Sad and Glad – Reblog

Published July 19, 2021 by Nan Mykel

A heartwarmer by dianeravitch from the Washington Post

dianeravitchThe Teen Who Inspired Zaila Avant-Garde to Win the National Spelling Bee

The Washington Post wrote about the teen who inspired Zaila Avant-Garde, the first African American to win the national spelling bee. A 13-year-old girl from Akron, MacNolia Cox, was among the first Black Americans to make it to the national spelling bee, 85 years ago. Her story says a lot about her determination, but also about the racism and segregation that she had to endure when she went to the championship bee in Washington, D.C. (Zaila is not only a spelling champion; she holds three Guinness World Records for her basketball skills. Watch the video. She’s amazing.) I had never heard of MacNolia Cox, but Zaila had, and she knew anything was possible.

About 3,000 people jammed into Union Station in Akron, Ohio, on the evening of Sunday, May 24, 1936. A military band played. A young man led some of the crowd in cheers; others burst into song. They were all awaiting the arrival of an unlikely hero: a tall and slender 13-year-old Black girl named MacNolia Cox. The shy eighth grader was Akron’s spelling bee champion.

A month earlier, MacNolia had stood on the stage at the city’s armory with 50 other children — the top scorers on a written spelling test. After 24 rounds, there were two spellers remaining. After 37 rounds, there were still two. Finally, MacNolia emerged victorious. With the proper spelling of “sciatica” and “voluble,” MacNolia became one of the first two Black children to qualify for the National Spelling Bee, held annually in the nation’s capital. The other was 15-year-old Elizabeth Kenney of New Jersey, who was also bound for Washington.

John S. Knight, the publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal, which sponsored the regional competition, fretted over MacNolia’s win.
“Washington is a segregated city,” he told Mabel Norris, the 21-year-old White reporter assigned to accompany MacNolia, her mother Ladybird and MacNolia’s White teacher, Cordelia Greve, to the competition. “You will have all kinds of difficulties,” he said.

But MacNolia wasn’t thinking about any of that when she boarded the Capitol Limited with a new suitcase filled with new clothes, all gifts from the city’s Black community to a family that could not afford such indulgences. For 30 days, while she diligently studied, MacNolia had been celebrated by Black communities across the country, by churches, social clubs, academics and politicians, even by vaudeville celebrities. Band maestro “Fats” Waller and tap dancer Bill Robinson brought her onstage at the RKO Palace in Cleveland. Her name was mentioned in the same breath as Marian Anderson and Jesse Owens — and now, this send off.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” MacNolia declared with a wide grin.

“Bring back the championship,” hollered one person in the crowd.
“I’m going to try,” MacNolia promised as she settled in for her first train ride.

Hours later, near the Maryland border, MacNolia and her mother were ushered from their berths into the Jim Crow car.

The stories Mabel Norris wrote for the Akron Beacon Journal from Washington in May 1936 describe a fairy tale. Young MacNolia was whisked around the capital, seeing all the sights and even meeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Beacon Journal did not seem to think its readers wanted to hear the rest of the story.

Norris did not mention the segregated train cars, and she described MacNolia’s accommodations in the city as “one of the finest tributes to the Akron district champion.” MacNolia and her mother were staying in great comfort, as the guests of a prominent Black surgeon, T. Edward Jones, who lived near U Street, the city’s “Black Broadway.” But they were doing so only because they were not welcome at the Willard Hotel where the other White competitors stayed. MacNolia could not understand why, and her mother was at a loss to explain.

On the night before the competition, the 17 finalists were invited to a banquet at the Hamilton Hotel. Mabel Norris waited by the elevator for the pair to arrive, until she felt a tap on her shoulder. The spelling bee champion, in a white frock, stood behind her. Mother and daughter had not been allowed to use the front entrance to the hotel. Instead, they were directed through the kitchen and up the backstairs. In the banquet room, a two-seat table had been set apart from the head table where the White children sat.

But MacNolia seemed undaunted as she crossed the stage at the National Museum auditorium in her blue organdy dress and blue socks just before 10 a.m. on the morning of May 26, 1936. “As cool as a cucumber,” Norris wrote. “The least excited and nervous of the group.” Spelling, certainly, was the same no matter if you were Black or White…

There were 10 spellers left when the competition began airing live on the radio over the Columbia Broadcast System; Elizabeth Kenney had been the 11th. “P-R-O-M-E-N-A-D-E,” MacNolia spelled.
There were just five left when MacNolia got the word “Nemesis.” “Oh, no!” Cornelia Greve exclaimed. She flipped through MacNolia’s dictionary, filled with red check marks for the words the girl had studied, but there was no mark next to “Nemesis.” She had believed proper nouns would be excluded from the word list.

