Did the Pope really meet with that silly woman? If so, there goes his whole reputation down the tubes. So she got fixed up with pr and a better hairstyle. She's still a loser. Francis and his handlers had better do some fence mending, pronto.
I'm having bad thoughts about who may be behind this whole good will trip. The Catholic church has immense amounts of property in the U.S. Is he just a CEO checking out the status of its assets? They had a lot of property that the State confiscated in Cuba after the Revolution. Was he there to try to get it back?
Yet his very coolness is what makes his reign so hazardous. Watching the rapturous crowds and gushing TV anchors on his American odyssey, we see “the Francis Effect.” His magnetic, magnanimous personality is making the church, so stained by the vile sex abuse scandal, more attractive to people — even though the Vatican stubbornly clings to its archaic practice of treating women as a lower caste.
Dowd says he is the perfect Pope for the 19th Century Yes. Men of his sort have always liked women, in their place.
The Holy Father has acknowledged that “Mary is more important than the apostles.” He also disingenuously called women in the church “more important than bishops and priests” and patronizingly told a group of female theologians last year that they were “strawberries on the cake.”
As The Wall Street Journal recalled Friday, in 2013 he told a group of several hundred nuns that they must be spiritual “mothers” instead of “spinsters,” and he compared a torpid Europe to a grandmother who is “no longer fertile and vibrant.”
This to me, as a grandmother, is a total insult. It's also insulting to women who are not mothers. But not to worry. Some of his best friends are women.
When the Pope was schmoozing with Castro, did he realize that abortion is free, legal and on demand in Cuba?
So, no more complications here about Pope Francis. I've been fooled, but where he is concerned I'm a fool no longer. As to the Dalai Lama, I hope Johns Hopkins can fix him up. Only the best of care is good enough for this man of the people. He has said that he could imagine a female Dalai Lama if she were sufficiently good looking. He is such a dreamboat himself.
What is this propensity we Americans have for lauding and following these puffed up plaster saints anyway? Can't we stand on our own as moral human beings instead of hoping that wisdom will fall upon us like manna out of the mouths of these "holy"men?
And yes, I blame myself, along with the millions of others who have been played for suckers.
We were starting to believe we would never see the sun again. This has been a strange El Niño year, with all those hurricanes and tropical storms bringing so much humidity and rain without ever making landfall.
On our evening walk we met and talked with our neighbor, State Senator Lorraine Inouye, who had a lot of interesting perspectives on the current downtown Hilo situation. I mentioned Take Back Lincoln Park. She knew about changing the signage laws to make it difficult for James George Borden, phony minister and defender of the fetus, to put his big signs up. The rub, of course, is enforcement. Lorraine is very forthcoming, and I have a feeling that we will eventually get positive change, which will take a while. She mentioned that she did not like the idea of confronting or picketing Borden. She said that is the Mainland style, not local style. This goes to a matter that has been concerning me: Nothing that happens here is separate from what's happening in the rest of the U.S. Change can come too late to help those who need help now, things like a safe and pleasant playground for their children. People here may resent being shoved around by citizens they think of as outsiders, but they could be a little more dynamic in defending their own interests.
Unfortunately, it may be necessary for this park to become the locus of a confrontation between Borden and Planned Parenthood, which has a demo scheduled for today. I won't attend, because the organizer of Take Back Lincoln Park wants us to stay away and keep our emphasis on regaining the park territory.
My orchids are starting to recover.
These flowers are from a plant that was here when we moved in 20 years ago. There are two big clumps of it, too big to move. I'm going to divide and repot a few offshoots.
This is such an amazing orchid. It grows out of the plant on a stem about two feet long, and the blossom is six inches wide, counting those very thin petals.
The yellow orchids are transplants from an orchid that my mother in law bought me years ago. It thrives here and is a very dependable bloomer. It has a nice scent, something like green tea.
This one is nice.
I don't know the names of most of my orchids, either never having learned them or having forgotten them.
The weather continues to be rotten, so there's not much for me to do but read, write and look at the photos from our trips. I have no taste for movies, TV series or any canned entertainment right now. And the politics. It's ugly. In general I think it's important for a citizen to keep informed, but sometimes it gets unbearable.
Travel can throw you into strange environments but that strangeness rarely emerges in the photos people take of their trips. This is a reflection of how standardized and banal mass travel has become and how our eye trains us to look for what we expect to see. Our ability to take a thousand photos and winnow them down to five or so is something a lot of people have not caught on to yet. Going through a mass of photos starts turning up the unusual, the picture that unwraps the mystery of place. (Sorry to be writing in a mode that sounds as if I'm imitating Cole, but it's an infectious way of writing. The sincerest form of flattery and all that.)
Cole stays in Zurich for six months and reflects deeply on the "look" of a Switzerland of his imagination, oddly devoid of people yet capturing some essence, a kind of strange serenity that I have experienced only in Switzerland. This is a country, as everyone knows, that has been photographed extensively with an emphasis on its picturesque qualities, as in the photo above which I got from somewhere on Google.
