10 Great Pages in My Very Own Google Plus Directory | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

(Author-poet Aberjhani art graphic by Don Dean from original photo by Kathleen Thomas.)


So many new apps, websites, and other technology innovations pop up daily on the Internet that one can sometimes cluster the significant with the not-so-much-so and erroneously dismiss both.  The first time I noticed Google + was––like Facebook before them–– allowing the creation of individual pages, I smiled with total cluelessness and clicked the mouse to continue with my research. Then my re-think alarm went off in the form of a loud inner voice yelling, “Wrong move genius! For you this can be a good thing!”

“Really?” (Like many imaginative types, I have such dialogues occasionally with myself.)

“Yes, really!  The world’s population just hit seven billion and as shocking as this may sound, the majority of them do not subscribe to your blog. ”

“Well that’s true. So, um, what…?”

 For more and for the links to the directory pages please click the following:

10 Great Pages in My Very Own Google Plus Directory | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.

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Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Georgia Board Denies Clemency | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

Troy Anthony Davis (AP photo by Savannah News Press)

 

 

 Neither petitions bearing the names of almost one million people nor requests from such high-profile figures as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI convinced the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to cancel the execution of Troy Anthony Davis scheduled to take place September 21.

With the Board presenting its announcement just one day before the planned execution, it appears that the two-decade-long struggle to free Troy Anthony Davis, following his conviction for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, may soon come to an end.

The Board listened to hours of testimony from Davis’ supporters and prosecutors before choosing to reject his appeal for clemency. The inmate’s case over the past twenty years has created a forum for debates over the constitutionality of the death penalty and raised many questions about effectiveness and fair practices where the American judicial systems is concerned. It has also forced the families of the slain Officer MacPhail and the imprisoned Davis to live with the ongoing pain generated by of a lack of closure.

For more on the call for clemency from Angela Davis and others please click this link:
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Board Denies Clemency

by Aberjhani
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 15: Georgia Board Denies Clemency | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 14: Death Order Signed | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 14: Death Order Signed | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.

Martina Davis-Correia (left) with the late Virginia Davis, sister and mother (respectively) of Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis. Please click link above for story.

Barack Obama and the Message Beyond the Photograph

Barack Obama and members of national security team in situation room. (photo by Pete Souza)

Barack Obama and members of national security team in situation room. (photo by Pete Souza)

Just before I logged on to check my email and found a request from Red Room asking authors to blog about leadership, something interesting happened. I came across a scrap of paper I did not recognize and on which the following quote was typed:

“The leaders I met, whatever walk of life they were from, whatever institutions they were presiding over, always referred back to the same failure, something that happened to them that was personally difficult, even traumatic, something that made them feel that desperate sense of hitting bottom – as something they thought was almost a necessity. It’s as if at that moment the iron entered their soul; that moment created the resilience that leaders need.”

How could such an extraordinary instance of serendipity mean anything other than that I needed to spend some time delving a bit deeper into the issue of leadership? There was no name attached to the quote so I had to conduct a bit of research before learning it came from famed organizational consultant Warren Bennis.  Even prior to mysteriously encountering Bennis’ quote, like much of the country I had been thinking–indeed, like much of the world– about the subject of leadership and all the known and unknown roles it plays in our lives.

We are, after all, living in an era that saw the people of Egypt, one of the oldest and universally treasured nations on the planet topple one of the longest-reigning rulers. And we are, in these United States, preparing to observe our once-every-four-years mass ritual of marching off to the polls to decide who shall win the honor of regulating the varieties of joy and pain that define our daily lives.


The Message Beyond the Photograph

When I read the above quote, it made me consider Pete Souza’s now iconic photograph of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brigadier General Marshall B. Webb, and other members of the national security team gathered in the White House Situation Room as Navy Seals carried out “Operation Geronimo” on May 1, 2011, and ended the life of Osama bin Laden. I thought of some of the highly-publicized “failures” (they will not be recounted here) in their individual lives and marveled at how they nevertheless had arrived at such a profoundly definitive moment in humanity’s collective history.

The captured moment itself was one filled with dread, uncertainty, hope, promise, courage, and agony. Yet the “iron” that Bennis speaks of evidently is already in their souls or they likely would have never taken the calculated risk they did. Moreover, while they all may have lived through other events that “created the resilience that leaders need,” this one perhaps confirmed the depth of the power of such resilience.

But does any of this really matter in the greater scheme of things? Should it matter? Why?

