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Farewell to Midtown Plaza

The top Rochester event of 2007, already noted, was that Mr. Jones died, the same Mr. Jones from the Bob Dylan song. Rochester's daily paper, the Democrat and Chronicle, announced the sad news with the November 13th headline Bob Dylan Muse, RIT Professor Dies at 63, so that, scanning the paper quickly (which is the only way to read the D & C) your first impression is that Bob Dylan is the one who died. This is deliberate; the aim is to hook readers with a Dylan reference. Far from condemning the tactic, I tried it myself with my “top 2007 events” post, and am even feebly trying it again now. I'm not hopeful, though. It didn't work then. Why should it work now?

But other things happened last year as well, the most striking also involving a death, this time not of a person, but of a landmark. Midtown Plaza is due for the wrecking ball. Up and coming Paetec said they would build their new headquarters building exactly where the Plaza sits, if only someone else (city and state) would demolish it. Of course, these guys fell all over themselves to agree. It’s a dream come true. City fathers talk it up as a key step in revitalizing downtown. They may be right. Hard luck Midtown Plaza sits smack dab ground zero at the center of downtown Rochester. It’s a magnet turned the wrong way, repelling efforts to develop anywhere near it. Yet nobody's been able to justify the astronomical cost of removing it, laden with asbestos and God knows what else, without viable plans to do something with the space.

It wasn’t always this way. Once Rochester’s crown jewel, it was envisioned when planners flew over the city, saw tall buildings with parking lots in between, and thought how cool it would be to enclose the lots and put stores and stuff inside. So Midtown Plaza is actually six connected buildings, though you'd never know that from inside. It opened in 1962 and is still billed as America’s first indoor urban shopping mall. It followed by only four years America’s first indoor suburban mall, the kind that are a dime a dozen today in any American community. Both firsts were designed by the same architect, Austrian refugee (1938) Victor David Gruen, who retained his love for Midtown but became disillusioned with how the suburban malls turned out, claiming they had "bastardized" his concept of community center. Midtown Plaza was closer to his heart, combining business, leisure and retail, a town square of sorts.

In 1962, you still got dressed up to go downtown....yes...even with suitcoat and tie....and the new Plaza was a sensation, attracting international notice. A highlight was the Clock of the Nations, which featured 12 nations, one for each hour. When the Swiss hour struck....say it was 3....Swiss music would play and the "3" cabinet door would slide open so that little Swiss figurines could dance and prance about. It all seems pretty cheesy today, but it wasn't then. Santa would show up every Christmas season, and a kid's monorail would circle from behind his throne through an artificial mountain and run the mall's perimeter. We always put our kids on it.

That was then. Today, the anchor department stores that originally commissioned the plaza have long gone. It’s about 90% empty, little more than a stale food court really, a shortcut to pass through as you head elsewhere, the interior hopelessly dated. Easily it has earned its spoton deadmalls.com. You can even hear about it from NPR here.

Always there are people who reminisce, reactionaries who keep insisting that Midtown Plaza should be restored and rededicated to arts, shopping, residential, anything. But they've been saying that for years, throughout its decline. Where have they personally been all this time? Had they aligned their feet with their mouths, Midtown might not have become the ghost town it is today. Some Italians visited a while back and wanted to transform the whole place into an Italian villa [!], but they got cold feet. Everybody does when it’s on their dime. And wasn’t Wal-Mart looking at the site at one time? Or was that just rumor? What a city statement that would be, for the town square to be a Wal-Mart! No, Midtown's glory days have come and gone, so down it goes to make way for Paetec.

PAETEC Holding Corp. is an up and coming telecommunications company presently headquartered in Fairport, one of the suburbs. Their announcement to relocate in the heart of the city is not the first interest they’ve shown in Rochester. Their name adorns the new soccer stadium, where the minor league Rochester Rhinos play. Paetec Park, my visiting nephew assures me, outclasses many major league stadiums.

The last monorail ride at Midtown Plaza was  Dec 24, 2007. A city-sponsored tribute to the mall took place December 1rst. Thousands showed up, just like in the mall's heyday.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Bounced out of Heaven?

