23andMe researcher Katarzyna “Kasia” Bryc, who is also a postdoctoral research fellow in David Reich’s lab at Harvard Medical School, gathered anonymous aggregated data from our customers to look at the mix of African, European and Native American ancestry in the United States.
The post also links preliminary findings by Joanna Mountain, a few years ago.
So, first I looked at the study by Joanna Mountain, and found that it answered a couple of questions that had puzzled me.
First question: Razib Khan has, more than once, referenced a percentage of white 23andMe customers with African ancestry that is way smaller than the percentage that I see among my own DNA cousins, leaving me wondering, where did he get the number, and are my relatives that much more African than average? For example, in a post about the report that white supremacist Craig Cobb proved, in a DNA test, to be 14% black, Razib Khan wrote, of 23andMe,
Out of their ~100,000 white American individuals tested, ~5% have any evidence of African ancestry.
Now, if I take, for instance, the first 50 people who show up on my Ancestry Composition at 23andMe (that’s me and then the next 49 in alphabetical order), I get these results: 34% are 100% European. 46% are less than 100% European, but less than 0.5% non-European. 12% are at least 0.5% non-European, but less than 5%. And 8% are more than 5% non-European. Now, a lot of these are people with some proportion or other of Native American or Middle Eastern and North African DNA, but if I look jus for people with Sub-Saharan African DNA (any at all), I still come up with 20 in the first 50, making 40%. This is way more than ~5%.
It turns out that Joanna Mountain’s study has to be the source, and what I find in her study is that
We examined genetic ancestry for 98,240 customers of 23andMe who had consented to participate in research. The
vast majority reside in the United States. We identified a subset of individuals with genetic evidence of fewer than one
in 16 great-great-grandparents tracing ancestry to a continental region other than Europe (estimated African ancestry less than 5%). Principal component analysis and self-report indicate that most of these individuals trace ancestry primarily to northern Europe. These individuals are likely to consider themselves to be entirely of European descent, at least within the last 500 years. !
Working with this sample that only includes people with less than 5% African descent,
We then identified the set of Europeans and European Americans who have estimates of between 0.5% and 5.0%
of ancestry tracing to Africa, leaving out the subset with estimates of less than 0.5% since such estimates may be an
artifact of the ancestry estimation algorithm.
If I look again at my first 50 people in Ancestry Composition, 14% are between 0.5% and 5.0% Sub-Saharan African. (This number is higher than the number I gave earlier because I have some Latino DNA cousins who are more than 5% non-European, but only a couple percent Sub-Saharan African.) So, anyway I look at it, my DNA relatives do have more Sub-Saharan African DNA than the 23andMe average. But not as overwhelmingly more when I’m looking at the same thing, and leaving out all the people with trace amounts of Sub-Saharan African that Joanna Mountain was also leaving out of her analysis.
This also settles my second question, one that is often asked in 23andMe forums, namely, what do you make of really small percentages (like 0.1% or 0.2%) of some group. Evidently, the answer is, if it’s less than 0.5%, it may be an artifact of the ancestry estimation algorithm. (So maybe we don’t have Native American ancestry after all, after I’ve looked so hard to finally find Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno? Well, probably we do, since it shows up in multiple family members and multiple admixture programs. But it’s always possible that I just happen both to have an alleged Native American ancestor who’s really legendary and some Native American segments on the same line that are really an artifact of the algorithm. And if you come up with less than 0.5% Native American ancestry and no supporting evidence elsewhere, that trace ancestry might well be an artifact.)
I had to check to see whether my family would fall in Joanna’s set of people who would be likely to have Sub-Saharan African ancestry that they don’t know about. So I picked my sister Carey, who (oddly, since she’s actually a bit fairer than me or Ace) turns out to be the one who shows the most non-European DNA. If I go into Speculative View, and add her North African and her Sub-Saharan African DNA together, I get barely 0.5%. Joanna’s study, though, predated Speculative View and the Middle Eastern and North African category. I feel as if I’m cheating to get that 0.5%. But, actually, before checking the ancestry composition, the study first identified people with mtDNA and Y DNA groups that might indicate African ancestry. That turns out to be us; E1b1 Y haplogroups (my brother is, and therefore my father must have been, E1b1b1a2*) are identified as “highly likely to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa.” In our case, I don’t know if that’s true, since the haplogroup is also found in the Middle East and the Balkans; did Greece get E1b1 from Africa, or did both Greece and Africa get it from the Middle East? Possibly Joanna would know. In any case, among US born people who are of mostly Northern European descent (which group made up a large part of this sample), an ancestor imported as a slave from Africa might be a good bet.
Now for the newly blogged update.
In an update to that work, our researcher Kasia Bryc found that about about 4 percent of whites have at least 1 percent or more African ancestry.
Although it is a relatively small percentage, the percentage indicates that an individual with at least 1 percent African ancestry had an African ancestor within the last six generations, or in the last 200 years. This data also suggests that individuals with mixed parentage at some point were absorbed into the white population….
