Daily Archive: 03/22/2012

Mar 22 2012

2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Regional Semifinals Day 1

Saltine Warrior

In the days of old, when knights were bold

Every city had its warrior man.

In the days of new, when fights are few

You will view them from a big grandstand.

In our college town one has great renown

If the game of football he should play.

With his pig-skin ball he is cheered by all,

He’s the Saltine Warrior of today.

Chorus:

The Saltine Warrior is a bold, bad man,

And his weapon is a pigskin ball,

When on the field he takes a good, firm stand,

He’s the hero of large and small.

He will rush toward the goal with might and main

His opponents all fight, but they fight in vain,

Because the Saltine Warrior is a bold, bad man,

And victorious over all.

If you’ve never been to Syracuse you may not know it’s built over a great salt dome.  This song from 1912-13 is kind of midway between Bill Orange from 1899 and Down the Field from 1914 and was originally part of a musical, not a fight song.  Oddly enough there are no YouTubes I could find.

It’s distinctly possible that the Orange could go down tonight because they’re not that good a team and their 7 foot center, Fab Melo, is still under suspension.  Plus they’ve never, ever been able to shoot fouls in the Boeheim era.

Altogether it’s been a tough year, they’ve had a Paterno-esque molestation scandal with the assistant head coach, Boeheim has always hated his job, and they’re pulling out of the Big East because the Administration would rather have a Throwball program that sucks than a Basketball team.

They are my sentimental favorites, but you don’t bet money on sentiment.  Armando, who has been consistently wrong this season, gets to see his beloved ‘Gators go down in flames tonight so don’t expect any charity from him tomorrow.  His predictions are here.

Michigan State should advance with ease (No Troll Izzo), I’m rooting for Cincinnati over the evil Ohio State (I’m only half troll and no part Buckeye).

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7 pm CBS 1 Syracuse 33-2 4 Wisconsin 26-9 East
7:30 pm TBS 1 Michigan State 29-7 4 Louisville 28-9 West
9:30 pm CBS 2 Ohio State 29-7 6 Cincinnati 26-10 East
10 pm TBS 3 Marquette 27-7 7 Florida 25-10 West

Mar 22 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

New York Times Editorial: Pushing Back Against Austerity

Political leaders across Europe have begun to push back against the campaign of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to put the Continent’s economies into a straitjacket of unrelenting fiscal austerity. It is about time. Two years of insisting that weak economies carry out tax increases and spending cuts have brought nothing but recession and deepening indebtedness.

The German-inspired fiscal compact that 25 heads of government agreed to in December will become binding in January provided at least 12 of the 17 countries using the euro ratify it this year. That process has barely begun. Before it goes any further, euro-zone members need to amend its inflexible, one-size-fits-all deficit ceilings. Failure to do so guarantees a longer, deeper European recession and would likely hurt America’s nascent recovery.

Gail Collins: Pity the Poor Gun Lobby

There is nothing so dangerous as a lobbying organization that’s running out of stuff to lobby about.

I am thinking in particular of the National Rifle Association. These people are really in desperate straits. The state legislatures are almost all in session, but some of them have already pushed the gun-owner-rights issue about as far as it can go. You can only legalize carrying a concealed weapon in church once.

This year, in search of new worlds to conquer – or at least to arm – a couple of states are giving serious attention to bills that would allow gun owners to carry their concealed weapons in places like day-care centers and school buses.

People, do you think there is a loud public outcry for more guns on school buses? I truly believe that this is all the product of a desperate N.R.A., trying to show its base that there are still lots of new battles to be won.

Amy Goodman: Walking While Black: The Killing of Trayvon Martin

On the rainy night of Sunday, Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked to a convenience store in Sanford, Fla. On his way home, with his Skittles and iced tea, the African-American teenager was shot and killed. The gunman, George Zimmerman, didn’t run. He claimed that he killed the young man in self-defense. The Sanford Police agreed and let him go. Since then, witnesses have come forward, 911 emergency calls have been released, and outrage over the killing has gone global. [..]

