01 July 2014
20 April 2014
Colombia declares three days of mourning for Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of the enormously influential 100 Years of Solitude, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, passed away Thursday, April 17. He was 87.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 01:37
19 March 2014
In the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person — Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates — ask them five questions: ‘What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?’ If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.
I just realized that there are no comments enabled on this blog any more. I think it's because, having a customized CSS template, I was using an external comment manager and they "went out of business" or something. Just went, anyway. I wanted to make a funny comment. I just realized that this post and the four preceding it are about "Four Obituaries and A Wedding".
Posted by Deb Ramage at 02:06
18 November 2013
Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook and many other novels and a few non-fiction works, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, died yesterday at the age of 94. As Alexandra Schwarz noted in her wonderful New Yorker blog post ,"On Doris Lessing and Not Saying Thank You", The NYT in its obituary of her sounded "a tone of peevish, gawking reproach. (Much better to read Margaret Atwood’s wonderful tribute in the Guardian.)" It is ever thus with the boldly unconventional female.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 23:59
06 October 2013
05 September 2013
September 3, 2013
Mr. Keefer was born in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 1961, the son of Dolores and Clyde A. Keefer. He attended Dalton High School from 1975 to 1978 and was a member of Dalton First United Methodist Church. He also earned the rank of Eagle Scout and shared his love of Scouting and the Atlanta Braves with his father. Kevin loved to cook and grow his own vegetables. He was an avid hunter and enjoyed being in the outdoors with his hunting buddies. He was a loyal friend and kind-hearted and gentle man.
Mr. Keefer had a long career in emergency services in the area, mostly with the city of Chatsworth. He served as an emergency medical technician with the Dalton Ambulance and Murray County EMS, 24 years with Chatsworth Fire Department as a firefighter and as fire chief from 1987 to 2005. He was also a building inspector.
He is survived by a large, loving family consisting of his parents, Clyde and Dolores Keefer of Chatsworth; his three daughters, Kierston, Kimberly and Katlynn, all of Chatsworth; his brothers, David (Rene) Keefer of Jacksonville, Ala., and Scott Keefer of Atlanta; and his sisters, Deb Keefer (Lewis) Ramage of Minneapolis, Minn., Cynthia Keefer Patton (Denny Fitterling) of Kansas City, Mo., and Dr. Denise Keefer (Bill) Runge of Helena, Mont. He is also survived by his nephews and nieces, Aimee Whatley of Portland, Ore., Carey Hunton Carter of Atlanta, Shane Tyler (Crystal) Patton of Gulfport, Miss., Joshua and Jacob von Herrmann of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Elizabeth Keefer of Jacksonville, Ala.
A private memorial service will be held in the future when his family will gather to remember him.
Mr. Keefer will be cremated and his ashes spread at his favorite hunt camp when his friends gather and celebrate his life.
In lieu of flowers, Kevin requested donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America in his honor.
The family would also like to thank his close friends, Judy and Gifford Laney, Kevin Ballew, the wonderful people of hospice and Chatsworth Health Care Center, and so many others for all they did for Kevin during the last months of his too short life.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.GeorgiaFuneralCare.com.
Georgia Funeral Care and Cremation Services is proud to be serving this family; (678) 574-3016.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 04:22
26 June 2013
I am inspired by teaching my friend CJ Sparrow how to blog on his new blog, Occupirate, to renew my own blogging. So, first I will try to make a Deborama's Books post with the review every time I register a book on Bookcrossing (and I will also try to register every book I read on Bookcrossing.) Later, I will do some serious political blogging here. I have been saving it up, so I have a lot to say.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 23:31
24 July 2012
20 May 2012
Posted by Deb Ramage at 14:06
18 April 2012
21 December 2011
I apologize for the ad before this, but trust me, it's worth waiting for.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 22:08
14 December 2011
(Copy of a post on Deborama's Book Reviews and Store) Well, it's not often I review and blog a book I have only read one chapter of. In fact, it's not often I review and blog books at all anymore. And maybe I am more jetlagged and culture-shocked than I thought I was, or maybe it really was that good. I just read the first chapter of The Polish Officer by Alan Furst, entitled The Pilawa Local. I was in tears. It made me wish I was Polish. And to all my Polish friends, my God, you come from a noble people, and I am heartily sorry if ever in my careless youth I retold or even laughed at a Polack joke, no matter how good-natured.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 13:24
17 November 2011
I predicted way back in 2008 that the recession soon to follow what was then just a "credit crisis" would last 15 years. Everybody said I was crazy. Now when I remind them, they just tell me to shut up. I was going to indulge my inner economics genius and post a blog about how and why this would occur, but of course, my inner trailer trash layabout kept me from doing it. And then I got laid off (American) or made redundant (British), and my life became so complex I didn't have the energy to even consider it. In the last couple of weeks, like a dam breaking but in reverse, my life has got a lot simpler. I now know (more or less) what I am going to do and when. So to the blog... But wait! I am not going to do the 15-year recession blog (now only 13 years of it left, of course.) The time for that has passed. The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on. Instead...
