Friday, May 29, 2015

The Native American Ten Commandments

Not long after I moved to Evanston, Illinois, I decided to visit every single house of worship in town. When I started my venture, there were 88 churches listed in the Evanston paper, and I managed to visit 48 of them before I finally ran out of steam.

During the same time period, I noticed that there was a meeting for pagans that was advertised in the list of Chicago meet up groups, so I decided to visit them as well. Ironically, they met at DePaul University in downtown Chicago. DePaul, incidentally, is the largest Catholic University in the country.

I discovered that the pagans (who now call themselves neopagans) were actually perfectly normal people who draw their spirituality from nature. Just for fun, I read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Paganism“, by Carl McColman, which I found enlightening. If you’d like to do further research on them yourself, Amazon has 10,529 books that pop up when you type in “pagan”.

Another group of people who draw their spirituality from nature are the Native American people, who have created what they term “The Ten Native American Commandments”. Number one on the list is “treat the earth and all that dwell thereon with respect”.

The Religious Freedom Act of 1993 was passed when Bill Clinton was President. Its purpose was to “ensure that interests in religious freedom are protected”. In recent years, the act has been used a club to permit discrimination against various people, primarily those in the LBGT community. Arizona’s SB 1062 was vetoed by Governor Brewer last year, but Indiana passed a similar law this year (SB 101) that triggered an angry response from a variety of people around the country, which quickly caused the law to be amended.

Native Americans have long been mistreated in this country, and in the late 1800’s, were dismissed as “savages” during the American Indian Wars, which technically lasted for 300 years, before finally coming to a halt in 1924, the year that at least some Native Americas were allowed to vote (New Mexico and Arizona did not extend that right until 1948, and parts of Colorado did not extend the right until 1970).

The political party that has pushed the hardest for “religious freedom” continues to be hypocritical in a number of areas. Ted Cruz, for example, was dead set against providing help to the victims of Hurricane Sandy , but now expects the Federal Government to help Texas deal with its recent floods.

Texas, incidentally, also has received more Federal dollars from the Obama administration than any other state. As a result, you'd think all those rednecks would like the guy, but that's not the case. Since first being sworn in, his disapproval rating in Texas has ranged from 50 to 59%. Texas has actually gotten a lot worse in the last year, since they were "middle of the pack" as recently as last year. Almost without exception, the states that have benefited the most from Federal money are all "red" states.

Arizona’s senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, recently became involved in some skullduggery involving Native Americans in the southern part of the state. Although an article in the May 29 of the New York Times goes into more detail, both Senators believe in religious freedom for themselves - but are against it when it applies to the Apache tribe who live near an area called Oak Flat. As a result of a last minute amendment to a military spending bill, both senators would allow the transfer of sacred Indian land to a foreign owned copper mining company.

There is still time to reverse the giveaway to the Resolution Mining Company, which the natives have been trying to do for more than 3 months.

John McCain, incidentally, is up for re-election in November of 2016, and (as of this week) now has a strong Democratic challenger from Northern Arizona named Ann Kirkpatrick. Since McCain is now 78 years old, and is opposed by even members of his own party, it will likely be a very interesting election.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bond, James Bond

I was a sophomore in high school when the first James Bond film was released to the American market, on May 8, 1963, which followed its premier at the London Pavilion on October 5, 1962. If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, the theme song for the movie can be heard at the link below:

Dr. No theme song

In Dr. No, Sean Connery introduced James Bond to the public, with his response to a question at a high stakes card game:

my name is Bond

Connery starred in six more Bond films before retiring from the role in 1983. Since Connery’s retirement from his role as agent 007, there have been 17 more Bond films, starring 5 additional actors., and the latest, Spectre, will be released on November 6, 2015.

“Fast and Furious” has had a good run at the box office, and the latest edition (Fast and Furious 7) has already earned $1.4 billion, as of April 3. Due to its success, Fast and Furious 8 will be released in April of 2017.

In spite of the success of movies like Fast and Furious, Avatar, and Titanic, they all pale in comparison to the James Bond franchise,which has had worldwide box office sales in excess of $6 billion since the release of Dr. No in 1963.

Although Ian Fleming died a little more than a year after the release of the first James Bond film, and has now been dead for over 50 years, the success of the James Bond series would likely make him a pretty happy guy.

In case you’re wondering, the character of James Bond was named after an American bird watcher, who appeared (with his wife) in “Goldeneye“ in 1964. Surprisingly, James Bond (the bird watcher) bears more than a passing resemblance to what Sean Connery would look like today if he had a little more hair, and a lot less beard. Bond’s code name of 007 is a reference to the British naval intelligence key achievements of World War I, cracking the German diplomatic code, which allowed them to read the infamous Zimmermann Telegram - which very quickly caused America to enter World War I.