Review of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country

I finished ‘Yellow Bird:Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country’ by Sierra Crane Murdoch. It is a good book and very well written.
The exploration of Lissa Yellow Bird was wonderful. A complicated, passionate character, conflicted, damaged, and resilient. We root for her.
The book suffered from jumping back and forth in time a bit too much; the action seemed to lag in the late middle part, and the number of people to keep track of was daunting. I kept some notes, but gave up at the two-thirds mark. Notes at the back of the book tell us Murdoch worked on this book for 8 years. She would have known these characters by heart, but a reader coming to this book new doesn’t have that. I think the author could have used a trick of fiction writers to give each character something we can remember them by. Wide eyes, booming voice, twitchy movements. Cues to help readers differentiate and picture each person in this large cast.
I enjoyed the look at aboriginal societies, families and culture. The ideas of Lakota sociologist Marie Yellow Horse Brave Heart of ‘Historical Unresolved Grief’ are topics I will do some more reading on. This ‘Intergenerational Trauma’ rings true to me. Here in Canada, 50% of the women in prison are First Nations. Something is seriously wrong.
I liked that the book was honest about the drugs, alcohol and prostitution, and the effects of sudden wealth. The greed. I might have gone a little deeper on this, but not full-on Irvine Welsh. Although Lissa might not have consented to that.
I am starting a project, ‘Consenting to Learn in Public’ and this book club entry dove-tailed nicely with that. I want to better understand Aboriginal history, culture and issues. All of us in North America have a responsibility.

May 16, 2022
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Review of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country
ISBN 9780399589171

Review of ‘The 1619 Project’ by Nikole Hannah-Jones

I want to do a review of ‘The 1619 Project’ but need to be careful. The Woke Folk jump on anything less than fawning praise of their work.
This book was a tough read. I put it down and then picked it up again three or four times over about three weeks. The material is brutal. The history of slavery in the US is long and ugly, and exposing that horror takes a toll on a reader. I wonder how many people start reading this book, with good intentions, and then just put it down in sheer exhaustion?
It is a history everyone should know. But the nature of the book, a series of individual essays by separate authors, while giving a pleasant change of voices throughout, allows for a lot of repetition. The Tulsa Race Massacre is mentioned a dozen times by different writers. It slowed down the pace, with this reader thinking I already read this.
The book is controversial for a few reasons, but controversy sells books, so that can’t be a fault. That it turns down the light on Reagan’s ‘Shining City on the hill’ is probably what some dislike the most. But I like truth over myth, so this book fills that requirement.
The final chapter on restitution had me shaking my head. In some ways, it mirrored Canada’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation Report’ on Canada’s treatment of indigenous people. Suggestions that will probably never be considered by the vast majority of voters, but also a missed opportunity. All of the suggestions are aimed at others. The white people, the municipalities, the States or Provinces, the Federal government. The churches, the financial institutions, the law. If instead it included a call to action by Black or Indigenous people, it might have some real world effects. Hannah-Jones laments that for much of history Black people have been not actors but acted upon. A call to action would have been well placed.
I have a friend who says some people look out the window for solutions, and some people look in the mirror. These works need to look in both places.

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March 9, 2022

Review of ‘The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
ISBN 9780593230589

Book Review of Noel Riley Fitch’s ‘Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin’

Review of Noel Riley Fitch’s ‘Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin’
ISBN 9780316284318

I don’t often abandon a book halfway through, but I just couldn’t finish this. It is basically a running tally of who Anais Nin had sex with. Her early childhood and the obvious sexual abuse by her father was informative, but I was hoping for more on her writing and growth as a writer. I read her ‘D.H.Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study’ , and was always a fan of her ‘Letter to the Collector’. Both are good work. I wanted to better understand this woman. This book didn’t do that for me.

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The Myth of the Solitary Hero

