Disaster in Sierra Leone. You Can Help.

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The photos below were sent to me by a friend from Sierra Leone, West Africa, following a mudslide August 14 just outside the capital of Freetown. Warning: they are not easy to take.

Hundreds of dead bodies have been recovered and burial graves are being dug. Four hundred people are known dead and perhaps another thousand have yet to be uncovered. This has only lightly been touched in the US media.

The Sierra Leone friend (he currently lives in the Washington, DC area) who sent me these photos lost his niece, her husband and her two children. At least 18 other members of this friend’s family are still missing, along with many others who had moved to the Freetown area from my friend’s village.

As in many disasters such as this, there are many needs to be met, and a call has gone out for assistance. And of course, this is personal to me as I was in the Peace Corps there in 1965 to 1967.

Here are three possible organizations that I am aware of that are reputable groups providing assistance. If you are able to help, please consider donating to one of these (or any other that you may know of that can responsibly provide assistance to those in need):

Global Giving (Includes 10 different projects that are providing relief in Sierra Leone)

Schools for Salone

Save the Children

Much thanks in advance.

Baby Contest

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As some of you may know, our daughter Elizabeth (Beth) and son-in-law Brandt are the parents for a second time with the birth almost two weeks ago of Brooklyn (Brooke) Shapira Tilis.

Brooke has had a lovely first several weeks, what with adoring grandparents (two sets) around and with various other family and parental friends attending also. Her sister’s (Samantha) most frequent ‘words’ (after ‘mom ma’) are ‘ba ba’ as she refers to this new addition to the family. Whether she understands that Brooke is a permanent addition or not is yet to be determined, but so far, the whole family seems to be adjusting well.

And who does Brooke look like?

See if you can tell.

After the family hospital picture below, you will find 10 photos, of both Brooke and Samantha taken during their first two weeks of life. Do not assume there are five of each. See if you can distinguish between them. The correct answers will appear in the Comment section of this post on Thursday.

Photo # 1:

Photo #2:

Photo #3:

Photo #4:

Photo #5:

Photo #6:

Photo # 7:

Photo #8:

Photo #9:

Photo #10:

The first three contestants who correctly identify all 10 of the above pictures will win a T-Shirt with either the family photo above or one with Brooke. You may put your answers in the comment section or in an email to me.

Immediate family (parents, grandparents, parents’ siblings & their spouses, grand aunts, uncles, cousins, etc,) are not eligible for the above prize, but there is a separate prize category for them. For immediate family, please send me your choices in an email.

Correct answers will appear in the Comment section of this post Thursday, Aug. 25 at which time the Contest ends.

Baseball Happenings West of the East Coast

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(Last night another walk off win in the bottom of the 9th)

Have you noticed what’s going on in baseball on the left coast? I know some of you have long ago given up on following Da Bums since they betrayed their Brooklyn fans and left Ebbets Field for LA. That, plus the fact that their games end after much of the country has gone to bed, makes them sometimes an after thought for some of us.

But check them out. Fifty-one games above .500, playing at a .715 win percentage rate, leading their Division by 18.5 games, and clearly on a path to win well over 100 games (115 if they continue at this rate).

Nats’ fans take note.

And then there’s Houston. Yes. Houston. Winning at a rate of .617 (74-46), 12. 5 game ahead of their closest Division rival, and likely headed for a 100 win season at this rate. Last year Houston ended just a bit over .500 and 11 games out.

On a different note, thanks to an email from MillersTime reader and baseball fan LL, something curious is happening in Kansas City too.

         (Could it be because of base running? Photo by Denny Medley, Reuters)

While they are not playing at the level of the Dodgers or the Astros, they nevertheless continue to exceed expectations of virtually every computer projection (last five years). They simply are winning more games than those who love and live by statistics project.

Just what’s going on?

Check out this good article from the WSJ by Jared Diamond:

What’s up in Kansas City? The Baseball Team That Computer Models Can’t Figure Out.

 

Seeing a Total Eclipse

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(Credit Reuters)

I suspect many of you have seen a partial eclipse (of the sun). But most of you probably haven’t seen a full eclipse. I haven’t.

