Archives for September 2016

Idiotic Idioms

I open my mouth to be precise and say something nice,
but what comes out are words I never meant to speak
this week. I need an auto-correct installed on my

I decide to write a serious poem about race
and the perils of being black, but the same
confusion of words that happen when I speak
comes to the printed page.

I cried last night and the night before because
the words I wrote weren’t the words I wanted
to. I write my protagonist will be walking down the
street or sitting in a library, without thinking or deciding

what my character is doing, I find him flying, after dying,
in outer-space. Sometimes in a ship for a long trip, and
other times floating as a spirit. Other times my character
is a God we know creating new worlds. He changes

on a whim to the Devil or goes down one level and becomes
a demon disguised as a seaman. I try to write romance and
end up marrying a dog, or sometimes a worm that will never turn
into a beautiful butterfly as I hope and dream it would.

So I started drinking, trying to take my blues away, I spent it all
on drink and drugs, and now I have nowhere to stay. But, I’ll keep
on drinking I’m thinking until words I say and write are the ones
I want to see on a page.

Instead of installing the auto correct on my tongue to inspect the
words I speak, to succeed I need an algorithm inserted into my brain
that’ll solve my language problem. If that doesn’t work I’ll believe my
thoughts and words aren’t mine at all.

There are those who believe our thoughts are implanted by beings
out there who are playing a game without a name, with humans as
avatars. If that’s true, I’m blue, because the words I want to use are
superior to the ones they replace with idiotic idioms.

We don’t often hear about great Italians nowadays, but here’s one we can all thank.

If it wasn’t for Fermi having a Jewish wife, he probably would have remained in Italy and Hitler would have been 1st to get the A-Bomb. Imagine the consequences. So we also have to thank his Jewish wife.
(got to admit I’m biased because my Dad was Italian and my Mom, Jewish.)

It’s the birthday of the physicist physicist Enrico Fermi, born in Rome (1901). It was Einstein’s theory that laid the basis for nuclear energy, but it was Enrico Fermi who was the first to use that theory to build the first functioning nuclear reactor, and he went on to help build the atom bomb.

He almost discovered nuclear fission in 1934, when he was still living in Italy, in a series of experiments with neutrons. And if he had not made the mistake of using tinfoil to wrap his sample of uranium, nuclear energy would probably have been discovered that year, might even have been used by Hitler to win the war.

But Fermi won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1938, went to Stockholm to accept it, and then defected to the U.S. with his wife, who was Jewish. He got a job at Columbia, then at the University of Chicago where he built the first nuclear reactor on a squash court under the stands of the football field in late 1942.

He conducted the first nuclear reaction on the morning of December 2, 1942, the same morning the State Department announced that 2 million Jews had been killed in Europe, and 5 million more were in danger. And three years later, in the desert outside of Los Alamos, Fermi watched as the first atomic bomb was exploded.

reposted from the Writer’s Almanac

A Long LSD Trip

I have pity and don’t want you to think I did what I did
because you’re not as pretty as you pretended to be. Even
though love didn’t flow, you screwed me and my brother too.
We know as different as we are, deep within we’re the same,

but have different names. Artists like you and me are nourished
more by each other than by praise or financial success on this
world as on any other habitable planet. I was satisfied with you, until
I discovered you were as spoiled as day old milk and made of silk.

All your kids came from larvae left by flies feasting on your rotten hide.
That’s why not one of the kids looks like me and of all things, they
have wings. The buzzing these things make when trying to eat keeps
me awake and is more than I can take.

So when I swat them with a two by four, and send them to death waiting
by the nest, you have to know, kids who buzz and have wings aren’t the
style of children that bring smiles to me, on this world you and I landed
upon when with bad luck, your underwear got stuck in our synthetic drive,

and it burst into flames when it saw you without anything covering the feasting
larvae on your pelt that you wear without a belt making it look like human skin.
What deceit it was when we met and you filled my mind with beautiful visuals
causing me to believe I had reached the artistic paradise preached.

One day when in ecstasy, you let down your blinding power and I saw you
had claws and were really a maggot that wanted to mate to improve your race.
Like a spider on my world, you ate my brother after you and he debated and then
mated. You promised not to eat me if I’d make love to you, but you must know

if you relax your mind control and I can see what you are, I’ll have to put
you in a bottle of alcohol to preserve you and put you in a reserve so our
future race here in outer space can without guilt see and understand what
they would have been if it weren’t for my brother and me!

Van Gogh

Dictionary Words

Never satisfied with what ideas come from my esoteric head, editors
and publishers can’t see beauty and snub creations enclosed when
I disclose how I create coarse words and phrases that to them is sedate.

