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The Berenstain Bears: New Neighbors (Book Review)

Relevant today as ever.

Mixed American Life

bernstein bears

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears: New Neighbors (ISBN: 0679964355)

Publication Year: 1994

Pages: 32

Author: Stan & Jan Berenstain

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books

Review Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

When I was a child, the Berenstain Bears was definitely on my list of favorite characters to read about, so when I was asked to review this book I jumped at the chance. That jump was a bit premature, though. This book has good intentions, but its focus gets completely lost in its intentions to share the message.

To be fair, The Berenstain Bears: New Neighbors deals with a tough topic within the confines of a children’s book, prejudice. Adults can’t even seem to get it right in “grown-up” books, so I give Stan and Jan Berenstain credit for the attempt. We need books that teach children early on that differences are meant to be…

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The cosmopolitan model of US society

Abagond

iraninan-americans

The cosmopolitan model of US society is my name for the idea that the US brings together people from all over the world to create something new, hopefully the best the world has to offer, from pizza to jazz to the Magna Carta. What makes the US great is not a particular culture or race or religion, but its political ideas of freedom, equality and democracy.

Sappy catchphrase: Diversity is our strength.

sessions_trump_bannon-620x412 Now in charge of the US: Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

Its evil twin is what I call the diseased-host model: the US as a White Christian nation. What Trump and many Whites seem to believe. To them Mexicans and Muslims and so on are a threat to America As We Know It. For Steve “Clash of Civilizations” Bannon and the alt-right it is not just the US that is under threat but all of Western civilization!

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Guide to Trump

Abagond

the-trumps-on-inauguration-day The new US president and first lady: Donald and Melania Trump, January 20th 2017.

Posts written, and yet to be written, to help me understand Donald Trump, the new US president:

Donald Trump – my main election post on him, written over a year ago, December 2015.

narcissistic personality disorder – Trump seems to suffer from this to an extreme degree. See also the closely related psychopathic racial personality.

political arguments – are all about framing and, as it turns out, one’s upbringing. Facts and reasons confirm one’s beliefs or frame, but do not change minds. Trump appeals to those whose parents were more authoritarian than loving.

Trumpspeak – words and phrases Trump and his hangers-on use and what they mean. Some are:

racist dog whistles – words, phrases and messages which do not sound racist on their face, but which are taken in a racist way by racists – like “law…

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Coretta Scott King on Jeff Sessions

Abagond

coretta-scott-king

Donald Trump wants to make Jeff Sessions the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ). In 1986 when President Reagan wanted to make him a top judge in Alabama, Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr, opposed it, writing a nine-page letter to the Senate:

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Here is some of what she said in the letter:

“The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States. I was privileged to join Martin and many…

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maize

Abagond

maize

Maize (Zea mays), also known as corn in North America or mealie in South Africa, is the most planted food in the world. It covers more land than even humans, than any plant or animal. And yet if humans died out, it would die out a few years later – it does not grow wild.

Thanks to Meso-Americans, it grows well in the tropics. Thanks to the Mound Builders, it grows well in the temperate zone too, allowing it to spread to Europe and northern China.

corncobs

Colours: yellow, red, blue, orange, black, pink, purple, creamy white, multicoloured.

2000px-centres_of_origin_and_spread_of_agriculture-svg

Timeline:

  • -6000: gathered in Mexico (looks like baby corn).
  • -5000: planted in Mexico.
  • -2000: spreads to South America.
  • -1500: yields are high enough to support the rise of Meso-American civilization.
  • +800: spreads to eastern North America. Rise of the Mound Builders –…

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Munsee

Abagond

Lenapehoking Munsee was spoken in the light green and maybe the yellow part of the map.

TheLord’s Prayer in Munsee:

Nooxwhna eepiian awasahkameew
weexwulundasuwuch ktushiinzuwaakan
kihkayuwaakan peeyeeweekuch
leekuch eeliteehiian yoon tali ahkiing eelkihkwi leek tali awasahkameew
Miiliineen kway kiishkwihk wetapwaanumayeeng
waak miiweelundamuwiineen njanuwsoowaakaninanal
eelkih niiloona miiweelundamaweeng niik chechaniilaweemkweemgwiik
Waak chiil apawuneen li ahkwchihtoowaakanung
shukwund ktuniineen wunji meetihkung
Amen

Munsee, also called Munsee Delaware or Lunaape, was the main language of what is now metropolitan New York back in 1600. It is one of the two native languages spoken by the Delaware (Lenape) people, the other being Unami, which was spoken to the south.