And I hadn’t planned to stay in Kansas City where I am as I write this (‘helping’ my daughter and son-in-law celebrate the birth of their second child). Specifically, my wife and I had planned to return to home to DC on Sunday, having been here a full two weeks by then.

As it turns out, Sunday is the day before the August 21 full eclipse, and the view from the Kansas City area, which, according to NASA, is in “the path of totality.” Still, my own parents had always warned me about over staying one’s welcome.

Then I read Annie Dilliard’s Classic Essay: Total Eclipse, which has just been reprinted in The Atlantic. It was first published in 1986, and she quite convincingly writes that there is no comparison between a partial and a full eclipse. Beyond that, her essay is eyeopening and beautifully written.

I urge you to read it also, while I am in the process of changing my reservations back to DC, where the viewing is decent, but nothing close to what will be possible from here.

Baseball’s Next Big Thing?

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Close observers of baseball all recognize that home runs and strikeout are up, and many say that the two are connected.

But sportswriter (and a favorite of mine) Joe Posnaski thinks that the reason Houston is doing so well is they are going beyond just accepting that ‘baseball wisdom.’

See this recent article. I think he and they are on to something:

Houston’s Awesome Hitting Feat Is Defying Trends, Joe Posnanski, MLB columnist.

Summer Film Reviews by Ellen Miller

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While your ‘trusty’ blogger was away on ‘baby watch’ in Kansas City, Ellen saw a number of films and agreed to write mini-reviews. The bold stars are her ratings, and for the three we had previously seen together, my ratings follow hers:

Maudi *****+

This is a stunning 5*+ movie. Based on a true story of a Nova Scotia folk artist — Maude Lewis  — it’s a memoir about her debilitating physical handicaps, about rejection by her family, and about her art. It’s also about her husband –Everett Lewis’ life of isolation and hardship, and their love in rural Nova Scotia. When they find each other, both of them are lost and unloved (and unlovable) souls in a stark, depressing world. Yet, every element of this film makes you hopeful. It rings first class on all the film values I can think of: acting, production, photography, narrative, pacing, and film writing. Ethan Hawke plays Everett, and Sally Hawkins plays Maude. Both will certainly be nominated for best actor awards. It’s not surprising that this near perfect film is a co-production of Canada and Ireland.

It won’t be playing long or maybe not even where you are, but this is a must-see if you can.

[8/4 Update – Richard ***** – Just saw this and concur on all points above. Ellen did not overstate her praise for this film.]

A City of Ghosts *****

Put this documentary in the category of “what I didn’t know” (ashamedly). By filmmaker Matthew Heineman, it won great acclaim at Sundance, not only telling the story of the horrific violence of ISIS in the Syrian city of Raqqa (which I did know), but how the brave, mostly “citizen journalists” have gotten the word out to the world, in a time when no one was paying attention. The early footage is shot in July 2014 when the Islamic militants took control of Raqqa and contains brutal images of the aftermath. The real-life nightmare that citizens face there has been told with hidden cameras and video. Possibly, the impactful part of the film focuses on the journalists who fled to Turkey and Germany, and who – at great risk to their lives– have found clandestine ways to tell the story of Raqqa to the world.

In the end, this is a deeply sad movie.

Lady Macbeth *****

This is not a film for everyone. It’s tough (and beautiful) to watch. The “Lady Macbeth” in this movie is a young woman in Victorian England, who, in a trade along with some land parcels, is handed off to a much older man. He seems to reject her, and she rejects the conventions of the times. She takes a stable hand as a lover, and then goes to extreme ends to keep her independence. The cinematography is stunning – each scene is exquisitely posed to create the most tension possible. The acting is first rate, and the story line is gripping and stark.

The audience ultimately has the responsibility of how to view “Lady Macbeth’s” ethical choices.

Variety Magazine sums it up well “At one level an extreme, unflinching feminist cautionary tale about the ultimate perils of chauvinistically containing or instructing a woman’s desires and impulses, “Lady Macbeth” also works as a fascinatingly inverted character study — wherein continued abuse and silencing gradually makes an oppressor of a victim.”

