Saturday, 14 April 2012

FREE SPEECH and OUTRAGE (2)

FREE SPEECH and OUTRAGE 2

This three part series is about speech (however egregious).  It is not about actions.

Venezuelan born baseball coach Ozzie Guillen  is in trouble down in Miami where he coaches the Miami Marlins.

He is (according to the press) notoriously loose lipped. That (maybe) being so he has caused a stir as a result of an interview he gave to Time magazine.

According to the magazine Mr. Guillen said that “he loves Fidel Castro and respects him for staying in power so long”.

This was a red-meat statement for Miami’s politically powerful and reactionary Cuban-American population, members of which did not exactly bray “off with his head” – but did call for his firing.

The team owners have suspended him for five games.

Mr. Guillen claims that “Time” misquoted him.  He adds that he was thinking in Spanish and speaking in English, and that his words came out all wrong.

.“Time” is sticking by its story.

(Wouldn't any decent reporter have asked “did you really mean to say that Mr.Guillen?”)

(Has it occurred to anyone other than I that Mr. Guillen may have been “looking out” for his Venezuelan family members, knowing that any anti-Castro comment on his part might have been used against them by the Castro ally and repressive semi-dictator Hugo Chavez),

The point I am trying to make (as with yesterday’s blog about the Fabrice Muamba/Liam Stacey story) is that “outrage” is all too readily manufactured about “speech”.

In a free society we should be able to resist bad, stupid, or ugly speech with gracious, truthful and lovely speech.

It is only in “less than free” societies that stupid speech (such as by Liam Stacey and Ozzie Guillen) is punished.

Punishment should always be reserved for actions, and never for words.

There will be more on this from me tomorrow (and you may well be shocked!)

Friday, 13 April 2012

FREE SPEECH and OUTRAGE (1)

This three part series is about speech (however egregious) not about actions.

On March 18th 2012 the Zaire born football player 24 year old Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the soccer pitch as he suffered from a heart attack. He was playing for a team known as Bolton Wanderers in a match versus Tottenham Hotspurs.

Mr Muamba was rushed to the hospital,(he is now making a slow recovery) and the game was abandoned.

At the time of Mr Muamba’s collapse, down in south Wales, 21 year old student Liam Stacey tweeted some crude and cruel racist comments about the footballer.  Stacey (by his own admission) was very drunk when he did this.

(In my experience drunk people often say things out loud which they have thought whilst sober -  editorial comment from jmp).


Liam Stacy was arrested and tried for inciting racial hatred.  He has since been jailed with a 55 day sentence.

( Stacey’s words were vile and nasty. But it is hard for me to understand how jailing him serves a greater purpose. Such a jail sentence could be grist for the mill for U.K. racists – feeding into their mistaken sense of being aggrieved in a multi-racial country.


Wouldn’t a greater purpose have been served had Mr. Stacy be sentenced to 55 days of community service in (say) a black church in South Wales, or (say) providing services for a disabled black veteran of  WWII or Korea).


See the following article from the left leaning British newspaper The Guardian for more insights on this case.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/08/victoria-coren-liam-stacey-tweets

(You will probably have to cut and paste this link from the Guardian)

And please pray for Mr. Muamba’s continuing recovery.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A shooting and a death in Sanford, FL

The facts are clear.

On 26th February 2012 Trayvon Martin (17) was shot by George Zimmerman (28) in Sanford, FL.

Trayvon Martin died as a result of this shooting.

George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder, on this day 12th April 2012,

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That’s all we know.  Any other “information” should be discounted as speculation.

It is to be regretted that:

the social media (Facebook/Twitter);

the popular media (CNN/Fox News);

and the serious media (the London “Guardian”, our American “N.P.R.”)

is more highly invested in speculation than in reporting the facts.


Please see  http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/zimmerman-affidavit.pdf

(cut and paste this link if  necessary)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stuff you always wanted to know

By 1850 the population of London was approx 3 million.


According to Peter Cunningham’s “Handbook of London" ( printed in1850) the workforce included:

168701 Domestic servants
29780 Dressmakers and Milliners
28574 Boot and shoe makers
21517 Tailors and breechesmakers
20417 Commercial Clerks
18321 Carpenters and joiners
16220 Laundrykeepers, washers and manglers
13103 Private messengers and errand boys
11507 Painters, plumbers and glaziers
9110 Bakers
7973 Cabinet makers and upholsters
7151 Silk manufacturers
7002 Seamen
6741 Bricklayers
6716 Blacksmiths
6618 Printers
6450 Butchers
5499 Booksellers, book binders and publishers
4980 Grocers and tea dealers
4961 Tavern keepers, publicans and victuallers
4920 Clock and watch makers

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That’s clearly not an exhaustive list. For instance, it does not include civil and public servants, (or day labourers in the London docks).

