All posts for the month May, 2021

Keith Says

Published May 31, 2021 by Nan Mykel

You don’t stroke a bully…

Keith WilsonMay 27, 2021, 10:46 AM (4 days ago)
A Reblog…Musingsofanoldfart

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian born to a Jamaican mother and English father. In an interview, he responded to a question about his ability to look from afar at issues close at hand. He noted his bizarre appearance made him an obvious outsider, so he crafted an outside looking in perspective.

One of his books is called “David and Goliath” about how underdogs sometimes are not whom they first appear to be. In one of his examples, he noted the Nazi’s bombing of London during World War II was actually counterproductive. Why?

People did perish and were injured. And, buildings were destroyed. But, the lion’s share of Londoners were not impacted other than being frightened. They were also galvanized with a defiant “I am still here.”

We should not set aside that galvanizing affect as it is crucial to the British resolve. Outside of tacit support from America before December 7, 1941, the British bore the heavy load to fight the Nazis and Italian fascists in the Europe/ Africa campaign. I am still here was a big part of their perseverance, especially after near catastrophe at Dunkirk which may have cost them severe loss of soldiers had it not been for a make-shift volunteer navy.

Standing up against tyrants and bullies requires that kind of perseverance. It is said the tenacious Winston Churchill was the ideal man to lead Great Britain during these times. He saw Adolph Hitler for exactly who he was – a psychopathic tyrant. Churchill’s predecessor tried to appease Hitler, which seems ludicrous in hindsight. You don’t stroke a bully.

The only way to stand up to a bully is with resolve. Please remember that when bullies, name callers and liars try to denigrate and gaslight you. The truth is your ally. So, is your conviction. I am still here. And, I know who and what you are.



Published May 27, 2021 by Nan Mykel

It seemed kind of strange to me back in 10/23/2004 when posted the story that “Bush Signs Global ‘Anti-Semitism’ Law.” Don’t get me wrong–I’ve laid flowers at Auschwitz–but why pick one area of human rights violations and not others? In fact, his state department had opposed the legislation, saying it was unnecessary as the department already includes such information in its annual reports on human rights and religious freedom.

“Today I signed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. This law commits the government to keep a record of anti-Semitic acts throughout the world, and also a record of responses to those acts,” Bush said.

Then it occurred to me–even in 2004, when I clipped the article– that the state department should cite the US on such a list, and then wondered how racism is categorized, and if our acts against people of color are being lawfully recorded along with responses to those acts.

Temporarily Sourceless

Published May 24, 2021 by Nan Mykel


Hatred of evil affects the one who hates. It makes him or her a hateful person, a person who also has absented his self or her self from the light. If you strike without compassion against the darkness,  you yourself enter the darkness. (Sorry, I’ll try and find the source).

Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that there’s a big difference between non-assertiveness, assertiveness, and aggression, as I recall from Your Perfect Right

Monkey Men?

Published May 23, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Theunis Bates, in The Week’s Editor’s Letter (5-14-21) writes that…The stuff of science fiction is once again becoming the stuff of reality. In a breakthrough study, researchers in the U.S. and China have created for the first time embryos that contain both human and monkey cells….Scientists hope that these mixed species “chimeras”–named for the fire-breathing creature of Greek mythology that’s part lion, part goat, and part snake–will help them find new ways to grow human organs for transplant and provide better subjects in which to test drugs and study disease. “Our goal is not to generate any new organisms, any monster,” study co-author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte told The embryos were destroyed after 20 days, but bioethicists worry that someone will push this work further and try to produce a chimeric baby. Human cells might end up a part of the resulting creature’s brain, raising questions about whether the hybrid would be classed as human, animal, or something else entirely.

“I don’t think we’re on the edge of Planet of the Apes,” said Stanford University bioethicist Hank Greely. But it’s “time for us to start thinking about. Should we ever let these go beyond a petri dish?”

History suggests that these clusters of cells won’t remain in the dish for long. In the early days of artificial intelligence, researchers insisted that thinking machines would be used only for good and that the killer robots of The Terminator were dystopian nonsense. Yet Russia, China and the U.S. are all developing AI weapons that can identify and “engage”–that is, kill–human targets….The chimeras are coming, because whatever science can do, it inevitably will do.

Nan says: Dare I point out that no human embryos should be taken from people of color? From our recent vision of the underbelly of much of humankind, I’d vote for giving up on the dream of a Nobel Prize in exchange for empathy and avoidance of even more evil in the world. And I for one would donate any betterment of my health or longevity in order not to cause harm. Impossible to envision Russia, China and the U.S. agreeing to anything, much less limiting it to only good. The Week’s news story is on their page 21.

An adjacent thought: Are we building our robots with any ethics? If so, whose ethics? And how do you think that will turn out?

Forgetful and Gullible?

Published May 21, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Still in the process of “organizing,” I came across the following from the South Carolina Gazette:

Dec. 17, 1763: The following books are lent to persons whose names I have forgot…Samuel Carne

Warburton’s edition of Pope’s works, complete, duodecimo. 1st, 10th and 11th volume of the Craftsman. 1st and 2d volumes of Shakespeare’s plays, duodecimo. Rabelais works, 1st and 2d volumes. Madame Dacier’s Horace, 5th volume, French. Van Swieten on the diseases of the army, French. Hughes’s history of the Barbadoes. Russell on glandular diseases. Bontius de Morbis Egypitiorum. Bonnett’s Theatrum Tabidorum. 1st volume of Dr. Smellie’s midwifry. 1st and 2d volumes of the Edinburgh medical essays.