Previous published studies estimate that on average African Americans had about 82 percent African ancestry and about 18 percent European ancestry. But in self-identified African Americans in 23andMe’s database, Kasia found the average amount of African ancestry was closer to 73 percent.
Kasia found significant differences in state-to-state comparisons. African Americans in the northern and western states have more mixed ancestry than those in the southern states. African Americans living in South Carolina have the highest proportion of African ancestry, about 84 percent, compared to those living in any other state.
A significant percentage of African Americans, more than 5 percent, had at least 2 percent Native American ancestry. This is much higher than previous estimates or data from the US Census….
And there’s more on Latinos, who, as you’d expect, prove to be quite mixed (but differently mixed, depending on what state you’re in, which makes sense when you consider that different states have people from different countries).
Posted by Sappho on March 4th, 2014 filed in History
I ran across a blog post that linked to the constitution of the Confederate States of America. Since I’m reading Team of Rivals (about how Lincoln assembled a Cabinet of his former political rivals and got them all to work together to save the Union), I thought I’d take a look at what sort of constitution the Confederacy had actually passed. Some of it (for example, setting up the House and the Senate and how legislation is passed) appears to be taken from our Constitution, but, naturally, particular attention was paid to slavery in the CSA constitution.
Surprisingly, the Confederacy (which seceded, after all, in protest over the election of a President who opposed extension of slavery to any new states that might join the Union), did include a provision forbidding the importing of slaves (the importing of slaves had been forbidden in the US since 1808):
Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
(2) Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.
Why? I don’t know. It was really, really important to retain slavery, but it needed to be a domestic market? Was this a way of preserving the economic interests of those who were selling slaves within the South, a sort of really strong tariff?
Beyond that, they strongly asserted their rights to hold slaves:
(4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed….
Sec. 2. (I) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
(3) No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.
(3) The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.
The last clause makes me wonder, suppose I imagine an alternate history in which Lincoln decides to avoid war with the Confederacy at all costs, does not resupply Fort Sumter, surrenders the fort, and lets the Southern states go on their way. What happens with the territories? The fight over slavery in “bleeding Kansas” was the prelude to the war, the war was occasioned by the election of a President who, though he eventually freed the slaves, wasn’t yet ready when elected to touch slavery in the states where it existed, only to forbid it from the territories, and the constitution of the Confederacy explicitly allows acquiring new territories and extending slavery to them. So, given a Union bordered by an expansionist Confederacy, are the two now separate countries soon at war anyway, over the territories? Or is the cost of avoiding war withdrawing from not yet slave territories and letting the Confederacy have them? How far would slavery have extended, if the Confederacy had won the war, and how long would it have lasted? Would it, as in this alternate history movie, still be in existence today?
Posted by Sappho on March 2nd, 2014 filed in Quaker Practice
Our religious education session before meeting for worship was one led by John and Sarah, about music. I missed it, because this was my day to be greeter, but it pervaded meeting for worship, as most of the things people were moved to say related to music and worship. I, the one in our meeting who is most often moved to sing, did not find myself moved to break the silence. There was, though, some particular music that kept coming to my mind.
Yesterday, Joel and I went to see the Metropolitan Opera at the movie theater. This time it was Prince Igor, the opera by Borodin. You may know some of the music, if not directly from the opera, from the parts that made it into the musical Kismet. Here is the Polovtsian dance from yesterday’s performance (the tune got reused in “Stranger in Paradise”).
At the end of the opera, Prince Igor, defeated, having lost his army and his son, returns from the idyllic dream/captivity to his city, now devastated by war, and sings an aria in which he pleads with the neighboring princes for assistance, recounting each prince’s triumphs, and ending each description with the refrain, “you have not lost an army in the river Kaiala.” And then he turns and puts his shoulder to a stone, beginning the work of putting back in place the stones of his city.
I came back from that image of the defeated Prince Igor among the rubble to the Internet, and the latest news of Russia’s actions in Crimea.
And so, this morning, these images kept coming to my mind: Prince Igor’s defeat, and the troops in Crimea, and the soaring melody of the Polovtsian dance.
Posted by Sappho on February 27th, 2014 filed in Blogwatch
I have lots of posts in mind, but am not ready at the moment to write them, being occupied with retirement planning (no, not planning to retire soon, just planning not to retire broke) and a cancer survivorship workshop. So, to remind you that I’m not dead yet, here are a few links.
‘I Am Still Called By the God I Serve to Walk This Out,’ Ta-Nehisi Coates’ conversation with Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis.
Noah Millman on What Is a “Religious” Film Anyway?
Karol Wojtyla sings “Ave Maria” and proves to have a fine voice.
Posted by Sappho on February 19th, 2014 filed in Blogwatch
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Boy Interrupted: On the unfinished life of Jordan Davis.
Posted by Sappho on February 19th, 2014 filed in Blogwatch
From last month’s Foreign Affairs: Ukraine’s Big Three: Meet the Opposition Leaders at the Helm of Euromaidan.
Andrew Sullivan has been rounding up the tweets.
My net friend Natalia Antonova, a playwright and Moscow News columnist who has family in Kiev, has been on the story on her personal Twitter account.
