Monday, April 26, 2021

Taking The Knee: A Primer

Much has been written this past week about the guilty verdict for all three counts in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. As well it should be; this was a monumental event in Minnesota not simply because the crime happened here, but because Mohamad Noor, a Somali-American cop was convicted on manslaughter in the case of Justine Diamond, the Australian yoga teacher, without the benefit of body-cam footage, yet Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm in the shooting of Philando Castile, the aftermath of which was recorded by Philando's girlfriend on her phone because she realized she had to document what happened. Not that it helped. 

Why was one convicted and not the other? I am certain there will be endless analysis of the reasons, but I have one of my own.

Taking the knee has long been thought of as an honorable thing to do. Pictures of all sorts of kneeling events litter the art and photography landscape. Usually, when one takes a knee, it is a reverential kinda thing. 

An angel takes the knee in traditional depictions of the Annunciation. 

One takes the knee when one is knighted. 

One takes the knee when one is proposing marriage. 

One takes the knee in prayer 

One takes the knee to beg for mercy.

One can even take the knee when standing up for others.

If you want to send an entirely different message, put your hand casually in your pocket. Let the world know how powerful, cool, and unimpressed you are by that which is happening around you.

But if you really wanna send an I don't give a fuck message, then do this: take a knee on someone's neck for 9 1/2 minutes while the guy begs for mercy saying, "I can't breathe."

This picture is why Derek Chauvin was convicted on all 3 counts of murder: 
depraved indifference.

He just didn't give a fuck about George Floyd's life.

The jury saw it. They knew it. 
And they said NO MORE.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Appearances matter. The visuals matter.
That may be dumb or ridiculous, but that's how bias works.
If nothing aware.

Monday, April 19, 2021

I'm Not Full Of .......

 ...not much of anything at the moment. That's because I had a colonoscopy this morning. This was my third, my second in 3 years. That's because colorectal cancer has made an appearance in our family. This one was fine, only 2 polyps, and they've gone off to pathology. Pre-cancerous polyps are just that....pre-cancerous and that's what we're expecting for these two. The reason you go for colonoscopies is to get rid of any polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous:

These types of polyps are not cancer, but they are pre-cancerous (meaning that they can turn into cancers). Someone who has had one of these types of polyps has an increased risk of later developing cancer of the colon. Most patients with these polyps, however, never develop colon cancer                                                                                                              American Cancer Society

I have several friends who have or are now battling colon and/or rectal cancer. It is not an easy process. It can kill you. It is possible to prevent, slow, and in some lucky cases, have the cancer go into total remission. But nothing is guaranteed. 

Because colorectal cancer appears in my family tree, I went as soon as I was eligible for a colonoscopy. The first one was fine, and I went back in 5 years. The second found polyps, as did this one, hence the 3-year spacing. And I will go back in 3 years again. 

The prep can be revolting. Can be? It is, actually. I don't do sweet things for a lot of reasons, so I am not a fan of large quantities of sweet things. A quarter cup of ice cream is usually my limit. But the stuff you get to drink is so sweet, I thought I was going into a diabetic coma as I slugged the stuff down. Come on, medical people...can't you come up with something flavorless for those of us who don't drink soda...specifically diet soda? 

Which makes me think I understand why American is basically fat. If you have to sweeten this stuff so people can drink it, there are serious food issues here. All that artificial sweetener is just another sugar jones. OMG, the thought of anything sweet after 2-16 ounce containers of that shit makes me want to retch. Seriously. 

The procedure itself was, in its own perverse way, quite lovely...mostly because of the anesthesia involved. All kidding aside, the MnGI people at Eagan are friendly, nice, and laugh at all my pathetic punchlines. They were well prepared for my IV-phobia and the anesthesiologist was a total sweetie when he admitted he didn't like 'em either, was a barfer like me, and said, "We'll start the IV in the procedure room and put you right out, no waiting." He assured me this kind of anesthesia would not make me nauseous...and it did not. I love that man. 