But it gives an indication of London as the growing hub of a vast commercial empire, but not as a centre of industry. London has never been a great manufacturing town.

Great Britain’s Industrial strength was then rooted in the coal mines of South Wales, Yorkshire and Lancashire, in the manufacturing towns and cities of the West Midlands and the Black Country, in the cotton and woollen mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and in the shipbuilding areas of Tyneside and Clydesdale.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I admire an Ice Hockey Coach

This is the story.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Former Carolina Hurricanes assistant Tom Rowe was hired as head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl as the Russian club rebuilds after all of its players, coaches and staff were killed in a plane crash.
Hurricanes spokesman Mike Sundheim confirmed Rowe's hiring Monday.
The 55-year-old Rowe spent his entire coaching career with the Carolina organization. He was a pro scout for the team this year after three seasons on the Hurricanes' coaching staff. Before that, he spent four seasons as the head coach and general manager of their AHL affiliate in Lowell and Albany.
Lokomotiv's plane crashed last September shortly after takeoff outside Yaroslavl, and among the 44 people killed was former Carolina forward Josef Vasicek. The team wore patches with his jersey No. 63 this season.


Here are my comments.

First, those who know me will be surprised to note that I am writing about a sports story! However, Coach Rowe was interviewed on P.R.I.’s radio show “The World” earlier today. Somewhat snob that I am, I was surprised and delighted to hear him. (A hockey coach – whatever could he say which was worth hearing!).


Coach Rowe referred to his experience of coaching hockey in North America. That gave an indication of his sensitivity -  a recognition that (ice) hockey is played in Canada and the U.S.A.

He went on to say that his coaching style is rooted in dialogue. He doesn’t simply tell the players how to perform -  he wants to hear their opinions and suggestions  about the game.

Then he added that he and his wife were looking forward to living in and learning from a different culture; that his wife has enrolled in a Russian language course in Yaroslavl, and that he would try to learn some Russian from her.

He noted with approval that the Russian game is less violent than hockey in North America.

The interviewer asked him if he would miss “pulled pork” (a specialty in Raleigh). “Yes”, he would, and then added (not in these exact words) “but I am looking forward to eating Borscht -  for I have heard that nothing can beat homemade Borscht in Russia, and I can’t wait to try it”.

This man is clearly the ant-thesis of the well known “ugly American abroad”.  I am beginning to think that he is one of our finest exports!

You should be able to listen to the story here

http://www.theworld.org/2012/04/american-coach-to-rebuild-russian-hockey-team/

(cut and paste this link if necessary)



Monday, 9 April 2012

Single payer

I had some treatments from my Dermatologist on Feb 6th 2012.

The cost of such treatments is paid by

1. Medicare (a U.S. Government programme for retirees towards which I contribute each month from my Social Security Pension).

2. My supplemental insurance via the Episcopal Church medical trust  (to which I contribute each month from my Episcopal Church pension).

3. Directly by me.

For instance, on March 20th I was billed $9.78 for my share of the  Feb. 6th bill. I paid my dermatologist immediately.

She has also received payments from Medicare and from my Supplemental Insurance.

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Today I got yet another bill from the Dermatologist for two of those Feb 6th treatments.  She is asking for an additional $28.05.

So far as I am concerned her bill is gobble-de-gook.   For instance, the Bill shows “PER EOB PT RESP” for two procedures

I have not the slightest idea what means, nor why I am being billed again for these two treatments.

But I will pay up, lest I be placed on some delinquent payers’ list, and then be harassed by a Debt Collector.


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On the other hand I took my dog Penne to the Veterinarian’s office today for her annual check up.



The Vet took blood and checked it with a Heartworm Antigen Test.
He analysed the fecal sample which I took with me.
 He checked her heart, lungs, eyes, ears and teeth.

(She is in great shape!)

He gave her a shot against Parvo; another one against Leptospirosis; and a third against Bordetella pertussis (kennel cough).

This bill was totally understandable, and I paid it immediately.

It seems very odd to me that Veterinarians live well with a “single payer” plan, but that Medical Doctors and Surgeons have to live with a “triple payer” plan.

It seems very odd to me that I cannot understand the bill from my Dermatologist, but that the Veterinarian’s bill is utterly clear.

It seems very perverse to me that the Republicans (champions of the “free market”) are totally opposed to a single payer system for human health care, but would applaud the “single payer” systems of businesses such as my Vet.

Just sayin’

(Just sayin’ that Republican Party policies are inconsistent.)