Monthly Archives: September 2019

Inviting Mahathir Mohamad to Speak at Columbia University is a Validation of Antisemitism

These days, it’s not that difficult to see the divisions in our world. College is supposed to heal these divisions and teach our young people that diversity is not only acceptable, but it is beautiful.

The message at Columbia University is the opposite.

Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad has been invited to speak at the university. The problem with this invitation is that Mr. Mohamad is not only an avowed anti-Semite, he takes pleasure in openly spewing the poison that comes out of his lips.

In defending the invitation, University President Lee Bollinger, stated the following:

“This form of open engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution,” 

Mr. Bollinger claims that the ” invitation is neither a “validation” or “endorsement” of the speaker’s views.”

As I see it, the problem with the invite is that it validates antisemitism. It validates the BDS movement and other organizations that regularly harass Jewish college students, especially those who support Israel.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in free speech and a college student’s opportunity to expand their world and their perspective. However, given the current political and cultural climate that we live in, a clear line in the sand must be drawn. That line is hate speech. The question is if university administrations have the balls to draw that line.

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Will the Phone Call With the Ukrainian President Be the Straw That Breaks the Camel’s Back?

For nearly three years, many Americans (myself included), have been angered, stressed and generally not happy with the actions of the man we unfortunately refer to as the President of the United States.

At every turn, we ask is this enough? When will we reach the breaking point to finally get this man out of office?

That breaking point may have arrived. During a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, you know who may have threatened to pull back promised financial assistance if Mr. Zelensky did not investigate the business interests of Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

It appears that the this phone call may be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back.

As of earlier this afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced that a formal inquiry has been launched. If the results of the inquiry go in a certain direction, impeachment becomes a serious possibility.

While impeachment does not mean that he will be forced out of office, it is certainly a step in the right direction (at least from my perspective). It says that no one, not even the President is above the law.

Perhaps being impeached will finally teach him that.

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America’s First Daughter Book Review

They say that history is written by the victors. They may also say that history is written by those who have access to the pen. For thousands of years, men have told their stories. It is only recently that women have been given the pen and the spotlight.

America’s First Daughter was published in 2016. In the book, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the story of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, the eldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. The book starts when Martha, known to her family as Patsy, is a young girl. After her mother’s death, Patsy becomes her father’s companion and confidant.

When her father named as the American minister to France, Patsy travels with her father. Compared to her Virginia home, Paris is another world entirely. Growing up within the world the of pre-revolution French aristocracy, Patsy becomes suspicious of Thomas’s relationship with Sally Hemmings. She also falls in love, but this love will not turn into marriage.

After Patsy returns home, she follows the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood. But her life will not be that of the average American woman of her day. It will not only shape the lives of her family, it will shape the lives of millions of Americans.

Based in on real life letters, this book tells the story of the early days of America from the female perspective. It is a perspective that in either fiction or non fiction, is not given the attention that it should receive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well written, well researched and worth the time it takes to read.

I recommend it.

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If We Believe That Children Are Our Future, We Had Better Listen to Them About Climate Change

About thirty years ago, the late Whitney Houston released one of her many iconic songs. It was called the Greatest Love of All. The song opened with the following lyric:

“I believe the children are our future/Teach them well and let them lead the way”

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of students marched out of school around the world to protest climate change and make the adults, especially those in the halls of power, pay attention. In New York City, sixteen year old climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the crowd in Foley Square, many of whom are students from the New York City area.

We have to listen to these kids. One day, they will be the adults who will run this world. I firmly believe that if we do not change our ways, our children and grandchildren will inherit a planet that will one day be uninhabitable.

I understand that there are many who are worried that our economy will suffer under the weight of government regulations. However, if it gets to the point in which Earth cannot support life, then the conversation about jobs becomes unnecessary.

We need to consider the future. That consideration includes the future of our planet and the generations that will one day live on this planet when we are long gone. I fear that if we do not reverse climate change while we can, then we have doomed our future before we had to chance to experience it.

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Home Again Book Review

Teenage love is supposed to be romantic, sweet and all together wonderful. But what happens when the real world sets in?

In Kristin Hannah’s 1996 novel, Home Again, Angel DeMarco appears to be on top of the world. A Hollywood superstar, Angel lives what can only be described as a very Hollywood life. Then reality crashes in with a heart condition that could kill him.

Madelaine Hillyard is assigned to be his cardiologist. Madelaine is a superstar in her field, but find it’s difficult to balance a hectic work schedule with raising her rebellious teenage daughter, Lina, as a single parent. Lina is desperate to find out who her father is and makes no bones about it.

