Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Man Jumps from Third Floor of Ivanhoe Hotel

As a bus was passing the Ivanhoe Hotel at Main St. and National tonight at about 10 p.m., a man came flying out the window, landing on the sidewalk. He had reportedly jumped from the third floor window of the hotel where he had a room.

Police and ambulance workers arrived on this foggy night and the body was covered with a white sheet. Yellow police tape cordoned off the scene, but the Main St. door of the Ivanhoe Pub remained open and customers continued to go in and out.

A man who lives in the Ivanhoe and works in the bar stood outside on the sidewalk and said of the apparent suicide victim, "It's not the first time he's tried." He said the man, whom he estimated to be around 60 years old, previously "drove into the cement barriers at the sky train". He knew the man personally as he was a "regular" in the bar and had lived in a room at the hotel for about five months. The man had previously lived in Ontario.

Photo above was taken from inside the Ivanhoe pub, looking out onto Main St. The curtains were closed but people could still peak out.

The elevator of the Ivanhoe had been out of order for a month so the man had been getting assistance from others at the Ivanhoe. "We used to help him up and down the stairs with his walker," the worker said. The worker seemed genuinely saddened by the jump, calling it "a waste of life".

Obama Flubs Lines of Presidential Oath, but Chief Judge John Roberts is to Blame

(Photo: I found this photo of Obama, who is reportedly a closet smoker, at Covenant Zone blogspot.)

When listening to Barack Obama swearing the Oath of Office this morning, I felt embarrassed for him when he muddled the lines. But when I read the transcript, I realized that it was Chief Judge John Roberts, showing off by using no notes, who first flubbed the lines and threw Obama off.

The Constitution prescribes the text: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Here's a transcript of how it was actually recited this morning:

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack... [Obama may have jumped in too early here to repeat his name, but Roberts then interrupted him.]
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully... [Roberts makes two mistakes here: the word "faithfully" should come before "execute", and the word "to" the United States should be "of".]
OBAMA: ... that I will execute... [Obama repeats Roberts' mistake of failing to say the word "faithfully" before "execute". Obama nods at Roberts at this point, like a teacher prompting a student to try again.]
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States... [It should be "faithfully execute" the office...]
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully... [Now Obama echoes Roberts' earlier mistake, saying "faithfully" after "United States".]
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability...
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

Such muddling of the oath could lead a listener to, as George W. Bush would put it, "misunderestimate" these men.

Elizabeth Alexander's Inauguration Poem: Love but Pay the Reparations

Elizabeth Alexander read a poem at Barack Obama's inauguration today. He had invited her to write it for the occasion. The poem was called, "Praise Song for the Day".

I listened to Alexander read her poem live and the part about love stuck with me:

"What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance."

It sounded to me like she was saying, 'Love, but don't let it interfere with paying the reparations.' "

Alexander wouldn't want grievances preempted as identity politics has been a family business. She is head of African American studies at Yale. Her mother has taught Black women's history for years.

[A few minutes later, civil rights leader Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, now in his eighties, injected a particularly dated version of identity politics into his inaugural benediction. "Lord...we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back ...when white will embrace what is right."]

When Alexander was recognizing the working class in her poem, including the Black working class, who had "laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce", it reminded me of the speech former social democratic Premier Dave Barrett gave when he was announcing the BC Day holiday. I didn't hear the speech but a friend recently was reciting what he remembered of it. Barrett had apparently said this holiday was in recognition of the people who had built the bridges ...he listed types of labour done by the working class, just as Alexander did.

The left has definitely gained ground in the U.S.

'Praise Song for the Day' - Transcript

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.