Maybe Because…

Ours is an age in which entire biographies are frequently reduced to thumb-sized apps or 140-character Twitter tweets. The good news about this 21st century development is that it has fostered communication and a sense of human interconnectedness on unprecedented personal, community, national, and international levels. The not-so-good downside is that it trains our attention spans to shrink to ridiculous capacities. Fascination and humored captivation hold for all of 60 seconds and then disappear with the click of a key. In the meantime, life in realtime keeps adding to the flesh and blood picture with greater complexity and urgency.  Bombs continue to rain down on families with no interest in war; nature continues to intensify the meaning of the word “disaster”; human beings continue to enslave and rape other human beings; and disease and hunger to destroy lives like huge silent earthquakes.

But again: so what? The potential danger is that we too readily assess information before allowing time to understand it; and, too quickly dismiss it before determining the long-term impact of our newly-acquired knowledge. Another way to put it is like this: the frenzied rush of accessing and dispersing information takes the place of cultivating knowledge, and in the absence of knowledge we fall prey to its opposite– ignorance.  One thing the year 2011 has made very clear is that knowledge informs choices, and the choices we make in one part of the world often determine how people live, or die, in other parts of the world.

Leaders  get to call themselves leaders because ordinary people empower them to do so. But are we ordinary people empowering ourselves to choose the best leaders for the world? Or, are we failing to grasp the significance of some of the most important events of our time and thereby setting ourselves up to make choice as cataclysmic as one planet crashing into another. It may not be the most fun topic to tweet about but it is worth considering.

by Aberjhani
© May 2011

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

The Passion-Driven Writer and the Digital-Age Literary Marketplace

Michael Jackson “Immortal World Tour”

Following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, I wrote a series of blogs and articles to which thousands of websites–and more like two million where one article was concerned– linked or simply “picked up” to add quality content to themed pages studded with ads. Most of the time, I was happy to see this because I knew how personally many of Jackson’s fans experienced his loss. I felt (and still feel) honored that they drafted me into such groups as Counterbalance: Honorable Journalists, Writers, Articles  and translated my writings into different languages to give voice to their grief, bewilderment, and love. In short, my work came to function as a form of global community service and I was comfortable with that.

What I could not appreciate were those sites that used my titles and/or text to draw traffic toward them without links to the original piece or any reference at all to me as author of the work presented. And yet there their digital counters were flashing the number of visitors the site had entertained and giving some indication of the revenue that I and other unacknowledged writers had helped generate for them– without so much as a nod or mumbled “thank you” in our direction.  Why was that?

Passion and Payment

Pens, pencils, keyboards, notebooks, and the eternally classic legal pad have long reigned over numerous writers’ passions whether or not said writers received payment for their finely-phrased ponderings.  For those of my particular literary species, writers are words’ uncompromisingly dominated lovers and there is rarely much we can do except cater to their various whims and desires. This passion lends itself well to the modern need to provide such “free writing” as the ongoing blogs and occasional reviews that help both to advertise one’s published works and to cultivate relationships with readers who might choose to invest in the same. Yet inside the public arena known as the digital-age literary marketplace, personal passion joyfully shared is only one major point of consideration.

How many volumes of journals have been discovered following the deaths of individuals who never promoted themselves as writers but who nevertheless proved, after the conclusion of their muted lives, to have been extremely prolific and mesmerizingly eloquent? How many manuscripts authored by “minor” talents have been “discovered” after the lives that produced them no longer inhaled or exhaled with barely-controlled creative ecstasy and later became bona fide bestselling traditionally published books? Or even more impressively: were adapted into celebrated films?

The physical, mental, and spiritual labors of those marginalized writers may have been under-appreciated while they lived but afterwards somehow magically blessed publishers with stronger catalogues and profits, provided teachers with the tools of their teachable moments, and created jobs not only for the actors performing in movie adaptations but for numerous others in the industry as well. Why should everyone have gone off skipping and singing to the bank except the author who laid the groundwork for their gleeful song and dance? The current success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is only one example of the syndrome in question. So is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and many others.

Something That We Oddly Are

To write for free or not to write for free is largely a question those whose only motivation for writing at all is money. Those who find their thoughts, conversations, and most intimate moments of interactive pleasure suddenly taken over by the need to transcribe a sudden revelation, a re-surfaced memory, or a glimpse of bright possibility into structured meaning have no choice. At the risk of sounding pretentiously grandiose, we write because writing is more something that we oddly are than something which we painstakingly do. So far as professions go, the impulse to constantly write too often feels like an unforgiving curse of divine enchantment and many struggle to transform that curse into a blessing of mundane pragmatism.

With the ability to refrain from writing apparently snipped from our DNA, the more essential question becomes this: whether or not one should allow various media outlets to publish one’s writings for free? The question is as legitimate, relevant, and ethical as such questions get for many reasons. So is the answer, which includes considerations of standards, experience, informed perspective, time, intellectual quality, and readership. Who can afford either the financial or the psychological cost of presenting him- or herself as someone utterly lacking in value?

