Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beady - When I'm Twenty

The first official-ish music video from Beady, my kids' band...

Their album, "Youngest Days" is due to be out on December 11th. You can find more information at their website,

Another Young Hero

Book Of Words - Grow by paynehollow
Book Of Words - Grow, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
For the most part, I ignore people like Anne Coulter. She is beneath contempt, it seems, based upon her hateful words she imparts. No problem, she's nothing to me. Ignore her.

So, this post is NOT about her latest hateful comments (which I won't even repeat here, but you'll be able to tell from the text below), but rather, one great young man's response to her words. We need more John Franklins in this world, who has more brains, nobility, grace and courage in his pinky than folk like She Who Must Not Be Mentioned in their whole person...

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.

Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven’t made yet,

John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger
Special Olympics Virginia

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Moby Day

Moby Dick Banjo by paynehollow
Moby Dick Banjo, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
This being the 161st anniversary of the publishing of that great book, "Moby Dick; or, the Whale," I wanted to throw out a few favorite lines.

For instance, while everyone knows the famous first line of "Moby Dick..."

Call me Ishmael.

Do you recall the second? For, as soon as you get to the second line, you get an immediate sense of the poetry with which the book will be filled...

Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

And on it goes...

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can...

...There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar...

Now, three to three, ye stand. Commend the murderous chalices! Bestow them, ye who are now made parties to this indissoluble league.... Drink, ye harpooneers! drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat's bow -- Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death...

It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman's look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson's chest in his sleep...

My favorite part of this great book is probably the sometimes comical, sometimes nearly romantic relationship between Ishmael and that terrible cannible pagan whaler, Queequeg...

...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending...

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian...

In one word, Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans...

And, of course, we can't forget Ahab's final soliloquy to the Whale...

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee;

I stab at thee;

For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!

Man! What lively, deadly language!

Have ye a favorite quote from Moby Dick?

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Newest Hero

Tea Party by paynehollow
Tea Party, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
...Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old Pakistani girl whose first name means "grief stricken," whose blogging in defense of peace, equality and educational opportunities for girls and women made her a target of some cowardly, despicable extremists.

In her own words, from her blog, entitled, Gul Makai (which means "Corn Flower...")

I have come to Bunair to spend Muharram (a Muslim holiday) on vacation. I adore Bunair because of its mountains and lush green fields. My Swat is also very beautiful but there is no peace. But in Bunair there is peace and tranquility. Neither is there any firing nor any fear. We all are very happy.

Perhaps this craven attack upon a defenseless girl will serve as a catalyst for the sort of change that brave young Malala has worked so hard for. I pray for her recovery, for her family, for her nation. I also pray for those who've so bought into the myth of redemptive violence that they'd even use violence against children in an effort to bully their opponents into submission.

Shame on them. God have mercy on them. May they get the justice they deserve and may Mahala and her family get the peace they deserve.

This 14 year old has more courage in her tiny finger than the thugs who assaulted her, hiding behind their weapons of mass destruction.

As they say, in the end, you inherit the world you create (or is that, "in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make..."?). Those who live by fear and violence inherit a fearful, violent hell. Those who live by grace and peace, inherit that world. Let it be so.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Poet: Madison Cawein

kmw Ghosties 2 by paynehollow
kmw Ghosties 2, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
I"ve been aware of a 19th Century Louisville poet named Madison Cawein for a while, but lately, I've been reading more about him. Very interesting story and some enjoyable poetry, to my tastes. He wrote a good bit about ghosts and spirits, making him a great candidate for poetry readings from this time of the year...

Ghost Story

When the hoot of the owl comes over the hill,
At twelve o'clock when the night is still,
And pale on the pools, where the creek-frogs croon,
Glimmering gray is the light o' the moon;
And under the willows, where waters lie,
The torch of the firefly wanders by;
They say that the miller walks here, walks here,
All covered with chaff, with his crooked staff,
And his horrible hobble and hideous laugh;
The old lame miller hung many a year:
When the hoot of the owl comes over the hill,
He walks alone by the rotting mill.

When the bark of the fox comes over the hill,
At twelve o'clock when the night is shrill,
And faint, on the ways where the crickets creep,
The starlight fails and the shadows sleep;
And under the willows, that toss and moan,
The glow-worm kindles its lanthorn lone;
They say that a woman floats dead, floats dead,
In a weedy space that the lilies lace,
A curse in her eyes and a smile on her face,
The miller's young wife with a gash in her head:
When the bark of the fox comes over the hill,
She floats alone by the rotting mill.

When the howl of the hound comes over the hill,
At twelve o'clock when the night is ill,
And the thunder mutters and forests sob,
And the fox-fire glows like the lamp of a Lob;
And under the willows, that gloom and glance,
The will-o'-the-wisps hold a devils' dance;
They say that that crime is re-acted again,
And each cranny and chink of the mill doth wink
With the light o' hell or the lightning's blink,
And a woman's shrieks come wild through the rain:
When the howl of the hound comes over the hill,
That murder returns to the rotting mill.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I hate to have to do this, but I'm adding a rule that I will strive to enforce.

Call people by their given names, not pet names, not demeaning names, just their given names or, if you prefer, an honorific title: Brother, sister, sir, ma'am, friend...

