“Do you miss the South now?”

That’s a question I am often asked in winter here in Boston by people who know me, especially on particularly cold days.  My answer is always no, no matter how snowy and miserable and cold it is.  And the reason for that is because while I don’t mind cold winters, I really, really don’t like hot summers.  Plenty of people don’t feel the same way, which is probably why so many people from the Northeast retire to Florida.  But I would always rather put up with nasty Boston winters than brutal Alabama summers.  And it’s why on days like today (when it’s supposed to get over 90 degrees) I long for winter to return.

Being the weather geek I am, let me break it down for you with some data.

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Time for some GoT escapism…

because the real world has been just awful lately.  Terrible.  Horrible.  I just can’t bring myself to talk more about it because it’s just too depressing.  Things just get worse and worse rather than better.

So yeah, let’s talk about Westeros – the North in particular, although I am sure I will wander around to other places at some point.

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Sometimes, there’s just too much going on to write

In the time since our last posts, so much has happened in our lives, and in the greater world, and in the world of GoT, that it feels truly overwhelming.  I can’t keep up with it all.  If I was to try to describe everything in great detail, it would take multiple posts of extraordinary length.  And right now I don’t have the time or the energy.

I am just going to try to summarize everything with just one one post.  At least for now.

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An appeal for a special U.S. Park Service Ranger #bettyreidsoskin

Before I start talking about this particular Park Service ranger, I wanted to put it in context of my own relationship with the Park Service.  I have been a fan of the Park Service for a very, very long time, at least since I was a boy.  And for about a decade in my twenties and early thirties I was a volunteer for them at Stones River National Battlefield (in fact, you can occasionally still see a photo of me in my Union Army Civil War uniform in old park literature) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Occasionally I also did programs at other Civil War battlefields and sites.  I miss it, frankly.  Perhaps one day I will be in a position to do that sort of volunteer work again.

Anyway, I still read a lot about things going on with the Park Service and I generally try to keep up with things going on with NPS.  Like any organization, NPS has its celebrities.  I had the privilege of meeting one of them, Civil War historian Ed Bearss, now retired, on several occasions.  Ed is a warm, funny, extremely intelligent and knowledgeable guy with an incredible work ethic.  And in that regard I am reminded of him by Betty Reid Soskin, another NPS celebrity.  Betty is an extraordinary woman who also happens to be the oldest serving U.S. Park Service Ranger.  She currently works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park in Richmond, California.  In fact, Betty was absolutely instrumental in the creation of that historic park.  And since she herself lived through the events preserved at the site, she has her own unique and fascinating stories to tell about that time in our history, including what it was like to be a woman of color in that segregated era.

US Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin

US Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin (photo by Justin Sullivan via NPR)

Last year she lit the National Christmas Tree and got to meet President Barack Obama, who gave her a special commemorative coin as a souvenir and gift.  At the ceremony, she carried a photograph of her great-grandmother, who was born a slave in 1846 and died in 1948 at the age of 102.  She carried the same photograph in her pocket in 2009, when she witnessed President Obama’s inauguration.

AND… she’s an avid blogger.  She’s that awesome.

Well, something terrible happened to her this past Monday.  She was beaten and robbed in her own home there in Richmond.  And one of the things the a**hole thief took from her was the coin the President gave her.

What kind of person does that?  Who attacks a 94-year-old woman? How utterly depraved and/or desperate do you have to be to do that?  God, I hope the police catch whoever did this to her.  And the President has already said that he will replace the coin.

Luckily, she seems to be recovering.  But if you want to help her, the Rosie the Riveter Trust has organized a fund to help Betty out with her expenses while she recovers.  And being the awesome person she is, Betty has already said that any excess funds will be used for a special documentary film history project about her life.

Glad you are still with us, Betty, and from the East Coast, we all wish you the very best and hope you get well soon.  We love you.

-Geoff

 

Brexit gets uglier and uglier

Well, now that the consequences of the UK voting to leave the EU have had some time to sink in, it is both fascinating and disturbing to see just what a lot of people thought they were voting for.  Much has been made of the reports that a lot of people in the UK were googling terms like “what is the EU?” the day after the vote.  I am not sure whether or not that data is accurate, and apparently there are other people who feel the same way.  Still, it does seem that a significant number of people in the UK are acting as if the “stay” or “leave” question was not based on the UK leaving the EU, but on whether or not non-white and/or non-British people should “stay” in the UK or “leave”.  And in the minds of many of these people, that answer is pretty clear.

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Brexit, or when people vote to harm themselves

Frankly, I am just stunned that the voters of the United Kingdom decided to leave the EU.  Obviously I am not British, and I can’t pretend I understand all of the issues going on there that might motivate people to vote that way.  But I do know that many of the consequences predicted were not good. And I also know that many of the people who voted to leave are in the parts of the UK that depend on the EU the most, like Cornwall.  The government of Cornwall is now insisting that the UK government make up for the 60 million pounds a year of EU funding that will be lost by Brexit.  To quote from Cornwall directly:

Prior to the referendum we were reassured by the ‘leave’ campaign that a decision to leave the EU would not affect the EU funding which has already been allocated to Cornwall and that Cornwall would not be worse off in terms of the investment we receive. We are seeking urgent confirmation from Ministers that this is the case.

Suddenly Cornwall is like some teenage kid who seriously pisses off his parents, and then suddenly doesn’t understand why they aren’t going to pay his college tuition anymore. You guys really didn’t think this through, did you?  And you believed everything that the Leave Campaign told you?

Oh, dear.

You know, that would be comical if it wasn’t so damn tragic, because there are going to be real consequences now, which will affect a lot of people’s lives.

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Hello there, Canada

In the last two days something interesting has happened here on our humble little blog.  We’ve had 978 hits from The Great White North.  In 48 hours.

I wish I could tell you that something one of us had written was brilliantly funny or had gone viral, but somehow I doubt that’s the case.  While both days were fairly international and we did have visitors from around the world and, indeed, our total hit count was more than just the Canadian total for both days, something’s up.

I have a theory.

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A terrible anniversary today – the Freedom Summer Murders

Fifty two years ago tonight, three young men were murdered by a group of white Mississippians in the Ku Klux Klan.  Among the men complicit in this crime were members of the Neshoba County Sheriff’s office and the Philadelphia (Mississippi) Police Department.

This was a mere six years before I was born.  Many people of my generation are familiar with this event through the 1988 film Mississippi Burning, although the film doesn’t even cover everything that happened that awful summer.

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Predictions for GoT’s BOTB

This weekend, Episode Nine of Season Six will finally be out, and I have to say I have been looking forward to this for a long, long time.  Die, Boltons, die.

So here are my predictions, based on the still photos and brief video clips from the episode that we have seen so far.

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That horrific crime in Orlando and two heroes

Kelly and I have both been shocked, horrified, and angry over what happened in Orlando.  Truly, it is stunning to me that such a thing could happen, and even more stunning that we as a society could keep allowing these events to happen over and over and over again.

Kelly vented a lot of anger in her earlier post, and there’s nothing more I can say about how we feel about this.  But I want to be a little specific about some of the intellectually dishonest arguments being made by people around the country trying to explain all this away.  I also want to talk about two people who were there, and who did everything they could to save people’s lives, and still couldn’t save everyone.  They are still heroes, even if they themselves probably don’t feel that way, and probably wouldn’t use that word.

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