MacNolia looked up at the ceiling again and started to spell “N-E-M- … ” she began.

Mable Norris jumped up in protest as MacNolia finished the word, spelling it incorrectly. Norris, too, believed the word violated the contest rules. “No capitalized words shall be given,” she reminded the judges. Nemesis is a Greek goddess who exacts retribution against those who show hubris.

After a long, heated argument, the judges huddled to consider Norris’s objection. Norris walked over to the CBS announcer and made her case on the air: It was discrimination, she told the national audience. The judges were uncomfortable with the idea of a Black winner, she said, a charge the judges would deny.

MacNolia’s retelling of the next moment, published in “Whatever Happened to MacNolia Cox?,” a biography written by her niece Georgia Lee Gay, is unemotional: “It was supposed to be spelled with a capital letter and was not part of the official list, so the judges ruled me out of the contest.” MacNolia did not shed a tear when she was eliminated, but Norris remembered crying for her.

A Black girl’s triumph

MacNolia Cox returned to Akron to a welcome as grand as her send-off. She was feted with armfuls of roses and chauffeured in a car parade in her honor. The procession ended at her school, where MacNolia was introduced to hundreds of cheering classmates. The city’s former mayor wrote a poem that underlined her achievements: “A child whose forebears sold for gold / On slavery’s auction blocks / Has brought renown to our old town. / All hail, MacNolia Cox.”

But the attention soon faded. Gay wrote that the opportunities and college scholarships that were promised in the months after the bee never materialized and MacNolia was left scarred by the prejudice she experienced. “In some ways, she felt she would have been better off to have never won the Beacon Journal bee,” she wrote.

MacNolia Cox — then MacNolia Montiere — died in 1976 at the age of 53. Her obituary mentioned the Beacon Journal bee, but her story has now faded for most but her family — and one 14-year-old Black girl from Louisiana.

As she stood on the National Bee Stage on Thursday night, Zaila Avant-garde told reporters, she thought of MacNolia and what she had endured 85 years earlier. Then Avant-garde looked down and calmly spelled the winning word — M-U-R-R-A-Y-A — becoming the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The Human Condition

Published July 19, 2021 by Nan Mykel
NATURE

Reading more in evolution , I tried to recall the word for baby death from lack of being touched. I never did remember the word, but found sobering statistics under Failure to Thrive. (If you know the word kindly let me know).

THE experience of being touched has direct effects on the growth of the body as well as the mind. Infants deprived of direct human contact grow slowly and even die. Research has shown that premature infants massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle. Their weight gain seems due to the effect of physical contact on their metabolism.

As mysteries are answered, even more come to light. How did dogs really become such domesticated best-friend pals of humankind? One reason appears to be that some 50,000 years ago the extremely acute hearing of the canine line helped humans detect prey animals from a distance, Canine hearing has been estimated to be 10,000 times more sensitive. While humans are lucky to detect large animals moving a hundred yards away, dogs can hear them literally for miles, (Nigel Barber, 2020, p 57). (In addition perhaps to the fact that dogs have such loving souls….)

BUT WHAT I MOST WANTED TO SAY IN THIS POSTING is that a good source for understanding contributive factors for “gender fluidity” can be found in Chapter 3 of Nigel Barber’s Evolution in the Here and Now, chapter 3, Evolution as a Developmental Process. “In nature there is a surprising range of developmental options concerning sexual behavior and even sex organs. This fact is very much relevant to human sexual development and gender identity.

“The range of natural variation in sexual behavior is staggering and defies the stereotype of a world neatly divided into two genders as determined by the presence or absence of a Y-chromosome….Although mammals are considerably less diverse in their gender development pathways, there can be considerable ambiguity in gender development thanks to the diverse biochemical pathways affecting somatic and behavioral behavioral gender.” Previously I had only been aware of imprinting as a possible causative factor. Barber continues with a discussiodn that may be of additional interest to some.

It’s certainly possible not to like new information, and I don’t care for his words which seem to favor extroverts as opposed to introverts, the latter of which I am. Also, just as mothers were relieved of guilt for their schizophrenic offspring, Barber observes that being genetic does not necessarily mean being the primary result of. (It’s not “all or nothing.”)

