It’s Not Just Politics, It’s Right and Wrong

November 20, 2015 1 comment

Martha Jean Sidebottom -photo taken by Tiffany Thomas I am angry and afraid. I am embarrassed and sad. Since the attacks in Egypt, Lebanon and Paris, Nigeria and now Mali  over the past month, the United States has shown that its leaders are hypocrites and cowards, racists and fascists. Our Congress representatives, our candidates for President, our so called religious leaders and our public pundits are all embarrassments to our national identity. What happened to the “land of the free and the home of the brave”? What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free”?

Yesterday’s vote to restrict Syrian refugees from coming to our county is antitheses  for what our country is supposed to stand. It is fact that terrorists wish to do us harm. It is also fact that it is far easier to get a visa and enter as a tourist, or suborn the naivety of a troubled youth here in America than it will be to use the Syrian refugee process to achieve their goals. This vote is a knee-jerk reaction in fear and bigotry.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Budhists and non believers, should stand together and say “Religion is not Terrorism, Faith is not Terrorism”. It shouldn’t be just “Islam is not terrorism”.

I am particularly disappointed and embarrassed by the votes yesterday of Steve Israel, Sean Patrick Mahoney, and Louise Slaughter. Each of these are Congressional representatives from the State of New York. I thought New York knew better. I thought New York understood the value of diversity and understood the need of our community to come together, not widen differences and put big “THEM and US” standards in our lives. I am disappointed and ashamed of them as humans and as representatives of their districts. If they voted yes on this blatantly racist and bigoted bill because that is what they thought their constituents would want, then I am ashamed of their constituents as well.

I am not naive, I understand full well the security issues involved. I understand that eventually, on the shores of America we will witness yet another terrorist attack. That attack is just as likely to be from radical Christians or radical Jews or radical unbelievers as it will be radical Muslims. We have already experienced terrorist attacks by these groups, they just weren’t called terrorists. When someone goes into a McDonalds and starts firing away or goes to a black church and starts killing the parishioners, why is that not terrorism? When teenagers go to their schools and start killing their classmates and teachers, why is that not terrorism? Does it have to be an explosive device to be called terrorism? Does it have to be pre-planned by multiple people for it to be terrorism? Does it have to be from a country other than our own to be called terrorism?

I call upon our Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to come together in a united response to this shameful bill, to the shameful antics of our Republican candidates, to the bigoted commentary of our media  outlets. It is time for us, as Americans and as humans to state un-categorically that we will not let the THEM versus US define us.

We have a legitimate battle that must be fought between civilized society and barbarianism, but barbarianism is defined by action not by race or religion. This is a worldwide problem and a worldwide solution must be found. The United Nations has a mandate, NATO has a mandate, the Arab League has a mandate to protect the interests of their citizens. The United States must be actively involved in that solution, but it cannot act alone for that will only breed more terrorism. The world needs to see a unified response from all countries and all faiths.

Countries, other than the United States, are welcoming the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Syrian, Iraq area. It is a problem that we have not seen since the end of World War II.  America cannot forsake our duty and our cause. We are supposed to be the banner for freedom and hope. What we are doing now isn’t that.

We simply cannot let fear win.

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Hillary

Martha Jean Sidebottom -photo taken by Tiffany Thomas

I have really tried to keep my temper on this. Every morning I open my Yahoo page and see ten emails on Game of Thrones spoilers, theories and such, I see twelve emails on Donald Trump and his asinine comments, thirty emails on media pundit responses to his asinine comments, and fifty attacks on Hillary and her email or accounting for the Clinton Foundation. Most of the essays come from subjective sources, but they read as fact.

Finally, her trust factor has been so damaged by pollsters who ask slanted questions that there is no news other than her troubles. (Have you ever been questioned by a pollster? Something like this, “Well, since Hillary kept classified materials on her server, had conflict of interest as Secretary of State, and knowingly caused the murders in Benghazi, would you say she is trustworthy?” No wonder why the polls report her trust factor is dropping! Are all the polls owned by Rupert Murdoch or his friends?)

I have read little on her campaign efforts, her platform, her promises or any such. Now, in complete transparency, I am a Hillary supporter. I have been for years. I watched her as First Lady, Senator, Political Candidate and Secretary of State. I have actually listened to her, read her book(s) and took the trouble to check facts. In 2008 I travelled from New York to help her primary campaign in Texas (my home state). We won the primary but lost the nomination.

