Saturday, 11 May 2013

Who is my brother? Sibling rivalry ain't that simple!

I am reading “Brothers” by George Howe Colt (Scribner 2012).

Colt (who lives in Western Massachusetts) is also the author of “The Big House”, and of “November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide”.

He grew up in Dedham, MA, then Darien CT, then back in Dedham with his parents and with his three brothers, Harry, Ned and Mark.

Colt weaves an affectionate and honest tale of life in a family of four sons (and no daughters) with wondrous, sad, and lovely stories of famous brothers.

There were the Booths, especially Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth. Both were famed Shakespearean actors in the 19th Century.  John Wilkes Booth is remembered not for his acting skills, but because he was the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

Thus John Wilkes Booth’s name is remembered more than his brother’s.

How about the Kellogg brothers?  They were Dr. John Kellogg, health food fanatic and founder of a sanatorium in Battle Creek MI, and his younger brother Will (W.K.) Kellogg.  Will worked for his older brother, who treated him abominably.  Yet (with a sibling rivalry beyond all rivalries) W.K. Kellogg went on to be the inventors and purveyor of the famous “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes” whilst Dr. John Kellogg's sanatorium is all but forgotten.

 Thus W.K. Kellogg's  name is remembered more than his brother’s.


Most poignantly and sadly is the story of the artist Vincent Van Gogh and his younger brother Theo.

Vincent, brilliant but unstable could not have survived without the love, care and financial support of Theo.

But Theo could not have survived apart from his need to take care of his older brother.

In the event Vincent died after shooting himself in the abdomen.

Six months later Theo died in an asylum:  (Jan 25th 1891).

It seems that the younger (Theo), who was the primary care-giver for his older brother could not  live without him.

As George Howe Colt puts it:  in the words of psychotherapist Jean Safer", who grew up with an emotionally troubled older brother, the sibling of the child with special needs is not supposed to have any needs”

“Thus” George Colt goes on to assert, “Theo van Gogh sacrificed his money, time, health, and identity to tend to Vincent.”

More soon about the Marx Brothers and the Thoreau  brothers, and with a very affectionate tip of the hat  to George, Harry, Ned and Mark Colt.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A rubber rabbit, a real rabbit, and a tortoise.

We, that is the Povey family of 47 Devon Rd, Whitehall, Bristol, BS59AY, had a rabbit made of foam rubber, with a malleable wire skeleton by which he could be twisted into all manner of shapes and poses. It had been a Christmas gift.

Of course its name was “Harvey”.  Only an older generation will understand why my Dad chose this moniker.  Harvey brought us great pleasure.

We also had a living rabbit whose name was “Snowy” or “Fluffy”.  The poor little beast lived in a “hutch” in our back garden. Not one of we Poveys was singularly dedicated to Snowy’s welfare.

 I remember cleaning out the hutch, removing the turds and wet straw, inserting fresh straw (or was it sawdust) as this real live pet rabbit shivered in the winter cold - doing so with great self righteousness!

We also had a Tortoise. One Sunday after Church my pals Jeff, Eric,  and Richard were visiting.  We were in the “middle room” of 47 Devon Rd.  I was wearing a new suit.

I opened the French Doors which led to the back garden and brought the tortoise inside so that it could be admired by my friends. 

The tortoise promptly crapped over my new suit – much to the amusement of Jeff, Eric and Richard, and to my embarrassment. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My house guest got a job ----- Ethical thinking is difficult.

So ---- today my Peruvian  friend German got a new job with the most famous of American Pay-Day Loan Companies.

The Company will train him (with pay) next week in TPA, and pay for his hotel room as he is trained. 

Then he will be assigned to a local office within 25 miles of SRQ with pay at $14 per hours (not bad these days). After 90 days he will be eligible for health insurance benefits.

As much as I dislike the Pay-Day Loan Companies, I am glad that German has landed on his feet.

Ethical consistency is not easy.

Therefore it is  impossible to reconcile my dislike of  Pay-Day Loan Companies with my joy that German has landed a job.

I have to live in the balance between my dislike of some enterprises and my concern and care for German. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A house guest and the search for work.

German Antonio Rodriguez will be my house guest for the next few days.

Herman (that’s more or less how you pronounce his first name) hails from Peru.

I first met him about six years ago when he was the dogsbody at a local convenience store/gas station here in SRQ. Never was a man more dedicated to a very lowly job.