Posted by Sappho on February 17th, 2014 filed in Genealogy
I have finally found her, my Indian princess ancestor. Her name is Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno, and she was a beautiful, fair-skinned, full-blooded Indian princess with flaming red hair, the daughter of John Hyanno, and the granddaughter of Iyannough, leader of the Mattachiest subgroup of the Wampanoag people. In the Indian village of Machatache on Cape Cod, under “Pagan Indian ceremonial rites,” she married Augustine (Austin) Bearse, a “full blooded Gypsy of the Romany race.”
She may never have existed.
May never have existed? you may ask. May? An Indian princess? And not just an Indian princess, but a red-headed one?
OK. I’m quite sure she never existed in the form the story gives her. There was no such thing as an Indian princess. The Wampanoag were not a very fair skinned people who produced redheads. As for the explanation offered by some that she had red hair because the Wampanoag were “white Indians” due to the fair skin they inherited from their Viking ancestors, well, how come they are only fair skinned in the story about “Little Dove” (no tale of a blond Squanto has come down to us), and, really, how much Viking DNA is likely to have been floating around Massachusetts centuries after the Vikings explored North America and left?
What I can’t say, for sure, is the degree of Mary “Little Dove” Hyanno’s nonexistence. She is, after all, the only documented Native American ancestor that I’ve been able to find, on the family tree of a great-grandmother who, I now know, passed on to my family several segments of Native American DNA.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Sappho on February 13th, 2014 filed in News and Commentary
I’ve been tempted to do a detailed reaction to Woody Allen’s defense of himself, because I got even more pissed off at him when I read it. I probably shouldn’t, though, because half the net has weighed in on his op ed, and because I won’t have that much to add to what I’ve already said, or to what others have said. Just, briefly, I got pissed off that a) He lists, as clear proof of “what kind of character we are dealing with here,” things about Mia that range from not wrong at all (she married a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 21 – what, you think the age gap is the main problem people have with your relationship with Soon-Yi?), are wrong but way more common and normal than either marrying your stepdaughter-in-all-but-name or allegedly brainwashing your daughter for decades into believing she was abused as a ploy to get revenge on your ex (she slept with Andre Previn when he was still married to Dory Previn, and cheated on Woody with her ex-husband Frank Sinatra), or at worst a sign that she might (hey, I wonder why?) have been biased to remember Woody’s behavior in the worst light at the time of the break up (Mia apparently thought that the high school student he’d slept with some years before he wound up with Mia had been underage, when in fact, at 17, that high school student had been of legal age in New York), and b) He uses the Soon-Yi relationship as evidence that we should trust him more regarding Dylan’s accusation. (It’s unreasonable to think he might have molested his daughter when he was blissfully happy sleeping with his stepdaughter-in-all-but-name. Mia was furious that he was sleeping with his stepdaughter-in-all-but-name, and therefore can’t possibly have genuinely concluded that he was also molesting his daughter. The judge who included in his findings of fact a record of inappropriate behavior by Woody toward Dylan and a finding that Mia hadn’t coached Dylan – though not a firm conclusion that Woody had actually molested Dylan – is to be mistrusted because he disapproved of Woody’s sleeping with his stepdaughter-in-all-but-name. Who knew that sleeping with your stepdaughter-in-all-but-name was such a versatile defense?)
But what I do want to do, instead, is first link two posts that I found interesting, and then make a few remarks about the Constitution. First, the posts:
Brainwashing Woody at Excremental Virtue
And, a completely non-Woody Allen post, Ten Things About Petitions and Freedom of Speech, by the wonder John Scalzi. Because, you see, another controversy has arisen, this one involving science fiction, and rather silly petition by Dave Truesdale, waxing indignant that a magazine has chosen to have editorial standards regarding sexism, because, well, that’s political correctness! and self-censorship! which is exactly like what happened back in colonial times when John Peter Zenger was charged with seditious libel!
And, when my friend Elliot Hanowski linked Scalzi’s post on his Facebook account, one of his friends remarked,
kind of off topic, but don’t you feel that the first amendment *should* apply to private entities? I hear this argument all the time and I’m like “even if you aren’t required to, isn’t the principle worth upholding?” …
Posted by WiredSisters on February 12th, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
Some of our better-read politicians like to brag about reading Machiavelli or Lord Acton (“all vodka corrupts, but Absolut Vodka corrupts absolutely…” ). These days, they would be better advised to read James Frazer. Never mind whether climate change is “real”‘ or just some liberal hoax (the alleged purpose of which I have not yet managed to figure out.) What is definitely real is a whole lot of really awful weather. Weather is to climate what news is to history. Nobody votes based on history (sorry, no, I’m wrong about that. In places like the Balkans, the Middle East, and a lot of Africa, almost everybody who votes votes based on history. But not here in the good old USA.) A lot of people, everywhere, vote based on news. And a lot MORE people these days vote based on weather.
