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Showing posts from May, 2013

Did Oswald Kill JFK Alone or as Part of a Conspiracy?

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A recent poll shows that 59% of Americans believe that multiple people were involved in a conspiracy to kill President John F. Kennedy in 1963, while only 24% think he acted alone.As we approach the 50th anniversary of that terrible event, let’s revisit the issue.
On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was a student at the University of Maryland, with a Spanish exam scheduled for 3 p.m. that afternoon.I was studying for the exam when my dorm room door burst open a little after 2 p.m. with the news that the president had been shot!It’s hard, all these decades later, to recreate that moment and the shocking blow it dealt.John Kennedy was a young and vibrant man, truly something new in the White House, and a symbol of hope for a world that needed it when the atom bomb was ticking towards doomsday on a relentless pace.That JFK had been shot was just impossible!Like most people on the planet I raced to a TV set and then sat stunned as the events of that day, including the president’s death, were…

On Mother’s Day: A Story About My Mother and WWII

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Both of my parents are dead now, but on Mother’s Day I got to thinking about the following story having much to do with their lifelong romance.
When I was 19 I was surprised one day when my mother told me a story about her marriage to Dad (which occurred on December 13, 1941).It was a story I’d not heard before, and I marvel at it still.To the best I can remember it, it goes like this:
In the spring of 1941, my father, Robert Whaley, abandoned his senior year of college at Indiana University to join the Army Air Corp (which became the United States Air Force by the end of World War II).Like many young men who were joining the services he knew that war was near and that Germany and Japan had to be defeated.IU, motivated by the same patriotic urge, gave all such seniors their degrees anyway.Dad was sent to Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, where he received training as a pilot. In the meantime he was writing letters back to his finance, Lenore Kunkel, with whom he’d fall…

Amusing Pictures of Cats and Other Animals

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We’ll start with cat pictures, of course, since I’m living with two cats (Barney and Mama) who play a large part in each of my days.  (Most of these are from the wonderful site: “I Can Has Cheezburger” which you can find at http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/)

















The Words “Queer” and “Gay” in the 21st Century

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PBS recently presented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel in a splendid new concert version “Live From Lincoln Center.”In the first song two young female millworkers in 1873 are discussing love and one of them sings to the other “You’re a queer one, Julie Jordan— you’re quieter and deeper than a well.”There’s nothing extraordinary about the use of the word “queer” here since in the context of the song and its time it simply means “strange.”When I found myself the next day humming the melody I suddenly focused on the word “queer” in the first line and began to speculate on how the word has evolved since the advent of the gay movement, and wondered whether there is much use of the word outside of that context anymore.

It seems a shame to so completely preempt an age-old meaning, so, in an attempt to rescue the word “queer” and restore it to its more traditional usage, I will sometimes use it as a verb.For example, in my classroom I can be heard telling my law students, “If a sett…