I’ve had no guidance on which expressions are acceptable to educated
people like them who unexpectedly rejected not only me and my writing
friends, but Miller, Fitzgerald, and Atwood too, so I’m concerned for their

ability to recognize before I’m dead, changing language, conditions, and
situations where presentations of my words fit as neatly as their fingers
stuck in their tight asses before putting on their glasses.

They don’t believe and can’t conceive how my muse who helps me create
when I’m awake or deep in a dream. Hemingway and Nabokov were
overlooked and demeaned by those in charge and no one intervened.

Brave New World, and To Kill a Mocking Bird, were degraded by them too, but worst of all, On The Road was described as an affectionate lark and the bizarre and offbeat was put down as trash. I for one love the strange and unexplained.

Without that, what is original in our world? So even though, they’re never satisfied
with what comes from my head when awake or asleep, I’ll continue to believe every thought and idea my muse sends my way is absolutely true and choose what I’ll reveal

to make my readers feel words aren’t locked in steel and are free to be used in bizarre perceptions if a writer elects too. Technology permits anyone to publish without the approval of those who used to only consent to words that weren’t curses in the dictionary

Lead Belly

My God, my God, don’t lie to me or I’ll die.
Where were you last night when it wasn’t
right that I had nowhere to sleep?

I prayed to you and was afraid the whole night through,
and became blue when I found that you lied to me when
you sang the Rock Island Line in slang.

I traveled on shoeless feet in the heat and it shouldn’t
have been like that. I laid my head on the railroad track
waiting for you to come back.

I humbly, begged you for a breakfast song when you
came along. I showed you my bloody and blistered feet
that were no longer fleet.

Do you mind people grinning in your face in this small space?
I cried out and then cried with tears, and almost fell down the stairs
because, my God, my God, you never sing my songs,

or send a sign that you’re not languishing, forgotten in a cotton field
where you’re reduced to working too hard to produce the music of a
doctor making rounds, sounds we need to survive and really stay alive.

I cannot live without your words, promising to chop no more
cotton, so you can use the blues to show all the hues leading to
the promised land where no one wears chains.

Everything there is covered with flowing bright red love, like liquid
sunshine lighting and inviting all the enlightening words allowed
to crowd through your dancing lips.

If you want to know where the witches got their powers, Read, The Mountain Will Cover You.

The Mountain Will Cover you

On this day in 1692, eight citizens of the colony of Massachusetts were hanged for their supposed connections to witchcraft. Theirs were the last of the deaths caused by the Salem Witch Trials, preceded by 11 other hangings, plus five who died in prison, and one who was crushed to death for refusing to enter a plea.

A period that roughly spanned the spring and summer of 1692, the Salem Witch Trials started when two young girls began displaying bizarre behaviors – convulsing, shouting blasphemy, and generally acting like they were possessed. The girls were the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, a minister relatively new to town but already divisive. He’d moved from Boston, where an account of young children who were supposedly “bewitched” by a laundress was published. Parris had insisted on a higher salary and certain perks as the village reverend, and insinuated in his sermons that those who opposed him were in cahoots with the Devil.

After the girls’ behavior gained attention and was pronounced the result of an evil spell, several other girls in town began acting strangely too … and began naming individuals in town as the cause. The town was whipped into a frenzy, and soon dozens of people – women, men, and children – were accused of and often jailed for practicing or supporting witchcraft. Many of the accusations seemed to fall along the lines of existing feuds, or were directed at people who were – because they were poor, not upstanding members of the church, or marginalized in some way – not likely to mount a convincing defense.

By the time the final eight people were hanged on September 22, word about the trials was spreading throughout the state. Within weeks the governor of Massachusetts declared “spectral evidence,” or visions of a person’s spirit doing evil when in fact their physical body was elsewhere, was inadmissible. Soon after, he barred any further arrests, disbanded the local court, and released many of the accused. It wasn’t until the following spring that he finally pardoned those who remained in jail. A full decade passed before the trials of 1692 were officially declared illegal, another nine before the names of the accused were cleared from all wrongdoing and their heirs given a restitution, and 265 years before the state of Massachusetts apologized for the events of that most infamous witch hunt.
Salem part reposted from W.A.

“Historically important, insightful, and hugely entertaining”

“Bold and frank, Crime A Day tells Joe DiBuduo’s story of growing up poor and hungry, of the redemptive power of love, and one man’s ability to change his life of circumstance to a life of choice. A fascinating glimpse into the seedy underbelly of mid-20th Century America.” — Michaela Carter, author of Further Out Than You Thought

By turns unsettling, witty and tragic, Crime A Day exposes the harsh consequences of childhood poverty, educational deprivation and social marginalization. DiBuduo went from a hard-working 6-year-old paperboy to a 22-year-old ex-con with a history of incarceration spanning nearly a decade. An unforgettable memoir about tough gangsters and hard drinkers, corrupt police and cynical judges, and the hungry, hardscrabble kids who survived “Hano”— once Boston’s roughest and most impoverished neighborhood.