We here in Chicago have a head start on this situation. Back in 1979, which some of us still call the Year of the Big Snows, the Wired Family’s VW bug got buried under a snowdrift in December and we didn’t bother digging it out until March. Somewhere in the middle of the storms, our mayor, an undistinguished but not especially noxious character named Michael Bilandic, had the poor judgment to go on the evening news to tell us that the streets had been sucessfully plowed and we could all go back to our regular business. In fact, the streets were hip-deep, and so were the city parking lots whither we had been advised to move our cars so the plowing could proceed more efficiently.
That ill-omened broadcast occurred shortly before the Democratic primary election (never mind the Republican primary–local pundit Walter Jacobson once compared the Chicago Republican party to the Vatican Presbyterian Church), and Bilandic was soon replaced by the previously-obscure Director of the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Complaints, Jane Byrne. From Bilandic’s point of view, it could have been worse. He ended up as Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, after all. And he can hardly be blamed for not having read Frazer, when politicians in general were not accustomed to being ousted by weather.
Today, on the other hand, the Prime Minister of the UK, the Governor of Georgia, the Mayor of Atlanta, and numerous other mostly-Southern politicians are dodging rotten produce without the faintest idea what to do about the Winter of their Discontent. If they had spent their college years reading The Golden Bough instead of The Prince, they might have a clue.
James Frazer, author of The Golden Bough, was pretty much the first cultural anthropologist. He took us back to the Good-ish Old Days when religion, law, politics, and science all pretty much overlapped, when The Chief was also The Priest and The Medicine Man and The Judge. And when, if the crops failed, or the fishing bottomed out, or the rains didn’t come on time, the appropriate remedy was to take The Chief out and stone him, on the theory that he had somehow offended the gods and needed to be replaced by a better emissary.
We don’t exactly do that any more. If The Chief (or the Mayor of Toronto, or whoever) wants to get stoned, he has to do it himself. But a politician interested in staying in office during a spell of spectacularly bad weather (whether you call it “climate change” or just plain bad weather) would be well-advised to read Frazer. Among Frazer’s better suggested alternatives is the designation of a substitute victim, such as the “scapegoat” of Leviticus, or the “pharmakon” of classical Greece. In some cultures, the substitute victim gets to spend a year living really well (“living like a king,” in fact, so that the gods might mistake him for actual royalty), before finally meeting his fate. For more on this scenario, see Margaret Murray’s God of the Witches.
These days we probably wouldn’t actually kill the victim, just dis-elect him, or maybe indict him or impeach him. The victim could be the Vice President or Lieutenant Governor, or the leader’s Chief of Staff, or some other Designated Celebrity who could perhaps suffer a fatal drug overdose (speaking of being stoned to death.) Or perhaps we could create an office of Chief Meteorologist/Director of FEMA, in charge of predicting the weather and mitigating its consequences as much as possible. Among that official’s responsibilities would be deciding when to shut down schools, transportation systems, and public and private businesses, while revving up emergency and relief systems. All of these rituals would have to be established in law or at least in some sort of official document, so as to cause minimal disruption to social and economic functioning. If they failed, the official would be appointed Ambassador to Kazakhstan for Life.
Anyway, voters of Atlanta, Louisiana, and California, give it a thought. Next week we’ll consider the economic weather and its effect on local and national politics.
When I was in college, I learned to sing, and play on the guitar, a pre-Animals version of the song, “The House of the Rising Sun.” I remember how one man who was visiting Synergy at the time complained when I sang it.
“It’s not you,” he said, and insisted that I sing a song whose chorus went “Mama will shoe my pretty little feet, and Papa will glove my hand, and sister will kiss my ruby lips, until you return again.”
I guess he wanted the innocent version of me. But I wanted to go in my imagination to that doomed woman, her race almost done, going back to spend her days beneath that rising sun.
So I enjoyed Thoreau’s post There is a song in all our heads… about the appeal of the song.
… The version that most of us know seems to be about a gambling house, but many of the older versions seem to be about prostitution, either from a female or male point of view….
For me, when I first heard the song I thought it was about the supernatural…. What’s great about the song is that there are enough versions, with enough ambiguity, that there are plenty of interpretations that just feel right.
On a completely unrelated note, through Prufrock at the American Conservative, I found this post by Alan Jacobs on C.S. Lewis’ weak story telling, which I found interesting, not because I dislike Lewis’ fiction (I loved the Narnia books and The Screwtape Letters), but because he talks about C.S. Lewis’ strengths and weaknesses as a writer, in a way that’s distinct from talking about the strengths or weaknesses of his theology. Also, I think I agree with him that The Horse and His Boy is his best novel as a novel. And, he links an interesting early piece of his that explores the Problem of Susan as a story telling problem.
The Good Men Project just reposted, on Facebook, a link to an article from last summer on their web site by Pete Beisner called “I Was Asking My Wife for a Vow of Celibacy.” It’s a thoughtful article about a couple wrestling with what happens when his sex drive vanishes (for a physical reason: it turned out that his testosterone had dropped to the level of a pre-teen boy’s) and hers hasn’t. And it’s not what I mean by “stuff that bugs me.” Sexless marriage is a tricky problem, whether it’s the husband or the wife who loses a sex drive, because, on the one hand, if you marry for life, in sickness and in health, sometimes “in sickness and in health” is going to mean physical changes that make sex no longer sound so appealing, but on the other hand, being on the other side of that equation can feel like a lot of rejection (as well as meaning, if you’ve agreed only to have sex with each other, that you’re being asked not to have sex, period).