I am not going to say that I don’t see any problems with how things have been handled. It doesn’t take much common sense to understand that Bill and Hillary Clinton have many wealthy, politically and well placed friends and supporters. I would be shocked to learn that the Clinton Foundation did not reach out to each and every one for funding of foundation projects. (I am not wealthy, politically or well placed, but I do get emails and phone calls from Foundation and campaign representatives daily for money). And I would also be shocked to learn that some of those wealthy, politically and well placed friends and supporters do not have ongoing relationships with many US Government officials in many departments and agencies. I would be even more shocked if there were not charges of “conflict of interest”. The more well placed or politically known, the more likely that personal relationships and government relationships overlap and create a weave tighter than a medieval tapestry.

The idea that she used a personal email server during the time she was a NY Senator and Secretary of State, makes one raise an eyebrow, I understand that she is not the first official to do so. It would make sense that such things should not be done in the future. I understand the concept of “classified information”.

Now, please accept my sense of irony here.

The Bush family, instead of creating a Foundation to help end world hunger, disease, and poverty, spent their enormous resources to purchase the largest aquifer in the world in order to corner the world’s drinking water, and not one media representative questions their actions. It has been stated that drinking water is the new petroleum; why is water NOT a resource protected by governments and not sold to the highest bidders. And why would the Bush family not be tarred and feathered for doing so? Has one reporter asked Jeb about his position about worldwide protection of drinking water?

Now, let’s talk about emails and classified information. Can anyone say Wikileaks, Chinese hacking, Russian intrusion. Out of 30,000 emails on her server, we have found how many items that have classified information that COULD be made available via supposed hacking? As of 4 days ago it was 60. How many State Department classified emails became public via hacking? 251,287

Sounds to me that the State Department might want to turn to that MOM and POP Data company.

I told people early on that these two topics would end up amounting to nothing and go away.  I am now concerned that they won’t. The Republicans are still trying to get someone, anyone to place some blame about the tragedy of Benghazi on her shoulders. That was 2012, it will be 2016 before the election happens and I have no doubt that the congressional committee will still be calling people to testify right up to the day of the election. The personal email scandal and the Clinton Foundation conflicts will continue to rage.

Now, in response to the Yahoo page that pissed me off earlier today, I am doing three things. First, I have written this blog. Second, I am sending money to the Clinton Foundation. Third, I am sending money to her campaign fund. It won’t be millions, I assure you I will WELL under the campaign financing limits. I invite you to do the same.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

The Eulogy – Edwin Eugene Sidebottom

June 30, 2015 1 comment

August 31, 1923 to June 18, 2015

My mother’s favorite scripture verse is John 3:16. My father’s was Ecclesiastes 3:1-10. Today (June 22, 2015) is a time of remembrance and a time for mourning. I have some things to say about my Daddy. When we four girls were small, we thought he hung the moon, could do anything he set his mind to, and could do no wrong. The best way to get him to do something was to tell him we didn’t think he could do it. As we got older, each of us discovered he was only human.

Daddy was a good man, but he was not perfect. He had a hard time sharing his feelings, but never hesitated to share his opinions. He was strong willed; had strong opinions and voiced those opinions with no apology or diplomacy.

mamaanddaddy (2)Sometimes the things he said were hurtful, in a few cases – devastating, but I know they were never said with malice. He just saw things in black and white. Heaven knows there are a whole lot more than 50 shades of grey in this life, but daddy never saw it that way.

There was a lot “my way or the highway” with him. My eldest sister and I spent a lot of time on the highway.

Recently I have been reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” and I wonder how we are doing with that.

Most of us carry baggage from our childhood, our youth; poison inside us from things said or done by those we love most. Mothers and fathers say and do things that hurt. Children also say and do things that hurt their parents and siblings.

It doesn’t matter who said or did what – what is important is to say “I forgive you, please forgive me” and mean it.

That is how we love, that is how we find peace, how we resolve unresolved issues. So, I say “Daddy, I forgive you. Please forgive me. Mama, I forgive you; please forgive me.” I say to my sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews, “Please, forgive me. I forgive you.”

To finish, Daddy once said in a poem or writing that what he wanted most when he died was to be met by those who went before saying “Well done. Job well done!”

I have no doubt his family – mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, Walter and Josephine, Josie and all of his Navy shipmates are saying that in unison and I can only add to the chorus.

Well done Daddy. Go with God. I love you.

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Movie/book reviews:

Movie: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

 Ever since Charlton Heston cantered past the head crown and torch of the fallen Statue of Liberty in 1968 at the end of the original Planet of the Apes movie, film buffs have been waiting for the answers to how did this all come about. The first Planet of the Apes started an entire genre of films, a television series, and career for Roddy McDowell in ape’s makeup.

