“Reason is for rich people. We have madness.” ~ Marlon James, from A Brief History of Seven Killings

Students gather at White House to demonstrate against gun violence on National School Walkout day
Two for Tuesday: Society’s Death Toll from gun violence

Tuesday afternoon, overcast, warmer temperatures, 53 degrees.

Today’s poems are not easy or beautiful, but they are powerful. Consider, Langston Hughes wrote his poem in 1938, and the truly depressing aspect is that it is still applicable today. The second poem is from three years ago, and either poem could have been written during any period in our history—when lynchings were common, or when gun violence became a way of life for our society.

Listen, one of my biggest political anxieties is that this country still does nothing to rid itself of mass shootings. Don’t scream at me about the 2nd Amendment, okay? I’m not suggesting that the government come and take away your guns. But I am advocating that we need much stricter gun laws. Even the fascist NRA is for more control. It’s just too damned easy for someone to get a gun, modify a gun, purchase hundreds and hundreds of rounds, and then go out and kill people.

Students at Roosevelt High School take part in a protest against gun violence Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Seattle

We are the only country in the world that has repeated mass shootings and still does nothing to ensure that such violence against society does not happen again. Since 1966, this country has had 161 mass shootings (defined as four or more people killed by a lone/two shooters); this number does not include gun violence, robberies, etc.). The Washington Post has a really good article that breaks down each shooting into detail.

I am not naive enough to believe that any individual who wants a gun can find a way, but I still contend that we can make that process harder. In my ideal world, there would be no guns available anywhere, but that will never happen. So I would settle for making access harder, especially to people who have no business gaining access to killing materials.

By the way, don’t bother leaving comments about killing people with hammers or knives or baseball bats or any other easily accessible implement. I really don’t care to hear it. And I’m absolutely not going to apologize for wishing that we did not have a continuing legacy of innocent people being killed—by cops, or troops, or drones, or individuals with malice in their hearts.

Sorry, not sorry. Here are today’s poems:


Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

~ Langston Hughes


How We Could Have Lived or Died This Way

Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
But songs of insurrection also,
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel the world over.
—Walt Whitman

I see the dark-skinned bodies falling in the street as their ancestors fell
before the whip and steel, the last blood pooling, the last breath spitting.
I see the immigrant street vendor flashing his wallet to the cops,
shot so many times there are bullet holes in the soles of his feet.
I see the deaf woodcarver and his pocketknife, crossing the street
in front of a cop who yells, then fires. I see the drug raid, the wrong
door kicked in, the minister’s heart seizing up. I see the man hawking
a fistful of cigarettes, the cop’s chokehold that makes his wheezing
lungs stop wheezing forever. I am in the crowd, at the window,
kneeling beside the body left on the asphalt for hours, covered in a sheet.

I see the suicides: the conga player handcuffed for drumming on the subway,
hanged in the jail cell with his hands cuffed behind him; the suspect leaking
blood from his chest in the backseat of the squad card; the 300-pound boy
said to stampede bare-handed into the bullets drilling his forehead.

I see the coroner nodding, the words he types in his report burrowing
into the skin like more bullets. I see the government investigations stacking,
words buzzing on the page, then suffocated as bees suffocate in a jar. I see
the next Black man, fleeing as the fugitive slave once fled the slave-catcher,
shot in the back for a broken tail-light. I see the cop handcuff the corpse.

I see the rebels marching, hands upraised before the riot squads,
faces in bandannas against the tear gas, and I walk beside them unseen.
I see the poets, who will write the songs of insurrection generations unborn
will read or hear a century from now, words that make them wonder
how we could have lived or died this way, how the descendants of slaves
still fled and the descendants of slave-catchers still shot them, how we awoke
every morning without the blood of the dead sweating from every pore.

~ Martín Espada

(This poem and other related poems on gun violence found here on Academy of American Poets)

Music by Kaleo, “Way Down We Go”

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“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction.” ~ Bertrand Russell, from Sceptical Essays

 
Image result for quotes about how people will believe anything
(Thanks to View Pacific for reminding me of this one.)