But, as I suppose was inevitable, we got this. Beisner had described his wife’s announcement that she was no longer going to initiate sex with him, because she was tired of being rejected in ways she found shaming:
I expected her pledge to last a few weeks, and then things would go back to normal. But I had clearly underestimated just how hurt she was and how determined she was not to make herself vulnerable to me again. There was not the slightest hint of sexuality between us. She was my friend and seemed happier and more relaxed than I had seen her in a long time.
Lynn said something that really stuck with me: “The person with the ‘no’ has all the power in the relationship.” She had taken back her own power by taking the question off the table. Her sexual needs were no longer any of my concern.
That was a wake-up call for me. I was not okay with a sexless marriage, not even in theory and not even when I didn’t particularly want sex. It sounded like a recipe for eventual divorce. And I love this woman more than life. There was no way I was going to let her go when I could do something to win her back.
So, of course, a guy made the comment on Facebook:
Interesting. The person with the no actually has the control. What a profound statement.
She felt pain from constant rejection… Interesting. I wonder if she asked herself if this is how men feel.
To all the guys who keep saying this, about women in general, cut it out. Women in general don’t owe you sex. It is not even possible to “ask yourself how men feel” and then behave in a way that will make them all happy. When I was single (and I don’t think I’m unusual), way more men wanted to have sex with me than I possibly could have had sex with, and, even if I had, do you think every one of those men would have been happy for me to have sex with every one of the others? Give me a break. If you’re unhappy because you’re being rejected by the opposite sex in general (whether you’re a straight man or a straight woman), that’s for you to deal with, not for the entire opposite sex to change and suddenly start wanting you.
Posted by Sappho on February 7th, 2014 filed in News and Commentary
When my father married my stepmother, my mother bought me a new skirt and blouse for the wedding. I’m not a woman who often remembers what she wore, on any given special day, but I remember that skirt. It was light blue, and fell just below my knees. I also remember how my mother applied my first make up, before sending me off to that wedding.
My grandmother, once, furious at my father for divorcing her daughter, refused me a stamp to write a letter to him. I could write him, she said, but she wasn’t going to subsidize my father with a stamp. I told my mother, and she, in turn, furious in her own daughter’s defense, let her mother know that, whatever her feelings about the divorce, I was always to get stamps to write my father.
Posted by David Kasiba on February 7th, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
I pray that you read this text in divine health.Here in Kenya we are doing well except that our brothers in Northern Kenya are facing starvation due to lack of food as a result of perennial rain failures.The ugly thing about this is people have now turned to slaughtering and eating dog meat.
Northern Kenya is one of the regions that has been abandoned by the successive regimes lucky to have ruled in Kenya.No government has ever put in structures to ensure that the situation is mitigated.Infrastructure is at its worst,no tarmac roads,levels of education are appalling,with a chaotic health sector that has seen generations inherit poverty from their kin.
I am one man who has a strong conviction that if education opportunities are opened up to all,it will go a long way in improving the livelihoods of our people.Due to poverty,transition to high schools has become a pipe dream for many.This therefore has made university education quite unattainable for majority of the population.I believe a learned population is always well placed to make a significant role in the development of any place.It is because of this that i still plead to you friends out there especially in the United States of America to stretch forth your hand in any small and big way the good Lord will enable you.I fully understand that life is challenging everywhere in the globe and whatever you can give will purely be sacrificial.As you fund my university education by squeezing money from your hard earned resources,God will never forget u.Hopefully when i am through with my university education,i also pledge to be a blessing to some desperate child somewhere,just to make sure that i put a smile on the face of somebody.
Thank you all,i am waiting for your positive response regarding the same,
I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out warning, I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters …
I’m Quaker (raised Episcopalian), and Pete Seeger was Unitarian-Universalist. But, having married into a Catholic family, I find myself thinking of the Catholic doctrine, that has the dead praying for us, and I picture Pete Seeger leading some of the other dead in a passionate prayer of protest against all that’s wrong in the world that still needs mending. With a banjo, not a harp, he calls on all the angels to sing along with him.
On Facebook, Susie Bright invited people to a sing-a-long yesterday in honor of Pete Seeger at the clock (that would be in Santa Cruz), and then over to her house (“yes, that means you”). On Google+, a friend of mine from Ann Arbor Meeting reports that Ann Arbor Meeting will hold a “Sing-A-Long Celebrating the Life of Pete Seeger” this Friday at 8pm.
Among my CDs, I have one of Seeger singing folk songs from around the world. What I particularly remember on it is a riff where he talks about the civil rights movement, and this is the early 60s, before they’d had an impact in Congress, so that, when he talks about the hope he sees in the South, people laugh, but then he says, no, really, and describes a group of people marching, very careful and orderly in their march, until the police come to arrest them, and at that point, in a planned move, they start to sing and dance.
Posted by Sappho on January 25th, 2014 filed in Daily Life
Change, move, dead clock, that this fresh day
May break with dazzling light to these sick eyes.