Once upon a time, Angel and Madelaine were inseparable. When they are brought together again, they face a tough choice. Can they heal the wounds of the past and their broken hearts (physically and metaphorically) to live as had wished at one time?

Though the book is a little slower narrative wise than the other novels of Ms. Hannah that I have read, I absolutely loved it. The conflict and the drama was just enough to hook me without being either too over the top or too predictable.

I recommend it.

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Downton Abbey Movie Review

On the surface, transforming a popular television program into a film seems easy. The beloved characters and well known narrative are already in place, it is just a matter choosing how to expand the world beyond what already existed on the small screen.

But like many things, it is often easier said than done.

The Downton Abbey film premiered last night. Set a year and a half after the television show ended, everything is tranquil. But tranquility, as it always does on Downton Abbey, does not last.

King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be visiting the Crawleys while on a tour through Yorkshire. The news forces the Crawleys and their servants to be on their A-Game. But being on their A-Game is a challenge to say the least.

Upstairs, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and the rest of the family are preparing to be the perfect hosts for their majesties. Downstairs is a flurry of activity, which requires the steady hand of Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to keep everything running smooth. That steady hand is not helped by the royal servants, who take over the running of the ship while the King and Queen are in residence at Downton.

There are quite a few movies that have been made based on television programs. A good number try, but don’t live up to the reputation of it’s television predecessor. Downton Abbey not only lives up to that reputation, it builds the reputation of the series and the world within the series.

Though some reviewers have stated that this movie is strictly for the Downton Abbey fan base, I disagree. It helps to have at least some knowledge of the television series, but it does not hinder the overall enjoyment of the film if one goes in as Downton newbie.

I absolutely recommend it.

Downton Abbey is currently in theaters.

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Filed under Downton Abbey, History, Movie Review, Movies, Television

Flashback Friday-I Love New York (2007)

Finding that right person with whom we will hopefully spend our life with is a process that often can take years. The reality show genre has capitalized on this want by presenting dating shows to the audience.

I Love New York aired on VH1 in 2007. A spin-off of Flavor of Love, the show followed runner up Tiffany Pollard, known as New York as she starred in her own dating reality show. I Love New York followed the same format of any reality dating show. A group of men are chosen to pitch themselves as her future partner. One by one, they are all eliminated until one is chosen.

I’ve spoken in the past of my disdain for most reality shows. This one, I have to admit that I watched. Would I watch it again, if the show had another reason? Probably not.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Law & Order SVU: Character Review: Alexandra Cabot

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

It would be easy if life was black and white. But life is not black and white. There are shades of grey that contain complications, human failings and other stumbling blocks. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, DA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) has a difficult job. She has to follow the law and prosecute the accused while advocating for the victims.

The moral center of the SVU, DA Cabot represents the tough choices that she and her colleagues have to make. At times, Cabot had to put aside her own feelings or slightly bend the letter of the law to ensure that the accused is found guilty and send to jail.

To sum it up: DA Cabot tries to do what is right. But sometimes doing what is right is not exactly legal or moral. In those instances, one must make a choice. As a character, fans remember her because of those shades of grey. A boring character lives in a black and white world. A human character with flaws, hopes and desires lives in a world of grey. It is that grey that brings in the audience and keeps them coming back for more.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years that Followed Book Review

History can be told in one of two ways. The first way is cold, hard facts written down in a neat and orderly timeline. The second way is to tell the stories of those who lived through history.

After the Fall New Yorkers Remember September 2011 and the Years That Followed was published days before the tenth anniversary of the attack. Edited by Mary Marshall Black, Peter Bearman, Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith, the book contains a series of interviews with a group of diverse New Yorkers who worked or lived near the Twin Towers in the fall of 2001.

I loved this book. Those of us above a certain age all have stories to tell about 9/11. But these stories are personal, hard hitting and may draw a few tears. I especially appreciated the interviews with the survivors who are Muslim-American or originally from South Asia. After the towers fell, it was all too easy to point the fingers at anyone who even remotely looked like those who were responsible for 9/11. It is much harder to separate those responsible from the average person of color who was just as affected by the attack as any American.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018)

Daytime talk shows are generally known to be harmless and mostly entertaining.

The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018) was on the television schedule for nearly twenty years. Hosted by Jerry Springer, it had the general label of a talk show. But unlike other daytime talk shows, the guest list did not consist of celebrities talking about their latest project or news makers discussing a recent headline.

The guest list consisted of Neo-Nazis, cheating spouses and other wonderfully intellectually stimulating guests. Along the way, violence was par for the course for the audience’s pleasure.

I will put it this way when it comes to The Jerry Springer Show. If had a choice of watching this program or turning the television off, I would rather turn off the television.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

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