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has called for the removal of Sanford Police Chief Lee. NAACP President Ben Jealous, recounting a mass meeting in a Sanford-area church Tuesday night, quoted a local resident who stood up and said, “‘If you kill a dog in this town, you’d be in jail the next day.’ Trayvon Martin was killed four weeks ago, and his killer is still walking the streets.”

With his gun.

Robert Sheer; Voters Have Two Candidates, No Choice

With Mitt Romney’s super-PAC limo now on cruise control to victory at the GOP convention, voters are left with only two reasons to vote against Barack Obama: Either they are desperate to return a white man to the White House or they feel strongly that it is time to break the glass ceiling denying Mormons the presidency.

Out of a sense of tolerance I could cotton to the latter-heck, why should the bizarre beliefs of Romney’s church be a deal breaker? I’m hoping for a strong Jewish contender someday and wouldn’t like her burdened with defending Old Testament claptrap.

The problem in this mind-numbing Republican primary season is that the campaign has exposed Romney as not just another white male Mormon like some of the fairly reasonable senators who have represented Utah. Or like Romney’s own father, George, at one time the governor of Michigan. No, this Romney is now widely regarded as the vulture capitalist he is, a politician who is a say-and-do-anything opportunist with no moral limits on his outsized ambitions.

Joe Conason: Paul Ryan’s Plan for American Decline

If the foreign adversaries and competitors of the United States imagined a future that would fulfill their most ambitious objectives, it might begin with a government crippled by the House Republican leadership’s “Ryan budget” released on Tuesday. Followed to its absurd conclusion, this document would lead America toward a withered state, approaching the point where Marxian dreams and Randian dogma converge.

Or at least that’s the view suggested by the sober analysts at the Congressional Budget Office, whose report on the Ryan budget shows debilitating cuts to nearly every department of government today, from law enforcement and border patrols to scientific research, food safety, environmental protection, federal highways, national parks, weather monitoring, education and all the other essential functions of a great country. There would not be much left for Medicare and Medicaid, either. Social Security would continue in some form, and defense-of course-would increase.

But in a nation stripped of science and infrastructure, with a people demoralized by insecurity, unemployment and inequity, exactly what would be left to defend?

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The GOP’s Religious Head Count

The Republican presidential primaries this year have turned into a religious census. There is little precedent in modern politics for the extent to which a state’s choice for a nominee has coincided so closely with how many of its ballots were cast by white evangelical voters.

Where evangelicals cast a minority of the ballots, Mitt Romney has won. Where evangelical voters predominated, Romney has lost, in most cases to Rick Santorum.

Romney’s victory Tuesday in Illinois fit snugly within this pattern. The result pointed to a continuing problem for Santorum: He has yet to break through in places where evangelicals were not the principal force.

While the exit polls did not question voters directly about their attitudes toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is indirect evidence that Romney’s faith may be holding down his vote among non-Mormons for whom a candidate’s religion matters.

Robert Reich: Why Mitt Won’t Be Able to Hide From His Primary Self (We’re No Longer In An Etch-A-Sketch World)

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom couldn’t have said it better – or worse. When asked by CNN Wednesday morning whether Mitt was being pushed so far to the right by Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich that he’d be handicapped in the general election, Fehrnstrom said “you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

An Etch-A-Sketch, for those of you under twenty, is a thick flat gray screen that comes in a plastic frame with two knobs on the front in the lower corners – one left, one right. Twisting the knobs changes the aluminum powder on the back of the screen, creating completely new images. If you twist the left knob, you alter the powder horizontially; twist the right nob, and you alter it vertically.

Remind you of anyone?

Mar 22 2012

Green Candidate Wins Primaries, Blasts Obama

Green Party* candidate Jill Stein, who ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2010, has taken the lead for her party’s nomination to run for president against dictator Barry Obama and whoever his Republican counterpart is this November.

According to Ballot Access News and other sources, Stein has won enough of the vote in various state primaries to qualify for matching funds.  She is competing for the Green Party nomination with Kent Mesplay and Roseanne Barr, the latter of whom she did a Skype session with to Greens across the country.