I used to work with a young woman who’d been brought up without religion. She knew God’s name was Jehovah because she’d seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And from Dogma, she knew that God’s original purpose was for humans to live on earth forever; our planet was never a launch pad to heaven or trap door to hell. And that angels were a separate creation; they weren’t former "good people" enjoying their reward for being good.

From two movies she had more Bible knowledge than 90% of church folk who’ve spent a lifetime butts glued to pews! If you don’t approach the book determined to read in teachings that aren’t there, it becomes much easier to understand.

For instance, just try to reconcile the heaven/hell dogma with John chapter 11, which relates a resurrection Jesus performed:

He [Jesus] said these things, and after this he said to them: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.” Therefore the disciples said to him: “Lord, if he has gone to rest, he will get well.” Jesus had spoken, however, about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: “Lazarus has died, ……

 

Consequently when Jesus arrived, he found he had already been four days in the memorial tomb. …….

 

Hence Jesus, after groaning again within himself, came to the memorial tomb. It was, in fact, a cave, and a stone was lying against it. said: “Take the stone away.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to him: “Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.” Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.” And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!” The [man] that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings, and his countenance was bound about with a cloth. Jesus said to them: “Loose him and let him go.”  John 11:11-44

He’d been dead for four days. Where was he during this time?

You don’t think if he’d been in heaven he would have said something upon being dragged back to earth? When Johnny Cash had a near-death experience during surgery and imagined he’d seen heaven, he was steamed to wake up again in the hospital. Even with his sweetheart June around. Yet Lazarus had been there four days, long enough to check out his room and settle in, if it really is so that the good all go to heaven.

For non-judgmental types, let us allow that even if he’d not gone to heaven, but spent those four days in hell, and Jesus still brought him back, letting bygones be bygones, Lazarus still did not mention a thing. And he didn't right away run for a bucket of water to sit in, as you can be sure I would have done.

No, the account suggests that Lazarus was nowhere during those four days; he was DEAD, non-existent, not conscious of a thing. Didn’t Jesus suggest as much when he likened the man to being asleep and not conscious in some other realm?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are unique among Judeo-Christian groups in not buying into the heaven/hell routine. For them, a future resurrection (foreshadowed in places like the above passage) is the hope for all who have died, or nearly all. In the meantime, dead people really are dead; they don’t exist; they’ve gone back to the dust from which they came.

Once we get this through our heads, so many scriptures make instant sense. Like this one about John the Baptist, one of the nicest people around, in fact, the fellow who baptized Jesus:

Truly I [Jesus] say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.   Matt 11:11

No one of humans better than John. Yet the janitor in heaven is higher up than he. So John didn’t go to heaven. And if he didn’t, being top of the heap, no one else did, either.

Or this one about David:

It is allowable to speak with freeness of speech to you concerning the family head David, that he both deceased and was buried and his tomb is among us to this day…..Actually David did not ascend to the heavens….. Acts 2:30-34

Or this one:

All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.   Eccles 9:10 

Many Bible translations render sheol in this passage as “the grave;” but the New World Translation simply transliterates the original Hebrew word, for which the Greek equivalent is hades. Although sheol and hades are two of the three wordsoften rendered into English as “hell,” their actual meaning is “place of the dead“, without reference to being good or bad during life.

All basic scriptural teachings, which you could have learned by staying out of church and going to the movies.

*********************

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Blood Transfusion Video Wins a Prize and Provokes a Fight

When the first blood transfusion experiments were done, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Copenhagen, Thomas Bartholin (1616-80), objected. His concern was not on scientific grounds but on spiritual. 

"Those who drag in the use of human blood for internal remedies of diseases appear to misuse it and to sin gravely," he wrote. "Cannibals are condemned. Why do we not abhor those who stain their gullet with human blood? Similar is the receiving of alien blood from a cut vein, either through the mouth or by instruments of transfusion. The authors of this operation are held in terror by the divine law, by which the eating of blood is prohibited."