I didn't think Paul Krugman could ever become more of a hero to me than he already was. But he has. He has a cunning plan to save the US economy, and of course, it's based a bit more on history than on pure economics. If you have closely studied the 1929 stock market crash and ensuing 10-year depression, you will know that it was more due to an outbreak of war in Europe than to government or Fed policies that America began to be productive again around 1939-40. And you will know that there have been quite a few vague historical echoes in our current fiasco as well. So Krugman's idea is that the government should give up on economy-tittivating, which they are frankly no good at anyway, and fake an alien invasion.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 16:46
18 October 2011
Marie Haff, my friend since 1984 when I first moved to the Twin Cities along with her son, passed away last week. We had drifted apart geographically, especially when I moved to England, but then she started trading in antiques after her official retirement, and was making periodic trips to Lincolnshire to buy British antiques. So we were able to reconnect, and my husband and I even managed to meet up with her in Horncastle one day several years ago. I took this picture of her a little over a month ago at a family gathering in rural Minnesota. I am so sad that when I finally manage to make my move back to Minneapolis, there will be no more meetings or chats with Marie. She was a very special woman.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 17:57
06 October 2011
Posted by Deb Ramage at 07:36
14 September 2011
I arrived back in the UK on the 6th of September, very jet-lagged, and then promptly fell ill. Apologies for the big delay in updating my blog, but then most of my activity, as I have mentioned before, is documented on Facebook. But the archive-index is a lot better here.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:28
23 August 2011
I'm in Minneapolis, takin' care of some business. I was going to post a blog from Keflavik airport on my way here, but their darned wifi was not connected to the internet for some reason. That was my first public wifi blog some years ago and I thought it would be cool to do a repeat.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 03:01
10 August 2011
Holly passed away last night, suddenly, as budgies do. Holly is the one on the left above; the one on the right, Pearl, passed some time ago. I think Holly was between 5 and 7 years old. He has some offspring out there somewhere, thanks to a little breeding holiday he took care of Cindy, our friend who used to live near here. Here is our current roll call of birds and other critters:
- Toby, a white, totally deaf English bull terrier / Jack Russell cross, male, neutered, drama queen, thinks he's a cat
- Max and Chewy, a pair of gorgeous Blue&Gold Macaws
- Fred, a cockatoo
- Leslie and Freddy, a pair of Amazons
- Four! Hahn's macaws (we now have more Hahn's macaws than budgies) : Han, Vernie, Kermie and Harry (we think they are all males)
- Three budgies : Bill-or-Ben, Little Bob (who is female, and she made babies with Holly) and Nelson (also female)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 14:05
Well, I am on Google+, have been there a while. Definitely still on Facebook, where truthfully most of my online "activity" occurs. My problem with social media vs. old-fashioned blogging (funny that something becomes really old-fashioned in about 7 years) is one I have not heard expressed a lot. I really took to blogging, because it's sort of like being a self-published author and sort of like being an amateur journalist and sort of like keeping a diary. Social media, even if you post frequently and participate enthusiastically, is nothing like that.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 13:21
25 June 2011
Yesterday, actor Peter Falk passed away. Columbo may not have been the greatest detective show of all time, but it's amazing how Falk's brilliant character study has influenced future TV and film detectives, especially, I think, in British crime drama. And of course, I will always remember and love Peter Falk especially for his role as "Grand-dad" in The Princess Bride, one of the best cult movies of all time. He also starred in several serious films, including Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence by his friend, director John Cassavetes. And he had a great reputation as an actor on the New York stage as well.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 10:30
05 April 2011
I was sad to learn of the relatively early passing of Manning Marable, a leading light of the DSA and a great historian, essayist and academic. Tragically, he died just three days before the ultimate culmination of his life's work, the publication of his eagerly awaited biography of Malcolm X. Although Marable had published several other non-academic works of history or political philosophy, the Malcolm X biography will probably establish his name with the public in a way these more obscure books could not. But to democratic socialists, students of African-American studies and the culturally aware, Marable was already in the highest ranks. He will be sorely missed.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:12
25 March 2011
On this day in 1911, 146 sweatshop workers died in a horrible fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Some of the workers were as young as 14, most were immigrants and many were young women and girls. Read about the fire. Don't mourn, organize.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 19:20
The New York Times has this great Elizabeth Taylor timeline.
