Music, Observations.

American Soul

Aretha Franklin recently sang at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Carole King, reprising the song Carole wrote for her, A Natural Woman. The performance was glorious, and drew tears from the President, as well as from myself as I watched and listened to it later on video. Obama said afterwords: 'Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R. & B., rock and roll—the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope. American history wells up when Aretha sings.'
Observations.

Progress in the voter suppression battle?

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 conservative majority opinion for the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder, which removed critical protections from the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The result was a rush of voter suppression efforts in former DOJ-monitored counties, mostly in the Deep South and Southwest. Since Scalia died this year, a number of lower courts are overturning the worst of these voter suppression efforts, and with the current balance of the court 4-4, the Supreme Court is not able to stop the lower courts from treating all citizens of the United States as if they are equal, at least as regards voting rights. Progress is being made.
Observations, Politics-Government.

Crude, Rude, and Impolite

Today's Republican Party, in choosing a clearly unqualified candidate for the presidency, in choosing to wallow in the deepest trough of political mud in my memory, in choosing to embrace the grossest of lies and the most laughable of conspiracies, in choosing to generate fear and hatred instead of exercising civilized, reasoned judgment, has embraced my 5th grade teacher's admonishment for a ten year old's bad behavior: "Crude, rude and impolite".
Science.

Has Lamarckism been revived?

Epigenetic studies are burgeoning; these genetic mechanisms that are external to direct DNA/RNA encoding and expression are being intensively studied, particularly how environmental factors can stimulate methylation and acetylation of bases of DNA or histone proteins, which then affects the expression of specific gene activity. Is epigenetic modification heritable, and if so, does this represent a revival of Lamarckism?
Observations.

Is Cuba an exemplar of U. S. foreign policy?

President Obama's Cuban plan normalized relations. Can it also transform the nation? President Obama's Cuban policy has components found in other of his administration's foreign policy efforts: To fix the present by symbolic attempts to mend the past. They are marked by a recognition that: incremental and indirect change can be just as important as more obviously interventionist moves can be; change in other parts of the world is usually shaped more by internal efforts and perceptions than external; dialog with other countries is a vital part of exerting influence on change outside our borders.