Burn, glare, old sun, so long unseen,
That time may find its sound again, and cleanse
Whatever it is that a wound remembers
After the healing ends.
Nearly thirty years ago, Madge Seaver, an old and weighty Friend at Palo Alto Friends Meeting, my monthly meeting before I moved south to Orange County, gave me a book called In the Midst of Winter: Selections from the Literature of Mourning. She was grieving the loss of her husband of many years, Ben Seaver, and I was grieving the loss of Brian Sayre, the one who was my last boy friend before the man I married, who was run over by a truck, whose driver had been drinking.
In the Midst of Winter is a collection of poems and short stories about grief, from many perspectives. Several of these stories and poems stick in my mind, decades later, especially Sharon Olds’ poem “Cambridge Elegy,” about just such a death as the one I grieved them (and now, like Olds, I look back on Brian as one young enough to be my son, I the one who went on living, and took all the paths he could not).
But it’s this poem, “Small Prayer,” by Weldon Kees, that I’ve known for some time would supply the title of this post, which is not a post about death and grief, but one of renewal and being spared.
I’ve just gotten the results of my fourth CT scan, since I finished chemotherapy. On March 12, I’ll have survived two years since my diagnosis, and, since I’m so close to the two year mark, my oncologist said that, if my results were good, we’d count it as two years, and I could have my chemo port removed.
These are my results:
PAP smear: Normal
CA-125 blood level: Normal
CT scan: No evidence of disease
When I was in the midst of chemotherapy, and reading everything I could find on cancer, I read one article (I’ve lost the link, and can’t find it again), that said, yes, you often recover (the latest five year survival rate for all cancers combined, in the US, is 67%), but that, even for those who survive, most people never recover their full former health and vigor. So I made up my mind, then, that when I had been in remission long enough to get approval to have my port removed, I would write just what it is, in my case, that a wound remembers, after the healing ends.
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Posted by Alexandra on January 21st, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
Well, I find myself in an interesting little bind.
So, I wrote a book. It’s not published yet, but hopefully will be someday. Since I wanted a professional critique of it from someone, I paid six hundred dollars to a friend of a friend who is an author. Let’s call him Sam.
Here is the thing. I am crazy about Sam. I was crazy about him from the day I met him. Since he is much older than me, it is not likely that this will go anywhere. And I am 100% okay with that.
Sam was willing to do a price reduction for me. He normally charges a thousand dollars for a critique, but he realized I didn’t have very much money. So I earned the money, and sent it to him. I sent it to him with the understanding that I would be getting both verbal and written critique.
In the midst of all this, Sam’s father died. I gave him quite a while to grieve, I don’t remember how long exactly. A few months at least. I had to nudge him into giving me verbal feedback, but he gave it to me. He gave me some excellent advice and told me my book had great promise, but told me not to write his feedback down because he would send it to me in written form. Shortly after this I think he got a little confused. He started going on about an outline, and the fact that my book apparently needs major surgery. This confused me, but I went along assuming he knew what he was doing. After that, he just sort of petered out. I kept asking Sam about written critique, but he said he had spent enough time on it. He had also done so for below his hourly rate. I complained to my DBSA group about this, and i’m praying word didn’t get back to him.
Since I was getting annoyed, I asked him for a partial refund. Sam got so offended that he unfriended me on Facebook. Sappho’s husband thinks he might have scammed me. All of my friends and family, except for my therapist, think he has scammed me and are disgusted with him. I’m the only one that isn’t mad at him. I just wish Sam would friend me back on Facebook. I wish we could be friends again, like before. He’s a very nice lunch companion, and a lot of fun to be around (on the rare occasion I get to be around him).
My therapist (let’s call her Stella) thinks that Sam is narcissistic, although nice. She also doesn’t think he deliberately scammed me. She just thinks he slacked off and managed to justify it to himself. Stella also understands my lack of anger, oddly enough. Apparently she has a friend whose husband had an affair while she was pregnant. Everyone told her she should leave him, but she didn’t want to. So she didn’t. Stella’s friend wasn’t angry at all. And i’m not angry at Sam, either. I just miss him.
Posted by Sappho on January 20th, 2014 filed in Moral Philosophy
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you think about real-life heroes, real-life badasses…the soldiers, the firefighters, the doctors without borders, the legitimately lethal martial artists…the percentage of people who are actual badasses is vanishingly small. And, men, chances are very very very good that YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM.
I’m less bothered by Paul Kemp’s post; it is, after all, a post about what fantasy stories he personally prefers to write (and not one where he suggests that the ones he cares to write are the only ones worth reading). And if Paul Kemp wants to write stories about “characters who demonstrate virtus,” “stories about men who would never run ahead of women and children on a sinking ship,” I don’t have a quarrel with him writing those stories.
But the discussion of Kemp’s post is as good a place as any for me to hang a post with some thoughts about the several meanings of the word “courage.” As I see it, there are three meanings to the word courage.
