Rip Your Life Away

The current advice on rip currents must be modified to address a series of pocket beaches along the coast of a round island.

Hawaii has a terrible problem with drownings. Some might be tourist suicide, no doubt. Others are caused by rip currents. There is often no “parallel beach” to swim along until you are out of the current. Many people go out snorkeling with only a mask and fins, which can be torn off by waves. They go out to deeper water, which is easy because the current carries them. But they can’t get back. Their bodies are frequently found 200 yards off the beach, lifeless and beyond resuscitation.

Some beaches in Hawaii, especially Kauai, have flotation devices (sticks) available, which will help someone swim out to you and drag you back. The authorities should be more proactive in warning people about swimming and snorkeling at beaches without lifeguards. If you make a mistake in the ocean, you might not live long enough to learn from it.

The Infamous Noun: Bad Karma

The Infamous Noun entered the English language through the slave trade. Oxford English Dictionary gives a 1587 reference to a cargo of 400 male slaves from Africa, “nee*ars.” While there are various English spellings, none of them seem to feature the double “g”. The low Dutch spelling in colonial times was “ne**ar.” The Dutch took Africa slaves to Western Massachusetts in 1617. They had the first slave codes here, even offering “half-freedom” arrangements by 1644.

Changing the “e” to “i” seems to be an American modification, perhaps to make a harsher, more insulting sound. In any event, it comes from the African slave trade,  and brings a lot of bad karma with it.

Some people can’t seem to resist using it, perhaps seeking some form of emotional release. It’s remarkably easy to avoid, if you want to. Even rappers and hip-hoppers are criticized for using it. Some people want to bury it. The all-time best advice may be, leave it alone.




The Sadness of War: A Small Corner of Hell

“A Small Corner of Hell” (2003), written by Anna Politkovskaya, is another catalog of genocidal behavior, authorized by the government. Chechnya is a small area between Georgia and Russia, populated largely by Muslims, mostly poor. Politkovskaya theorized that it was oil which gave Putin (or the Russian military) incentive to take control, with no intent to treat the residents as anything but garbage.

Politkovskaya was assassinated in 2006, probably because she was writing about important people, and exposing their misconduct. The abuse of power is a frightening thing. Let’s hope Putin’s methods do not become the latest Russian import into the U.S.

The Sad Tale of Iceberg Slim

I just finished listening to the CD version of “The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim.” Robert was a complicated person, raised in poverty, estranged from his mother due to some problem with a step-father, lacking in education, yet gifted.

After many years of being a pimp, he finally had enough of the prison life which came with it, and went straight. He said he was glad when he was able to stop exploiting and brutalizing black women.

Then Robert was exploited himself, by the publishing industry. Despite writing several books with sales above two million, he died penniless in 1992, at the age of 73. I haven’t seen his contracts, but he must have given up most of his rights, including the co-publishing royalties.

Publishers took his money, but they could not take his lasting fame. His writing is riveting. “Naked Soul” includes some political rants, but his street stories continue to be his best writing.

R.I.P, Iceberg Slim.

Disappointment City

I am disappointed that Don John has taken the first opportunity to bomb foreign targets, with little justification. I don’t believe he cares about anyone’s babies.

Using 21,000 pounds of explosives to kill 36 humans seems to be wasteful, as well. Maybe they just wanted to use it, since it was only tested before.

The whole world is watching.

Update: Baldwin Letters

The Baldwin Letters (described as 70,000 pages) have been donated to the Schomberg Center of the New York Public Library. I was interested to see Baldwin’s handwriting, neat and tidy. Some of the letters will not be available to the public for 20 years, most likely due to references to persons who are still living.

Bon appetit!