The film is based on Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novella “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk.”

Midwife ***

I will admit right from the start that I saw this film because I wanted to see Catherine Deneuve again, and because I haven’t seen a French film in a very long time.

I was disappointed.

It’s very French in its story: two women attached to one man — the father of Claire (played by Catherine Frot) was the former lover of Beatrice (played by Catherine Deneuve). The two women meet after 30 years, make peace with their pasts and bond together (with some reluctance) over new, compelling circumstances. Both of the characters are sympathetic (Claire is a caring midwife), though not always or at the same time.

I expected a sparkling and crisp performance from Deneuve and was disappointed.

Dunkirk ***** (Richard ****1/2)

This is one of the most extraordinarily extravagant and grand films I’ve seen in years and perhaps one of the greatest stories of “war is hell” ever filmed (or at least the greatest one I have ever seen).

The story centers on the British evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940, and the land, sea, and air efforts mounted in the execution of that task. The production of this film is over the top — you are there in every moment — flying the Allied bombers; in the hulls of the ships transporting the solders; on the beaches at the Germans run their bombing raids; in the flaming water as soldiers are being recused. The tension builds in this film (cued a bit too loudly by the music), and you find yourself gripping the edge of your seat for most of the film.

But as much as this film is about war, it is also about the extraordinary patriotism of British citizens who supported them with a touching story that you will long remember.

See it.

[Richard: I saw this also and was not quite as enthusiastic as Ellen. The extraordinarily loud music bothered me and seemed somewhat out of place, and I couldn’t hear/understand some of the dialogue. Plus the lack of a linear story line had me confused at a number of points. Guess I sound like an old man. But it did send me to learn more about Dunkirk, and the two articles below added to my understanding of the film: one gives you background about the war itself, and one is a thoughtful review of the film.]

What is Dunkirk? Everything You Need to Know about the World War II Battle by

Review of the film by the New Yorker‘s film critic Richard Brody.]

The Exception **** (Richard ****)

If you think of this movie as part spy thriller and part Holocaust fairy tale (yes, that’s an oxymoron), you’ll appreciate, and perhaps even enjoy it, which I did.

A German soldier has been assigned to spy on the Kaiser who living in exile in the Netherlands when he improbably falls in love with the Kaiser’s Jewish housemaid. When the SS shows up, the clashes ensue, and everyone is forced to make some difficult moral choices.

By far the star of this show is Christopher Plummer who is a pleasure to watch as the erasable and unpredictable calculating Kaiser. Honestly, it’s worth seeing the film just to watch him.

Sami Blood **** (Richard ****1/2)

This is an odd little film with beautiful photography, a meaningful story, and very little dialogue.

The time is the 1930s, and the chief protagonist is a 14-year old girl from a remote Swedish ethnic minority known as the Sami people. She leaves her family and their world and attempts to integrate into modern day Sweden. At every turn she is faced with discrimination and racism. It’s a story about Swedish society that I didn’t know. It’s shocking to observe Sami as she struggles to makes her way in the modern world (and through her adolescence), and it’s easy to sympathize with her plight. It’s a quietly profound film. The acting by new comer Lene Cecilia Sparrok is superb.

(Richard: The story is one you’ve seen or read before. What was new for me was the ethnic minority and the setting, Scandinavia and not the Americas.)

Understanding Trump & His Supporters

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The morning after Trump’s victory over Clinton, I simply posted:

The country spoke yesterday.

And we must listen.

I have tried to follow my own advice and have struggled with where my biases, my instincts, my thinking, and my emotions have led me. And as readers of this site know, I have mostly posted links to articles and books that seek to explain what I continue to find hard to understand: how is it that this President can continue to say and do what he does and to continue to have support from many of those who elected him?

Thanks to a suggestion from a MillersTime reader in the Comment section of a post a few days ago on this topic — Understanding Others: Tone More Than Policies? — I believe I now understand much more about Trump and about his supporters than ever before.