We became good pals and I have followed his progress, first as he moved to Maryland (where my Brasilian friend Ronaldo Amado and I  visited him);  and then as he became a United States citizen, and washed up in Los Angeles.

It’s been very hard for German (who has a College degree) to find work.  First he had a well paying but exhausting job with a Logistics company in CA, a company that did not treat him well. Then he was with an insurance company for a while making “cold calls”.  His supervisors gave him enough leads for two days worth of work each week at one of those minimum salary plus commission jobs. German was not making enough to pay his rent.

He’s moving back east after a short stay with friends in Phoenix, where work is scarce.

Now he is to interview for a job in SRQ.  He decided to take a risk and come here since a local manager telephoned him four times in order to persuade him to come to SRQ for an interview.  German’s bilingual skills are valuable.

Sadly the possible job is with one of the leading American”pay day loans” companies -  but “needs must”.

The immigrant route is tough, for legal immigrants and for undocumented ones.


Jobs are scarce...... in the U.S.A., in the United Kingdom, in the Eurozone, in the Middle East, in most African countries, in India, and in south east Asian countries such as Vietnam.  

There are many young men and women in many countries who will never find decent and well paying jobs, how ever hard they try, 'cause the jobs ain't there.  Our world has too many people and too few jobs.

I wonder when we shall understand that the world is over-populated.  

I wonder when we shall come to terms with the fact that so-called free market capitalism hasn't done well for the masses.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bits and pieces from Sarasota

1.   Am I the only person who still writes ‘phone and photo’?  Surely not.

2.   Summer has not rushed into SRQ this year.  We are enjoying balmy days with gentle breezes and temps reaching 75f (23c).  Nights have gotten down to about 62f (16c.).  'Tis terrific.

3.   A lonely (and a bit skinny) red fox is still roaming our neighbourhood. She/he is a beautiful beast.  But I do not allow junior cat Adelaide to go out at night, “just in case”.

4.   As well as the fox, a neighbour reports that she has seen a coyote in the neighbourhood. This is another good reason to keep Adelaide housebound.  

Coyotes have become urbanised.  About 10 years ago a Cambridge MA parishioner, (the wonderful Sarah F.) had her treasured little dog killed by coyotes in her semi-suburban neighbourhood in Lexington, MA.

5.   The irascible “Judge Judy”, ( she is a T.V. show personality in the USA, and is  truly a Judge), has no truck with poor grammar. 

When a hapless defendant said “I was tooken to jail” Judge Judy glared (as only she can glare) and said:  “that would be “taken”

Judge Judy would not proceed until the defendant said “I was taken”. 


Participants in her TV show will also get the Judge Judy stare/glare should they utter such words as “me and her” or “him and me” at the beginning of a sentence: 

 viz “me and her went to the Mall”, 

or “him and me were driving to...”. 

She will insist that participants say “she and I went to the Mall”, or “he and I were driving to..”

I love it!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Guns in defence of the Constitution? (Friends in democracies others than the U.S.A. should roll their eyes).

Thanks to Patricia C..A. for the tip off on this article.

 Gun Violence Since Newtown  May 3, 2013

by John Light and Lauren Feeney (From Moyers and Company Website.)

Take a look at gun deaths, school shootings, public opinion and the Senate vote on gun control in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

The Victims

Number of people killed by guns in the first 98 days post-Newtown: 2,244
Total gun homicides in 2011 (the latest year for which there are FBI records): 8,583
Total gun deaths, including homicide, suicide and accidental death in 2010 (the latest year for which there are CDC records): 31,300
Number of school shootings since Newtown: 9*

Jan. 10, 2013 –
Taft Union High School, Taft, CA – one injured
Jan. 11, 2013 –
Osborn High School, Detroit, MI – one injured
Jan. 15, 2013 –
Stevens Institute of Business and Arts, St. Louis, MO – two injured
Jan. 15, 2013 –
Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard, KY – Taylor Jade Cornett, 12, Caitlin Cornett, 20, and Jackie Cornett, 53, were killed
Jan. 16, 2013 –
Chicago State University, Chicago, IL – Tyrone Lawson, 17, was killed
Jan. 22, 2013 –
Lone Star College, Houston, TX – three injured
Jan. 31, 2013 –
Price Middle School, Atlanta, GA – one injured
March 18, 2013 –
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL – The gunman, James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, killed himself
April 18, 2013 –
MIT, Cambridge, MA – MIT police officer Sean Collier, 27, was killed

POVEY EDITORIAL NOTE  I’d like to know how many of these shootings were in defence of the Constitution.