In 2009:

  • Speakers: 6 native speakers (all of them over 70).
  • Countries: Canada (Moraviantown Reserve, Ontario).
  • Script: Roman. Scholars use the International Phonetic Alphabet.
  • Language family: Eastern Algonquian, whose languages were spoken all along the east coast of North America from Nova Scotia…

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Fritz Haber

Abagond

fritz-haber

Fritz Haber (1868-1934), the German scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918, is best known as the father of chemical warfare. He won the prize not for that but for the Haber-Bosch process, which allows fertilizer to be made by fixing nitrogen from the air: “bread from air”. Two out of five people would not be alive today without it.

Fertilizer: Since the 1850s Europe had been making fertilizer from the mountains of bird droppings in the desert of northern Chile. That was not going to last forever. As Sir William Crookes, he of the Crookes tube, noted in 1905:

“The fixation of nitrogen is vital to the progress of civilized humanity, and unless we can class it among the certainties to come, the great Caucasian race will cease to be foremost in the world, and will be squeezed out of existence by races to whom wheaten bread…

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electoral college

“Each state gets as many electors as it has people in Congress, anywhere between 3 to 55. It is roughly in proportion to the number of people who live in each state.

The keyword is “roughly”. Since each state gets at least 3 electors, no matter how few people live in it, smaller states have more voting power. In California, for example, there are 677,000 people per elector while in Wyoming there are 188,000. Since most small states have few big cities, immigrants, or people of colour, that gives Republicans a built-in advantage.

Puerto Rico has millions of people but gets no electors – because it is not a state. DC is not a state either, but through a special deal (called the Twenty-third Amendment) it gets 3 electors.

The constitution leaves it up to each state how to choose electors and how they should vote. In most cases, the party that won the popular vote in a state, no matter how narrowly, gets to choose all of that state’s electors – winner takes all. In Nebraska and Maine the winning party in each Congressional district gets to choose an elector.

Electors meet at their state capitals. Each one writes down who they want for president and vice president. Their ballots are sent to the Senate where they are counted.

In practice, nearly all electors vote for their party’s candidate. In 29 states they are required to do so by law. Those who do not are called faithless electors or, as they prefer to call themselves, Hamilton electors.

As Hamilton lays out in Federalist Paper #68, the electoral college is meant as a fail-safe to stop conspiracies, demagogues and especially:

“foreign powers … raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union”

and also to stop:

“any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

Hamilton electors see Donald Trump as just the sort of man the electoral college was meant to stop.

– Abagond, 2016.”

Abagond

electoral-college-2016

The electoral college (1789- ), so called since 1808, is currently made up of the 538 electors who choose the US president and vice president. For over 200 years they have been meeting on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, every four years. They next meet on December 19th 2016 – next Monday. They will likely elect Donald Trump president even though he lost the popular vote by 2.08 percentage points.

The electoral college has voted for the loser of the popular votethree times before:

  • 1876: for Rutherford B. Hayes, who lost by 3.00%
  • 1888: for Benjamin Harrison, who lost by 0.83%, and
  • 2000: for George W. Bush, who lost by 0.51%

Trump, Bush, Harrison and Hayes were all Republicans. That is not a complete accident.

Opinions about the electorial college:

Jon Stewart:

“it’s as sound as it was when that shipload…

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Leonard Peltier

Abagond

free-peltierLeonard Peltier (1944- ), a Chippewa (Anishinaabe) of the American Indian Movement (AIM), is a world-famous political prisoner in the US. He was found guilty of killing two FBI agents in 1975, but, as a US circuit court later found, the evidence was faked!

He has been in prison since 1977, six years of it in solitary confinement. The FBI and the Department of Justice have blocked any chance at parole. His daughter said President Bill Clinton came close to pardoning him, but backed off after protests by the FBI.

Now 72 and in failing health, a pardon from President Obama before he leaves office on January 20th 2017 is his last best hope of not dying in prison.

As Professor James Anaya, former United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous Rights, told President Obama in 2015:

“if Leonard Peltier dies in jail, then he will likely die a martyr and…

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