Stein has blasted Obama for his many betrayals.  She criticized his signing of the FAA Re-authorization bill, which further erodes unions, his overtures of war against Iran, his decision to support portions of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would cause further destruction to the environment and jeopardize human health and safety, his assaults on civil liberties including the “Defense” Authorization that allows American citizens to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial, his taking of single-payer and a public option off the table in favor of an insurance-industry-authored mandate to buy private coverage or face stiff tax penalties, and other far right policies embraced by the incumbent.

Stein’s alternatives to all these things and more reads like a leftist’s dream: a Green New Deal to create environment-friendly jobs, an energy policy dedicated to 100% conversion to clean, renewable sources, expanding Medicare to every American and generous funding of public education (including the forgiveness of student loan debt), protecting America’s Safety Net, and ending America’s imperial wars.

Stein does not appear to be on record so far as to prosecuting America’s war criminals, including Obama, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the thugs in their respective regimes guilty of war crimes, but I can’t imagine she would let them off the hook, since it would only reinforce the notion of total immunity for high-ranking lawbreakers – a travesty of justice.  (I’ll keep you apprised of this as I learn more.)

With many progressives determined to sit out this election, Stein’s candidacy appears to be offering a welcome alternative.

Mar 22 2012

Democrats Are Trying To Scare Women?

At least, that’s the party line according Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) who appeared along with Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (IL) on “Hardball with Chis Matthews.”  That was her rote answer to Matthews questions about the recent legislation that has been passed through Republican state legislatures, radically restricting a woman’s legal right to seek an abortion and health care. I’m no fan of Chris Matthews but no matter how hard he tried to get her to answer his question, she evaded him repeatedly saying that it wasn’t the main issue for women. There was feint praise in Matthew’s words at the end when he thanked her from coming on his show and said she was “brilliant”. She sure was, at evading the issue.

Mar 22 2012

On This Day In History March 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 22 is the 81st day of the year (82nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 284 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1784, the Emerald Buddha is moved with great ceremony to its current place in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand.

The Emerald Buddha is the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand, a figurine of the sitting Buddha, made of green jadeite (rather than emerald), clothed in gold, and about 45 cm tall. It is kept in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

According to the legend, the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena in the city of Pataliputra (today’s Patna). The legends state that after remaining in Pataliputra for three hundred years, it was taken to Sri Lanka to save it from a civil war. In 457, King Anuruth of Burma sent a mission to Ceylon to ask for Buddhist scriptures and the Emerald Buddha, in order to support Buddhism in his country. These requests were granted, but the ship lost its way in a storm during the return voyage and landed in Cambodia. When the Thais captured Angkor Wat in 1432 (following the ravage of the bubonic plague), the Emerald Buddha was taken to Ayutthaya, Kamphaeng Phet, Laos and finally Chiang Rai, where the ruler of the city hid it. Cambodian historians recorded capture of the Buddha statue in their famous Preah Ko Preah Keo legend. However, some art historians describe the Emerald Buddha as belonging to the Chiang Saen Style of the 15th Century AD, which would mean it is actually of Lannathai origin.

Historical sources indicate that the statue surfaced in northern Thailand in the Lannathai kingdom in 1434. One account of its discovery tells that lightning struck a pagoda in a temple in Chiang Rai, after which, something became visible beneath the stucco. The Buddha was dug out, and the people believed the figurine to be made of emerald, hence its name. King Sam Fang Kaen of Lannathai wanted it in his capital, Chiang Mai, but the elephant carrying it insisted, on three separate occasions, on going instead to Lampang. This was taken as a divine sign and the Emerald Buddha stayed in Lampang until 1468, when it was finally moved to Chiang Mai, where it was kept at Wat Chedi Luang.

The Emerald Buddha remained in Chiang Mai until 1552, when it was taken to Luang Prabang, then the capital of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. Some years earlier, the crown prince of Lan Xang, Setthathirath, had been invited to occupy the vacant throne of Lannathai. However, Prince Setthathirath also became king of Lan Xang when his father, Photisarath, died. He returned home, taking the revered Buddha figure with him. In 1564, King Setthathirath moved it to his new capital at Vientiane.

