Thursday, 22 October 2020
Written by Pitt Dickey
In the “Game of Thrones” when a character wanted to scare people he would say “Winter is coming.” But before the Night King shows up in 2020, Halloween is coming. This column will grace the streets and bird cage bottoms the week before Halloween. As this year has been an abyss of boredom, it is only fitting to ponder what the endgame of 2020 might be able to bring us in the way of excitement and constitutional crisis. So far 2020 has been a mundane and forgettable experience. Nothing new has happened. Everyone has gotten along swimmingly.
The lions have lain down with the lambs without tufts of bloody wool or even rancor in the air. As our old French pal Voltaire’s character Candide said: “This is the best of all possible worlds.” Voltaire may have been funning us just a little bit with this philosophy, but he wrote in French so who knows? The French also think that Jerry Lewis was the world’s greatest comic genius and that snails are good to eat. You might want to take French philosophy with a grain of salt. If you have some salt left over you can spread it on the snails in your back yard, fry them up in garlic and wine and have them for supper. But I digress.
Back to Halloween, which next to Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for anyone who is keeping score. Mr. Google opines that Halloween began once upon a long time ago as a Celtic festival called Samhain. Samhain is many centuries old, coming to us courtesy of the Druids. Samhain was the event horizon between the end of summer and beginning of the winter. Fun time was over and survival time was about to begin. The living and the dead bumped up against each other on Samhain. Ghosts came back to mess with the living. In order to prevent the ghosts from harming the living, the Celts turned to their priests, the Druids. Like Jerry Falwell Jr. and other religious leaders, the Druids were in charge of telling the common folks what they should do to stay on the good side of the Gods.
It turned out the best way to keep ghosts at bay was to have a party. The Druids built bonfires to offer sacrifices to the Gods. The common folks dressed up in animal skins and costumes to boogie down around the sacred bonfires. They partied like it was 100 B.C. As smart as the Druids were, they weren’t smart enough to keep the Romans out. Around 43 A.D. the Romans ruled the Celts. No one ever accused Romans of missing the opportunity to have a party. The Romans combined Samhain with a couple of their festivals: Feralia which honored dead Romans and Pomona which honored apples and fruit trees. Mr. Google says Pomona is the source of the custom of bobbing for apples at Halloween.
The Catholic church in 1000 A.D. declared November 1 and 2 as All Saint’s Day and All Souls’ Day to remember the dead. The proximity of the date of All Souls’ Day with Samhain was a means of getting rid of the Celt’s holiday but replacing it with a Vatican approved holiday doing about the same thing. The Medieval peasants partied down dressing as angels, saints and devils hanging out around bonfires. The night before All Saint’s day was called All-Hallows which eventually became our old friend Halloween. As you sit at home socially distancing this Halloween without trick or treaters or COVID-19 knocking at your door, kindly give a thought to the Druids who made this all possible.
Now back to the premise of this written waste of your time. What comes at the end of 2020 that might wake us from our stupor of this most bland of years? There is an election coming up shortly that might be somewhat interesting. Recently our Dear Leader had a rally on the South Lawn of the White House with about 400 of his friends, the good people of BLEXIT. The BLEXIT fans may have had some of their travel expenses paid to attend the rally. Nothing says we are behind you like paid supporters. The White House rally was a striking super spreader festival of red hats and turquoise shirts. It appears as a result of this rally, that Dear Leader has wrapped up the Garden Gnome vote as the attendees all dressed like Garden Gnomes. In a close Presidential election, the Garden Gnome vote could be decisive. Like Hillary Clinton ignoring the voters of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016, Joe Biden’s failure to court Garden Gnomes could prove fatal to his Presidential ambitions. There is no known Gnomes for Joe PAC supporting the Biden campaign. Biden has given short shrift to the Gnome vote.
The Garden Gnomes are a mysterious cohort of voters. No one knows why there is a G in their tribal name of Gnomes. Wouldn’t a Garden Nome without a G smell as sweet? Our favorite antelope the Gnu also has a silent G. A gnat without its G would still be as irritating as a Nat. If The Rona is causing you to gnash your teeth at night from stress, wouldn’t your teeth wear down at the same rate if you dropped the G and just nashed your teeth? What’s up with that? Why does the English language waste all these G’s? Ponder this Mr. English Professor: Nome, Alaska has gotten along perfectly well without a G in its name since it was founded in 1901.