And my GI guy was a total sweetie. He remembered me from last time and said he was glad I was still funny. I asked him if my gown made my ass look fat. God bless him, he said, "No way. Your ass is not fat!" and laughed. I figure if I can get 'em to laugh at the jokes, they're gonna wanna be nice to me. And they are, so I think that's working.

But all joking aside, if you are of a certain age, get a colonoscopy on schedule. It's not a giant deal, but it can save your life.  

And now, I am going back to sleep. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When conning someone into driving you for this procedure, 
make sure they are capable of laughing at fart jokes. It helps.



It has just been announced that we lost one of the great Minnesotans today,
How much more can Minnesota take in a week?
Baruch Dayan ha'Emet.  May his memory be for a blessing. 

Monday, April 12, 2021


Ah, the ol' Apollo in East Meadow.
I am writing this from under a curfew. Yep. A curfew. The last time I had a curfew, my mother claimed sitting in the Apollo Diner until 3 in the morning drinking coffee and eating rice pudding with my high school girlfriends broke my curfew even though my friends and I were all over 30, married, with husbands and kids. But she insisted that none of us should be out past midnight, and that at midnight, we had all had enough coffee and rice pudding to make us comatose. Good thing we didn't have cell phones in those days. 

Here in town we had some quasi-curfews last spring in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, but we were kinda far from that so whether or not the curfew applied to us was a bit hazy. Not this time. My iPhone issued all sorts of siren warnings that a curfew for the Twin Cities had been ordered by Governor Walz, and they were serious about it. I even got the dreaded "Phone Call Chain Message" from Dakota County Public Safety. Not that I was going anywhere anyway. It is, after all, Monday....Blog Night at the Not-So-Okay Corral. 

I can make light of this, but this is no laughing matter. We are under a curfew because across town, a cop killed a 20-year old Black man in a traffic stop for expired plates and an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror. When they ran his plates, he had a gross misdemeanor warrant for carrying an unlicensed pistol and running away from police last May...which would probably mean during the riots.

Daunte Wright called his mother as he was pulled over. He was scared. She heard it all.

Watch the body cam footage for yourself:

Brooklyn Center's Chief of Police believes that the officer shouted "Taser. taser" but fired her service revolver in error. 

In error?

Just unpack that scenario for a moment. Holsters with revolvers are strapped to a cop's dominant side...which means if you're right handed, the holster is on the right side of your body. A taser is on the left side, the side that is not dominant. How does a reputedly senior officer yell "Taser!" and fire a revolver?

Daunte's crime wasn't a gross misdemeanor violation; it was felony driving while Black aided and abetted by a nice car. He was a young man, driving a late model car, with an air freshener. The part about the misdemeanor came later. 

Katie Wright, Daunte's Mother
By the way, Daunte's mother is white, not that it matters. But how many times do you think she had the walking/driving/shopping while Black talk with her son? She had to learn that reality to protect her child. 
My guess is she had that talk many, many times, and even more after last spring's riots. The sad part is, it didn't matter. He called his mom, and he still was shot by the police. That sound will be with her forever. She will relive it in her dreams. She will second-guess herself, wondering if she could have done more, something, anything that would've stopped that bullet until the day she dies. 

I am the mother of boys. I know their dad had any number of "talks" with them about a variety of issues. But I don't believe he ever had a walking/driving/shopping while white talk with them. We both worried about guys with cars, but not in the same visceral way Daunte's mom or Philandro's mom did. I worried about drunk drivers, driving while distracted, driving while on ice....but never about a cop pulling my kid over and "accidentally" shooting him. 

So, yes, there is anger and looting. I don't know what looting is going to accomplish, but there is violence in the area where Daunte Wright was shot, so everyone is inside tonight. 