In 1779, the Thai General Chao Phraya Chakri put down an insurrection, captured Vientiane and returned the Emerald Buddha to Siam, taking it with him to Thonburi. After he became King Rama I of Thailand, he moved the Emerald Buddha with great ceremony to its current home in Wat Phra Kaew on March 22, 1784. It is now kept in the main building of the temple, the Ubosoth.

Mar 22 2012

Spring Has Officially Sprung

Spring officially sprang at 1:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday. Partially because this is a “Leap Year”, in some times zones the Spring Equinox came as early as March 19 ending the winter that wasn’t for which many of us were relieved.

In case you did know the Spring Equinox is also called the “Vernal Equinox”, ver bring the Latin derivative for “spring.”  It occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator and night and day are equal. It is really just a moment in time and if you blink, you missed it. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar set the date for the start of Spring on March 25th but sometime between the 4th and 16th centuries, the calendar drifted with respect to the equinox, such that the equinox began occurring on about March 21st.  

There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet. Google celebrated with one of its popular animated “doodles.”

In Iran, ancient new year’s festival of Nowruz is celebrated:

According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people.

In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Spring equinox and the Jewish celebration of Passover starts on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox.

Most Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox but the Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar so the actual date of Easter differs.

In Japan the Spring Equinox became an official holiday in 1948, Shunbun no hi.

We Pagans celebrate Ostara, one of the Eight Sabats of the Wheel, as a season of rebirth. The name is derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, and many symbols are associated with Ostara, including colored eggs and, what else? Rabbits:

In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

Colored eggs are one of the symbols of fertility with an interesting, and this unconfirmed scary, history from Witches’ Voice :

(T)he traditional coloring and giving of eggs at Easter has very pagan associations. For eggs are clearly one of the most potent symbols of fertility, and spring is the season when animals begin to mate and flowers and trees pollinate and reproduce. In England and Northern Europe, eggs were often employed in folk magic when women wanted to be blessed with children. There is a great scene in the film The Wicker Man where a woman sits upon a tombstone in the cemetery, holding a child against her bared breasts with one hand, and holding up an egg in the other, rocking back and forth as she stares at the scandalized (and very uptight!) Sargent Howie. Many cultures have a strong tradition of egg coloring; among Greeks, eggs are traditionally dyed dark red and given as gifts.

As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our “ancient history, ” there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the “Old Religion” were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone’s gardens and beneath fences and other spots.

It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone’s property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways. I have never read any historical account of this, so I cannot offer a source for this story (though I assume the person who first told me found it somewhere); when I find one, I will let you know!

Oh, and that egg and, this year’s broom balancing thing, a myth that was debunked. Sorry.

Whatever you believe, or not, get out there in the garden or the park and celebrate the warmth of the sun, the longer days, renewal and rebirth.

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Mar 22 2012

Anne Hutchinson, Religious Freedom, Activist

Recently, I was driving along the Hutchinson River Parkway to pick up a friend who was in town and meet up with another friend for dinner in the area. It was a lovely warm evening and during the the drive we talked about the historic significance of the region. Dinner was fun and after dropping my friend at his hotel, I followed my usual route back to NYC that closely hugs the Hutchison River as it winds through the Bronx. As I was preparing my daily open thread, On This Day In History, I came across this Wikipedia entry for Anne Hutchinson for whom the river and parkway are named:

1638 – Anne Hutchinson is expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent.

Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) was one of the most prominent women in colonial America, noted for her strong religious convictions, and for her stand against the staunch religious orthodoxy of 17th century Massachusetts. She was a Puritan whose religious ideas were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma created a schism in the Boston church which threatened to destroy the Puritans’ religious experiment in New England. Creating the most challenging situation for the ruling magistrates and ministers during her first three years in Boston, she was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony with many of her followers. [..]

