our requests.

I read, with interest, in The Washington Post the following,  “The slippery inexactness of Trump’s language is often ascribed by his detractors to the deficiencies of his verbal skills and his lazy tendency to return again and again to the same stock words and phrases. Trump’s admirers frequently cite his use of the English language as key to his success in convincing so many that he is not a traditional politician. After all, the way in which he uses the word “animals” is drawn from common street-corner or barroom talk. It’s not a usage he invented.”

This is a language of a far-right universe. It’s not conservative. It’s authoritarian. Words have effects just as the use of the word, terrorists. Language can seduce our youth and align them with white supremacy.  This is the message he sends to our sons and daughters.  They become his supporters and true believers. His goal is to dehumanize others by referring to them as “animals”, the press as “fake news” to destabilize and fill emptiness with a sense of belonging to making America great again. It’s the extremes and meanness that are distressing.

Trump made those awful statements at a White House gathering last Wednesday because California officials opposed to what Trump, in his introductory remarks, called “deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws.” They offered, President Trump said, “safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on Earth, like MS-13 gang members, putting innocent men, women and children at the mercy of these sadistic criminals.”

We all know that we are a country of immigrants that came here and stole the lands of the native American, but sometimes we must be reminded.  We must make sure that our children and grandchildren understand that.  It is up to us to make sure that history, the history of this country is not lost in the abyss of this fault we now suffer from, and we do suffer.

 Donald Trump is the epitome of dishonesty, he is purposefully deceptive, unpredictable, and erratic.  He is a showman, a TV star, a real estate mogul that is still working like he is on a reality show, but this is our show.

Those of us that are members of the “baby boomers” generation, that Donald Trump was born into, grew up quickly, during a time of war, a time of protest, a time when we sang ” Give Peace a Chance”. We were convinced we could change that world. We witnessed the assassinations of our young president, JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy…….and to this day, we don’t understand why those tragic events were meant to happen.

Fast forward to 9/11…devastation took hold of us, a nation of sadness, a nation filled with pain. Yet, we continued to love one another, to connect, to help each other mend, to grieve, and then tried to rebuild what we had lost with our broken hearts, and so much suffering. Still, there was no peace.

This is an important part of history, one that must not be forgotten.  We elected our first black president, Barak Obama.  We elected out first woman to run for the highest-ranking office, Hillary Clinton. Are we back pedaling in our strides to create an environment that is worthy for our upcoming generations?

Peace and Love remain in our angry hearts, but if we remain angry, we will find no love, we will have no peace.

And that, my friends, is our fault and the chasm of darkness in which we will descend.

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