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Happy New Year

So. The Days of Awe are upon us again, Gentle Readers, as seems to happen every year. Which is, I suppose, a Good Thing, considering the alternative.

On the other hand, the recurring nature of the holiday and the cyclical nature of the (lunar) calendar mean that I do kinda run out of things to say. Plus, this year I am less focused on meditative rebirth as on the Sukkah I’m going to build once all this Awe is over. Should be a big one this year, and it’s early enough that there is some chance of having dinner in it without freezing.

Well, the point is that while my fate was Written on Rosh Hashanah, it is not Sealed until Yom Kippur. And the Divine is merciful, and judges with mercy, tradition tells us that the Divine cannot forgive me for offenses against other people until the other people have forgiven me themselves. Or at least until I have asked—asked three times, actually, in case anybody does not forgive me on the first go around, presumably figuring that it was a perfunctory apology made without really thinking about the nature of the offense and its likelihood of recurring.

I have mentioned here before that I don’t think much of the general apology for that reason. I do hope that Gentle Readers will forgive me for the things that I have done and left undone that have hurt y’all in any way, and I regret doing (or not doing) those things, whatever they are. But of course not knowing what they are means that I can’t really resolve not to do them again.

That said, I really have been neglecting this blog, and I will attempt to do better. I think I have been neglecting comment threads as well, not really engaging when y’all make good points, and not acknowledging when your comments have been persuasive and changed my thinking. So I will do better on those. And I have to catch up on the ridiculous book backlog, but that’s more for myself—I doubt, somehow, that y’all have been disappointed by how few Book Reports I’ve been writing lately.

While I’m on the responsibilities of Your Humble Blogger to the Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu, let me ask: is there anything y’all would like me to focus on? I haven’t been writing politics for a good long while, mostly because I rarely feel I have anything to add to what’s already out there. But if y’all are looking for a place to discuss things, and my lack of starting posts has been inhibiting that, I’m certainly game. Or if there’s another topic or field y’all want me to head over to. I have not been opening the documents with a bunch of potential ideas lately (other than the list of books, of course), so if anyone wants to give me a bit of a push, I’m only too happy to be pushed. I really do want to make this Tohu Bohu a good place for Gentle Readers, and am even willing to put work into it, if only I weren’t so lazy…

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Well, here's some topics I've been unable to complete a post about:

How should government agencies accommodate major religious holidays of minority religions? What should citizens expect, and how insistent should we be when those expectations are not met?

How should people handle situations where a one-time social or cultural event has been scheduled for a major religious holiday of a minority religion? For example, I'm choosing to observe Yom Kippur rather than go to a block party on the next street over, or a historical tour two streets over, or a town dog show. And I don't know whether it's worth saying anything, since my ideal outcome seems unlikely: the organizer becoming more sensitive when scheduling future events without feeling guilty or defensive about scheduling the present event.

When a local government wants to cut down mature shade trees on residential streets and uses the ADA as an excuse for doing so, why does that seem more repugnant than just chopping down the trees?

If a person refuses to use e-mail, is it reasonable to deny them a place on a municipal board?

I don't read the left-wing blogosphere, but I'm interested in what they're saying, so I always like it when you pick out a hot issue and talk about it; I guess I'm just saying that you shouldn't assume that you don't have anything to add to what's out there, because, at least for me, I'm far more likely to read you then to read whatever's out there.

A specific question: my wife has joined, and I am planning to join, a choir that is planning a concert of patriotic songs. I consider myself to be patriotic (about the USA) but I fear that I'm going to be uncomfortable with the song selection. Are there left-wing patriotic songs? What would such songs be about? And if there aren't such songs, or not many, what does that mean about the compatibility of patriotism and the left?


I don't read political blogs either, and am interested in your take in any case.

Some of the common patriotic songs are a lot more left-compatible if you sing ALL the verses ("America the Beautiful" and "This Land is Your Land" come to mind here). Of course, only DFH's sing THOSE verses.

Other than that, "Wasn't That a Time" is good, definitely patriotic, and solidly leftist.

"Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" would probably work as well.

Another question would be what "patriotic" means. Many left-wing songs tend to be more internationalist, so there are certainly "I love my country" songs, but I can't think of many that are jingoistic in the way that many people mean by "patriotic".

"Boys in Green"? "Pastures of Plenty"?

I was going to go with “This Land is Your Land” as the canonical lefty patriotic song.

The problem, as a general note on the question, is that the Left includes (but is not limited to) a pacifist strand and an internationalist strand and an anticlerical strand. So songs celebrating our military victories (such as “The Star-Spangled Banner”) and songs asking for divine guidance (such as “America the Beautiful”) and songs celebrating the uniqueness of the US (such as “My Country 'Tis of Thee”) are not going to fit in with those strands of the US, and will not be entirely 'lefty' because of that. On the other hand, there's nothing particularly non-Left about, oh, “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean”. And I would certainly suggest that a setting for the Statue of Liberty poem would qualify as a lefty patriotic song.

I would avoid “Dixie”, though. And it's always a good idea to scrawl This machine kills Fascists across any instruments or amplifiers y'all use.

And I will get back to Michael, on at least some of those issues. Thinking first, then writing. It's a new idea for me.


Oh, and I forgot “The House I Live In”, and “The Power and the Glory” and “Lift Ev'ry Voice”. And probably a bunch of others, too.


"This machine kills fascists" would also make a nice forehead tattoo, for that matter.

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