As Tiny Tim almost said, “A Merry Samhain to us all; may the Druids bless us, every one!”
Pictured: The author postulates that POTUS may have secured the Garden Gnome vote since attendees at a recent rally were dressed as gnomes.
Thursday, 22 October 2020
Written by Bill Bowman
The first segment of the 2020 Virtual Candidates Forums has aired, and the second segment featuring Cumberland County Commissioner candidates concluded Oct. 20. We can only hope that the second Commissioner's Forum provides more insights and substance than the first. With very few exceptions, the six school board candidates that participated (two did not) for the Cumberland County Board of Education segment were extremely unimpressive, lacking substance and details.
The 2020 Virtual Candidate Forum introduces candidates to the community so voters can evaluate their talent, intelligence, desire and capabilities to be responsible public servants and successfully move our community forward. Regretfully, if you are a parent or guardian with children in the public school system, once you have viewed the candidates' forum, you will probably consider moving out of the county, advocating for school education vouchers, or scrambling to enroll your child in a private, Christian or charter school program.
My disappointments with the segment were many. However, there were two that struck me as most conspicuous and egregious. First, the emphasis many candidates placed on the need for more funding and financial resources from the state and county. It was like their sole solution to a more responsive and effective school system was "more money!"
More money seemed to be the answer and overall panacea for all the ills, woes and challenges facing the CCS. Crazy! I acknowledge the current school board had to spend a lot of their financial resources dealing with the COVID-19 situation. Yet, with approximately $13 million in reserve remaining, I hardly think anyone believes they can spend their way out of a steadily declining school system.
Secondly, and the most disturbing to me personally, Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly was never mentioned by any of the candidates during their interviews. The word "superintendent" was never spoken or even referenced in any context. How could this be? For decades Cumberland County has prided itself on the talent and leadership qualities of our school system superintendent. With Dr. Marvin Connelly, we have one of the best administrators with over a quarter of a century of proven success in North Carolina public education. School Board candidates did not even mention his name or indicate their willingness to work with him to support the school system's successful management. Several years ago, Dr. Connelly came to Cumberland County from Wake County, one of the state's largest school systems. The school board hired Connelly for his experience and expertise in managing large school systems. It is disturbing that no candidate recognized his contributions, accomplishments, leadership abilities, or indicated their enthusiasm and willingness to work with him and other board members to produce and secure the best possible education for the children of Cumberland County. Extremely disappointing.
Yet, many of the candidates spoke openly of the importance and need for working together in harmony by having more productive and effective communications. Again, never mentioning the school superintendent. In my opinion, a very glaring omission for anyone serious about seeking a board position. You be the judge. Go directly to the 2020 Virtual Candidates Forum at https://vimeo.com/467489706 or log on 24/7 to any one of the websites hosted by the sponsors: Piedmont Natural Gas, The Fayetteville Observer, Longleaf Pine Association of Realtors, the Home Builders Association of Fayetteville, Greater Fayetteville Chamber, and Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.
Do this today. It is vitally important. Open Our School signs are popping up all over the county. There is a critical message here. Parents and guardians want to know who the people are looking out for their children's best interests. They want competent and responsible leaders. They want people who will reopen the schools to minimize and avoid the risk of raising our next generation of children intellectually deficient and socially ill-prepared to meet real-world challenges.
Parents, guardians and teachers alike want intelligent nonpartisan education leaders who understand the consequences of humanity's harsh realities. These realities crush ignorant, uneducated and culturally disadvantaged children without empathy in as they are helpless while trying to survive in a competitive, ruthless environment. With fifty thousand Cumberland County student lives at stake, an unqualified, inept and politically charged board of education will be engaged in a high-risk gamble using our children and future generations' lives as table stakes. It's a sucker's bet we cannot afford to make. We must know beyond a shadow of doubt in whose capable hands we are entrusting our childrens' education.
The following week's forum will feature North Carolina legislative races, and the last segment will include statewide offices, according to Henry Tyson, chairman of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber's governmental affairs committee. Forum segments are currently online. The questions presented to the candidates during the forums were provided by the Government Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, the Legislative Committees of the Longleaf Pine Association of Realtors and Homebuilders Association of Fayetteville.
Get involved. Vote! Someone said, "…. the threat of losing our democracy and American freedoms is only one generation away." Well, folks, that generation is starting kindergarten in 2020. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.