Meanwhile, Derek the-cop-with-his-hands-in-his-pockets Chauvin, is a few miles away on trial for the murder of George Floyd. I heard one reporter question as to whether or not this will result in a mistrial for Chauvin since the jury undoubtedly heard the news and will now fear for their lives if they don't convict. Huh? Really?

Can we just ratchet back the bullshit for a while?

Whatever happened to just reporting the news, straight on, no spin? More and more, I think the media is responsible for bad behavior through misleading supposition. Here's a non-relevant example: tonight Lester Holt on NBC nightly news said "Prince Harry is in the UK to attend his grandfather's funeral. His wife will not be attending." Simple statement? Or negative spin?  Ol' Lester made it sound like she was either not invited or boycotting the festivities. Not so, grasshopper. She's very pregnant and her doctor did not sanction the long flight. 

But that's a great example of spinning the tale. Why stir that pot? What important piece of information did Holt provide? He took news and made it negative without saying too much. 

Katie Wright will spend the next few years hearing that her son was a mastermind criminal trying to kill cops instead of the scared kid she heard on the phone asking her for insurance information. Her child will be dragged through the muck because that's what news organs do these days. We studied the evils of Yellow Journalism when I was in junior high. I used to believe newspapers like The New York Times were past that bit of nonsense. I believed in Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Tom Brokaw and that they would tell it to us straight. That seems to be a dying art these days. Meet the Press and Face the Nation are both succumbing to fictionalized news. Chuck Todd is just a moron who by his very presence chips away at the long established gravitas of Tim Russert. And after the august presence of Stahl, Schieffer, and Dickerson, Margaret Brennan gets shriller each week. 

Which, I firmly believe, leads to if-it-bleeds-it-leads kinda national news, the likes of which actually damage the fabric of our country instead of informing us. Propaganda masquerading as Fake News is winning. The gist might be a real story, but the headline sure isn't. I long for the days of Who, What, Where, When, and How....the cornerstones of reporting. The assumption was that if you answered those questions, your story was likely to be true and contain enough information to draw a reasonable conclusion. 

Once. Just once I would like to turn back the clock to the days of Huntley, Brinkley, and Cronkite. I want to hear news delivered as news on the network. I have taken to watching PBS Newshour each night because they come the closest to that ideal. But theirs is a program that makes its own set up assumptions: that the audience has the ability to participate in critical thinking. Most of America is happy to half-listen to pablum before drawing idiot conclusions. You know: garbage in/garbage out.

Of course, none of this will help Katie Wright, or the families of Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Treyvon Martin, and the dozens of others killed by cops who did not understand their job is to protect and serve ALL citizens of these here United States. 

Today, there was a shooting inside a Knoxville, Tennessee high school. The kid fired at the cops and the cops took him out. I'm guessing there is an element of appropriate response in there. But, you gotta see this statement:
"This wasn't a school shooting, this was an officer-involved shooting inside of a school, much different. At this point, the student hadn't done anything with the firearm until the officers engaged."                               Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) Director David Rausch 
Excuse me, but a kid had a gun and discharged it inside the high school. I'm not 100% sure I grok the difference. 

Face it. We are a nation of gun violence, whether it's cops or bad guys. Let's just say that right out in the open. The GOP assholes in congress are screaming about their rights not to wear masks or socially distance, but they don't give a flying fuck about We, the People getting gunned down by homemade guns, bump-stocks, and AR-whatevers. They cherish their twisted version of the second amendment more than their families. They cheered the insurrection because they did not get what insurrection meant, or what it would do to this nation. Of course, this past week, Feckless Loser described the January insurrection at the Capitol as a love-fest gone wrong. They were, after all, he said, "just hugging and kissing" the Capitol police. Sure they were. If you think for one New York minute that those words paired with those actions are not harmful, you have another think coming. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Police shootings, rioters looting, school shooters, insurrectionists in the Capitol 
are not unrelated. A single thread runs through them all. 
If you cannot figure out what that thread is, you need to watch PBS Newshour more often. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Seeing stuff and really SEEING stuff