 Sequels and pre-sequels have come and gone; each taking different looks at the premise. Some have been good, some not so. It has taken forty three years, but this movie, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, got it all right.

 The plot makes sense. Laboratory tests on apes for possible cures of Alzheimer’s posit a reasonable explanation as to how apes made the “jump” to intelligence. The battle between good and evil cure and profits, humane and inhumane take the tests to the extreme where caution and sensible precautions are thrown to the wind.

 The acting in this film is excellent and the synergy between caring and humanizing scenes and action sequences are well paced. James Franco (Will – human researcher) and Andy Serkis (Caesar – intelligent ape) make a powerful combination. The special effects are state of the art without giving the viewer headaches from the movement in the screen.

 For those who followed Planet of the Apes, it is a must see. For others, it is a highly recommended viewing.

 Don’t be surprised if you find yourself rooting for the apes. I did, that is until I remembered Charlton Heston cantering past that torch.

Book:  A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin

This past winter I watched a new television series “The Game of Thrones” on HBO. It was dark, well acted and drew you in. The credits on the screen said that the series was from “The Songs of Ice & Fire” by George RR Martin. I have to confess I was not familiar with the stories or of Martin as a writer. (For that I am embarrassed, he apparently is a well known writer in the sci-fi genre.)

When the series was over, I simply could not wait until “next season” came along so I made my way to the library (see previous bottomsideup on libraries) and looked for the Songs of Ice and Fire. I found that there was no such book. In fact, the Songs of Ice and Fire is a name for a collection of books. The first book of this collection is indeed named The Game of Thrones. The collection currently includes five books, with the stated intention of there being a total of seven.

 The library, to my surprise, did not have the first or second book of the series so I made my way to Borders to make a purchase. (See previous bottomsideup on libraries).  I purchased the collection of four books. The fifth, A Dance with Dragons, was not due to be released until later in the month. I quickly read through the first four books. The first book was almost word for word of what had appeared in the television series and I became that much more interested in reading the second.

The Clash of Kings continued the stories of the characters introduced in Thrones and introduced more characters. The plots got more interwoven and lead me to jump at the first chance to read the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords. The first two books were well written, engaging, pulled the reader in and became bestsellers. The third also became a best seller and I can see why. People who have read the first and second book need resolve on the previous plots.

 The third book continued the story lines, took the original characters into deeper conflicts and once again introduced more characters. By the time I started the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, I was becoming overwhelmed with following all of the characters. Some of the original characters had been killed off, some had disappeared for long periods of time while others became central figures and came into contact and conflict with new characters.

 Martin, states at the beginning of his fourth book that the fourth and the fifth book take place in the same time as each other. He has split his story line in two. In the fourth book he deals with one set of characters and leaves the rest almost completely out. The fifth book, A Dance with Dragons,  takes up the tale at the end of the third and follows other characters in their part of the story. And it once again adds more new characters.

 While I completely intend to read the sixth and seventh books so I can find out what happens to some of the characters that I started with in the first story, I have to admit that he has introduced too many characters. I have ceased to care about some, I never cared about others. In my opinion, if the reader loses interest in what happens to the characters, he has lost his reader. While they are well written, contain interesting plots and intrigues, descriptions of places and things, explanations of motives behind actions, and have become best sellers, I still can’t get over the fact that I want to hurry through them to get to the resolve.  If I find myself skipping chapters to get to the next, something is wrong. Having said that, please note, I am not just simply putting them down. That says something about their worth.

 One problem I have with this collection of books is that each book has a story arc that leads to the next. There is little resolution in any to be found until (hopefully) he concludes his entire story in the seventh. That means I will be waiting for at least two years, probably three before they make their appearance. They will all make the best sellers lists and make his publisher and himself a great deal of money. For myself, I am resentful. I wonder if other readers feel the same way.

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On the closing of Borders, I Submit The Library

August 2, 2011 4 comments

I got my love of reading from my mother. When I and my sisters were children my mother would take us almost weekly to the library. I remember the Heights’ Library in Houston as a mammoth building with multiple stairs and balconies. I know that it was once a family home; a mansion of such a size that I couldn’t ever really understand what it must have been like living in a place so splendid. It had stairs at both ends of the building and a grand stairway in the center that could have been used in the movie Gone with the Wind.