Cole's photos of Switzerland are different from his very populated photos of Nigeria. Cole doesn't explain why he does this, which leaves us free to speculate on his reasons. To be sure, the focus is on beautiful natural and manufactured things in Switzerland, whereas in the wrecked environment of Lagos, the people, mostly young and often stunningly beautiful, are the focus of interest, the best aesthetic objects around.
I made the mistake, a common one it appears, of believing that Cole was of mixed racial heritage, but that is because I confused him with the Nigerian/German protagonist in his novel, Open City. He has stated that he doesn't mind, that it is an understandable mistake.
I have a lot of fantastic photos from Cuba, mostly taken by Terry. Some of them I've already posted. The thing about Cuba is that it's impossible, even for a hobby photographer, to take a photo that is not interesting. This is because hardly anything is standardized or commercialized and the tourist industry is undeveloped. We were delighted to make our own discoveries. (The exceptions are all the photos of American cars. Terry, being a boy of the 50's, found those old clunkers fascinating and actually did get a couple of striking photos that I'll post sometime.) The light was bright but diffused when we were there, more subtle than the glare of San Miguel, Mexico that we experienced later.The people are different,too. Cubans are a mixture of Spanish and African, whereas Mexicans are mostly Mestizos. I'll post a few more pix here and during the week.
Following Cole, I am not explaining anything about these photos from a tobacco farm and from an art co-op in the country. You can infer a lot about rural Cuba from looking at them.
How many novels, memoirs, "think" pieces, etc. begin with the writer looking over the personal belongings of their dead father? People are a lot easier to handle when they are dead, I guess. As to mothers: Thank goodness that impossible woman is dead at last!
Consider the widow vs. the widower. The widower grieves,*moves on, lives alone or with a new wife and ends his days with honor and the support of his children. The widow must learn to accept her grief and move on, perhaps finding a way to continue to serve others. After all, widowhood is common, so why expect special attention?**
How come the children of the Boomers are so understandable and yet so off-putting to me? I think I have a lot of traits in common with them. They find it very unjust that, in spite of how hard they have tried, life is tough anyway and they can't get the kind of attention they crave. One day things will be better and they will be recognized at their true worth. But there is a catch. By then they will be OLD! Actually, they think they are already old. For them, "old" is over 40. A really old person like me sympathizes. After all, if it's possible to feel young at any age, so is it possible to feel old at any age. The children of the children of the Boomers are realistic. They know they will have to work their butts off forever in a crowded and cutthroat world.
I'm procrastinating, because I need to go for a walk and would rather eat bacon right now.
Funny: Just after I wrote this, we got an e-mail informing us that a woman we knew a long time ago in Germany had died. Her widower informs us that he is bearing up and that he has two Polish women who take care of his needs now. In case we were worried that no one would look after him, I suppose.
*I originally put the word "nobly" here, but that is harsh and unfair. I know men suffer when they lose their wives. I'm not backing down all the way here,though. Men have better social resources, money and other assets to get them through the dark days.
**Addition: Don't cling to family and others. Accept your fate.
Oh, and there are so many good tweets today I must share them:
It's been pouring here, on and off, in the tropical manner. And John Boehner has the weepies. He certainly can turn on the waterworks. Maybe they could import him to California to help alleviate the drought. Pope Francis is bringing water to the desert of love, which is these United States right now.
This is probably cold coffee to most, but I just was thinking about Glenn Beck, speaking of crybaby men. There is a fascinating and funny longread article by Laurie Winer, in the LA Review of Books, on the subject of Glenn Beck. It's titled Magicland. You can read part of it, but most of it is blocked off behind a paywall. I downloaded it onto my Kindle, bundled with several other articles, for less than three dollars. It's well worth the money.
I adored Winer's vicious review in this piece of Beck's 2008 novel, The Christmas Sweater. This is about a boy who broke his mother's heart by spurning a sweater she knit for him and has carried it around with him ever since, by way of penance. "He claims that once he started the book, the sweater took over, 'almost as if my sweater wanted its story told.'" Awww.
I think that Beck wants to be regarded as a kind of Pagliacci, smiling through his tears, as when he summoned the camera crew to his bed at home to hear his lament about a hemorrhoid operation "gone wrong."* This is a masterpiece of its kind.
I guess Beck does not realize that hemorrhoid operations are the most painful of all surgical procedures. And when you need to have a BM...Maybe someone should have warned him. It even hurts successful guys a lot! I'll never forget the tough RN who had this done; she was on a ward where I worked and she was screaming so loud you could hear her throughout the ward.
Well, tough guy, try childbirth!
I don't care much for men who show their feelings, not a done thing in my day. I prefer men like Terry who make a good living without whining about it and who can also fix things. If there are any feelings going on around here, I'll feel them, thank you very much. I really admire stoicism in men, I confess, being stoical myself. All my good male friends are stoics. I guess I count on guys to have some backbone.