“It’s hard to fathom the level of grubby exploitation you’ve reduced yourself to, to turn a buck off of people who are watching their loved ones die in slow-motion” ~ Daryl Khan, whose father hoped food-grade hydrogen peroxide would cure his wife Susan’s cancer

Thursday evening, cloudy again, 48 degrees.

Abraham Lincoln’s opinions on the internet notwithstanding, a little something different for today . . .

So you wouldn’t believe the number of websites, books, videos, and pamphlets that I found from supposed health gurus, truth tellers, and conspiracy theorists who want you to introduce food-grade hydrogen peroxide into your life, you know, for all of the health benefits, because it can cure gingivitis and cancer, simultaneously, and, well, just because.

Found on the Truth About Cancer website
PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T FALL FOR THIS! IT’S A BUNCH OF HOOEY THAT CAN DAMAGE YOUR INTERNAL ORGANS AND POSSIBLY KILL YOU!

According to a 2017 article in The Washington Post, “Hundreds of people have become severely ill and at least five have died after consuming high-concentration hydrogen peroxide that some people take as an additive to their diets, according to a new study.”

A ten-year study by the U.S. National Poison Data System and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) was published in Annals of Emergency Medicine; the study encompassed the years 2001-2011. During that time, “nearly 300 cases of high-concentration peroxide poisoning were identified.”

Dr. Benjamin Hatten, the lead study author, told CBS News that

The poisoning resulted in significant physical injuries, ranging from respiratory distress to seizures, strokes and heart attacks. About 14 percent of the patients experienced heart embolisms, while 7 percent died or had long-term disability after drinking hydrogen peroxide.

According to the NCBI of the NIH:

Hydrogen peroxide is relatively unstable and will rapidly decompose, through an exothermic reaction, into water and oxygen in the presence of alkali, metals and the enzyme catalase, which is found in mucous membranes, liver, kidney, red blood cells and bone marrow (). There are three main mechanisms of toxicity from hydrogen peroxide: caustic injury, oxygen gas formation and lipid peroxidation ().

The brown bottles of hydrogen peroxide that most of us have in our homes are 3 percent solutions. That’s a big difference from food-grade, which is usually a 35 percent solution, and often these food-grade jugs are clear or milky, resembling bottled water or milk products, and that’s a big problem if you have kids in your home, especially if they cannot read. The average amount of hydrogen peroxide in things like toothpaste and mouthwash is .1 percent. For more related facts, go here.

Go here for a good article explaining why food-grade hydrogen peroxide is not good for your health.

A marketing campaign aimed at making you believe that this is legitimate

I know that it might seem odd coming from me that I’m so adamantly against ingesting so-called food-grade hydrogen peroxide, but the supposed health benefits of using this dangerous 35 percent concentration, even diluted have never been studied by any reputable lab.

HydroProx-35-Pure-35-Food-Grade-Hydrogen-Peroxide-Diluted-to-8

Look, in recent years I’ve been trying to find natural and/or homeopathic and/or cruelty-free products in all areas of my life, but, and this is a BIG but, I research every supplement and/or vitamin that I add to my regimen; I monitor side effects and any possible benefits before deciding whether to continue or discontinue. And I in no way claim to be an authority on any of this.

I can tell you that Manuka honey has natural antibacterial properties that can do wonderful things for minor skin wounds. And rosehip oil is a wonderful moisturizer for your face. And snail slime, yep, even that, has beneficial properties. But a solution of diluted 35 percent hydrogen peroxide will not cure cancer, nor will it help with diabetes, nor will it help to oxygenate your cells.

I wrote this post because I had been sucked in by an article on the whole food-grade benefits about a month or two ago (who remembers time, so ephemeral…), so much so that I even priced a bottle on Amazon at that time (which has supposedly since banned 35 percent solutions, but a few can still be found). But then I began to dig deeper, and I realized that what was being touted was snake oil—pure and simple. And that’s the case with many, many supplements, health rinses and tonics (like turpentine), etcetera that are on the market today.

All that I am saying is please, please do your due diligence. Be an informed consumer, not a ill-informed victim.

