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Archive for November, 2014

“Thank You For Your Service” — What Do You Really Mean?

Forming The Thread

Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.

In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me among those who find it awkward at best.

I wonder just what people really mean when they say “Thank you for your service.” Maybe I should start asking. Why are you thanking me for my service? What did it do for you? What does it mean to you? I wonder how many of these well-wishers could even really articulate a solid answer to that question.

Here is what this veteran thinks: “Thank you for your service” is a pretty lame substitute for the public’s failure to be at all engaged, or even a little bit interested…

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On Ferguson: The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way

The Belle Jar

I have an uncle who was a cop.

His kids, my cousins, were around my age and when we visited our family in Québec every summer I practically lived at their house. As soon as we got to my grandmother’s house, all rumpled and grumpy from our eight hour drive, I would start dialling my cousins’ number on her beige rotary phone. I spent the whole damn school year waiting for summer, and my time with my cousins, to come; we wrote each other letters all through the dreary winter, hatching plans for new summer exploits. Life with my cousins – swimming in their pool, family barbecues, playing hide-and-seek in my grandmother’s mammoth hedge at twilight – was lightyears better than my boring life in Ontario.

Pretty much every summer my uncle would, at some point, take us to visit the police station. He would pretend that we were criminals and…

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Guilt, Privilege, and Questions I Was Afraid to Ask

almost open book

Last night fire swept through the streets

Climbed the walls,

The rugs racism has been swept under,

Heavy.  Burning.

I am white,

And I am guilty.

Of not being brave enough

To sit down with a black mother

Look her in the eye

And ask,

“What does it feel like?”

To be afraid for your babies

Your beautiful children, eyes full of love.

I am a coward,

Because I was afraid of the heaviness

Of letting that pain into my space.

My privilege is the freedom

To acknowledge oppression

Yet decide when I want to have the conversation.

Choosing whether to avoid the discomfort.

Choosing at all.

Maybe change begins

When suffering is so vast

It no longer fits inside human bodies.

When the ugly silence of fear

Is so loud, we can no longer deny it.

And when my heart aches as I look at you

Knowing that your truth…

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Riots and Reason

tressiemc

I truly believe that to be a good teacher, a decent writer or a perfunctory scholar one has to concede the limits of evidence, reason, and rationality.

It is no wonder I believe that. Evidence, reason and rationality can rarely explain my place in this world. I know the limits even as I try to stretch them. It is either futile or the human experience or, I suspect, it is both.

For months I have participated and supported the ground work of activists, scholars, teachers, preachers, parents, young people, old people, and people people in Ferguson, MO. My contribution amounts to little more than nil on the grand scale of things. Mostly, I have hoped that people would persist.

It is an unreasonable hope.

Representatives of the State, of a public that includes black people who are also a public, were defiant when they announced the grand jury results of Michael…

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Irish Bakewell Buns

Omnom.

cookingwithcraic

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Growing up in Canada, I’d never really heard of bakewell tarts until a few years ago.

In fact, since I moved to Ireland almost exactly 1.5 years ago, I’ve been introduced to a whole slew of new things (I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that).

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Some things I’ve learned:

1. Sliced Pan = sliced bread

2. Potato chips are crisps. Most of you know that. But did you know crisps can be a sandwich filling? And, in fact, all you would need for this sandwich are crisps, sliced pan and butter? Did you know that was a thing? I didn’t.

3. When someone asks you if you want salad with your sandwich at a cafe and you say yes, you generally get several kinds of mayo-laden potatoes and coleslaws. Gotta say, I don’t always mind. I really like mayo.

4. What we think is breakfast in Canada is a piece…

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On the New Racist Discourse in America

Matthew Barlow

[Note: Comments have become out of control on this blog post, including some downright racist terminology that I have not allowed to be posted, as well as a few that include veiled, and occasionally direct, threats against me.]

So Ben Stein thinks that Obama is the most racist president in the history of this great republic.  He thinks so because allegedly Obama “is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans,” and is using the ‘race card’ to convince all African Americans to vote for the Democratic Party.  Ben Stein is wrong.

Obama is not the racist one, but Stein is tapping into a new discourse of racist ideology arising from the right in this country.  In this discourse, anyone who mentions race as an issue in contemporary American life risks being called a racist.  Anyone who points out racial inequality is at risk of being branded racist.  In…

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How We Remember Two Dead Hamilton Soldiers and What That Says About Us

Dylan Powell

Stark L – Cpl. Justin Stark R – Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

A week ago today a man, who had been living in a shelter, drove to the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and opened fire on Corporal Nathan Cirillo – one of the two guards at the National War Monument. The shooting was fatal and the shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau would later meet the same fate as he stormed Parliament and was shot and killed by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons Kevin Vickers. That story has dominated news cycles in Canada and seen an international outpouring of support for Corporal Nathan Cirillo – all top U.S. Officials have sent their regards, tens of thousands of Canadians have visited a vigil outside of the Hamilton Armoury, or held vigil alongside and on overpasses of Ontario’s Highways as his body and casket were driven back to Hamilton. Numerous military personnel have commented on…

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