And when I heard that she was interred already, I thought that might mean that she had stayed faithful to Judaism all these decades after conversion, and so it did. I am glad. And while we're on the subject, there is something kind of grisly about our modern western "Christian" predilection for funerals days and even weeks after the death. The Muslims and the Jews are much more seemly in this respect.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 19:07
15 March 2011
Owsley Stanley, known to Deadheads as simply "Bear", has died following a traffic accident at the age of 76. He was also known as a pioneer of the psychedelic drug culture and the producer of the highest quality LSD ever made, as a one-time financial backer and early sound engineer to the Grateful Dead and as the first of the "tapers", a community of music activists / deadheads who carefully chronicled virtually every note of every Grateful Dead concert on a myriad of private audio tapes that were always swapped or given away free.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:42
27 January 2011
03 January 2011
I was watching a comedy (show or film, don't remember, probably British rather than American) where a comedy bigoted character said about immigrants (paraphrase) : they are lazy, they don't want to work and they come over here and take our jobs. He said this all in one sentence, oblivious to the irony (or something) of what he was saying, and even when a more level-headed character pointed out that they were either lazy OR job-stealing, but obviously not both, he didn't get it. So this was comedy, right?A few days later, today, I was watching a supposedly serious show about "benefit fraud" on a supposedly serious BBC channel. They featured a story about a woman who came from Ghana to the UK, illegally forged a new identity based on a stolen British passport with her photo substituted and a faked birth certificate and faked educational credentials. she then got a job with the NHS which she had for several years (I am guessing from the earnings cited below seven to ten years.) Most of the fraud involved here was pretty ham-fisted; her birth certificate said Lutterworth, which is in Leicestershire, but then said County of Surrey (hundreds of miles away.) (For Americans, this is sort of like saying Sacramento, Illinois, only even more impossible.) Also, some documents implied she had never left the UK after being born here, but her fake diplomas were from Ghana. And implausibly had a photo on them. The same photo as on her stolen passport. So, look here, I am not saying she is a hero, or not a fraudster, or not a criminal. I am not defending her. But this is how the BBC summed up the story. This woman was said to have earned £230,000 plus a £40,000 "bursary" (not sure what that is, but I am guessing some kind of grant for either work or education.) So they claimed her fraud had COST British taxpayers (which includes me) £270,000, or "over a quarter of a million". But wait a minute, this woman was also a British taxpayer. And she didn't COST the country £230K of that, since presumably they got at least nearly that much value from her in service to the NHS. Oh, but here's the real kicker, just as ignorant in its way as that "lazy and steal our jobs" line: the woman is now in prison for many years! So she is "paying back that debt to society." No, she is now costing the British taxpayers (including me) probably about 10 times as much per annum to support in a prison, doing nothing of worth, as she was paying in taxes while committing her crime. Is it just me, or is this FREAKING INSANE?
Posted by Deb Ramage at 19:38
27 October 2010
Britain should stop "kowtowing" to US demands over airport security, the chairman of British Airways, Martin Broughton, has said, adding that American airports did not implement some checks on their own internal flights.
The NYT :
The United States is making excessive demands for airline passenger screening, including measures it doesn't require on U.S. domestic flights, the chairman of British Airways says.I read the NYT, WaPo, The Grauniad (British joke) and the BBC news website every day. Most of the stories are just copies of each other. It's interesting to me that in this case, the two stories are not copies at all, and have a subtly different tone and emphasis. Also, the Guardian's story is illustrated with a garish colour photo of the chairman looking stern and exasperated.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 22:33
07 August 2010
I am so appalled at this latest turn in the saga of Great Britain's immigration policies that I can hardly find the words. You would think after the even worse incidents in France (picture above from a notorious video of French police beating women and children during a protest by immigrants there) that the UK would be keen to be seen as more humane in their treatment of "failed asylum seekers".
I have visions of the scene toward the end of my favourite movie, Lawrence of Arabia, where a British doctor comes upon a marketplace full of dead and dying Turkish soldiers and no one doing anything to help them, and he keeps shouting "Outrageous" in an impotent fury. That's how I feel about most immigration stories I read, but this one really is outrageous, not for naked aggression, as in France, but for an utter failure to do the right thing, for pandering to racist tabloid media, for treating and thinking of asylum seekers and economic migrants as less than human.
After campaigning on the "moral outrage" of children of asylum seekers being kept virtually imprisoned, the LDs as part of the coalition government have helped to hatch this cynical flash-deportation scheme, trying to circumvent both human rights rules and liberal public opinion.
