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Just had to post this:

Starbucks is hopping on the unicorn-craze with its limited edition “Unicorn Frappuccino” blended drink.

The colorful drink is available April 19 through April 23 at participating stores across the country. In what either sounds like a dream come true or truly disgusting, the beverage is made with pink powder blended into cream Frappucino with mango syrup and layered with a sour blue drizzle.

“Like its mythical namesake, the Unicorn Frappuccino blended crème comes with a bit of magic, starting as a purple beverage with swirls of blue and a first taste that is sweet and fruity,” Starbucks said in a statement. “But give it a stir and its color changes to pink, and the flavor evolves to tangy and tart. The more swirl, the more the beverage’s color and flavors transform.”

Hmmm…the more you swirl, the more it changes colors and changes flavors.

Draw your own conclusions…or unicorns…


With gun regulation failing yet again, the US healthcare industry begins preparing for the continued fallout from mass shootings with automatic weaponry:

Across the nation, and the world, the realization that mass killings are the new normal has been gradually sinking in. On Friday, the National Academy of Medicine in Washington published a discussion paper — titled “Health and Medical Response to Active Shooter and Bombing Events” — that details best practices to help communities become better prepared. It warns that many are ill equipped for a “surge in major trauma cases.”

Dr. Havron (trauma surgeon in Orlando) and five other trauma surgeons at the hospital performed 28 operations that night. Of the 44 patients brought to the trauma center, eight died in the emergency room within minutes of their arrival, another died on the way to the operating room and 35 were admitted. As of Sunday, four remained in critical condition.

“Everybody that made it to the operating room is still alive,” Dr. Havron said.

But Dr. Jay Falk, the academic chairman of emergency medicine at the trauma center, warned that if there had been twice as many casualties, they might have overwhelmed the system.

This is a problem the hospital will have to address, he said, adding, “We have to rethink that.”

The dead were brought to the Orange County morgue, which upgraded its capacity in 2010 to store as many as 150 bodies, with a plane crash or a tornado in mind. Dr. Joshua D. Stephany, the county medical examiner, supervised the autopsies and performed some himself.

At the Orlando Fire Department, Chief Roderick S. Williams, who supervised many of the paramedics first on the scene, is planning to “tell others our lessons learned.” Fire chiefs from New York; Aurora, Colo.; and Boston — cities that have also confronted traumas — have already reached out to share their information.

“As the next city to experience a horrific event like this,” Chief Williams said, “we have to pay it forward.

 – excerpted from How Can Communities Prepare for Mass Shootings? Orlando Offers Lessons, NY Times, 6/20/2016

Managing the results and not the source.

orlando erHospital personnel waiting with stretchers on June 12 at the emergency entrance to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. Credit Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

…gather those tools and let’s get started…

banksy graffitiThe street is in play

Amiri Baraka reads his poem, Dope, first published in 1979 in Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones.

Please click here for the text – will open in separate window. Baraka reads fast and with powerful emotion in the video – the text will help you follow:

Excerpted commentary from The Cambridge History of African American Literature:

…Dope…is one of the finest examples of a “scored” poem ever written…reveals the full maturation of Baraka’s appproach to sound-based poetics. Whereas “Black Art” (originally published in Baraka’s Black Magic, 1969) reflects modernist techniques of literary style on the printed page, “Dope” is barely intelligible in print. In fact, the recorded version is the definitive artifact.

Some explanation – keeping the poem in context with the time that it was written:

At the outset of the poem, Baraka parodies the sounds of a junkie who is strung out on herioin. However, these sounds, which are represented on the page as “uuuuuuuuu” are not visually intelligble. It is only when the poet’s voice is heard that meaning is produced because sounds signifies the referent of Baraka’s parody. 

Additional commentary here from Brian Michael Murphy:

Perhaps Questlove put it best, in his New York Times piece: “Whatever Baraka I’ve read, whenever I’ve read it, is bracing. It braces me. It keeps me upright from falling, even when I don’t agree, sometimes especially when I don’t agree.” 

More background on Baraka at The Poetry Foundation.

Talk amongst yourselves…

Some small irony that I started posting a little over four years ago as an outlet for my political and creative frustrations. Took me a while to find my voice but have avoided politics since. Then again, I’ve made friends thru posting who sit on the opposite side of the aisle from me, have had public political disagreements with, but always circled back to the reasons we stay in touch – connection, friendship, and the written word.