The only people I know of who still have regard for this aspect of divine law are Jehovah's Witnesses. If there were others (and judging from Bartholin's comment there must have been) they abandoned it when transfusions entered the mainstream. More or less the same thing has occurred with both abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

Jehovah's Witnesses catch a lot of flack for their stand regarding transfusions. Yet the stand is one that can be accommodated medically. In recent years, partly due to the efforts of Jehovah's Witnesses and partly due to the very real risks that have surfaced regarding transfusion, new techniques of bloodless medicine have emerged. Watchtower produced some videos about them in 2001. They followed some case histories, filmed some operations, used some computer animation, and interviewed prominent surgeons the world over who said supportive things about the new methods.

The 34th Annual U.S. International Film and Video Festival was coming up, so Watchtower entered their video (Transfusion Alternatives - Simple, Safe and Effective) and won, beating out 1500 other films from 33 countries:

Research Documentation category: 2nd place (Silver Screen Award)

Professional-Educational category: 2nd place (Silver Screen Award

Current Issues category: 1rst place (Gold Camera Award)

It's always good when your film wins. It adds credibility.

You can view it here: (see "from our videos)

So I was surprised to find the video torn apart frame by frame on some Next Generation Atheist website, the kind where the most exalted qualities are logic and reason, and the most admired person is Mr. Spock of Star Trek. Evidence, a fellow named Psiloiordinary demands! Give me some evidence that blood transfusions are not perfectly safe. Give me some medical reason that silly religious scruples should not be trampled underfoot should they interfere. So I gave him some.

..................................................................................

Dear Psiloiordinary:

Here is a doctor who likens transfused blood to "water from a dirty fish tank"

[Patricia Ford, MD, a hematologist/oncologist and Medical Director of the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, part of the PENN Medicine hospital network. Dr. Ford is one of the pioneers of bloodless surgery and has been teaching its technique to doctor’s around the world.]

Blood stored for any length of time loses most of its oxygen carrying capability, she maintains. Perhaps she reached that conclusion through such studies as this:

Note how Dr Bruce Speiss in this post declares about transfusions: "So it's just largely been a belief system-- almost a religion, if you will-- that if you give a unit of blood, patients will get better"

As you have observed, Jehovah's Witnesses steadfastly refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons. As a result, some in the medical field have pioneered bloodless techniques. By eliminating the risk of foreign tissue, human error, and blood-borne diseases, these new techniques offer a safety margin that conventional blood transfusions do not. Might the day come, or is it even here already, when the number of lives saved through such medicine will outnumber those lost by a few members of a relatively tiny religious group that stuck to its principles amidst much opposition?

[I nearly gave him another study which came to my attention at about the same time, but I thought two items would be sufficient]

 

........................................................................................................

His reply (on his own blog) was prompt:

I had asked JW's for evidence to back up their claims. What I am provided with here is in fact an anecdote with no supporting evidence. I quote peer reviewed materials and in reply I get a story. The reasons that stories don't count as evidence is that they can fall prey to all of the errors of thinking I highlighted above. Wow this all fits in with the other stuff your skimmed earlier on doesn't it. Ok I'll wait while you go back and read it properly - hurry up.

OK. Off we go again.

Tom does a little better with his next salvo;
"Blood stored for any length of time loses most of its oxygen carrying capability, she maintains."
This piece relates to the fact that Nitric Oxide seems necessary to get the oxygen from the blood into the body. Here are some more quotes from this same article;
[he quotes almost the whole article, which I won't reproduce, as I've already linked to it. Feel free to check it again]

But at least this does appear to be some bona fide research, just bear in mind that it was preliminary research done on 10 people - yes just 10 and so needs to be followed up in proper clinical trials. Why? Well so that all those errors of thinking we outlined above can be ruled out.

Who is doing this research? Doctors. I have highlighted in bold their comments about the need for blood transfusions. Remember confirmation bias? Our friend Tom CatsandDogs has managed that particular error of thought big time hasn't he? Or was he just selectively quoting to be deliberately dishonest? Not sure actually.