The payment doesn’t always have to be money but certainly there should be payment of one appropriate kind or another.  How such payment is secured now depends largely on how well authors inform themselves about the changing dynamics of the digital and traditional literary marketplace. Those passion-driven authors determined to carry on their hot or cool love affairs with the written word will do exactly that regardless of the cost. Who knows: the love gifted to an unknown literary work today just might provide the sanity that helps save the world tomorrow.

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

What Death of Osama Bin Laden Indicates about Barack Obama’s Leadership

President Barack Obama (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Until late Sunday evening on May 1, 2011, the big news in discussions focused on President Barack Obama throughout the weekend was that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were scheduled to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show on May 2. Then TV journalists interrupted regular television broadcasts at approximately 10:45 p.m. with the news that al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden had been killed and President Obama himself came on the air about an hour later to confirm the news and provide details on the end of a quest for justice that has taken nearly a full decade to achieve since September 11, 2001.

Delivering an address that evoked the unhealed “gaping hole” left in the heart of Americans following 9/11 along with the heightened sense of patriotic unity that followed, Obama made his purpose for being on television at such an odd hour clear from the beginning:

“Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda , and a terrorist who was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”

Those words in and of themselves spoke volumes for all that they mean and imply about the bitter languishing nightmare with which Americans have lived since 9/11. Yet they also served as an important prelude to other statements made by Obama. The president properly gave credit for the success of the operation to work done by the intelligence community, to the Pakistani government’s cooperation, and to the “small team of Americans” who managed to accomplish it without losing any of their own. Yet it is also clear that the victory came as a direct result of President Obama’s leadership. Although he is not likely to make such a blunt assertion on his own, he could not avoid stating these simple and now historic facts:

“I met repeatedly with my National Security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located Bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan… After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body… The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”

Mainstream media thus far seems to prefer to tip around Obama’s very active role as leader in this operation. It instead has proclaimed this a great day for the American people–which it unquestionably is– and a great victory for American intelligence operatives–which it also unquestionably is. It has also been careful to acknowledge that former President George W. Bush was just as eager to capture Bin Laden as current President Obama.

But this day is also a great one for a man whose leadership skills have been severely and repeatedly criticized and mocked within the media, a man who has endured outlandish public accusations questioning his citizenship, and one who has seen fellow government servants distribute images of himself and his family lineage as primates. All of this has come despite such triumphs as national health care reform, the appointment of an historic number of women to the U.S. Supreme Court, the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” securing billions of dollars for victims of the BP oil spill, and other undeniable milestones.

To read the final “Truth, Freedom, and Democracy” section  of this article please click this link: http://www.examiner.com/african-american-art-in-national/what-death-of-osama-bin-laden-indicates-about-barack-obama-s-leadership

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 12: U.S. Supreme Court Denies Appeal

Troy Anthony Davis (photo by AP and Savannah News Press) 

Troy Anthony Davis (photo by AP and Savannah News Press)

Having attempted to obtain his freedom for more than twenty years, Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis may have lost his final chance when on March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would neither review Davis’s requested appeal itself nor order the Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta to do so.

Davis and supporters have been battling for his freedom since he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah. He has been scheduled to be put to death three times but each time obtained a stay of execution pending further investigation into his case. Davis had long contended that a review of new evidence would establish his innocence, and when seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimonies against him, it appeared the legal tide might eventually turn in his favor.

However, although the Supreme Court did order an evidentiary hearing held for Davis last summer, Judge William T. Moore ruled in the hearing that revised statements and the proposed new evidence were not sufficient to confirm Davis’s innocence. He publicly chided Davis’s defense team for their handling of the case even as he himself acknowledged that as yet some doubt did remain regarding the likelihood of Davis’s guilt.

“Passing the Buck”

While Davis’s family and supporters have understandably been fighting for his release, the family members of slain Officer MacPhail have expressed their belief that Davis is guilty and have rallied for his execution.

Upon hearing the news of the Supreme Court’s most recent decision, Davis’s sister Martina Davis-Correia told news reporters, “It’s troubling, it’s upsetting, it’s like everyone wants to pass the buck and no one wants to address the real issue of actual innocence.”

That “passed buck” now sits in the hands of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, a five-member board known to almost never postpone executions.

At this point, Georgia state officials are basically free to move ahead with Davis’s execution. Ironically enough, earlier in March federal regulators seized the state’s supply of the drug sodium thiopental, which is one of the key drugs used to administer lethal injections. Doubts have been raised about how the state obtained its supply of the drug and consequently all executions in Georgia have been placed on hold.

Despite the current outlook, Davis-Correia, who has been waging her own personal battle against cancer, has vowed on behalf of her brother “to continue to fight.”

This is the twelfth installment of Aberjhani’s Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis Series.  For part one, please click here . To make sure you catch future installments, please sign up for a free subscription.

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com