The briefing paper also shows that the border agency is worried that ending the use of detention could give families facing deportation more chance to launch community protest campaigns backed by the media and MPs. It says more police may need to be involved in deportations because "significant public order problems" could follow removals. "The alternative is not to inform the family of the exact time and date of removal, so that they are not prepared. However, this has its own difficulties, which would need analysing and addressing." The document says it is undecided whether a specific time and date should be given, or a longer period of a couple of days.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:53
14 July 2010
22 June 2010
18 June 2010
My sister Cindy lost her husband of 31 years to cancer on Monday. I was blessed to be able to spend a few hours with them in his last week of life, and painful as it was, to say good-bye. The obituary in the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald gives a hint at what an exceptional man he was.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:16
16 June 2010
If you had told me in the early 1970s that there would ever come a day when any government, least of all the government of the UK, would issue such an honest and devastating assessment of its own actions, I would not have believed it.
Of course, there are those who see it as a step too far in laying blame, particularly when a commanding officer is singled out for blame, while individual soldiers who shot and killed have their identities protected, and those higher up the chain are mostly let off the hook.
Families of the victims have had, for the most part, no appetite for revenge now that the innocence of their loved ones is established. One survivor says "Jail isn't something I can see happening. That wouldn't, in any way, bother me, I have no great desire to see a 60-year-old man go to jail."
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:10
18 April 2010
04 April 2010
Posted by Deb Ramage at 14:12
27 January 2010
Following the SCOTUS decision that corporations have "free speech" rights, Facebook has a got a fan page advocating a Constitutional Amendment to assert that human rights only apply to individual humans. If you think that's over-reacting, or if you tend to be swayed by the fuzzy logic of bone-headed so-called Libertarians on this issue, read the article called Inhuman Rights from McSweeney's Internet Tendency. It is a brilliant example of the argument "ad absurdem", right up there with Swift's Modest Proposal.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:31
21 November 2009
I'm in Atlanta, which it is now hip to call ATL. I am visiting my son and his girlfriend, and I am staying in the poshest hotel I have ever been in, at a fantastically reasonable rate, thanks to Expedia. (I have a picture of it on my phone, but I will have to upload it later as this computer in the hotel doesn't seem to have a USB port available.)
I have to do another Deborama's Wednesday Website of the Week, but I cannot wait until Wednesday (I will be mostly on the road to Hattiesburg then anyway) and technicallly I should not call it WWW anymore since it is far from being weekly. But I discovered the Believer magazine, a McSweeney's publication, at my son's apartment, and I have been obsessively reading it ever since. Absolutely brilliant, and I hope they'll forgive me lifting the image, since I am using it to plug their product.
Everybody here is laid off, or about to be laid off. It's quite sad what this recession is doing to those of my kids' generation, as if they haven't suffered enough. It's bad for my generation too of course; getting made redundant just as the verdant pastures of retirement come hazily into view is no picnic, I'm sure. Hopefully, I won't find that out firsthand on my return to Blighty, although it is a possibility.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:55
05 November 2009
This NYT piece by Nicholas Kristof is good enough to drag me out of blogging semi-retirement, which means too good to only click "Share" and send to Facebook. There is no way this can be repeated often enough to get the message across - the US does not have the "best health care in the world", far from it. Saying if it ain't broke don't fix it is only clever if it ain't broke!
Posted by Deb Ramage at 17:51
25 September 2009
My ex-father-in-law, Lisle Carleton Carter, Jr., passed away on the 10th of September. It had been many years since I had seen him, but my son was very close to him.