In a long interview/discussion between two individuals, Sam Harris and Scott Andrews, both strangers to me, I now have a frame that helps me see what has been in front of me but which I have not sufficiently understood. While my sympathy and views are largely similar to those of Sam Harris, it is Scott Andrews — he predicted Trump’s rise and victory all along — who is responsible for my new understandings.

You will need some time to listen to the lengthy podcast of the conversation between these two knowledgeable observers, but you don’t have to listen to the entire 2 hours and 17 minutes of that conversation. After a slowish start, the heart of what they discuss is contained within the first hour. I know that is long time to devote out of your busy schedules, but given the amount of time many of us have ‘devoted’ to reading about the latest news, fake or real, for me it was time well spent.

You can begin to listen to the Adams / Andrew’s exchange by going to: The Waking Up Podcast.

You will likely view what is happening in our country with clearer vision than many of you/us have until this point.

Ai Weiwei Returns to DC

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Ai Weiwei — the prolific Chinese dissident artist — returns to Washington in the sense that his latest creations are once again on display at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in DC. (See my 2012 post: Ai Weiwei: Today’s Most Powerful Artist? about one of his earlier exhibits here.)

Since that previous show of his work, I’ve followed this contemporary artist (sculptor, architect, photographer, painter, performer, woodworker, potter, activist, protester…) and continue to be fascinated by his creativity and his ability to express his views about art and society in a way that is immediately understandable to the viewer.

The current exhibit — Ai Weiwi: Trace at Hirshhorn — consists of just two pieces of work, spread over four or so rooms at the museum. The first work is two sets of wallpaper composition titled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but is Really an Alpaca. It covers much of the circular wall space on the second floor of the museum. One is produced in a gold colored print, and the second is a black and white version of the same wallpaper. When you first see the wallpaper, especially from a distance, it appear simply to be a traditional wallpaper pattern that repeats itself. As you begin to examine it more closely, you discover that it is something quite different. You realize that it is about “surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos, which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority. Together, the massive works span nearly 700 feet around the Hirshhorn’s Outer Ring galleries.”

The wallpaper is actually background for the major part of the exhibit, Trace, which “features 176 portraits of people around the world whom the artist considers activists, prisoners of conscience, or advocates of free speech. Each of the portraits is made of thousands of plastic LEGO bricks, assembled by hand and laid out on the floor. This piece was originally commissioned in 2014 as a site-specific installation at the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. It was commissioned by FOR-SITE Foundation, and became a collaboration of the National Park Service and the Golden Gate Park Conservancy. It reportedly drew nearly 1 million visitors.”

The individuals portrayed on the floor of the various rooms at the Hirshhorn with the LEGO creations (using 1.2 million individual LEGOS) are generally grouped around regions of the world from where the individuals have lived, worked, and/or been imprisoned. Each room has an easily accessible video display where visitors can learn details about the activism of each individual. Some of the highly pixellated portraits are in black and white, and some in colors — often colors associated with the country from where the activist/dissident lives/lived. Each of the LEGO portraits is based on actual photographs of the dissidents, often their “mug shot.”

Ai Weiwei has said that he wants his “art to be fresh and understandable” by all, including children. This exhibit certainly accomplishes that goal. As you walk through the six or eight sections, you likely recognize a number of the names — Edward Snowden, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandala, Aung San Suu Kyi. But there are many more that I suspect you only vaguely know about or don’t know at all. The list of those he included was inspired by a Amnesty International list of individuals targeted by their governments for their activism.

The impact of these portraits is important: The portraits represent people from all over the world — every continent — and dissidents from countries with both authoritarian and democratic governments. It is clear what Ai Weiwei wants us to understand.

And finally, the scope of the project, in its creation, in its political audaciousness, and in its execution (number of people involved in putting it together and the length of time to do so) along with the process of transportation and installation is simply mind-boggling.

It will remain at the Hirshhorn until Jan. 1, 2018 where you can view it free of charge between 10 AM and 5:30 PM every day except Dec. 25.

“America Has Spoken: The Yankees Are the Worst” – 538

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Well, something that we Sox fans have known from our first scrape with the Evil Empire has now been verified. While you-know-who-might call it fake news or question the source of this information and article (FiveThirtyEight), it is comforting to have ‘verification’ of what some of us have long known.