In another vein he writes, “Harsh parental practices, such as corporeal punishment, are transmitted across generations and are surprisingly resistant to change.” Even after they are alerted to the adverse effects of coercion and corporeal punishment for children, parents in disadvantaged communities continue to use those tactics in part, perhaps, because that reflects how their brains were affected by their own childhood experiences. Detailed training in more empathic parenting produced no change in parental practices.

TWO MEMORIES COME TO MY MIND: One took place in a psychology training conference in Columbus, Ohio. An AfricanAmerican woman criticized someone in another setting who had suggested corporeal punishment was a mistake, although it was an ingrained part of their culture. Many–most–of those in the audience drew in a breath at the thought of criticizing something from their own culture. I kept quiet.

The second memory was of a man incarcerated in a state prison for child sexual abuse. I had been telling him it was harmful for young victims, whereupon he said he was a childhood victim, and “it didn’t hurt me.”

es – February 2, 1988, Section C, Page 1

EXCERPTS ON EVOLUTION

Published July 17, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Now that I’ve driven my potential readers away, I’ll share what’s been on my mind: evolution. It’s an exciting topic, mysterious, and curious, so I’m hooked. The following excerpt is from Nigel Barger’s recent book, Evolution in the Here and Now, Prometheus 2020. “When gene expression is altered by the environment, there can be marked behavioral consequences….Children raised in stressful homes are significantly shorter in stature despite the fact that that height is one of the most genetically heritable traits. Psychological stress inhibits normal growth and development by changing the way that genes are expressed.” So a psychological (i.e., environmental) influence can alter gene expression , thereby shortening stature. (p 205) I’m wondering about the age factor–whether the stress transmitted in utero or during the bonding process might initiate the alteration of the gene expression. Have I not read about babies dying from lack of human touch? I’m assuming here that parents in those stressful homes would exhibit similar stressful and stress-inducing behavior behavior during the birthing process, and their hypothetical level of stress effect a compromised genetic expression. For the latter possibility, birth weights might differ. I posted this because it got my curiosity (“what if…”) going.

1619 Project Affirms America

Published July 13, 2021 by Nan Mykel

A reblog…

dianeravitchSteve Hinnefeld: “The 1619 Project” Affirms American Ideals

Now that so many Republican-controlled states are planning or hoping to ban the use of curriculum materials based on the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning “The 1619 Project,” it is refreshing to hear a contrary view.

Indiana blogger Steve Hinnefeld believes that “The 1619 Project” strongly affirms American values and hopes it will be taught in schools across the country.

Here is an excerpt from his post, which I found inspiring. I reacted to the work as he did.

I read the 1619 Project when it was published in 2019, and I thought it was one of the most powerful collections of writings about America that I had ever encountered. I reread parts of it this week, including Nikole-Hannah Jones’ lead essay, and I still feel the same way.

I’ve been mystified to see the project turned into a political lightning rod. Following the lead of Donald Trump, critics argue it is racially divisive, anti-white and anti-American, and that it seeks to make us ashamed of our country. (None of that is true). Some legislators want to outlaw teaching it in schools.

The 1619 Project: New York Times Sunday Magazine cover.

I can only assume that these people are making their arguments in profoundly bad faith, manufacturing outrage for the 2022 elections. As Notre Dame professor John Duffy writes, many of the critiques seem “cynically opportunistic – gasoline poured into the trash can fires of the culture wars.

An ambitious initiative by the New York Times, the 1619 Project aimed to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” It examines 400 years of history through the prism of race and racism, starting with the arrival in 1619 of the first Africans brought as slaves to what would become the United States.

The project is big and complex. It includes scholarly articles, short vignettes, verse, visual art and a detailed timeline of significant, often overlooked events. Historians, journalists, critics and poets contribute content. There’s a 1619 Project curriculum for schools, developed by the Pulitzer Center.

Holding the piece together is the provocative lead essay by Hannah-Jones, who organized the project and won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her work. “Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written,” she writes. “Black Americans fought to make them true.”

Hannah-Jones frames her essay with her struggle to make sense of her father’s unashamed patriotism. Her father was “born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Mississippi.” The family moved north to Iowa, where they struggled to make a living and faced discrimination in housing, jobs and other areas. Yet her Army veteran father flew an American flag outside his house every day, something his daughter could not understand.

“Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little,” she writes. “My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag. He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.”

Hannah-Jones guides readers through American history seen, for once, from the perspective of African Americans. Many of the themes are familiar, but in combination they are devastating. Ten of the first 12 presidents owned slaves. For centuries, the law defined enslaved Black people as property, not human beings. Abraham Lincoln came reluctantly to freeing the slaves and did not champion equality. The brief flowering of freedom under Reconstruction was crushed by the Compromise of 1877, followed by 80 years of brutality and Jim Crow segregation. Most white Americans rejected the civil rights movement.