More later. Peace.


And FYI:

Image result for Poison control center

“. . . I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.” ~ Gov. Rick Scott, Candidate for Senate

Recounting Ballots by Hand in Minnesota 2008 by Jonathunder (Wikimedia Commons)
Recounting Ballots by Hand in Minnesota 2008 by Jonathunder (Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday afternoon, sunny and cold, 39 degrees.

That Polar blast is definitely here.

As of just a short while ago, Florida is headed for a mandatory statewide recount in not one, but three races: governor and senator, as well as agricultural commissioner (the recount includes two state house seats in dispute). According to The New York Times:

As of noon on Saturday, the deadline for the state’s counties to hand in unofficial results, three statewide races remained under the 0.5 percentage point margin for a legally required machine recount: the Senate race between Mr. Scott, a Republican, and Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat; the governor’s race between Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, and the commissioner of agriculture race between Nikki Fried, a Democrat, and Matt Caldwell, a Republican.

The statewide recount is unusual, even for a state known for contested races, most particularly the 2000 race between George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.. Political consultant Matthew Dowd, who worked on Bush’s campaign, tweeted, “Not counting all the votes in Florida in 2000 was a grave injustice and caused many to question the legitimacy of Bush election. Let us not repeat that injustice in FL and AZ this year. Count all the votes.”

The machine recounts must be completed by Thursday. Of course Trump had nothing but positive things to say today regarding the supposed fraud: “As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes.”

In the gubernatorial race, Republican Ron DeSantis has seen his lead over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum narrow to .41 percentage points. The gap in the senatorial race between Republican Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson has narrowed to .15 percentage points; by law, a margin of .25 percent or less mandates a hand recount. Those results will be due by noon on November 18.

Just a note to any of you who don’t know my blog very well, I do not write solely about politics. This just happens to be a very important political week in our country’s history. I’ll be back to more of my usual fodder very soon.

More later. Peace.


Politics

Tonight Hazard’s father and stepmother are having
jazz for McGovern. In the old game-room
the old liberals listen as the quintet builds
crazy houses out of skin and brass, crumbling
the house of decorum, everybody likes that.

For decades they have paid for the refurbishing
of America and they have not got their money’s worth.
Now they listen, hopeful,
to the hard rock for McGovern.

The ceiling in this palace needs fixing,
the chalky blue paint is like an old heaven
but there are holes and flaking.
They had movies here when grandpa was solvent.

Hazard desires his wife, the way people
on the trains to the death camps were seized
by irrational lust. She is the youngest woman
in the room, he would like to be in bed
with her now, he would like to be president.

He has not been to his studio
in four days, he asks the bartender,
a college boy with a ponytail, for more gin.
He stands in the doorway. Forsythia and lilac
have overgrown the porch, there is the rich
smell of wood-rot. What twenty years will do
to untended shrubbery and America and Hazard.

~ William Meredith (as found on Poetry Foundation)

“We are going to make sure that every vote is counted – because in a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work everywhere for everyone.” ~ Stacey Abrams, Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate (D)

historic female firsts 2018
(From left to right) Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sharice Davids, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley (Getty)

“Kemp’s actions during the election were textbook voter suppression . . . [they] were strategic, careless and aimed at silencing the voting power of communities of color in the state.” ~ Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

I love that Brian Kemp declared himself the victor in a race that is almost certain to go to a runoff. I guess we all need to dream (nice way of saying that he’s deluded). At least he finally resigned his Georgia Secretary of State position, something he should have done before he started his suppression tactics.

Anyway, as of today, votes are still being tallied in many races, including that bastion of questionable close races: Florida. Of course we can count on 45 to make another stupid Twitter comment about it: “Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach.”

Republican Senatorial candidate Gov. Rick Scott started yelling fraud as soon as the margin began to close between him and Florida’s incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. David Becker, a former Justice Department voting-rights lawyer, commented that “these counties haven’t even finished counting ballots. This is all about winning and nothing about fraud, but it comes at the cost of delegitimizing our own democracy.”

