Re-Creating

A scholar I know has just written an article bashing a jazz group for re-creating Miles Davis’s classic “Kind of Blue”album note for note including the solos’ of the musicians. She makes the point that this is a Western way of seeing music as property rather than the African American one of what Henry Louis Gates calls signifying. Gates defines signifying as “repetition with a difference” which is at the center of black art and culture. This Western way was fetishizing the form of the music rather than the experience of the music. A long time ago I read something by C.S.

Old Friends

If you are lucky, and I mean really lucky, you have a friend you haven’t seen in a long time with whom you pick up where you left off as if it were just yesterday. One of my friends like that just visited me for a few days and little in our friendship had changed. Oh sure we had a few more pounds between us and our hair was grayer, retreating, or both, but the core of our friendship was as strong as ever. If you have spent time in the foxhole of undergraduate college together, supporting each other from

What Trump Doesn’t Understand About Immigration

Donald Trump doesn’t understand a lot of things, but right now we are concentrating on what he doesn’t understand about immigration. Historically most immigrants have come from “shithole” countries although which countries these were has changed over time. Even his beloved Norway was once a shithole and although I haven’t checked the stats I would hazard a guess that there was more Norwegian immigration then than there is now. Most of the 19th and 20 century immigration was from what were then “shithole” places. If you think about it people are more likely to leave their homes if the economy

Yelling at my TV

From time to time there are things on the news that make me yell at my television because they are so outrageous or because the media have so spun the wrong narrative that it is brainwashing the public. Cases in point:

In a photo op I watched on CBS news Trump was  handing out sandwiches or something to hurricane victims when a middle aged white man contrasted Trump’s behavior in coming out to help with Obama’s who was golfing during the last hurricane. This of course is keeping with the internet memes which show a picture of Trump helping compared with

You are who your record says you are

“You are who your record says you are,” is a famous quote from football coach Bill Parcells. It should be applied to all aspects of your life. This is not to say that people cannot change and they are bound by or should be judged by past behavior. It is to say that you should judge someone on their deeds not their words or what they want you to think about them. If you want to change your behavior from your past behavior then your current deeds will reflect that. We can apply it to relationships for example and it

Faith and Epistemology

Out of the blue my friend asked me “What do you think of faith and epistemology?” He was an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years and we were having a pleasant lunch together. In his youth he had earned a master’s degree in philosophy before turning to a 35 year career as a middle and high school teacher. We were both seeking to exercise our intellectual chops as we hadn’t done so for a while. By faith he meant belief system and by epistemology he meant an investigation of our knowledge of what is true or false.

Appropriate Appropriation

Back in the 1960’s I remember seeing a cartoon by Jules Feiffer in which a black hipster said “I dug jazz then whitey picked up on it…” then repeated it in the next few panels with some other thing that whites had appropriated (to use contemporary language.) The cartoon’s last panel said “Then I dug freedom…and finally lost him.” This comes to mind whenever I read about some black folk complaining that this white person has adopted a black style or black music or hairdo.

The discussions about appropriation I read about today usually revolve around three issues. First, white artists

Thoughts in the Time of Trump

Before the presidential election a few months ago I mused about whether it is more upsetting to live in a country where Donald Trump was president or in a country where people would elect a Donald Trump to office. I have decided that it is the latter. The election of Donald Trump reveals that my fellow citizens are not only desperate, racist, and selfish, but they are incredibly ignorant of how things work in America. I am not talking about the 1% who have a rational interest in Trump because he will protect and advance their interests. The ideological conservatives

Health Care: Private or Public Good?

The narrow approval of the House of Representatives to repeal the ACA and replace it with a new health care act that will ultimately leave millions without health insurance, is an act so callous and cruel that I struggle to understand why the congresspeople did it. A New York Times editorial savages it: (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/opinion/obamacare-house-vote.html?smid=tw-share ) Yes there is a large money saving element to it and it will probably pay for a tax cut that will benefit the wealthy most. However that is not all there is to it. The conservative argument is based on the idea that health care is

Why Trump’s Ignorance Matters and Why it Doesn’t

Every day it seems that Donald J. Trump reveals some new level of ignorance that boggles the mind. Each day it may be ignorance or misunderstanding of history, the Constitution, diplomacy, the workings of government, non-whites, grammar, the presidency, or the majority of the American people. Liberals gloat and point out his shortcomings while his supporters stoutly defend him from those elitists who rely on so-called facts or science. They say his critics get too hung up on of the literal meaning of his words or that he gets a date or fact wrong, while it is his policies that