Check out this article which also includes ‘info’ on which teams are most liked and lots of other useful/useless information:

America Has Spoken: The Yankees Are the Worst (and the nation mostly agrees the Cubs are pretty cool), by Harry Enten, 538, July 20, 2017.

Books Favored by MillersTime Readers – Jan.-July 2017

“A Best Friend Is Someone Who Gives Me a Book I’ve Never Read”- A. Lincoln

Here are all, in one place, the 2017 mid-year favorite books by MillersTime readers. There are 205 titles, 115 fiction and 90 nonfiction. Fifty readers contributed to this wonderful list.

The first eight below ‘arrived’ in the last week or so and were not in earlier posts. They are followed by all the ones I posted earlier.

Enjoy.

Final Additions to the List:

Kathleen Kroos:

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (F).

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (F).

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (NF), my summer project…

Charles Tilis:

Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (NF) is likely a “must read” for progressives and a “never read” for conservatives. Senator Franken exposes the seedier side of politics today with a unique combination of wit and self-reflection of which both are needed to remain sane in today’s polarized environment. He does bring to life the rigors of big-league politics with the need for fundraising and impact on families. One thing is clear though—Senator Franken has the chops to aspire to greater office.

Land Wayland:

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (NF), about the 10 day visit in 2015 to the (non-Mayan) City of the Monkey God by a team of archaeologists, film makers, photographers and writers who traveled to a lonely, lonely, lonely area of Honduras called La Mosquitias, where no human has been seen for about 500 years…a city, indeed an entire civilization of 30,000–100,000, was abandoned due to the arrival of a parasite that causes the lips and nose to develop huge ulcers and eventually causes the person’s face to erode or waste away. The infection is exceedingly difficult to (1) detect and (2) treat and 8 out of 10 team members got it (they all survived) but it will never be out of their system, as it waits for a breakdown in their immune system to finish the job.

Before they walked away, the inhabitants carefully placed their entire civilization’s cache of sacred objects, including a number of sculptures of monkeys, in the main square.  And even though these these items would be worth millions of dollars to tomb-raiders, they were still in-situ 500 years later.  No one had been there.

What they found in 2015 is like all of the best jungle exploration stories of all time—even better. Beautiful quiet rivers surrounded by towering mountains and riotous jungle with bugs and butterflies and dragonflies and frogs never seen before.  Strange noises all night long including the sounds of big animals moving through the camp. They had multiple encounters with 7 foot jaguars and 6 foot deadly aggressive fer-de-lance snakes. It rarely stopped raining. And there were no paths of even the smallest kind and every step had to macheted into submission  There were deep quicksand pits, and thousands of serious big stinging ants waiting on trees to drop off onto your skin, and ticks, ticks, ticks and deadly spiders, spiders, spiders. And the ground was very literally covered with cockroaches at night. You could get lost 15 feet in the jungle from your group. The most important piece of equipment each person carried was their cell phone with a GPS  system that was accurate within one foot  Without it on and working (double checked) you did not dare step 3 inches outside the camp boundaries.

This is a book to read while seated in a chair with its legs in buckets of bug killer, covered with three layers of the finest grade bug netting, every part, every part, every part  of your entire body slathered in DEET, breathing through grade 7 nose filters and wearing swim goggles to keep the deadly no-see-ums out of your eyes, having blood samples drawn every hour to pick up the first signs of kidney or liver failure, and tuned by radio to the priest or rabbi back home who is sending constant prayers up in your behalf because the doctor;s are praying you don’t come back and bring stuff with you that will destroy their hospital’s  plan for dealing with exotic infectious diseases. And no I don’t exaggerate  nearly enough.

Elizabeth Tilis:

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (F). Your yearly mystery thriller a la Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, etc, but with a twist – the story is written backwards!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (F). A fun, light and quick read. I also enjoyed the HBO miniseries based on the book that came out this winter.

David P. Stang:

House of Names by Colm Toibin (F).

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (F).

