War and God

I was recently messaging with old friend Barry Mateer who is now in Iowa about his time 50 years ago when he was a Peace Corp volunteer in Nepal. He was there for a couple of years, returned to Iowa, got sick from a disease contracted over there, almost died, and when drafted, he filed for Conscientious Objector (CO) status. He was required to do some Alternative Service instead of serving in Vietnam. He elected to return to Nepal, and his parents, although concerned, did not object.

My tennis buddy and teaching colleague in Barcelona was about the same age. He too was a CO, did his Alternative Service cleaning toilets at a state hospital (mental institution). I was a bit younger, was in line to be drafted, but by then the war was winding down. Nonetheless, I also applied for CO status and was accepted about 6 months before Jimmy Carter ended the draft, so I didn’t have to do any Alternative Service. (I did end up volunteering for my church in China for a year, similar to AS, but many years later.

Which brings me to this story in the Smithsonian magazine, The Priest of Abu Ghraib. It is a long piece about Joshua Casteel and his time in Afghanistan. Another war, same story. Casteel was raised in a very religious family and volunteered for the war. I will let the article tell his fated and tragic story, a story where he struggles mightily to be a good Christian as well as a good soldier. He fails. With terrible consequences.

We switched as a family from the Catholic church to the Church of the Brethren when I was a teen. I was never sure whether it was because it was such a great church (it was) or whether it was because it was a peace church. I certainly am grateful, though, for the move. While my family has moved cities and congregations (they are now Presbyterian), I have wandered away from a formal religion and accepted a happy agnosticism like those around me here in Japan. I still volunteer, though, and I still think about war, killing and god. But nowhere like Joshua Casteel.

Who is lambasting whom?

I was reading my RSS feed and came across an article in The Hill (a neutral rated news outlet that is good for news titles). It said, in paragraph 3 or so, that “Trump lambasted Democrats on Twitter earlier Tuesday” That got me curious about lambasting.

Now, for my students, (look it up!) lambasting means to criticize strongly. (Dictionary.com has it as “criticize harshly”. Merriam Webster has it as “assault violently” or to “attack verbally”. Growing up in the age of Nixon, I got the impression that it was strong criticism with a note of sarcasm and an element of truth. Most of the lambasting going on then was directed toward the President who had to claim he was not a crook.

So I started to think. Which direction is the lambasting going these days? A search for trends does not yield any significant results. But a simple search for “Trump lambasted” gets 23,300 hits (using the incognito window, so it is not filtered for my previous searches). A search for “lambasted Trump” drew about half that, with 11,800 hits. Now searching inquiries to Google is not a great measure, it is pretty much all we have. (Any suggestions for other search engines?)

It might be the media, attributing a more violent verb to our current President who claims no collusion. Still trying to check out that avenue. Which leads me to wonder if the rest of us are being too nice. May I suggest we “politely” lambaste away? My other question was whether you can really lambaste by Twitter.

Weakly Post #2

Note: Here is a quick collection of recent links that have tittled my interest. Go to my blog. Read. Comment (I have to approve your first comment, but then you can whenever.) And yes, I know tittled is not a word and I didn't spell Weekly right. It makes searching easier.

Kitties: My wife’s kitty (Noah) has been keeping me company while she is helping her mother in Nagoya. Did you know that their whiskers are just wide enough to tell them they can get through a hole?

Politics

We can see the underbelly of the immigration crisis, with the capitalists making out like bandits with help from the Banana Republicans. For-profit jails (like for-profit universities) are raking in government money and paying slave wages. Literally. Slave wages. (DailyBeast)

Fortunately, we have people taking a bit longer look at the year ahead, and how similar it is to a century ago. (NYTimes) Politics, literature, and culture were changing at a tremendous rate then and now. For a broader look at post-WW1 and how it really wasn’t so peaceful, read futurist Bryan Alaxander.

Media

Speaking of Alexander, I have just finished (late) reading Twitter and Teargas as part of his online book club. Zeynep Tufecki has covered demonstrations all over the world in research and has long been studying the beneficial (initially) and detrimental (ongoing) effects on political movements. Confession here, reading the book, I imagined Tufecki as a man and just saw her picture, making the book even more amazing considering all the places (Mexico and Guatemala, Egypt, Turkey and others) in her studies of often contentious and violent demonstrations. The excellent research goes without saying.

Rachel Maddow is killing it with her incisive journalism, marshalling details often overlooked, connecting the past to today, making her more and more popular. (WashingtonPost). With her BA from Stanford, and PhD from Oxford (PoliSci), she regularly pummels Trump colluder Sean Hannity (did not graduate) on information available. One of the best things I did on my walks this last month was to listen to Bag Man, a podcast about Spiro Agnew, a corrupt local Maryland politician elevated to Vice President under Nixon for his rhetoric against politics and the media. The Justice Department investigation into his ongoing bribery in the white house as it was coming down around the ears of Nixon and him was faithfully rendered by Maddow in 7 episodes of about 30 minutes each. The reflection on today is both alarming and exhilarating. There is precedent.

New Weakly Post

Instead of posting so much on Facebook, I am going to collect ideas here. Each week, I plan to publish on the weekend a set of new stuff that I find each week. See the new stuff from this week. (And yes, I know I misspelled it. Makes it easier to search for.)

No more Nutella

Got this for Christmas. I don’t eat that much Nutella, but now I can’t at all. This is sooo good. Did you know that Nutella and this spread are made from chocolate and hazelnuts? And hazelnuts are grown in Turkey (1) and Italy (2) and consumed mostly in Italy. Nutella uses about half of all hazelnuts.

In Politics, we see that the detention camp in Tornillo Texas is slated to close down. Also note that since its opening in June, it has cost $144 million. That is $400/day/child. They could have been housed in the Presidential Suite of most hotels for that. Also note that the word “tornillo” in Spanish means screw or bolt, as in the phrase “tighten the screws.” Midieval.

Watch this 20-minute video on a group of activists against animal abuse as part of corporate meat manufacturing. They may face decades in prison, yet continue. Sounds almost as crazy as the laws the companies were able to get passed in corrupt state governments. Another symptom of end-stage capitalism.

EdTech: Audrey Watters used to write a series of articles at the end of the year about trends in EdTech. I read all 30,000+ words religiously each year. This year, she is working on a book, so only wrote one article, and it is a doozy.