This political cycle was no less exhausting than the last. Only this time it seemed even more abrasive, louder, and at times, viciously antagonistic.

No need to stress what side of the line I stand on – that would only brand me as partisan winner or loser. I’m not interested in that. What I am interested in is reducing suffering both financial and physical – if only because I’ve experienced both. Although all men and women are responsible for the consequences of their decisions, those same decisions and consequences are often formed in the cauldron of politics.

This past weekend, two days before the election, and without attempting to predict a winner, Frank Bruni wrote in the Sunday edition of the NY Times:

Purge the acrimony of the campaign. Transcend whatever distrust and disappointment linger. And for a while at least, until you have fresh cause to abandon the project, give the winner a real chance to do some good, and give him the benefit of the doubt….

In the end it’s possible to see whoever prevails in the presidential election not as the less principled, more fortune-kissed candidate but as the one whose message had the most appeal and whose prescriptions voters felt like putting their chips on, at least at this particular juncture.

And granting that person an initial degree and grace period of trust seems to me not only the democratic thing to do, but also the constructive one. Maybe he’ll choose sensible solutions over sharply partisan ones. Wait and see and nudge and hope, because the alternative simply perpetuates the political dysfunction in a country being steadily diminished by it. The alternative doesn’t get us any closer to solving problems that grow bigger and bigger with time.

We have so many problems to confront and so much opportunity to do so. I’m hoping that acrimony, and partisan politics for the sake of partisan politics, will be set aside. I don’t know that we can survive locally – or globally – without doing so.

Onward we go. And thankfully it will now be without campaign ads, email blasts, and robo calls…

…and that’s not debatable…

Non Sequitur
by Wiley Miller

There…feel better now?

[I stumbled onto this craftsman while looking for an ee cummings excerpt – the entry was older, but walking over to his newer posts I found photos of the woodcraft he produces and sells in his Etsy shop. Carefully constructed and finished work fabricated of salvaged timber from his own woodshop and local mills. But one of his entries was the most stunning … and not only in price … – J.]

* * * * * *

Face Grain Countertop Butcher Block/Cutting Board -A Real Steal $7,000.00

Are you a decades-long recipient of the Bush/Obama tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? This item may be just for you. Free shipping.

Here’s what I will do with the money:

• Insulate the attic of our 1928 bungalow, with eco-friendly blown-in insulation for the winter (already fast upon us).

• Buy a solar hot water panel kit and install it myself on said bungalow.

• Purchase and install by ourselves a mid-range quality wood stove and double-insulated stove pipe up through the original chimney, which is no longer safe because it was built before Portland Cement became widely available and all the lime has washed out, plus then it was shingled over.

• Buy one bottle of mid-grade single malt scotch and drink a modest toast to you, and to Etsy.

• Donate the remainder to Wikileaks.

Please note: For those not eligible for top tier tax credits, I have many boards and blocks priced for you as well (and have successfully shipped hundreds of items around the country, including genuine end grain butcher blocks and wholesale orders).

Go visit him…Green River Woods…does beautiful work…no additional charge for the economic satire…

[PS – Although I swore off political posts, I just couldn’t resist…  – J.]

“IF you really want to know why the financial system nearly collapsed in the fall of 2008, I can tell you in one simple sentence.”

The statement came from a man sitting three or four stools away from me in a sparsely populated Midtown bar, where I was waiting for a friend.

“The financial system nearly collapsed,” he said, “because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.”

“But weren’t there smart guys on Wall Street in the first place?” I asked.

“One of the speakers at my 25th reunion said that, according to a survey he had done of those attending, income was now precisely in inverse proportion to academic standing in the class, and that was partly because everyone in the lower third of the class had become a Wall Street millionaire.”

“Two things happened. One is that the amount of money that could be made on Wall Street with hedge fund and private equity operations became just mind-blowing. At the same time, college was getting so expensive that people from reasonably prosperous families were graduating with huge debts. So even the smart guys went to Wall Street, maybe telling themselves that in a few years they’d have so much money they could then become professors or legal-services lawyers or whatever they’d wanted to be in the first place…”

“Why do I get the feeling that there’s one more step in this scenario?” I said.