 I haven’t been there in years but I would imagine that the building would have suffered a great deal of damage over the years. It could have even been torn down and replaced with a more modern facility. I hope not. I know the neighborhood has changed drastically from when I was a child; I hope the children living there now have the benefit of that great manse.

 I remember spending what seemed like hours picking out our books in the children’s department and then having to behave ourselves to a socially acceptable degree while my mom tried valiantly to choose some for her. I am not sure she was ever completely successful. Keeping four young curious mischievous girls in line was always an effort. I think the only place we were ever completely under control was on the church pew and I’m not even sure about that.

 Every summer we would join the children’s summer reading program. If you read a certain number of books at the end of the summer they gave away free tickets to the local community theatre productions for children.

 I don’t ever remember going into bookstores as a child, it was always the library. I don’t even remember there being a bookstore close to where we lived. I suppose that as we traveled and purchased souvenirs we would pick up books along the way.  I am sure we owned many books; I am just not sure where we bought them. Maybe it is just too many years ago now, but I can only remember buying books at a book store at college.

 When I moved, I applied for a library card and used the branches nearest to my apartments. When I moved to New York, I received a Queens Public Library card. The Jamaica Branch is a wonder. The reference area alone is worth spending a week exploring. The neighborhood isn’t particularly nice and I would recommend going during the daytime. When I moved to Long Island, I received numerous cards as I moved from neighborhood to village.

We have lived  now lived in one place for a dozen years. I carry and use a Connectquot Library card and a trip to the library is on my “to do” list for my Saturday morning rounds. Only rarely does my search for a book entail going to a book store. More often than not, a purchase of a book involves a trip to the airport shops so I can keep myself occupied during a flight.

 Recently I was forced to go to a bookstore (the library didn’t have the new issue yet and I get impatient). Ironically it was to Borders. They asked me if I wanted to join their Rewards program. “Why not?” I asked myself and so I did. So I have had my Borders’ reward card for about a week. I woke up yesterday to go on-line and discover that they are closing and putting everything on sale up to 40%. I may actually go by the store again to see what if anything is worth purchasing.

 Now, the thing is about purchasing books; once I have read them, I don’t have the space to keep most of them. If the book is particularly well written then I keep it for reference when I am writing. If the book particularly touches me, I keep it for re-reading when I don’t have a new book from the library. For a long time I didn’t know what to do with the others. They increased the height of the stacks in our office and got in the way. Used book stores are picky about what they want to buy. I even contacted the Long Island Railroad Ronkonkoma station master to see if they would be interested in a bookshelf for LIRR commuters where they could pick up a book or leave a book for others. I never got a call back on that suggestion. So, now I take my read books to the nearest Senior Assisted Living housing to add to their library. They act like they appreciate the donations. It solves the problem for me and hopefully benefits them.

 While I am sorry that yet another business is closing due to the economic climate, and due to some faulty business decisions on their part (according to pundits), Borders’ closing won’t really affect me directly. I will continue to go to the library. I will continue to visit airport vendors, I will continue to purchase engineering reference books from professional sites, and very occasionally I will venture forth to Amazon.com or to Barnes & Nobles.

 For those of you who traveled to Borders’ regularly, I submit the local library for your consideration. Oh, except for my books when they come out…those I want you to purchase. On second thought, help keep Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com in business. Please.

Photo credit to Tiffany Thomas

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My Mets

I had to drive into the city this week from Long Island. I had to go to the upper west side so I took the LIE to the Cross Island Parkway to Grand Central Parkway to the RFK bridge (used to be Triborough Bridge) to Harlem River Drive to the Westside Highway to 79th Street.

During my trip I had the unfortunate experience of going by CitiField where my New York Mets play baseball. Now I say “MY” NY Mets because I am a big fan. I became a fan when I moved to New York in 1982. I had decided to root for a local team. Since I had been raised as a Colt 45 and later an Astros fan in Houston, it seemed reasonable to stay with the National League.

Of course in 1982 the NY Mets hadn’t been introduced to Dwight, Darrell, Keith, Gary or HoJo. But it wasn’t long before the fans shared in the excitement of the 1986 team. Disappointment followed but hope and high expectation was never far away.

 For years it was the age old “wait until next year” that took us through the winters. I remember well the winter that the Mets signed Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. That was going to be the year! By the middle of the season, I had seen Bull Durham and purchased twenty five black garters and took them to Shea stadium for the team.

 Bobby Valentine came to manage and took what in truth was a pretty mediocre team to the World Series. Hope and high expectation was never far away.