(Please see the Guest Post: Thank You George Saunders & Colm Toibin, wherein David Stang delves into aspects of these two outstanding novels that were not evident to me when I read them.)

Brandt Tilis:

The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse by Tom Verducci (NF). It’s almost like reading a Moneyball sequel 15 years later after most teams caught up to that line of thinking.  How do the smartest Front Offices stay on the cutting edge of building a winner? As a bonus, we get to see the stories behind the characters that broke the Cubs’ curse (not just Theo Epstein but also Joe Maddon, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, etc). You don’t have to be a baseball fan to like this book, but you probably have to have enjoyed the Cubs’ run last year. There is some “Smartest Guys in the Room” BS that goes along with the book when reading it through the prism of some of the Cubs’ struggles this year, but that existed in Moneyball too.

Dixon Butler:

Ike and McCarthy by David A. Nichols (NF). The McCarthy era poisoned American life from 1950 – 1954. This book provides a thorough and quite readable history of Eisenhower’s role in bringing this reign of anticommunist demagoguery to an end. It transformed my view of Eisenhower.

Edan Orgad:

The North Water by Ian McGuire (F) is an incredible book to listen to. I hope they make a movie. Great recommendation (h/t EllnMllr).

 Previously Posted:

Continue reading »

Understanding Others: Tone More Than Policies?

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In the past eight months, I have never heard anybody express regret for voting for Donald Trump. If anything, investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia have made supporters only more faithful. “I’m loving it—I hope they keep going down the Russia rabbit hole,” Matt Patterson told me, in June. He believes that Democrats are banking on an impeachment instead of doing the hard work of trying to connect with voters. “They didn’t even get rid of their leadership after the election,” he said.

and

We were at a coffee shop, and Patterson wore his goth look: silver jewelry, painted nails. “I’ve never been this emotionally invested in a political leader in my life,” he said. “The more they hate him, the more I want him to succeed. Because what they hate about him is what they hate about me.

— from Peter Hessler’s New Yorker article, Follow the Leader: How residents of a rural area started copying the President.

I suspect some readers of this blog site mirror, to some degree, my difficulty in understanding the continuing appeal of President Trump to those “Outside the Beltway” — the title of this particular category of MillersTime’s posts.

Peter Hessler, the author of the article above, is someone I have read for years. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer who wrote one of the best Peace Corps books/memoirs I’ve ever read, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. He followed that up with Oracle Bones, then China’s Lost Cities, and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 2000 reporting from China and Egypt. In 2007 he moved to rural south west Colorado.

If the two quotes above have interest for you, check out the article from which they are quoted. Hessler has spent at least eight months listening to people in rural Colorado (and elsewhere?) and currently lives Ridgeway, CO,

Guest Post: “Thank You George Saunders & Colm Toibin”

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(Ed. Note: David Stang, one of my dear friends (with whom I disagree on many issues), has long been interested in the concepts of an afterlife, the spirit, the soul, and the disincarnate, all of which are foreign to me. Nevertheless, we continue to meet and talk and exchange views about many things. Today, this Guest Post is spurred by David’s reading of two recent novels which have received strong reviews, including ones by MillersTime readers.)

The Literary Resurrection of Spirits in George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo and Colm Toibin’s House of Names

by David Stang

 

Introduction:

One powerful dogma of Science for well over a century has been only what is material or measurable with scientific instruments may legitimately be considered real and therefore any notion of spirit, soul, afterlife consciousness or disincarnate beings – or even that is possible for humans to communicate with such entities – is necessarily a hallucination or a delusion most likely arising out of a mental disorder. In place of religion Science offered us Darwinism, followed by Neo-Darwinism, the present day majority view. There are no deities. There was no Creation. There is no afterlife. There is only evolution and adaptations. Our only purpose for being alive is to propagate and perpetuate our species.

In addition to the attacks on anyone who questions Neo-Darwinist theory, there have often been attacks from the Christian Church on those who seek to make connections with spirit realm entities. Mediums, also called necromancers, who communicated with dis-incarnate spirits and other world entities have for centuries been accused by the Church of doing the work of the Devil.