Superman. A solitary hero who saves the day. Spider man. Clint Eastwood in most movies. I would say Batman, but he had Alfred. Which veers towards the truth. Most genuine heroes work with teams.
The ability to recruit, organize and motivate. This is leadership. Coaches of elite teams, leaders of industry or politics, generals of armies, directors of movies and plays, scientists exploring vaccines or the cosmos. Mother Teresa feeding the poor.
Here is the West, and especially in North America, the myth of that solitary hero handicaps us and sets up unrealistic hopes and dreams. And often teaching the leadership skills to organize teams is an afterthought until well after they achieve a university education.
I have had the pleasure of working for some outstanding leaders, and the misfortune to work for some others.
In my career, I started as a sole performer, a techie doing my job. And I slowly advanced to managing other techies. And I learned to manage people in an ad hoc fashion. I like people and found I was good at it. They gave me more people to manage, bigger projects to manage, and I joked I was on the career path of getting bigger and harder projects until I would fail and be fired. Such was the career path of a project manager.
But joking aside, I didn’t really get much training in how to manage teams. I learned tools, scheduling, logistics, contracting, finance. Some sales and marketing. But how does a leader get the most out of his or her team? This ‘Royal Jelly’ is not really applied to most managers. It is through trial and error that we learn how to get the most out of people.
And trial and error minimizes the costs of those errors. I pushed some former teams to the breaking point, and beyond. A peer once told me I was too hard, that I was burning people out, and I honestly said I didn’t care as long as my project came in on time and on budget. In the IT industry, we call it a death march and many development leaders still do it.
If I could talk to that younger me, I would set him straight. As I suppose my peer was trying to do.
But I have learned, through reading, independent study, and some continuing trial and error, that outstanding performance can be conjured out of teams with a better approach than bullying.
People want to do a good job. They want to be a part of building something, achieving some goal, creating something new and good. And if it is hard to achieve that goal, if it takes thought and effort and new ways of thinking or doing, that energizes most people. Good people like a challenge. They rise to that challenge.
I am not a deeply religious man, but I admire the picture of Christ at the Last Supper. He knew he couldn’t do it alone, so he built a team of twelve.
In our communities, our businesses, our churches, families, societies, we need to recognize that nobody achieves much of importance without collaboration and teamwork. There are no heroes coming to save the day. That myth of rugged individualism handicaps us. We, collectively, together as teams, can be those heroes.

Review of Dallaire’s ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’

I tried to read Romeo Dallaire’s ‘Shake Hands with the Devil.’ The overwhelming arrogance of the author left me so cold, I had to abandon it about a third of the way through.
Reading a book involves a contract between the buyer/reader and the author. I will give you twenty dollars or so, plus ten or twelve hours of my time, and you will entertain/inform/enlighten me in some fashion. I am agreeing to spend twelve hours listening to and considering their thoughts and opinion.
It is an intimate commitment, a close one-on-one between reader and writer. If it is not enjoyable then there must be some over-riding gain for me, the reader. When that gain is insignificant, I don’t feel compelled to spend that time with a weak mind, an arrogant blow hard, or a self-righteous preacher. The twenty dollars I wont get back, the twelve hours I can better spend.
I have a quote by Theodore Sturgeon saved. ‘It doesn’t matter what you write, what you believe will show through.’ Dallaire believes he could solve all the world’s problems if people would just do what he says.
So many people rated the book great. I guess they don’t read many really great books by wonderful talented writers. This isn’t one.

Lessons on Hate from James Baldwin’s ‘Going to see the Man’

I woke up in a very bad mood. Angry. I read a short short story by James Baldwin yesterday that upset me. ‘Going to See the Man’, a story of a lynching somewhere in the US south. Told from the Point of View of a cop who as a young boy, was taken to the lynching as if it was a Sunday picnic. The anger and hate carry with the boy into adulthood. Impotence leads to rage.
And I woke up angry this morning. My anger is directed at the people blocking roads and railroads in Canada in the name of First Nations people. Just as the cop in the Baldwin story wonders why they can’t learn, meaning the black people, I think someone should crack some heads on these climate change shits to teach them a lesson. Which I know is exactly the opposite lesson Baldwin would want. But he does see and show how hateful dehumanizing behavior can spread and infect people, over and over, like a virus.
We need to be on guard for it, aware that in weak moments, when tired or irritated, we can lose patience and revert to this thuggish behavior.
I am ashamed when part of myself leans to that course of action. They say good writing is honest, so I share my shameful thoughts in the hope of creating good writing, and becoming more aware of the thoughts and feelings that course through me and all other people. None of us are saints.

What Trump and the GOP Fear

Political pundits wonder aloud why does nobody in the Republican Party stand up to Donald Trump? A superficial analyst would say they fear him. If you cross Trump your political career is over. But this week Trump made a slip, and we saw what they all fear, President Trump included.

A Trump rally in North Carolina disgusted most decent people when the crowd whipped itself into a racist chant of ‘Send Her back! Send Her back!’ Echoes of ‘Sig Hiel’ and waving swastikas appeared in this former Confederate state. The next day worldwide condemnation had Trump backing down. He lied and said he had tried to cut them off. But then the tell.

Nobody accuses Trump of thinking four or five steps ahead. It’s not his forte. But he can think ahead to the next rally. And he knows those chants will come up again. The calls, the angry braying of the mob, the spittle and the hate flying in the air. ‘Send her back!’

And as Trump tried to position himself back in front of that angry mob we saw what they all fear. Hate now calls the shots in the Republican Party. And any sitting GOP member knows, crossing that angry mob will bring it’s focus on you.

Political parties of all stripes have their fringes. The kooks, the single issue fanatics, the crazy aunts we keep in the attic except when we need their donations or votes. We pay them lip-service, give them a nod, a wink or a dog-whistle to keep them on-side.