And I remember the excitement when David Wright and Jose Reyes hit the majors! Then of course the Mets decided to try to change Jose’s running style. Finally they fired the doctors and trainers that left so many of our players on the DL for large segments of the season.

 But during all through those horrible years, I never wavered. My allegiance stayed strong. Even when the NY Yankees took center stage and made us look like minor leaguers, I rooted loudly for my team. I simply said “It is too easy to root for the Yankees, it takes character to root for the Mets.”

 Yesterday, something happened that I don’t know how to explain. I drove by the Whitestone Bridge and turned on the Grand Central and saw our stadium in the distance.

I saw in big bold letters “CITIFIELD” and I saw in even bigger letters BUDWEISER and Caesar’s Casino and GEICO and….The entire side of the stadium facing me was ablaze in road signs of various shapes and sizes. It appeared that every inch had been sold to someone. It took me a few moments to even see “Home of the NY Mets” in an italized script that was barely large enough to read.

 Now my first thought was, “not much of a home coming is it?” Then I got angry. I don’t think the word “crass” is too strong. I don’t think that I could have been more disappointed in the outright shamefulness of it all. Now I understand that more than one stadium has been turned over to commercialism. I understand that financially building a new stadium is a work of negotiation and “Business” decisions. But this, this is an abomination and an insult to the team and their fans.

 As I seethed driving through Queens and up theHarlem River Drive, the salt was added to my wounds when I looked over the river and saw another stadium. It was splendid in its majesty. The only signage that I could see on the entire thing was “NY Yankees”.

I do understand that the playing field isn’t level. I understand that the Wilpons have had a hard couple of years since their friendship with Bernie blew up in their faces. I understand business. But in the thirty years that I have been a Mets fan, I have never been embarrassed. Angry yes, disappointed yes, but yesterday I was.

 I don’t know how this will effect my fan-dom. I know I won’t switch allegiance to the Bronx. But I think I will “care” a little less. When baseball is spoken about; when the NY Mets are mentioned; I will have that view in my mind’s eye. I’m not sure that it will be “MY” Mets so much any more. And that truly is a shame.

Photo credit to Tiffany Thomas

Categories: Uncategorized

Enough!

June 25, 2011 1 comment

What do you do when you have too much to do? I know you know what I mean. There is a house to clean, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, bills to pay, phone calls to make, appointments to keep, lawns to mow, jobs to hunt, letters to write and people to please. Sometimes it seems that it never stops and never gets done.

 You can write a “to do” list and begin scratching off item by item. You put a smile on your face as you see evidence that you are gaining. But then you remember the two items that need to be added.

You think of the appointment you forgot; the job that needs doing before you get back to the next item on the list.

 At the end of the day, you finally sit down on your lazy chair and think, “I’ll get such and such done tomorrow”. And you think that “tomorrow and tomorrow creeps its way to dusty deaths”. Oh yes, you forgot to put “dust furniture” on that to do list. You look over at the TV stand and see standing dust and dust bunnies on the TV screen. You just sigh.

 Oh yes, you need to go buy groceries so there is something to eat in the house. And don’t forget the pharmacy. What about the pet store? And when was the last time you actually went to the gym? And yes, your spouse wants to go out for dinner and to a movie.

 Did I mention that the roof leaks, the gutters need cleaning, the sprinkler system needs repair; the pool needs chemicals and vacuuming? I guess I should just be glad that there are not four stair-step children that are whining that they are bored and there is nothing for them to do. (Sorry Mama and Daddy!)

 So what is the answer? Better organizational skills? Paying for help? Telling yourself that you can’t do everything and some things just have to wait? Why does that feel like copping out?

 Well obviously I’m feeling stress. I do think the answer might be just doing nothing for a day; just 24 hours to let my muscles relax and the pounding in my head to decrease.

Is there ever a right time to do nothing? Is it ever correct to just sit in the midst of the chaos and read? Is that why God decided to take the seventh day off? Did he have a “to do” list? Did he need to just say “Enough”? Is that why everything isn’t perfect? He took time off?

 I obviously didn’t create the earth and stars. I didn’t say let there be light. But sometimes I do feel like I have the universe on my shoulders. Maybe I should just shrug. So I think I am going to do that today. I am going to drink my decaf coffee. I am going to sit on my Lazy Boy recliner and I am going to try to let my mind take a break. I am going to escape into a book. And tonight I will be going out for a movie.

Tomorrow I pick up my “to do” list and start at the top. Again.

Photo credit to Tiffany Thomas

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