Category Archives: general interest

a lynching

 

Southern Worker 12-12-1931

1 LYNCHERS_IN_SALISBURY_HAD_RIGH

2 EYE_WITNESS_TO_LYNCHING_TELLS_

3 Fellow_Worker_of_Lynched_Man_S 4 Gov._Ritchie,_Possible_Preside

4 Gov._Ritchie,_Possible_Preside

 

If you can bear it, read the news item, “Negro Worker Lynched for Demanding Pay,” in the Southern Worker, December 12, 1931, pp. 1-2.

There is an editorial on page 4.

Plus, I am posting a few other news stories from the time. The mainstream media gave the lynching only glancing notice. The Baltimore Afro-American was the only newspaper to give it serious coverage.

This is how blacks were treated then.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   December 2021

“Don’t you ever forget that name.”

 

‘Don’t you ever forget that name’ – Washington Post 8-30-2021

 

President Biden made his way on Sunday around a quiet room at Dover Air Force Base, … with dignitaries and grieving families huddling together as the president came to speak to them privately, one family at a time.

Mark Schmitz had told a military officer the night before that he wasn’t much interested in speaking to a president he did not vote for, one whose execution of the Afghan pullout he disdains — and one he now blames for the death of his 20-year-old son Jared.

But overnight, … Schmitz changed his mind. So on that dreary morning he and his ex-wife were approached by Biden after he’d talked to all the other families. … Schmitz glared hard at the president. …. Eventually, the parents took out a photo to show to Biden. I said, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12,” Schmitz said. “And take some time to learn their stories.”

Biden did not seem to like that, Schmitz recalled, and he bristled, offering a blunt response: “I do know their stories.”

 

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Re:

‘Don’t you ever forget that name’: Biden’s tough meeting with grieving relatives

By Matt Viser

The Washington Post

August 30, 2021

 

President Biden did not deserve this. It is the grieving father who, in my opinion, is wrong here.

Wrong to say what he did in the way he said it.

Biden did not, obviously, desire this tragic occurrence, and he is not responsible for it.

Admittedly, policies he recently implemented were an indirect cause for an airport attack in Kabul, Afghanistan last week that resulted in the deaths of thirteen U.S. Marines and service members. But Biden is not personally responsible. The suicide bomber and gunmen were.

Putting this aside, let’s focus on what’s appropriate, what is called for here.

You experience a death in your family. The mourners at the funeral or a wake make an effort to convey their grief and empathy, as do those officiating (a minister or priest, speakers at the service).

One should appreciate that they are there. That perhaps it wasn’t easy for them, that it evokes painful memories in them (such as President Biden’s own) of deaths they have experienced, that they are doing their best to be empathic and to express condolences.

That is all one can expect of others in such circumstances, whether the “others” are officials, family members, or friends. No one can ever share fully — experience fully — the grief of a grieving spouse or parent. To expect them to is self-serving and self-centered.

Everyone experiences in their lifetime moments of bereavement and personal grief. Others can recognize and empathize with yours, but they will never quite experience it (your grief) fully — which is to say, not the way you do.

Was it right to berate President Biden for not being sufficiently sorry (which was assumed with there being no basis for thinking so)?

No.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 31, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

a society in which “the individual … must be degraded,” “organized according to a reasoned scheme in the interests of the group”

 

  Avrahm Yarmolinsky, foreword – Dostovesky, ‘The Possessed’

 

The PDF file posted here contains the text of the foreword by Avrahm Yarmolinsky to the Modern Library edition of Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed.

[The Possessed] is book begotten of fear and wrath. Dostoyevsky had drawn indiscriminately on his memories of the Fourierist dreamers with whom he had associated in his youth, and on more recent phases of social and political insurgency, and he freely intermingled these elements. The result was an exaggerated, distorted, anachronistic picture of .gullible fools and fiends with a mania for destruction. And yet The Possessed testifies to the fact that Dostoyevsky was not without some insight into the nature of the upheaval from which he was separated by nearly half a century. It was to be such “an upset as the world has never seen before,” a transformation ruled by a violent intransigent spirit, and going beyond mere political and economic change. In the midst of the stormy events of 1905-06, [Dmitry] Merezhkovsky, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dostoyevsky’s death, spoke of him as “the prophet of the Russian revolution.” More recently, opponents of the Bolshevik regime have seen in The Possessed a prophetic anticipation of the events of 1917. But if he was a prophet, he was one whose vision was clouded by horror. At bottom what he feared was that the individual, whose needs, he felt, are of a spiritual and irrational order, must be degraded in a Socialist society organized according to a reasoned scheme in the interests of the group. [italics added]

— Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Foreword (excerpt), The Possessed, By Fyodor Dostoevsky; translated by Constance Garnett (The Modern Library, 1930)

 

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Reading works such as Edmund Burke’s  Reflections on the Revolution in France and Pitirim A. Sorokin’s The Sociology of Revolution has gotten me thinking about observations such as those made in the passage above; and so have recent developments in the US, where supposedly correct thinking people are being driven mad by abstractions to impose their “ideologically correct” edicts and sanctions.

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2021

 

 

“I should have stuck to fiction!”

 

My older brother was the starting third baseman for our high school baseball team.

According to a story he told me, our English teacher, Robert W. Tighe, was in the stands watching a game one day in which my brother was playing, with an acquaintance of his (the teacher’s, that is), a New York Yankees scout. Mr. Tighe was, despite growing up in Massachusetts and attending college there, a diehard Yankees fan.