“Historically important, insightful, and hugely entertaining”
— Debra Di Blasi, author of Drought and Prayers of an Accidental Nature

Top Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 starsUnderstanding the “Other Life”
ByNancy O. Nelsonon December 29, 2015
Format: Paperback
The title of this memoir reflects the irony of this narrative, which follows in detail the path of a young boy who spends much of his first two decades of life committing petty theft and felony. Happily, the narrator never experiences the electric chair, but he tells of men he knew who faced it in the Cook County Jail in Chicago. The narration is in an unabashedly direct and colloquial voice and relates the hunger of his childhood which led him to steal as young as six years old. The narrator emerges throughout the narrative as (ironically) a kind-hearted person who loves children and animals but who will not turn away from a fight when challenged. We see him gradually give up the life of crime for a life of family, art and writing.

I recommend this book for its rendering of the harsh reality of the “other life” of poverty which many do not experience or realize.

5.0 out of 5 starsA Necessary Tale, Warts and All
ByRoderick J. Williamson January 1, 2016
Format: Paperback
This memoir is a sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, thoroughly engaging account of DiBuduo’s impoverished upbringing in the Hano neighborhood of Boston in the 1940s and 50s. The narrative is brisk and deceptively easy to read (I literally almost couldn’t put it down; finished it in two nights); “deceptively” because the writer takes a matter-of-fact, unsentimental, and unapologetic look at the brutal effects of growing up poor and hungry. Most of us have an intellectual understanding of what “being poor” means, but this story hammers home the raw experience of being born into a disadvantaged environment and a dysfunctional family. What struck me as most chilling about DiBuduo’s descriptions was his nonchalant, that’s-just-the-way-things-were, we-didn’t-know-anything-different tone throughout the book. Theft and violence and deprivation and hopelessness formed his ideas of “normal,” with no context or clue that a better life might be somewhere outside his immediate neighborhood. And unfortunately, it translates to our modern times: poverty in the world’s wealthiest country remains an ugly stain on our national pride, we’re still having discussions and mixed emotions around the tactics and prejudices of police officers, we still use our prison system to warehouse rather than rehabilitate. That DiBuduo survived his childhood and adolescence, and has even thrived in his later years, is a testament to his core decency, his resilience, and his open heart. This is one of my top five books of 2015. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s a necessary one.

5.0 out of 5 starsYou Have to Read This Book
ByRae Lynnon February 9, 2016
Format: Paperback
Wow! This was a moving and enlightening book. Reading it reminded me of how I felt when I read Angela’s Ashes…a glimpse into a life of poverty– of being downtrodden and deprived and abused, and ultivately of survival and redemption. Joe had an innate goodness and ethicalness that was–in the end–strong enough to lead him away from a life of crime and drug and alcohol abuse. Do you think you could have pulled away like he did? I don’t know if I could have, and lots of folks don’t. If you have any bit of compassion, this book will open your heart even more. Children are still going hungry and being deprived in our country and, of course, all over the world, so Joe’s story might give us all an idea of what they are going through, and what they may yet go through. You won’t regret reading this book. It is well written and easy to read…a page-turner, really.

5.0 out of 5 starsInspirational.
ByAmazon Customeron April 20, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
“Crime a Day” was chosen by our book club for April, 2016: This book is, by far, the best book our club has read since I have been a member. Joe DiBuduo told his stories in a format that made me feel as though I was sitting at the kitchen table listening to many of Joe’s significant life experiences. I kept wanting to read more to discover how Joe was able to overcome such obstacles.

On those days that you begin to feel sorry for yourself, I suggest you read Joe’s book: It will make you count your blessings.!
Available on Amazon.