If someone's name is Daniel, then call them Daniel. Not "Danny," not "Dan-dan," not "Dopey Dan..." Just "Daniel."

I insist. Thanks.

Now feel free to politely talk to strangers, to listen, to sing along and to mind the children...

Right-Sized Gov't... Specifics

Field by paynehollow
Field, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
It is my guess that when we move from vague charges to specific situations, we tend to find more agreement (and hopefully, a reason to be careful about making vague charges).

The fella who misogynistically and with hints of racism drunkenly states, "Danged welfare queens ought to be cut off the gov't teat..." when confronted of the reality of the single mother who has a child with cancer and is needing some assistance and the gov't provides it, that same fella might be willing to allow, "Well, I don't want to cut EVERYONE off, only those who abuse the system... Certainly not that poor mother..."

So, we all agree that we don't want an anarchist state, free of all gov't. We all agree that we don't want a heavy-handed dictatorial state. It's drawing the lines in between the two where we disagree. So, what if I offer a few fairly specific situations where I think obviously we need gov't intervention/regulation, other areas where I allow that it's questionable and yet other areas where gov't intervention/regulation is overkill? And what if you do the same?


1. Driving a motor vehicle while impaired - this is an obvious threat to innocent bystanders and can clearly be regulated.

2. Dumping toxic waste into a stream - again, the clear threat of reasonable harm to others.

3. Prohibiting an adult from marrying a five year old. Yuck.

Less Clear

1. Driving while impaired is clearly wrong. But where is the line drawn for "impaired..."? We use Blood Alcohol Content as a measure, often saying .08 BAC is "impaired."

This is, in some sense, an arbitrary line. Is everyone always impaired at .08? I don't know, but I hear that this is not the case. Some states may have higher standards (I believe that Colorado has a .05 standard), is that fair?

What about if someone wanted to make it .0001 BAC? Fair?

Probably not, but the point would be that the gov't can reasonably impose a regulation on a behavior that might cause harm to others and a line has to be drawn somewhere.

2. Obviously, we don't want people dumping toxic/poisonous/hazardous waste into our common waterways. Thus, we've created laws that prohibit, for instance, an individual or company from dumping waste auto oil into a storm drain. That drain leads to our waterways and just don't be stupid.

We WANT our gov't to regulate that behavior and stop by weight of law any who engage in such behavior. But where is that line?

If a company has waste fluids involved in their factory's processes and they clean it up before discharging it to the sewage system, is that good enough? How "clean" does it need to be? If mercury can cause harm to humans when found in water at .0001 parts per million (just made up the number), is it okay to say that company must clean it up to .0001 ppm? Or do we want to say .00001 ppm to be safe?

Where to draw the line can be vague and hard to say, but clearly drawing a line must happen and is a reasonable responsibility of the gov't.
I will say that I lean towards a more conservative take - that is, if it LOOKS LIKE, by our best current knowledge - that pollution at .0001 ppm is possibly dangerous, then we want to disallow pollution at a vastly safer/higher rate...

That is the good type of conservatism, seems to me.

3. Prohibiting three rational adults from marrying... If there is no harm, if everyone is in agreement and wanting this, if no coercion is involved... is it the state's responsibility to say yes or no?

On this topic, I would say that it's less clear as to whether the state ought to be involved or not. My inclination, though, is that polygamy has a history of being predominantly used in cultures that oppress/suppress women. It's almost always one man/many women and not the other way around. The women often have appeared (at least to me) to be overly meek and submissive and perhaps not in the best reasoning place to make the decision due to a harshly patriarchal culture that has encouraged (often by weight of "God will punish you if not" sorts of teachings) this submissiveness. For this reason, I lean against supporting polygamy and think the state has a reason to draw the line.

But I will allow that it's less clear and that an argument could be made that it's not the gov't's business, as long as no one is harmed and everyone is free to make their own rational adult choice.

TOO Much Gov't

1. Gov't saying that an adult can't purchase a twinkie to have as an unhealthy snack of their choice. The only harm there is potentially to the individual and then, only if taken in excess. Same for alcohol, tobacco or marijuana.

2. On the pollution front, I'm not sure where I'd say too much regulation is too much, but I'm sure there's a line I could agree to that's too much. I just think that society's right to clean air and water overrides an individual's or corporation's "right" (which doesn't exist, seems to me) to pollute, even at incredibly small rates.

3. Two adult men or women (gay or straight) wanting to get married. Clearly, the gov't has no business in dictating this, as long as everyone is a rational adult making a decision free of coercion.


So, what about it? Can you offer instances of more specific regulations that you think are justified? That are too much? Some that you're not sure on?

How about this: I hate loud noises. When ambulances, overly-loud car stereos or motorcycles designed to roar pass by, I cover my ears. It causes physical pain (not great pain - I don't want to overstate the point - but extreme annoyance and a bit of pain).

Can the state reasonably regulate this? At certain times of the day, at least? Or in certain locations? I tend to say, Yes (well, except for the ambulance, which is loud for a safety reason).


"I was completely wrong..."

When by paynehollow
When, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
"In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

~Mitt Romney

There. That's all he had to do. Clarify an obvious mistake. No harm. No foul. Stupid mistake, that's all.

Move on.