The first kind of courage is physical courage, which is, pretty much, what Kemp is talking about when he speaks of “characters who demonstrate virtus.” It’s the courage of Achilles and Hector, the courage of soldiers and martial artist and cops, and also the courage of firefighters and doctors without borders. It may include willingness to kill a foe, or it may mean nonviolently facing Bull Connor’s attack dogs, but either way, it involves willingness to risk either physical injury or death, or both.
Even physical courage, though, comes with certain non-physical qualifications. We don’t generally call any old daring of physical danger by the name “courage.” A teenager who climbs into the cage of a predator at the zoo in response to a dare wouldn’t be called “brave.” And, though an enemy soldier might be called brave (we could award both Achilles and Hector that term), people who attack those weaker than themselves, even if they take on some physical risk in doing so, generally aren’t called brave (so the terrorists who attacked the Westgate mall don’t get named as having courage).
The second kind of courage is moral courage. When my high school friend Jennifer, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, passes on a quote from him that “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” she is talking about moral courage, the courage to stand for what is right when standing for what is right isn’t convenient. That may mean taking physical risks (facing Bull Connor’s attack dogs). But it may also include taking less tangible risks: the risk of losing your job, the risk of standing against your tribe when your tribe is wrong.
The final kind of courage is the kind of courage that gets attributed to cancer survivors, the kind that’s celebrated in the song from which I took the title of this post, a country song called “Tough,” in which a husband sings about the wife who, when “The test showed She’d have to fight to live,” kept going and
wore that wig to church
Pink ribbon pinned there on her shirt
No room for fear, full of faith
Hands held high singing Amazing Grace
It’s the courage to live through tough times, and keep doing what you need to do.
As a cancer survivor myself, I know how out of place you can feel, being praised for the latter kind of courage. Really, what choice did I have, but to take the treatment, go back to work, and keep going as best I could?
I do know this, though. Chances may be very, very good that you’re not one of those real-life physical badasses (I know I’m not). But each of us, at some point in our lives, will need to show at least one of these three kinds of courage.
Posted by WiredSisters on January 19th, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
Most Americans, whether they consider themselves liberal, conservative, or apolitical, believe in the virtue of work. Work, we believe, gives us a sense of our own value as human beings, a sense of having earned the ground we stand on and the air we breathe. So most of us also believe that, if at all possible, every human being should in fact get the resources s/he needs to live by working, rather than as the fruit of someone else’s generosity, or even as a dividend of some asset we own, regardless of how we got it in the first place.
We make a few exceptions to this rule. Children, Americans believe, ought not to have to work for a living. Not because they have a right to be supported, but because their parents have an obligation to support them—if at all possible, by working, of course.
And people too old and decrepit to be able to work shouldn’t have to, although if at all possible they should have put aside enough resources from when they were working to support themselves in their old age.
And people with disabilities that prevent them from working are another special case, though we aren’t quite sure about the details. Obviously a person with a visible physical disability, like blindness or paraplegia, can’t be expected to hold a regular full-time job. But mental illness, brain injury, or developmental disability? Hey, these people look healthy. They have four limbs and five senses. Why can’t they at least pick up trash or scrub floors?
For these purposes, a job is not merely “work” in the sense that a physics teacher would define it, as moving mass through space. Rather it involves doing something for somebody else (usually a person with more money than the would-be worker) that the worker would not otherwise do or enjoy doing, under the control of, and for the recompense provided by, that person (the “boss.”) Thus, providing care for a family member, no matter how laborious that care, how much time it consumes, or how exhausted it leaves the caregiver, is not “work” unless somebody else is paying for it. The person providing that care is not only “unemployed,” but, if that pay is provided by the government, is a “welfare drone”, like Justice Clarence Thomas’ sister, who went on welfare in order to care for the elderly aunt and uncle who had raised both siblings.
Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, the New Deal era to be specific, and consider how times have changed since then. One of the main goals of the New Deal was to weed out of the work force the people who, by the codes of that time, “shouldn’t” be working: the aged, the disabled, widowed mothers, married women, children under 16, and people looking for jobs. All, of course, only if they were white. (The main achievement of the War on Poverty whose fiftieth anniversary we celebrate this week was to extend the benefits of the New Deal to African-Americans. Which has a lot to do with its purported “failure.”) The presumption of the New Dealers was that, during the Depression, the number of available jobs was limited, and reducing the numbers of people competing for them kept wages from being forced too far down.
That rationale had disappeared by the Great Recession. The work force had been enlarged in the meantime by huge numbers of women, and reduced somewhat by a lot more young people in high school and college. The effect upon the work force of immigration, the aging of the Baby Boomers, and the increasing numbers of people applying for disability from either Social Security or the Veterans’ Administration have been ambiguous and hard to track.
But in the meantime, the number of jobs available to American workers had first increased, and then decreased, as more jobs were mechanized, digitized, offshored, and farmed out to immigrants of dubious legal status. The net result was to put more and more people into the pursuit of fewer and fewer jobs.