Mr. Tighe, according to my brother’s story — as Mr. Tighe told him afterwards — asked the scout, so what do you think of the third baseman? He is one of my best students. (I am paraphrasing.)

“Tell him to stick to his books,” the scout replied.

 

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The following is a passage from one of many politically oriented articles by Theodore Dreiser in the 1930s and 40s:

“Life is and ever must be an equation between all sorts of contending forces—in a fair and maintainable balance. Neither chemically nor physically nor socially nor financially can it be workably run off into unbalance. In chemistry and physics explosions follow—disastrous and frightful to behold. And of humanity, collectively and socially assembled under forms of government the same thing is true. Where financial or social unbalance sets in and a few, because of their extorted wealth, set themselves apart and above the many and fail to see how necessarily interrelated they are either for good or for ill, you have either (1) revolution and so a restoration of balance or (2) where equity is defeated and inequity prevails you have death of that land or nation. If you do not believe this, consider Rome that declined and fell with the arrival of the Caesars; Italy that plundered up to the days of Mussolini; France, the monarchical France that ended with the French Revolution; Autocratic Russia that ended with the Russian Revolution; completely Autocratic England that ended (for a time) with King John and Magna Charta [sic]; the Roman religious autocracy that ended with Martin Luther; Autocratic China that ended with the Boxer Rebellion. No equity or social balance—no peace and finally no government.’

from “Theodore Dreiser Condemns War,” by Theodore Dreiser, People’s World, April 6, 1940

 

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Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle: “You are no Jack Kennedy.”

Roger W. Smith (posthumously) to Theodore Dreiser: “You were no Aristotle, no Cicero, no Edward Gibbon. You should have stuck to fiction.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2021

a witness at the Nurernberg trials

 

 

Bunky Morrison letter 2-17-1946

 

Posted here is a letter to my father Alan W. Smith (“Smitty”)  and my mother, Elinor Handy Smith, from my father’s good friend “Bunky” Morrison, dated February 17, 1946.

My father served in the U.S. Army from April 1942 until January 1946 with the rank of First Lieutenant. Both my father and his friend Bunky (who was from Boston) lived in Massachusetts. My father served in Panama.

Also posted here below is a photo of my father with his Army buddies taken in New York City in September 1942. Bunky Morrison is the furthest to the right; to his left is my father.

 

– posted by Roger W. Smith

   June 2021

 

Photo taken in New York City, September 1942. “Bunky” Morrison to far right. Alan W. Smith on his left.

 

 

 

true Christianity

 

 

The jurors had left the courtroom by the time Mr. Chauvin was handcuffed and led away, but when Mr. Mitchell saw video of him being taken into custody, he said he felt compassion for him. “He’s a human too,” he said.

“I almost broke down from that,” he said. “We decided his life. That’s tough. That’s tough to deal with. Even though it’s the right decision, it’s still tough.”

— “Derek Chauvin Juror: ‘We All Agreed at Some Point That It Was Too Much’; Brandon Mitchell, a basketball coach, says video of George Floyd’s death and prosecution medical expert witness were crucial evidence,” By Joe Barrett and Deena Winter, The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2021

 

Brandon Mitchell was one of four blacks on the Chauvin trial jury.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    April 2021

the music of languages

 

This morning.

Russian among the barbers and employees of the barber shop. Spanish, spoken rapidly and with a distinct “New York” accent, on the sidewalks.

Only in New York.

 

– Roger W. Smith

April 10, 2021 (my father’s birthday)

 

lunacy triumphant (or, who’s in charge?)

My wife, a consultant to mathematics teachers in training (and a former mathematics teacher herself), told me about something that one of her mentees told her today.

As my wife explained it to me, there is a core problem for high school mathematics students involving probability which is used as a teaching tool and will often be on standard exams. The problem is as follows: What are the probabilities of parents who have three children having 1 boy and 2 girls? 1 girl and 2 boys? 2 boys and 1 girl? 2 girls and 1 boy? 3 boys? 3 girls?

Or, as follows:

What is the probability that all three children in a family will be the same gender?
P(all female)= 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8
P(all male ) = 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8
P(all one gender) = P(all female) + P(all male) = 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4

What is the probability that a three-child family is two girls and one boy?
Each possible birth order has P=1/8. That is, P(G,G,B)=P(G,B,G)=P(B,G,G)=1/8.
So, P(2G,1B)= 3/8 and P(1G,2B)= 3/8.

This allows us to write the overall gender probability distribution for families of three children as follows:
1/8 will be three girls
3/8 will be two girls and one boy
3/8 will be one girl and two boys
1/8 will be three boys
Adding it all up, we have 1/8 + 3/8 + 3/8 + 1/8 = 1 (100%)

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I vaguely remember doing such problems in high school math class. Didn’t Mendel do this with peas?

Well, guess what? My wife’s mentee informed her that this problem can NOT be taught any longer. A problem which refers to gender might be offensive to some students.

What’s next? How will biology be taught?

As a footnote of sorts, my wife told me that her mentee also told her that in a Spanish class in the school she is at — according to a student teacher the mentee knows — querulous students are voicing objections when nouns are assigned a gender: e.g., el mano. la mesa.

Who, I ask you, is in charge? Whom can we entrust with the wisdom and sense to instruct students?

Who is listening? Not to the students, but to the few people, educators in this case — it sometimes seems that they have all taken to the hills — who still have what used to be called common sense.

— Roger W. Smith

    March 2021