Lying is the worst of all evils. Everything else that is diabolical comes from it. And we have been lied to; public opinion is constantly deceived.  Not a page of a newspaper is free of lies, whether it deals with political, economic, historical, social, or cultural affairs.  Truth is under pressure everywhere; the facts are distorted, twisted, and made into their opposite. Can this turn out well? No, things can’t go on like this, for the sake of human nature and the free human spirit. The liars and those who distort the truth must perish and be deprived of their power to rule by force, and then there may be room for a freer, nobler kind of humanity again.

— from diary of Cpt. Wilm Hosenfeld, German Army, late August 1942, excerpted in the second edition of Władysław Szpilman’s The Pianist.


…as we have learned over the last fifty years, living in suburbs has hidden costs that make New York City look like a cozy Swiss hamlet. A hidden but far greater environmental price tag is borne through the driving, emissions, and maintaining and building of new roads.

— J. Sadik-Khan, Streetfight, p. 24.

Due to a mid-word page break, initially read this as “…far greater mental price tag…”

…which I think also works….

In order for low-income housing to be acceptable to the general public in the US, the buildings must look poor and smell poor. Even a cheap grade of deodorant must be used in the insecticide for the control of cockroaches in this housing. The poor must be kept in their place and made to grovel.…When a window is broken or some equipment requires replacement, the length of time before repairs are carried out serves as a type of penitence for being poor, and also proves to the general public that people on welfare destroy property.…Middle-class Americans want the welfare recipient to wear a scarlet “P” on his chest.

I once heard a bright young architect lecture that it is possible to design housing that will cause crime, divorce, and family strife. Little does he know that many housing authorities and private companies are already in this business.

—Robert Snetsinger, Diary of a Mad Planner.

Once again, not much has changed in 40 years….

The questions “who is an American?” and “what is an American?” were central political issues in the first half of the 20th Century. They have reemerged early in the twenty-first.… Is an American someone who has loyalty to a set of ideals including freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, who pledges allegiance to a government that provides for the common defense and promotes the general welfare? Or, does being an American come wrapped in an Imperial flag, demanding unregulated private control of the nation’s wealth and lifeblood, and use of its military to pursue ambitions of expansion and domination at home and abroad?

— Charles McCollester, The Point of Pittsburgh

It often strikes me, when I drive past a community with crippled, nonfunctional cars stored in front yards, that Americans worship dead cars instead of God! In the beginning there were headlights and in the end taillights.

Each year 50,000 lives are offered on the altar of the highway. This far exceeds the efforts of any other primitive peoples to meet their lust for blood. Might not the national system of interstate and defense highways be the true cathedral of America?

Robert Snetsinger, Diary of a Mad Planner, 1976

My thanks to @mapguy25’s “A Place for People” for the pointer at Snetsinger’s book…

For they are a nation void of counsel, and there is no understanding in them.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner is a mother, a Christian, a student of theology — and the only woman on Georgia’s death row.

…She has accepted full responsibility for her crime and has become a powerful voice for good. While in prison, Kelly has been a pastoral presence to many, teaching, preaching, and living a life of purpose. Her life is an extraordinary example of the rehabilitation that the corrections system aims to produce. Kelly is a living testimony to the possibility of change and the power of hope.

Despite the testimony of clergy, educators, former inmates, corrections officers, and Kelly’s own children pleading for their mother’s life before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, Kelly could soon face death.

Last I heard, Gissendaner is to be executed tonight, though they have already postponed twice this year.

Deut. 32:35, coincidentally part of last week’s Torah portion: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”

(Or, in Paul’s words, ‘leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.’)

Georgia: ‘Nah, G, we got this.’

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins tonight at sundown. Several years ago, I found this to share with a few friends; now I share it with the rest of y’all…

[One] popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). Walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty your pockets into the river, symbolically casting off all your sins [and the bad that has happened to you] of the last year. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. [Judaism 101, among numerous others.]

(Jewish tradition and practice is notoriously flexible. Adapt as you will.)

“whatever falls into the deep is lost forever” (Zohar, Vayikra 101a)

L’shanah tovah, y’all.