Do we believe looking for a job is as virtuous as actually having one? We really haven’t made up our minds yet. That’s partly because the actual process of job-hunting isn’t what it used to be. “Pounding the pavement,” walking from one workplace to another and another and another, will get the job-seeker absolutely nothing except perhaps physical fitness. These days, looking for a job, like doing most jobs, is a sedentary pursuit. It involves the use of a computer whenever possible, which puts the impecunious jobseeker at a serious disadvantage except in places with good public library systems. It certainly requires the use of a telephone, with similar financial costs. Reading the want ads is utterly useless. The only employers who post want ads are those required to do so by Equal Employment protocols, and usually they will not even bother responding to anyone who answers such an ad. Standing at a major intersection with a cardboard sign proclaiming “Will work for an interview” won’t do it. So most people who claim to be job-hunting are doing pretty much what everybody else does in their off hours—sitting home at the computer. They don’t appear to be expending effort worthy of any reward. Which, presumably, is one of the reasons prospective employers discriminate against the “long-term unemployed.” They’ve been doing what looks like nothing for more than 6 months, which is not much of a job qualification.
And, while those of us old enough or literate enough to recall the New Deal may want to designate the public sector as the employer of last resort, the rest of us think government work (except perhaps in the military) isn’t really “work” at all by today’s standards. So we condemn most of our able-bodied adults to compete in a game of musical chairs in which the private sector job market pulls out more and more of the chairs, and the musical piece involved gets shorter and shorter, and the losers not only suffer the loss of resources but the loss of respectability and personal honor.
Yet our society has plenty of unmet needs that our current jobless workforce could fill. Our streets are potholed and filthy; our garbage is collected less often than urban hygiene standards would normally dictate; most of that garbage is not recycled; our children, our elders, and people with disabilities are poorly cared for; even our prisons are understaffed. Our buses and trains are shabby, rickety, and dirty. Many of our public buildings are leaking and dilapidated. You get the idea. Indeed, many of our current jobless workers have qualifications to do these unfilled public jobs, as construction workers, teachers and teachers’ aides, mental health workers in jails and prisons, and maybe even software engineers to patch up governmental information technology, which is almost everywhere years behind the private sector (as anyone who has worked in both can testify.) But, while the ordinary would-be worker demonstrating his or her virtue by working, both the public and the private sector demonstrate their virtue by eliminating jobs.
Never mind my favorite utopian vision, bequeathed to me by Mr. Wired, of huge banks of bicycle generators staffed by any able-bodied person who can’t get a job anywhere else, cranking out electric power for the masses, thereby not only alleviating poverty but also reducing obesity and physical unfitness. We have plenty of work out there now, with the infrastructure we already have, to provide useful employment to the deserving and undeserving poor. Why do we prefer to deny that employment to an ever-larger segment of our population so that we fortunate few can inflate our egos by despising them? Yes, I realize that conservative orthodoxy tells us the richness of the few is not created by the poverty of the many. Ten years ago, I believed that too. We have not thought this through.
Posted by David Kasiba on January 17th, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
I sincerely hope and pray that you are doing fine in that part of the world.I appreciate all that you do especially in remembering those persons who are disadvantaged in society.GOD is looking for a people who shall arise and proclaim HIS kingdom to all humanity.You are in the season of GOD,in order to accomplish the challenging task of ensuring that a smile is put onto someone’s face.As you do this the Good Lord shall remember not only you,but also your offsprings,I again appeal to you out there brothers and sisters to remember me as i seek to complete my university education.Any of you who will be touched by my plight can communicate through LYNN,a woman GOD has connected me to in a very divine manner.God bless you all,
Posted by David Kasiba on January 14th, 2014 filed in Uncategorized
My name is David Kasiba,a Kenyan working for the government of Kenya as a judicial assistant,based at Kisumu law courts.I am married and GOD has blessed me with five children:Caesar,Maureen,Faith,Gift and Mercy.I finished high school in 1989 but was not able to persue university education because of lack of finances.
Last year 2013,i began studying bachelor of commerce(finance option)at Kampala international university(KIU) Uganda by distance learning mode.I opted to study in Uganda because the fees there is marginally lower than what universities in Kenya are charging.The training entails a visit to the campus for three sessions of two weeks each per year i.e January,May and September.However my financial position at the moment cannot allow me to attend campus this January 2014 which is why i appeal to well wishers out there especially those of youreading this post,to extend a hand of assistance financially.My fellow students reported at campus beginning 13/01/2014 and lack of fees is threatening to lock me out of the course.Every session requires 450 US Dollars for all non Ugandan students and the course runs for 4 years.
With the meagre salary i earn and the pressure of taking care of my family(wife not in employment) and from my salary i pay for my son who is in 2nd year in high school,and the others in primary schools,it has become painfully necessary that i appeal for assistance from you all.
Your help will highly be appreciated and let GOD the almighty bless you all.May the words of apostle Paul in the Bible in Philipians 4:19,20 become real in all that you do.
Posted by Sappho on January 10th, 2014 filed in Blog maintenance
I have just added David Kasiba as one of the authors on this blog. David was one of my sister’s students, decades ago, when she taught high school, with the Peace Corps, in Kenya. He recently reconnected with my sister on Facebook. He lives in Kenya near the border between Kenya and Uganda.