We don’t invite them into the wheelhouse and let them steer the ship. Except the Republicans have. It was a way to win. Pander to the White Nationalists, the Gun nuts and the Abortion Evangelicals. A core of single issue fanatics that have coalesced around a message of hate. A crowd stoked by cruel treatment of unfortunate refugees fleeing Central America. Cruelty is acceptable now. Anger and hate are ushered out of the shadows and celebrated in packed arenas and stadiums. The mob has over-run the GOP establishment and are asserting control.

Many are making the comparison to 1930s Germany. But I think that was different, in that Germany was lead by the fanatical true believers. This reminds me more of France after the Revolution in 1793 when a mob terror swept up everyone into a blood lust of retribution. A monster that nobody controlled.

Can you tell me that anyone controls that mob shrieking ‘Send Her Back’?

Updates from Danny July 17, 2019

All
An update on my last 6 weeks.
On June 3rd after work I went for a mountain bike ride on Mount Seymour. Good news was I got a free helicopter ride, link below. Bad news I crashed, went over the handle bars, landed on my head and damaged my spine. Didn’t break anything, but it is a serious injury and I will be off for a while. The doctors say most people with this injury make a full recovery. They just wont say how long.
I started walking after my first week, and did both stairs and a stationary bike over that weekend, so I am on the mend. I was wearing a neck collar 7×24 up to Friday July 12.
I spent the first 3 weeks on the 7th floor at Lion’s Gate Hospital, (the Critical Care unit) then 2 plus weeks on the 5th floor, The Rehab unit. They let me go home Friday July 12th.
I started out patient rehab on Tuesday July 16th. Typing is hard, as my hands are numb.

I have been told to set some goals by the Doctors, PT and OT teams. Skiing in… This Season? Is one.
Bike and hike again. Be able to travel. Not Nepal this year, but maybe Costa Rica again.
Drive a car. Make it to Lake Sakinaw this summer, and maybe fish.
And I have always wanted to write, so as my typing gets better, I am going to work on that. Check our http://writing.aldham.net.
Going back to work is not high on my list. This whole thing is causing me to reassess my priorities.

VIDEO: Injured mountain biker rescued from Mt. Seymour – Peace …
https://images.app.goo.gl/CJvZ4t3yqo5BnNsM7

North Shore link:
https://www.nsnews.com/news/mountain-biker-suffers-spinal-injury-in-seymour-fall-1.23844863

Bike route:
Check out my cycling activity on Garmin Connect. #beatyesterday
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3696542209

The Caravan and Thoughts of Charity

I was thinking about political correctness today. The right scoff at the ‘snowflakes’ and the left rail at the ‘facists’, and in between it has become impossible to have a decent conversation.

The caravan of Central American refugees, that the Republicans have made such as election issue of, has dropped from public view. But the entire debate was framed as a ‘Be tough, show resolve, defend the borders, build the wall, send the army’ conversation. The rebuttal was non-existent. It was politically impossible for anyone to show the kind of traditionally conservative Christian values I grew up with, and that is heartbreaking. What have we become?

I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve. If anything, I would call myself a ‘closet’ Christian. And I feel too many people who call themselves Christian seem to live in the Old Testament, forgetting the messages from Jesus in the New Testament. I remember Sunday School lessons about compassion and empathy for our fellow men. The good Samaritan, the Seven virtues, Kindness, Charity, Compassion and Mercy.

When one side frames the debate about who can be the toughest, the other side commits political suicide by admitting any of these virtues. How did this happen? When did the voices of all the good people cower in fear?

This is not who we are. Sure, we all get angry sometimes. Life can be tough. But we have it good compared to those people in Central America who are fleeing totalitarian dictators, civil wars, corruption and abject poverty.

We need to show a little empathy. Recognize that these people are fleeing a humanitarian disaster. And since the Americans have told the rest of the world to stay out of the Western hemisphere, via the Munro Doctrine, Americans have a responsibility to address this disaster.

Bob Hope once said that ‘A man with no Charity in his heart, suffers from the worst kind of heart problem.’

As the bumper stickers say ‘What would Jesus do?’

Close the #Trumpcamps

Over the last few days we have seen images of children being torn from their mothers. There are reports of camps being setup in Texas and children in cages. The similarities to concentraction camps is too easy to make.
And now Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders are holding up the bible to justify their heartless cruelty.
There is no empathy in this Administration. That Donald Trump was damaged as a child and is now a narcissistic socio-path incapable of seeing people as humans is a given. Trying to appeal to his heart is useless.
But he does care about something. His Name. How he is percieved by the public. His image on TV and Twitter. His brand.
Trump towers are supposed to be luxurious. Mara-Lago is better than Disney Land. Trump University, Trump steaks, Trump Casinos. He loves to see his name on everything. So let’s put his name on this. Let him own it. #Trumpcamps.
Every conversation, every story, every image of families being torn apart and people being thrown in jail for misdemeanor crimes and having the audacity to beg for asylum , needs to be tagged and branded as a trumpcamp story.
Right now it is a bargaining chip. Let it be more. Let him own it. Let it be Donald Trump’s legacy,his place in history. #Trumpcamps