Nevertheless, Democratic gains as of today are 30 seats in the House, with about 12 races still too close to call. This year’s midterms were significant for so many reasons, not the least of which was the incredibly diverse slate of candidates. According to an article in Market Watch, “At least 244 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates ran for office on all levels of government this year, including 21 candidates for Congress and four for governor.”

More importantly, with a record number of women voting, running, and winning, this race saw an historic number of firsts for women: first Muslims, youngest, first Latinas, first women of color, first Native Americans. In January, women will comprise 22 percent on Congressional makeup (up from 20 percent); still not enough, but definitely better than before. This article lists details.

More later. Peace.


Music by Janelle Monáe, “Q.U.E.E.N., featuring Erykah Badu (sorry, accidentally put the John Lennon song here first)

 

 

 

The 116th Congress will be one of the most diverse in the country’s history

Woman dressed as suffragette
A woman dressed as a suffragette casts her ballot for the midterm elections at the Polk County Election Office on October 8, 2018 in Des Moines, Iowa by Scott Olson | Getty Images

We did it! As of the end of last night, the Democrats had retaken the House of Representatives in spite of all of the questionable tactics used to interfere with our Constitutional right to vote. Don’t even get me started. The two big governor’s races in Florida and Georgia are questionable even though Andrew Gillum conceded, but I’m really hoping that the candidates in those two races pull ahead. It looks like there are quite a few races in which the margins make the results too close to call, but for now, there’s a whole lot of wait and see.


Music by John Lennon, “Gimme Some Truth”

 

“Drowning. Strychnine. Self-cannibalism. Scabs. Scarab beetles. Soul-abortion. God-divorce. Apostasy. Voice box autopsy. Hydrogen peroxide. Why can’t I scour below the pores? Possible cracked scapula. I didn’t dare go to the doctor. The X-ray would show no bones like the mirror confesses no reflection. Broken camera. Slow shutter speed; same photo over and over. Alchemy. Blood. Heart pumping mud. Black magic. Skin turned to stone. Slaughterhouse. Should have known better. Should have known better. Inadequate gravity. The earth cast off its axis; I’m fighting for an atmosphere somewhere in Andromeda.” ~ Deanna Larsen, from “What Rape Is Like”

I ran across this incredible article on my tumblr dash a few days ago, and I really want to share it. It’s too long to post in its entirey, so I’m giving a link. It’s a good read, but I have to include a trigger warning.

Prey

By Kathleen Hale

In the aftermath of rape, and throughout the two-year-long rape trial, I was obsessed with dangerous animals. This is how I went from prey to predator.

My obsession with animals preexisted any trauma in my life. As a five-year-old I wrote a fully illustrated book titled Tigger Maskkir about circus animals that revolt and eat the clowns. My teachers thought I was becoming deranged but my mom explained that it had been going on since before the divorce. I interviewed neighbours about their dogs. I put my teddy bears and stuffed lions to bed every night under blankets of washcloths—I couldn’t fall asleep until they were safely arranged like Tetris pieces on the floor, covering every inch of carpet. I once stood for an hour with my face against the glass at Sea World, trying to make meaningful eye contact with a manatee.

My ritualistic obsessions are no longer limited to animals (currently, they include Diane Sawyer, The Slender Man Stabbings, and eating bacon every day for lunch). I never look for things to grab me. They just do, and once they do, the obsessions usually continue until I’m so sick of them—or of myself for enacting them—that suddenly, and with a sense of great relief, I’m repulsed.

On other occasions, it’s as if I can’t stop. Like on my 18th birthday.

The night was raucously fun—I must have stolen the karaoke microphone 11 times—but as dawn broke, my friend asked if I could please stop singing Limp Bizkit. She needed to sleep.

“Believe me, I’d love to, but I physically cannot.” I was tired, too. I’d sung “Faith” twice, but five was my number and I was halfway there.

And sometimes I worry that telling the story I’m about to tell you is a compulsion, like counting. Giving testimony under oath was supposed to bring closure. But here I am, so sick of my own voice. The urge persists.

Here is my 2014 WordPress year in review:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.