One of the things I like best about being savta, is taking Little Miss to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. MIA is a really big place and it's full of all sorts of stuff, from ancient stuff to classic stuff to weird stuff. It is an absolute feast...and this is coming from someone who spent way too much time hanging around the Met and the Frick in the City. MIA is not the Met, nor does it pretend to be the Met, but they are a robust institution, responsive to the community, and appropriately whimsical when necessary. One of the things I am looking forward to as the pandemic recedes and life reopens for this retiree is wandering around MIA by myself whenever I feel like it. 

Thursday, Little Miss and I went to MIA for our chol ha'moed adventure. She had been there recently with her mom, so she had a few things she wanted to see again. I had a different agenda, one I was certain she would embrace....and she did. I brought two sketch pads and some pencils for us to share. When she wanted to sit for a bit in front of the fountain, I whipped out the supplies and said, "Let's sketch!"  We talked about what sketching was, what seeing was, and how one puts what one sees on the page. Sitting side by side, we worked in silence. She was still drawing, I was sketching, and when we compared our work, I got to see the light bulb go on. She wanted to know how to make her pencil do what I did, so we did that for a while. We talked about what we each saw, and she mentioned she thought it was good to see other views of the fountain, too.

We walked around the fountain to look at it from all sides. We talked a little about what was different. Then we went upstairs so we could see it from above. All of a sudden we could see coins people have tossed in. We watched people watching the fountain and wondered together about how they saw it.  Was it different from how we saw it?

We wandered some more, took a break to eat our Pesadik picnic lunch outside, then wandered inside some more. So many questions, so many intakes of breath when she spied something beautiful. And so many soft sighs as she wandered through the recreated rooms from England. "I want to go there for real," she said more than once. Six years old....and already planning a trip abroad. I can get behind that thought. After all, she reminded me, she's already been to Ireland, "even if I don't remember anything about it." Why would she? She was still a teeny-tiny baby at the time. But she just renewed her passport, so she's ready to go at a moment's notice. 

Her eyes miss nothing. Watching her seeing is the best thing ever. I know when I see her later this week, there will be some leftover questions. There always are. As she becomes increasingly familiar with MIA, I know the day will come when she says, "I wanna see ....and then I wanna see....."  And we will go look at whatever she wants to see ...and then some. 

Taking her to MIA or to a ballet or to the theater is exactly what I want to be doing for both least when Young Sir is a bit older. I want them to find friends in the arts, to be comfortable in spaces where performance occurs. I want to watch Little Miss step back from a picture, as she did on Thursday, and ask what's she doing? and, without looking at me, awaits the explanation because, after all, Savta knows these things. 

I am over the moon that she has discovered reading for pleasure and is flying through books like mad. I cannot wait to inflict THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND HOW THEY GREW on that child. I loved that book. There are so many others my British grandmother conned me into reading, and I want her to read them all. There's a whole world out there to explore from a window seat curled up with a dog. Right now, the look of wonder on her face as she discovers stuff and pieces it all together is priceless. Connections and interconnections are being forged every moment, and sometimes, I even get to see the process. And then, if I'm really lucky, I get to answer some of the questions. 

D'or l'd'or : generation to generation. I get to be a link. How cool is that?

In my world, we are still counting the Omer and I am still aching with every number. Today, in the car, I yelled at Ziggy for not being here to see those two offshoots. And when I stopped yelling, I admitted out loud that I am so damn thankful that I get to go to MIA with Little Miss, and I get to read stories to Young Sir.  

Yeah, some days are easier than others, so I will console myself with the delicious thought that this Friday is a Nanny Day. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
No museum trip is complete without a visit to one's favorite work of art.

Little Miss with our family's favorite statue at MIA

Ganymede and the Eagle by Bertel Thorvaldsen