“Did you ever hear the word ‘derivatives’?” he said. “Do you think our guys could have invented, say, credit default swaps? Give me a break! They couldn’t have done the math.”

“When the smart guys started this business of securitizing things that didn’t even exist in the first place, who was running the firms they worked for? Our guys! The lower third of the class! Guys who didn’t have the foggiest notion of what a credit default swap was. All our guys knew was that they were getting disgustingly rich, and they had gotten to like that. All of that easy money had eaten away at their sense of enoughness.”

– from the essay, Wall Street Smarts, by Calvin Trillin

gordon gekko

"The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good."

In an effort to spread its message in the world of social networking, Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church married microblogging and social networking with the Gospel Friday when it told the Passion of Christ, the story of the crucifixion, in posts of 140 characters or fewer.

From noon to 3 p.m., a church worker posted 18 tweets adapted from the Gospel of Mark. The story was largely told through the eyes of six characters: Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Peter, a serving girl and Pontius Pilate.

One tweet read, “ServingGirl: is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them.”

That was soon followed by one from Jesus: “Let the scriptures be fulfilled. It is as the prophets wrote. I am who you say I am.”

Twitter makes sense for congregations to spread their word, said the Rev. Charles Henderson, a Presbyterian minister and founder of the First Church of Cyberspace, Twitter has 10 million users, according to ComScore, an Internet market research firm.

Trinity’s tweets are the first time Henderson has heard of the Passion Play on Twitter, “but it strikes me immediately as a great idea,” Henderson said.

LeAnnThomas thanked the church “4 this beautiful version of the passion scriptures.”

Trinity Church uses Twitter to tell Passion of Christ, New York Newsday, 4/11/09


As a fan of Vonnegut, I know that his writings and personal philosophy have always taken an anti-war and anti-violence position. One of his books that always remained with me, Slaughterhouse Five, was a (science) fictionalized account of his time as a POW of the Germans during WW II. Held in Dresden, he was one of the few survivors of the massive fire bombing by the Allies that destroyed this primarily civilian population center. Vonnegut and his fellow POWs were given the task of retrieving bodies from the rubble for mass burial. But the carnage was overwhelming and the bodies were eventually just placed in piles for burning. The experience no doubt shaped his beliefs about war and violence.

Last night I began reading a collection of his previously unpublished writings, Armageddon in Retrospect. With an introduction by his son, Mark Vonnegut (who’s book, The Eden Express, I read many years ago), it includes a non-fiction recollection of his time in Dresden. It immediately brought to my mind the images of what is happening in the Middle East:

Over one hundred thousand non-combatants and a magnificent city destroyed by bombs dropped wide of the stated objectives: the railroads were knocked out for roughly two days. The death of Dresden was a bitter tragedy, needlessly and willfully executed. The killing of children – “Jerry” children or “Jap” children, or whatever enemies the future may hold for us – can never be justified.

The facile reply to great groans such as mine is the most hateful of all cliché, “fortunes of war,” and another “They asked for it. All they understand is force.” Who asked for it? The only thing who understands is force? Believe me, it is not easy to rationalize the stamping out of vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored when gathering up babies in bushel baskets or helping a man dig where he thinks his wife may be buried. Certainly enemy military and industrial installations should have been blown flat, and woe unto those foolish enough to seek shelter near them. But the “Get Tough America” policy, the spirit of revenge, the approbation of all destruction and killing, has earned us a name for obscene brutality, and cost the World the possibility of Germany’s becoming a peaceful and intellectually fruitful nation in anything but the most remote future.

When, late in the war, with the Werhmacht breaking up on all fronts, our planes were sent to destroy this last major city, I doubt if the question was asked, “How will this tragedy benefit us, and how will that benefit compare with the ill-effects in the long run?”  Dresden….plowed under and salt strewn in the furrows.

No doubt I’m using Vonnegut’s writing as a broad brush and as a Jew, I may also be painted with it as an anti-Semite or anti-Israel. But all sides carry the blame, guilt, and responsibility. When will the entire world say “enough”?

It brings me back to an African saying – “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.”

Photograph by Edie Vonnegut

Photograph by Edie Vonnegut

© Bill Israel

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