Beck's on to something, for sure. These successful spoiled guys think it is a rank injustice that they should have to suffer as if they were mere peons. He is kind of cute, but really, what a sorehead.
After all, everyone faces tragedies, large and small. And it all ends in the grave. I've known that since, let's see, about age six. Apparently Beck just figured it out.
What I really need to do is cook and clean, but I don't feel very well today. Both Terry and I have had a bout of something mild but enough to make us feel achy and lethargic, and with a little bit of lung congestion. I found some frozen shrimp in the freezer and I've got some tofu, so I will figure out a stir fry. Shouldn't be too bad. I tend to be an ad hoc cook anyway.
*Jonathan Swift was the great humorist in English who has never been surpassed. I have always liked this sentence, because it is so controlled and beautiful: "Our brother Tom has just got the piles." So poetic.
Greg Grandin's Kissinger's Shadow is an excellent summation of Kissinger's life and times (the times he dragged us all through). If you want to understand our foreign policy failures from Vietnam to the present and the central role Kissinger played in all that death and destruction, read the book. It is a model of clarity, admirable in its detail and yet easy to understand. It brought back so many memories, mostly bad ones.
Kissinger is a multi-faceted person, ultimately impossible to understand. Still it's impossible not to wonder: What were his motives? At the most basic level, it seems that he was obsessed with virility. He talked a good deal about action and not allowing America to appear "impotent," a word he used a lot. He was concerned with wowing the ladies, which he could not do on the basis of his looks, so he declared that power was an aphrodisiac. It's obviously one that works only for men! And to be honest, power when allied, as in Kissinger's case, with amorality, could only work on masochists.
But this is not the angle from which Grandin approaches his subject. His book is an admirable review of the period when Kissinger was prominent in public life and the ideologist of the reckless and failed U.S. foreign policy from Vietnam to today. It is only now, with the treaty agreements with Iran and the reconciliation with Cuba that we see some hope for a world order based on humanitarian considerations. Kissinger was never a real Cold Warrior. He was willing to embrace the Chinese and play footsie with Mao. This is part of the conundrum he presents. I can remember how puzzled conservatives were when Nixon went to China. "Aren't they our enemies?" they said. But how could they, with their little minds, understand the great sweep of history and the destiny of great nations? They had not read their Hegel.
Kissinger often stated, in a circular argument, that that if you had power you had to use it, because if you didn't use it you didn't have power. This notion has been his most powerful legacy and the rationalization for all of America's military interventions. So if we have been feeling that we are going around in circles, that's why.
So, how, you ask, did I get to shake hands with Nixon?
This was during his campaign in 1968 and we were in Madison, Wisconsin.
One of his campaign workers called us and spoke to Terry. She asked him if he was a Republican. Being long enough in the Midwest to respond in the local dialect, he said, "Why yes, yes I am." He was not at all, of course, but thought he would put her on. She was thrilled. "Oh," she said, "The students all seem to be Democrats." She got his name and address, and we got a nice invitation a couple of days later to attend a special event featuring Richard Nixon and his daughter Tricia! We were so excited. Well, really not, but we were curious. This was so different from the huge rally we had been to featuring Humphrey. It was like Nixon was sneaking into town to talk to some of his special friends.
Anyway, we went there and it was all pretty modest, not a big audience, and after he spoke we were herded over the dais to exchange a few words with him and shake his hand and Tricia's hand. He was not very tall. I have never seen so much pancake makeup on anyone, male or female. At close quarters he was totally charisma free. Tricia was pretty heavily made up, too. So there is your anticlimax.
Still reading the Kissinger book. What makes me so damn mad at this point is that everything these evil men did they blamed on us, the young people then. There was a lot of black humor at the time. Here is Trudeau on the "secret" bombing of Cambodia.
These Catholics were unfathomably cruel and essentially wiped out the California Indians, treating them as inhuman, working them to death -- all in the name of god and the Holy Church-- and deliberately destroying their culture.
There is really and truly that evil side of Catholicism that is unbearable to me. My mother mentions how, as a girl, she saw the torture instruments used on Indians in the basement of the Santa Barbara, California, Mission. She left the church as soon as she left her family, and I was raised outside of it and am an atheist.The hidden cruelty that is such a feature of Catholicism re-emerges in the current scandals involving the sexual torture of children.
Although a sucker for beautiful churches and missions and holy music and all that high culture, I can't forget the terror unleashed as the church came to dominance in the Latin-American world. It is a feeling that never left me on our trips to Mexico, Peru and Cuba, of a horror even deeper than the genocide in North America, something subterranean and evil beyond measure.
As a footnote, I do respect Pope Francis as a civilized person and a man of peace. But I can't accept his positions on the status of women. He has made apologies for the past sins of the church, and atonement is good, even if it seems weak, considering the magnitude of the crimes committed in the name of the most holy.
I was looking for something else and found this. It is a very poorly written explanation of Republican views on education. I'm getting fed up with this kind of ignorance. Alas, I know more than a few people who would nod their heads in agreement at this nonsense.