The effect of the Church coupled with attacks from science adversely affected those persons engaged in the Arts who had interest into delving into matters involving deity, soul, spirit and the afterlife. Artists were intimidated from writing plays, novels, film scripts, short stories almost any other kind of fiction which showed sympathy or acceptance of such other worldly phenomena. In time the artists caught on and stopped writing novels, short stories and film scripts about the spirit realm and all of its varied denizens. But in recent years there have been signs that the pendulum was about ready to start swinging in the other direction.

Within the first six months of calendar year 2017 two novels with a heavy duty emphasis on necromancy have been published with little apparent risk that their authors would be subjected to defamation, scorn and other such as punishments. This year George Saunders (author of Lincoln In The Bardo) and Colm Toibin (author of House Of Names) each jumped fearlessly into the spirit realm with both feet. The term Bardo, based upon Buddhist tradition, is best defined as a state or states of being or consciousness following death.

Continue reading »

Baseball Imitates Life, cont.

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Or is it life imitates baseball?

I’m never sure.

A friend (Harry S) sent me a link to the column below by (another) one of my favorite sports’ writers, Doug Glanville. He’s such a human guy.

It’s toward the end of the article that I was once again reminded how much in common there is between baseball and what happens in our lives.

See: What Makes (and Unmakes) an All Star by Doug Glanville, NYTimes.

And as I posted a couple of days ago, we have a winner for Contest #5 of the MillersTime baseball foolishness.

Now, on to the second half of the beisbol season. It’s all going too fast.

1st MillersTime Baseball Contest Winner

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Update July 12, 2017: Congrats to Brent Schultz. See below.

When the MLB All Star game concludes tomorrow night, we’ll have our first winner of the 2017 MillersTime Baseball Contests.

Contest #5 asked you to predict who would win that game. Seventy-three per cent of you said the American League would continue its dominance. Twenty-seven per cent said the NL would triumph this year.

There was a Tie-Breaker question that asked which player would get the most votes in the AL & the NL. Most of you thought Mike Trout and Bryce Harper would be the league leaders. In fact, Harper did lead the NL with 3.6+ million votes. However, no one named Aaron Judge (3.4+ million votes) to lead in the AL. Jose Altuve was second in the AL with 2.9+ million, followed by Mike Trout with 2.5+ million.

So, if the AL wins the All Star game, Brent Schultz will be this year’s Contest #5 winner as he had Harper and AL Runner-Up Altuve . Jesse Maniff and Todd Endo both had the AL and Trout and Harper. Close, but not close enough.

If the NL wins, there’s a tie between eight of you who had the NL and Trout and Harper – none had Altuve – (Nicholas Dent, Land/Dawn Wayland-Wilson, Jerome Green, Annie Orgad, Sam Poland, Steven Begleiter, Nellie Romero, Nicholas Lamanna). In that case, because his submission came in first, Nicholas Dent will win.

Prize: Winner will join me to see a Nats’ game in wonderful seats. If the winner doesn’t live in the DC area, can’t get here, or doesn’t want to come to DC, he can give his prize to someone who can get here, or I can take a kid to a game in the winner’s place.

And, of course, the best prize of all, he will get the rare and valuable MillersTime Winner T-Shirt.

Watch, Listen, and Then Read

In a series of videos and articles, the Washington Post this morning lays out details not previously disclosed about what Russia was up to in the 2016 US elections and how Pres. Obama did and didn’t respond.

While the articles focus primarily on the Obama’s administration’s handling of what was occurring, it also gives the reader background and information about the role of others in Washington and Moscow – the intelligence agencies, candidate Trump, Majority Leader McConnell, President Putin, etc.

No matter whether you are a Democrat (I am) or a Republican, no matter your views of Obama, Trump, Putin, US Intelligence agencies, the Washington Post, or the media, there is information here that we all must know and understand.

Start with the 10:43 video overview by clicking on the link below. Then, if you want to know more of the details of this morning’s Washington Post investigation, continue with the written parts of the article:

“In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century…” Wash. Post, 6/23/17