Archive for August, 2010


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


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I need to pretext this by saying that I love good short stories. The problem is that many authors cannot pull it off properly. The characters usually seem too thin (sometimes non-existent) or the stories omit any descriptions to make room for dialogue or narrative. In All Probability is interesting because I felt myself feeling empathy for most of the characters while enjoying a well written prose. Morris does well at spinning intriguing tales where the characters seem, well, human.

The diversity of the stories was also interesting. Not only do the characters come from all walks of life, convincingly told by the way, but the stories range from the subject of haunting spirits to espionage to dreams and memories.

The book is dense with short stories, and, while their are some that I think could have been better, most are very well done. I almost want to complain about the brevity of most of them, but some part of me thinks that is one of the things that I liked most about the book. I very much enjoyed reading a whole story while I was eating my cereal or in one of the other few calm moments of my otherwise hectic life.

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Perhaps an allegory for the “monster inside all of us” is something that should be embraced rather than feared. Indeed the “monster” manifests itself in many ways in Hunted 2060, in the main character April’s ability to change into a beast, and the militia’s actions in seeking out and exterminating the Shapeshifters. Initially something that is feared, the beast soon is shown to be something of beauty and grace. In April’s eyes, the beast that she can become is an avenue of acceptance that she seems unable to find in any conventional ways.

Initially, I thought that the futuristic technological horizon of Hunted 2060 was a means of showing a yearning to return to simpler times. This seems to be accentuated by the April’s interest in Old English Stories.  Sometimes, though, the involvement of the technology was distracting and slightly confusing. Indeed, it sometimes felt out of place when the characters used their hologram watches or any of their other advanced tools.

This is really a minor issue in the context of the whole work. Hunted 2060 explores the complexity of a young woman trying to find some kind of acceptance. Rather, it points to the need in all of us to do the same. Even though this subject could be heavy, Ami Rebecca Blackwelder handles it gracefully and with more than just a little lightheartedness.

The action in Hunted begins almost immediately and doesn’t let up until the last few pages of the work where we find an interesting story of redemption for one character and the anticipation for a new beginning for others. Ranging in themes from familial betrayal to the needs to belong, the relationships in Hunted feel natural and even familiar. Even the stress relationship between April, her sister, and her mother – and believe me, it’s stressed – doesn’t feel forced. Overall, Hunted 2060 is a good read for anyone who is looking for a recreational read that actually has some depth to it, but doesn’t feel too heavy handed.

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Faith has always interested me.

Before my Christian friends/enemies start tightening their jaws in preparation for another godless rant, don’t worry. I don’t think I’m going to go there (But I don’t make any promises)

Believe it or not (get it!), I have respect for people who have faith in something that cannot be seen, touched, tasted, heard, etc, etc… Maybe it’s the romantic in me that finds religious elation appealing. There are even times that I, your friendly neighborhood heretic, wishes to feel the hand of “god” or whatever touching him in some special way in some special place.

Faith does have its goods. Some of my kind of swine usually bemoan the atrocities that take place in the unyielding faith of religious fanatics. And I do as well. There is, on the other hand, many good things that faith does bring to the table. Without faith, many of our sciences would be unable to progress and evolve.

“What in the hell are you talking about?” one might say.

Newton (not the fig) had his principle on how gravity worked based on getting conked in the head with an apple while he was reading porn under an apple tree (that’s how I remember it, anyway) And that very theory guided the entire scientific community for two hundred years or so. Based on little empiracle data, droves of science geeks followed in lockstep with an apple in one hand and a copy of Principia in the other. It really didn’t matter than Newton was profoundly wrong on his analysis of gravity when dealing with the macrocosm. He was later told to “suck it” by Albert Einstein.

Not one to hold a grudge, Newton didn’t not haunt Alberto’s dreams or come back to eat his delicious brains like some scientists speculated. Instead, Einstein had essentially proven that the universe is not flat (linear) but round (curved), and he didn’t even have to sail anywhere. Alberto looked at the cruller that Newton was trying to pass as a Doughnut and said to the lockstep scientists, “Don’t eat that! That’s not a Doughnut!!!”

There’s speculation that even Einstein may one day be proven wrong when another pastry chef comes along, but, for now, his doughnut has a round shape and seems to soak up coffee pretty well. So, we’ll keep eating it. E=mc2 was an integral part in producing the Atomic bomb. Why don’t you ask the Japanese how Einstein’s theories work?

We take everything on faith. I take it on faith that a giant spider monster wont consume me if I walk outside the door (although some days I have my suspicions) I have faith that when I put my finger on the seventh fret of my E string it will ring as a B. Unless, of course, some bastard has been fucking with my tuning.

It’s no surprise that the most fundamental questions of our existence, “How did we get here?” and “Where are my car keys?” would be answered by faith. It’s even less of a surprise that they always will be.

The faithful will always be the faithful, and they should keep their faith. It is possible, though, to open that up to allow other possibilities of our origins to sneak in. Two conflicting ideas can occupy the same space. Even Alberto recognized this. His clever quips on the subject of god are both funny and respectful. And should be taken to heart. I don’t usually quote, but, in closing, I will make an exception.

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. (Albert Einstein)

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