Lisle was not only a person who I really loved and admired, he was just generally a remarkable man, a polymath, in that he was a leading academic administrator, a former government official and a lawyer until his retirement some years ago. And also a poet and a patron of the arts and many charities. He will be missed and mourned by many. His many achievements are featured in this editorial obituary in the Washington Post.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 23:22
23 August 2009
This Huffington Post article by George Lazoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics, is very long and a hard read, but worth it. Although he is focusing on a scathing critique of, and offering a cogent alternative to, the way the Obama administration has failed to sell health care reform, along the way he makes some really razor-sharp points about what is wrong with the current system. I think everyone in favour of health care reform (or insurance reform if you prefer) should read this article as a guide in how to discuss it, not just with those who agree, but especially with those who disagree.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:26
26 July 2009
On the 18th of July, a great friend of mine back in Minnesota passed away. It was not sudden or unexpected, and from the descriptions on the web that I have been privileged to read, it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful deaths you could hope to have, given old age and disease and an imperfect world. Gerry Bretzke was a member of my church in Minneapolis and also the small spiritual study group ironically called The Initiates. The picture above, of about half of the core members of the Initiates, is an old one, from soon after I emigrated to the UK, or maybe just before. Gerry is the guy in the middle, in the feed cap, with his arm around me. The guy on the right end is George Tofte, who passed away a few years ago.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:26
17 May 2009
Michelle Goldberg, author of a recent book on reproductive rights "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World," has an article in the LA Times that summarises the complex arguments made in her book. Both address the conundrum that the world faces twin crises in its demographic future: soaring birth rates globally, with the great majority being amongst the poorest members of the poorest countries, and plummeting birth rates in several leading developed countries, notably Italy, Japan, Spain and Russia. It may seem crazy to assert at first that both problems are the result of women's lack of reproductive and economic freedom, but the arguments are pretty strong. This book is in my Wish List.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
Some social conservatives are using the threat of rapid First World population decline to argue for restrictions on women's rights. But that gets it precisely backward. In developing countries, lower social status for women is associated with higher fertility, but once societies become highly industrialized and women taste a certain amount of freedom, the reverse is true.
Fertility is reaching dangerously low levels in countries where social attitudes and institutions haven't caught up with women's desire to combine work and family. When faced with men who are unwilling to share domestic burdens, inflexible workplaces and day-care shortages, many women respond by having fewer children or forgoing motherhood altogether.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 16:57
22 March 2009
This is definitely the longest I have gone without blogging. Also the longest I have gone without a holiday. The last time I was abroad was Thanksgiving 2007. The only trip I took in all of 2008 was a one-day trip to Portmeiron, not even staying overnight. I am determined not to let 2009 go by the same way. I just got back Friday evening from a six-day trip to "the North" (where we do what we want!) I have reviewed and journalled the trip in more detail at Deborama's Kitchen, so check it out there.
Part of the reason I didn't travel is that last year everyone in my far-flung family was in a state of flux. My older younger sister and her husband, one at a time, have temporarily abandoned the family homestead in Gulfport and set up house in Kansas. This has left my aged Ps behind in a little duplex bungalow they built mainly for them. So now my younger younger sister, an academic in Hattiesburg and her husband, a realtor, are buying a second home in Hattiesburg and moving the aged Ps there. My daughter has split with her ex-partner, father of grand-daughter Savannah. My son is still with his partner, who graduated last year from her PG Architecture course and got a job in her field - just as the property market crashed. My son's company was sold and he was offered a less attractive job than he had, but of course he's going to take it for the stability. But no benefits, no holiday, and the stability is not real stability, as nothing is these days. Both my kids have two extra sidelines for income: Aimee is a web designer for her main job, and also teaches web design and is a photographer. Carey works for an online game company, and does painting and web design free-lancing. I am so proud that I raised two smart, hard-working, creative and above all resilient kids. And like all parents and grand-parents, I pray things don't get too much worse before they get better.
I have been meaning to do a blog on here called "The Fifteen Year Depression of 2008 - 2023." I would say keep an eye out for it, but it may not happen. (The blog that is; I am pretty sure about the depression.)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 12:07
31 January 2009
For over 20 years, I have supported the campaign to close the School of the Americas in south Georgia. All the while, there was this other military academy of torture that was even worse, that was probably the source of much of SOA's curriculum and that I had never even heard of. The author of this article, himself a "graduate" of the SERE, surmises that military interrogators would think something along the lines of "I survived waterboarding, so it's OK to do it to this guy". Well, I remember a top Pentagon / DOD official actually articulating that argument, with no apparent recognition of the essential sickness of what he was saying.
The thing is, both SERE and SOA, and also the "hazing" in military academies (not just in the US, despite what David Morris thinks - there is an ongoing scandal in the British Armed forces involving suspicious deaths of young recruits in training) are symptoms of the whole military culture that allows them to happen. That is not going to change by closing the schools, by presidential edict or by legislation. Not that I know how it can be changed. I thought bringing women into the military might help, over 30 years ago when I still had my idealism, but that theory has been quashed by the evidence at Abu Ghraib.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 13:58
18 January 2009
Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer has a great comment piece decrying the easy cynicism of the pessimists about the upcoming Obama presidency. There are even some who glibly claim that they're sure to be disappointed by his inaugural address, what with his overblown reputation for oratory and all. Although, I read somewhere else, and it's more convincing, that all he really needs to do in the current feverish and desperate climate is step up to the microphone and sneeze and the speech will be acclaimed in history. So, who you gonna believe. Rawnsley identifies one definite strength that the Obama team can use, quoted in the title above, and attributed to an unnamed official in the Brown government.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:48