If you think your life is hard, read this and you’ll see your life is probably much better than you think.

beautiful-foreversIn this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. As India starts to prosper, the residents of Annawadi are electric with hope. Abdul, an enterprising teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Meanwhile Asha, a woman of formidable ambition, has identified a shadier route to the middle class. With a little luck, her beautiful daughter, Annawadi’s “most-everything girl,” might become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest children, like the young thief Kalu, feel themselves inching closer to their dreams. But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of uncompromising reporting, carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

Winner of the National Book Award | The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award | The Los Angeles Times Book Prize | The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award | The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award

The New York Times • The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • USA Today • New York • The Miami Herald • San Francisco Chronicle • Newsday

The New Yorker • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • The Boston Globe • The Economist • Financial Times • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Foreign Policy • The Seattle Times • The Nation • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Denver Post • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Salon • The Plain Dealer • The Week • Kansas City Star • Slate • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly


“A book of extraordinary intelligence [and] humanity . . . beyond groundbreaking.”—Junot Díaz, The New York Times Book Review

“Reported like Watergate, written like Great Expectations, and handily the best international nonfiction in years.”—New York

“This book is both a tour de force of social justice reportage and a literary masterpiece.”—Judges’ Citation for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award

“[A] landmark book.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A triumph of a book.”—Amartya Sen

“There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them.”—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

“[A] stunning piece of narrative nonfiction . . . [Katherine] Boo’s prose is electric.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Inspiring, and irresistible . . . Boo’s extraordinary achievement is twofold. She shows us how people in the most desperate circumstances can find the resilience to hang on to their humanity. Just as important, she makes us care.”—People

Maybe the politicians who favor carpet bombing should read this?

Dr. Wittner is Professor of History emeritus at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).

A good case can be made that the U.S. government, the first to develop nuclear weapons, would be much better off today without them. They fail to deter war (which has raged on ceaselessly among nuclear and non-nuclear nations since World War II), they are enormously costly, and—thanks to the nuclear arms race that followed the U.S. nuclear weapons breakthrough of 1945—Americans, for the first time in their history, face the prospect of total annihilation. In addition, the U.S. government has vast superiority over all other countries when it comes to conventional war.

Yes, the nuclear hawks admit, but nuclear weapons deter a nuclear attack on the United States by other nations. But do they? And, even if they do provide a deterrent to a nuclear attack, how many are needed for this purpose?

Recent action by British officials casts new light on this issue. Based on a Strategic Defense and Security Review, Britain’s new Conservative-headed government decided this October to cut its stockpile of nuclear warheads by 25 percent, reducing it from 225 to 180.

Can 180 nuclear warheads create enough mass destruction and chaos to deter a nuclear aggressor? A 2002 study estimated that, if 300 of the weapons in the Russian nuclear arsenal struck targets in U.S. cities, 90 million Americans would die within the first half hour. Also, in the ensuing months, the vast majority of survivors would die of disease, exposure, and starvation. The same consequences would follow if there were a comparable U.S. nuclear attack on Russia. With this example in mind, we can estimate that Britain’s use of 180 nuclear weapons against country X would almost immediately kill 54 million people and leave the remainder of the Xites (if there were any) dying slowly or, perhaps, wishing they were dead.

Most other nuclear powers also seem to have recognized that even a small nuclear arsenal is enough to create hell on earth for the population of any nation foolish enough to engage in a nuclear war. Thus, for example, specialists estimate that France has 300 nuclear warheads, China 240, Israel 80, Pakistan 70 to 90, India 60 to 80, and North Korea fewer than 10.

Despite the limited number of nuclear weapons possessed by most nuclear powers, two nations have much larger nuclear arsenals—indeed, possess roughly 95 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads. They are the United States (with 9,600 nuclear warheads) and Russia (with 12,000). Even assuming the logic of nuclear deterrence, do they really need arsenals of this magnitude? With its 9,600 nuclear warheads, for example, the U.S. government could instantly massacre 2.88 billion people and leave most of the rest slowly dying in a nuclear wasteland. Isn’t this a bit … excessive?

Not surprisingly, then, as even U.S. military planners agree, there’s a good deal of room for dramatic cutbacks in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, chief of the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division, argued that “the United States could address military utility concerns with only 311 nuclear weapons in its nuclear force structure while maintaining a stable deterrence.”

In fact, the 2010 New START Treaty signed by the United States and Russia does provide for a reduction of some 30 percent in deployed strategic warheads on the part of these two dominant nuclear powers. But strategic warheads constitute only a minority of their nuclear arsenals. Furthermore, it is far from clear that the treaty will garner the necessary two-thirds vote for ratification by the U.S. Senate. At this point, at least, most Republican senators seem more interested in maintaining large numbers of U.S. nuclear missiles pointing at Russia than in reducing the number of Russian nuclear missiles pointing at the United States. Also, of course, they tend to automatically oppose measures promoted by the Obama administration.

Nor has the president entirely lived up to his rhetoric about creating a nuclear weapons-free world. Perhaps as an incentive to Republican senators to ratify the New START Treaty, the administration has announced plans to spend $180 billion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear weapons complex in the next two decades.

Overall, then, it appears that the U.S. government’s desire for nuclear weapons far outruns its need for them—even by the logic of nuclear deterrence.
– See more at: