Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our Family Veterans

Norman R. Robinson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Supporting Operation Crossroads near Bikini Atoll, Dad's ship ferried the inhabitants of Bikini off the island to other islands. After Able and Baker were detonated, Dad's ship and many others cleaned up, towed melted ships in the target area to other places, and then returned to Treasure Island Naval Yard. Dad remembers his duty in the U.S. Navy in crystal detail, and can tell stories as though those events were yesterday morning.

John F. Robinson served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. My brother, who is 6' 7" tall was originally 4F, partly due to his height, and to his legal blindness: he has limited peripheral vision. When the war cranked up, he was reclassified and was stationed in Vietnam. He served two tours. John doesn't talk about Vietnam.

I'm proud of both my father and my brother, and I am grateful that they both are here today. These two young, skinny boys - having never been away from home overnight before they got on a train to go to war - came home.

Today we honor our service men and women, and light a candle for those who did not come home. I pray for the day to come soon when there will be no stories to tell of young boys and girls spending their first night away from home on the way to war.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Michigan Women's Public Enemy No. 1

Here he is: the Antihero of the hour. This month Rep. Bart Stupak (D) from Michigan's 1st U.S. Congressional District managed to hold the entire U.S. Congress, and Michigan women, hostage to his fundamentalist Roman Catholic views.

Rep. Stupak, in a stunning piling-on of stupidity over myopia, introduced an amendment to the House Healthcare Reform Bill to prevent federal funding for abortion, when in fact, federal funding has not been available for abortion in the past, and would not be allowed for abortion in the legislation as it was written.

Stupak made the news circuit for the weeks before the vote, grinning idiotically, while doggedly ignoring the fact - even when it was brought to his attention - that federal funding for abortion was not included, virtually admitting he hadn't read the Bill, or been briefed by competent people who had.

What the Democratic dunderhead from our Upper Peninsula has done is mutate the House bill in such a way that it is now only in the realm of rich women to have reproductive choice. Ezra Klein explains the mechanics of this anti-choice, anti-women amendment. Whether you are in favor of women having choice over their own bodies or not, this amendment will create a very real economic caste system: one that impacts most the women constituents Rep. Stupak supposedly represents.

Well done, Representative Stupak. We can only hope that the Senate will undo what you've spawned.

Heads up Antihero: I have a house in your district, and you're up for reelection in 2010. I'm mad as hell, and I vote. So do other women in Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, 28 Nov. 1908 - 20 Oct. 2009

Claude Lévi-Strauss died last week just short of his 101st birthday. The anthropologist believed and wrote that societies share human experience equally, evidenced by myth and storytelling. Lévi-Strauss is credited with co-creating the theoretic underpinnings of structuralist thought. He pioneered that anthropology is not just the study of direct kinship by descent, but also about alliance, as when women marry into another family unit. His work emphasized it is not possible to separate the meaning of human existence from its history.

Influenced in the early 1940s by Franz Boas, who taught at Columbia and is considered by many to be the father of American anthropology, Lévi-Strauss adopted Boas' distance from cultural evolution, which considered that societies all unilaterally develop from primitive to civilized, using Western civilization as the cultural and technological benchmark.

Lévi-Strauss' open mind, humanistic approach, beautiful prose and quiet demeanor were evidenced later in his life with meditations on poetry, music and art. La Pensée Sauvage (a pun not translated well into The Savage Mind. The author thought "Pansies for Thought" would have been a more accurate title) has a line that softly implies that magic and science aren't aware how closely related the subjects are.

The French Foreign Minister eulogized Lévi-Strauss: "At a time when we are trying to give meaning to globalization, to build a fairer and more humane world, I would like Claude Lévi-Strauss' universal echo to resonate more strongly."