Published May 20, 2021 by Nan Mykel






I doubt it’s a god, not even
an intelligent designer, but
there’s something so beyond
our ken at work out there, in here,
that we cannot begin to admit it
to ourselves.

Too many inexplicable surprises…
Where is the grand metaphor
for us to munch on in the abyss
of our nights? Our guesses are
getting colder, not hotter. Can
you feel it? The more we know,
the less.

What’s really behind our blind
spot? Where did mathematics
come from?

What gifts are we shuffling off
to the robots, and what will
they do with them?


Published May 15, 2021 by Nan Mykel
Keith Wilson     Musings of an Old Fart
May 10, 2021, 10:07 AM (5 days ago)

The following post was written seven years ago while my mother was still alive. We lost her on early Christmas morning a couple of years later. Since two weeks ago was National Teacher Appreciation Week and today being Mother’s Day, this post seemed fitting to revisit.

When one of the boys I was coaching in baseball found out my mother had been his teacher, he said immediately about the sweetest woman I know, “Your mother is mean.” I asked him why he would say that and he said my mother put his desk up front by her desk. Now, if you remember anything about teachers, you know when a teacher does this she is beyond her last straw. I also knew the boy was more animated than others in practice and would not listen very well. When I mentioned this later to my mother, she said, “He was a real pill.”

Teaching is a hard job. It can be very rewarding, but it also can be very thankless. My mother has always been a teacher, whether as a second (or first) grade teacher, as a substitute or as a bible study teacher. She would spend (and still does at age 83) hours preparing her lessons and, in the case of elementary school, grading papers. In her paying job, she probably worked ten to twelve hours days. Some might say, teachers get summer off, but they work a week after school is out and a few weeks before every one comes back. But, when you add up the hours, they can rival most year-round employment jobs.

However, because they are relatively low paid, especially in my state of North Carolina where we are 46th in teacher pay, many work summer jobs as well. Our state is trying to remedy the problem it created with frozen budgets and cutbacks on additional pay for masters degrees. Teachers have been voting with their feet leaving the state and the Moral Monday protests added a large voice to that of teachers to shame the legislators into doing something. They are still arguing over this as of this writing.

Yet, through this process, teachers have not been shown the respect they have earned. Of course, there are some poor teachers. But for the large part, my experience has been with very dedicated professionals. And, they also take the blame for things outside of their control. My mother would tell you that it does take a village to raise and educate a child. A good teacher cannot do the parent’s job. It needs to be a team effort between the teacher, parents, counselors and teacher assistants. Also, volunteers help, in a large way, especially if there is not enough teacher assistants to cover the classes.

But, you may have noticed I used the plural of parents. The dilemma these days is if you looked at the demographics of classrooms, the number of kids with divorced parents would not be insignificant. Further, the number of those kids with only one parent in their relationship would not be inconsequential, especially in high poverty schools. In the volunteer work I do for homeless families, there is a significant percentage of single parent families. Divorced or single parent families make it tougher on the kids.

A couple of years ago, I tutored two fifth graders in math. They were interesting and attentive little girls who asked for help in writing. This blew me away. One had ten people and three generations in her house and the other had seven people. Each had a heavy list of chores beyond the normal 5th grader, so school work was difficult to fit in. The nice part is a school counselor was working with the teachers and parents to help these girls keep up. Since English was their second language, word math problems gave them trouble, as did geometry, but that can give anyone nightmares. We worked through their issues and they passed.

Seeing my mother with my kids and my nieces and nephews, she has the patience of Job. She embodies what teachers are all about. They want to help people and take great pride when the children learn and can apply their learnings to something else. In Finland, teaching is one of their most honored professions. Their brightest aspire to these roles and are given the freedom to teach. They are paid well and Finland routinely ranks high in education achievement.

We should value people like my mother. They make such a huge difference in our kids’ lives. They did in my life, as well. So, big shout outs to Mr. Batten, Ms. Bowden, Ms. Regan, Ms. Shrout, Mr. Brickell and countless others. Thanks for teaching me. And, the biggest thanks go to Mom. You are my first and best teacher. I love you, Mom.



Published May 15, 2021 by Nan Mykel

May 6, 1972 – I passed Steve’s apartment the other day and thought I saw a devil’s head with horns in his window. When I passed again I saw that it was a Buddha with outstretched arms…Somehow I am reminded of the time I was standing in Lenox Towers looking down on and into all those windows, offices and lives. I felt somewhat as omnipotent as God until I happened to look up and saw someone else at a higher level in the twin building looking down on me. (I may have reblogged this from myself).


Published May 9, 2021 by Nan Mykel

…..Harper’s Magazine for September 2020 with the cover reading, in 5 colors (is black a color?) gray is, anyway:

BIG TECH EXTORTION RACKET. No, it’s not about scammers. It’s about what it says it’s about… The internet sure has become a big chunk of our lives and communities, hasn’t it. Our local news, our local stores…More about this most likely in subsequent postings… Anyone want to add a thought or opinion, say it in the comments please?

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