Black people not only endured but fought to make real the promise of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal,” Hannah-Jones writes. They marched and protested for equal rights. They fought the nation’s wars, serving in disproportionate numbers in the military. In an individualistic country, they embraced the idea of the common good. Their battles made possible freedom struggles by women, other people of color, Native Americans, immigrants and LGBTQ people.

Note from John Howell

Published July 12, 2021 by Nan Mykel

As you know, many things currently threaten democracy. Many of you are doing what you can to address various of these things. By doing so we support each other. 
My own focus at the present time is on the corrosive effect of our monetary system on democracy. Many shrug; it cannot be changed. But it can be changed and is, in fact.changing. How it changes has important consequences. 
I’d like to draw your attention to an event of the Alliance For Just Money – the Just Money Festival – to take place over Zoom on Friday and Saturday, the 23rd and 24th of July. The announcement for it is here:
Home – What is Just Money – Alliance For Just Money (monetaryalliance.org)

It is an opportunity to better understand this issue. Thanks for your willingness to consider it. And thanks for all the good work you do to in support of democracy and of human dignity.
John Howell, Coordinator, Democracy Over Corporations

JILL STILL CARES reblog

Published July 10, 2021 by Nan Mykel

jilldennison I Still Care, Dammit

I’m tired, folks.  I’m sick and tired of fighting to try to make people care about their own lives, their own future.  I’m tempted to say, “To hell with you all!  You want to die of COVID, then go right ahead.  You want to be a racist, a homophobe, to hate people you don’t even know based on a single characteristic – then go ahead, limit your world to a handful of white bigots like yourself.  You want to live in a country where chaos is the norm, where no laws benefitting you or anybody else ever pass, then fine … enjoy your petty, shallow life as a tool in the Republican toolbox!”  I’m tempted to say that, and I can afford to, for my own life is in its twilight hours, but what stops me is that the majority of us have children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren who deserve better than the ignorant among us would subject us to.

With every passing day, there is more and more wrong in this country.  The causes are two-fold:  the greed of our politicians and the ignorance of the voting public.  The majority of us still use our brains, still understand that the current situation is untenable, and are looking for reasonable solutions.  But therein lies the problem … reasonable solutions to unreasonable problems simply don’t work.

The personification of this is a statement by a right-wing shock jock the other day …

“If you tell people you can’t have a Twitter account, you can’t have a Facebook account, well, what else is there to do but actually walk into the Capitol and go all insurrectional? If you can’t talk about it, you can only act.”

Wow … so, next time I get banned from Twitter, I should go into the Capitol with my gun and face-paint and threaten people’s lives?  What rocks do these people come out from under???  Worse yet … how many people agree with his statement?  How many people believe that if you don’t like something, you should simply shoot it, blow it up, or otherwise disable it?

Among my former ‘friends’ are a number of people who are simply giddy … yes, giddy … about the current state of affairs, the chaos and drama perpetuated by politicians on the Republican side of the aisle.  It’s excitement in their boring little lives … to them it is akin to watching an exciting shoot-em up movie.

Folks, this is not a game, this is not a movie, this is not some country in the undeveloped world … this is the United States, once a respected republic, but now … now the laughingstock of the Western world.  We are no longer respected, we are no longer trusted among our allies.  Why?  Need you ask?

While citizens in other nations are still under lockdown, still waiting for the vaccine to become available to them, the people of the United States are stubbornly proclaiming the vaccine to be akin to some nefarious plot by government, comparing it to Naziism, to Apartheid.  Obviously, these people have no sense of history, do not understand either concept, and have no concept of how many innocent people died as a result of both.  Ignorance, again.

I have to wonder … since we are obviously not teaching our children history, such as the history of South Africa or Germany and Europe before and during World War II, and since we have obviously NOT taught them to THINK for themselves, what the Sam Hell are we teaching them in school?  Which leads me to another pet peeve … the Republicans denial of Critical Race Theory, which is not much more than the fact that racism is carefully embedded in our systems as a result of the racist history of this nation.  The Republicans claim none of this is true … or, if it is, they don’t want the next generation to know about it.  Let’s hide slavery, Jim Crow, police killings, the removal and murder of Native Americans, the Japanese internment camps, and more.  Yes, let’s bury the evidence, not let our children know what evil has persisted in this nation ever since well before it was even a nation.