In 1634, after the birth of her 14th child, Hutchinson followed (John) Cotton to New England with her husband and 11 living children, and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston, in the English colonies. She was a midwife, and very helpful to those needing her assistance, as well as being very forthcoming with her personal religious opinions and understandings. Soon she was hosting women at her house once a week, providing commentary on recent sermons, and sharing her religious views, including criticism of many local ministers. These meetings became so popular, that she soon began offering meetings to men as well, to include the young governor of the colony, Harry Vane, and over 60 people a week were visiting her house to learn from her interpretations and views of religious matters. As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a “covenant of grace,” while accusing all of the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband’s brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a “covenant of works.” Several ministers complained about Hutchinson to John Winthrop, who served several terms as governor of the colony, and eventually the situation erupted into what is known as the Antinomian Controversy, resulting in Hutchinson’s 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony.

She was quite the activist for her day and stood trial for heresy, literally standing throughout the proceedings while, in what was believed, to be an advanced stage of pregnancy. She faced two trials, civil and church, and was expelled from Massachusetts by Gov. John Winthrop after being convicted by the church on March 22, 1638.

After her conviction, Anne. along with her husband, children and some of her followers, with the encouragement of Roger Williams, established the colony of Portsmouth “in what would become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations:”

During Hutchinson’s imprisonment, several of her supporters prepared to leave the colony and settle elsewhere. A group of her followers, including her husband Will, met on 7 March 1638, at the home of the wealthy Boston merchant William Coddington. Ultimately 23 men signed what is known as the Portsmouth Compact, forming themselves into a “Bodie Politick” and electing Coddington as their governor, but giving him the Biblical title of “judge.” Of the signers, 19 of them initially planned to move to New Jersey or Long Island, but Roger Williams convinced them to settle in the area of his Providence Plantations settlement. Coddington purchased Aquidneck Island, in the Narragansett Bay, from the Narragansetts and the settlement of Pocasset (soon renamed Portsmouth) was founded. Anne Hutchinson followed in April, after the conclusion of her church trial.

Hutchinson, her children, and others accompanying her traveled for more than six days by foot in the April snow to get from Boston to Roger Williams’ settlement at Providence. They then took boats to get to Aquidneck Island, where many men had gone ahead of them to begin constructing houses. In the second week of April, she reunited with her husband, from whom she had been separated for nearly six months. [..]

She lived there for a few years, but after her husband’s death, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled her to move totally outside the reach of Boston, into the lands of the Dutch. Sometime in 1642 she settled with her younger children in New Netherland near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what would later become Bronx, New York City. Here she had a home built, but tensions with the native Siwanoy were high, and following inhumane treatment by the Dutch, the natives went on a series of rampages known as Kieft’s War, and in August 1643, all but one of the 16 members of Hutchinson’s household were massacred during an attack. The lone survivor, nine-year old Susanna Hutchinson, was taken captive, and held for several years before being returned to family members in Boston.

Hutchinson is a key figure in the study of the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry. She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. Although her religious ideas remain controversial, her implicit rejection of state authority to prescribe specific religious rites and interpretations, was later enshrined in the American Constitution. Massachusetts honors her with a State House monument calling her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.”

The inscription on the base of the statue in front of the State House in Boston, Massachusetts that honors Anne and her daughter, Suzanna reads:



IN MEMORY OF

ANNE MARBURY HUTCHINSON

BAPTIZED AT ALFORD

LINCOLNSHIRE ENGLAND

20 JULY 1595 [sic]

KILLED BY THE INDIANS

AT EAST CHESTER NEW YORK 1643

COURAGEOUS EXPONENT

OF CIVIL LIBERTY

AND RELIGIOUS TOLERATION

Click on image to enlarge

Beside being one of the few women who have a river named for them, Anne Hutchinson is thought to be the basis for the character of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s The Scarlet Letter. The parallel being “that Hutchinson is the heretic who metaphorically seduces the Puritan community, while in Hawthorne’s novel Hester Pyrnne literally seduces the minister of her community.”

Considering the recent debate over women’s access to health care and our First Amendment rights, remembering the early history of religion and the role that women played is a reminder that this conversation has been going on for a lont time.