I am, needless to say, disappointed in the people of this nation.  I am disappointed in any who can still believe in the Big Lie, who can support anyone affiliated with the Republican Party.  I am disappointed in friends who are too shallow to even pay attention to what is happening in this nation, but instead focus on “being happy” to the exclusion of all else.  If the people of this nation don’t wake up soon, it will be too late and this nation will find itself in the same situation as other nations under dictatorial regimes.  The ignorance of people in the United States is rapidly driving us into a descent from which there may never be a lifeline.  For my money, I am 70 years of age with likely only another year or two on earth, but I have loved ones who will survive me and for their sake, I still care.  Damn me … I still care.

BLESS WORD PRESS…

Published July 10, 2021 by Nan Mykel
NATURE

I keep running into words that move me. Such as the following excerpt from https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/nature-as-a-cure-for-the-sickness-of-modern-times:

We can get bored because we are in a tunnel which we’re mistaking for an open view. We can feel like we have explored everything we need to know. But we have only to recall that things are far weirder and more stupefying than we ever tend to think in the city – because we are sharing the planet not only with people we went to school with and high powered television executives but also flying squirrels, hyacinth macaws, vampire crabs, glasswinged butterflies, french angelfish, nicobar pigeons, okapis, rock agamas and tokay geckos – all of whom contribute to a gigantic call for us to take another closer, more wondrous and more enchanted look at what breathes around us.

which brings to mind an image from The Quantam Magazine.org/archive of smell receptors in a fly’s antennae:

I’m not bored…

People want your money – be vigilant

Published July 9, 2021 by Nan Mykel

A real service, Keith. Thanks!

musingsofanoldfart

Scams abound. At the dinner table when the kids were younger, we discussed with our teens that people want your money. So, you have to be vigilant and guard against them. Some want it by legitimate means – advertising to get your money for services rendered or products bought. Some want it through aggressive marketing to accelerate such purchases and some want to steal or trick it from you. The scams are the trickster part of the equation.

I had a new scam attempted on me this week which I will call the Electric Utility Scam. This scam was quite well organized with a sincere woman saying I owed money to the electric utility and they were on their way to cut off my power. I could stop them if I called Accounts/ Billing and gave me the number. I called and they asked for my last four digits on…

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What the World Needs Now…

Published July 9, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Is NOT tattoos. Oh I know many tattoos have a happy theme, but I’ve suddenly gotten old and cantankerous and come to feel negative about tattoos. Thoughts come to mind, such as being at the pearly gates and telling God they perfected his original design, or children growing up to feel not sufficiently okay in their bodies, that they need to try and improve, or that getting a tattoo will be a good investment towards growing up, or an easy way to make a statement about their place in the alter culture, or express their anger, or hide their real vulnerable selves. I feel sad that the attitude towards females today–both of men and most women–has resulted in women placing so much of their self esteem into being “sexy” as opposed to being a human to be respected and taken seriously. I know evolution plays a big role in this behavior, but gosh, I still feel both sad and frustrated about it. Unfortunately, a number of insecure men appear to judge their own worth by their female following –or lack of following (see Incel). I wonder if the increasing number of transgender individuals reflects some of the situation. If you doubt that the number is increasing, take a look at Everything Teenage LGBTQ. Or perhaps it’s just that the issues are coming to the surface more. I remember reading that one F2M was surprised to be able to walk the street after dark without being hassled or threatened when he began presenting as his chosen gender (male).

Nuff said, maybe, so I’ll go onto other thoughts. NOW I’m onto another topic: Dreams. I found an apt, succinct statement about dreams I wanted to share, from Hall and Nordby’s The Individual and His Dreams.

“Dreams objectify that which is subjective, they visualize that which is invisible, they transform the abstract into the concrete, and they make conscious that which is unconscious. They come from the most archaic alcoves of the mind as well as from the peripheral levels of waking consciousness. Dreams are the kaleidoscope of the mind”. (p 146) Remember that the language of dreams is metaphoric.

Simply 6 Minutes – New Hope

Published July 6, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Sweet child of hope…yes

About the Jez of It

Thank you Stine Writing for a great prompt – https://christinebialczak.com/2021/07/06/simply-6-minutes-welcome-to-the-challenge-07-06-2021/

Baby Aye Aye Lemur | Weird looking animals, Scary animals …

Sweet baby
fresh to the world
bright eyes baby
bringing new hope
to the forests of Madagascar
as each day habitats are taken away
the money magnets chasing palm oil
threaten ring-tailed mischief
and haunting sifaka song
sweet child of hope
all lemurs salute you
aye-aye baby

©JGFarmer2021

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