Lets see what else he has for us;

"Note how Dr Bruce Speiss in this post declares about transfusions: "So it's just largely been a belief system-- almost a religion, if you will-- that if you give a unit of blood, patients will get better"

Once again I can give you a little more honest version of this by simply telling you everything the chap actually said [and again he quotes virtually the entire article, which again I won't reproduce as I've already linked to it, and again feel free to check it once more]

Of course Tom FishandChips doesn't agree with these bits so he doesn't quote them. It's as if they don't even exist. Tom's brain is pretty amazing isn't it? Does he even know that his brain has done this?

Or is he simply dishonest?

Maybe he will let us know.

For now he signs off as follows with a tour de force of broken logic;

"As you have observed, Jehovah's Witnesses steadfastly refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons. As a result, some in the medical field have pioneered bloodless techniques. By eliminating the risk of foreign tissue, human error, and blood-borne diseases, these new techniques offer a safety margin that conventional blood transfusions do not. Might the day come, or is it even here already, when the number of lives saved through such medicine will outnumber those lost by a few members of a relatively tiny religious group that stuck to its principles amidst much opposition?"

Tom states that medical research of this kind only happened because of the JW stance. The article he links to shows this is not true. [Actually, it shows just the opposite. The writer states: "Originally developed to meet the needs of the Jehovah’s Witness community, bloodless surgery is transfusion-free and is acceptable to Jehovah Witness followers because they are being reinfused with their own blood." (third paragraph)]

A quick summary of Tom's "evidence";

An anecdote followed by selective quotes, taken out of context from preliminary medical research, which presumably would be a waste of time for Tom anyway as he will never take blood because of what he thinks the bible means. All topped off with a claim that because JW's are dying for their beliefs they are saving the lives of others.

Takes your breath away doesn't it.

Over to you Tom.

...................................................................................................

What is remarkable about this reply is its sheer meanness. Did I do anything to provoke it other than exist with a different view? Psiloiordinary asked for evidence. I gave him some. 

Essentially he charges that I have used the researchers' words out of context. That's nonsense. All you have to do when quoting is to quote honestly. The words you cite should be as the speaker intended them to be understood. You don't have to analyze his entire life philosophy for consistency, otherwise all historical writings would need be delivered by forklift.

To be sure, these researchers said some things not entirely consistent. But that's how people are. We are all a maze of contradictions - even ...gasp....scientists, reason lovers and logicians. Even with science, new views are not quickly accepted simply because they are supported by evidence.  Max Planck the physicist sums it up more realistically: "People think new truths are accepted when the proponents are able to convince the opponents. Instead, the opponents of the truth gradually die, and a new generation comes along who is familiar with the idea." Alas, here too Psiloiordinary will be outraged that I've not included a lexicon of all Dr. Planck ever said. But I found his words in a (science friendly) source that also saw fit to take the quote by itself.

In view of the bile, I wasn't quite sure how to reply, but in time I thought of something.

...............................................................................................

Dear Psiloiordinary:

First of all, it is not Catsanddogs. Nor is it Fishandchips. It is Sheepandgoats.

When you are trying to sway someone over to your point of view, you don't insult them at every turn. You don't ridicule them. You don't portray yourself as the ultimate fount of wisdom and express surprise that they can even tie their shoes. You do all these things if you want to puff out your chest and impress pals with your razor-like wit, but if you are actually trying to persuade somebody, you don't do it.

Instead, you look for areas in which you can commend them. You are conciliatory where you can be. You afford them dignity. That way, in the event you do make some valid points, you find your points are not rejected out of hand by a recipient who resents how ill-mannered you are.

I suspect these are the factors that account for mixed signals in the studies we've discussed. The doctors make the appropriate deferential remarks about the blood transfusion industry, yet those remarks in no way follow from the research they present.

For example, Dr Stamler asserts: Banked blood is truly a national treasure that needs to be protected

Yet he previously observes: we saw clear indications of nitric oxide depletion within the first three hours...we found blood depleted profoundly by day one and it remained depleted through day 42 and without nitric oxide the transfused blood cannot transfer oxygen, which is the only reason to select it over non-blood volume expanders. Therefore, banked blood is hardly a national treasure. Rather, if this study is true, banked blood, which has been given countless times, has generally been near worthless in oxygen-carrying capability (though each time it was hailed as "life-saving."). True, Dr. Stamler hopes he can correct the deficiency, but that says nothing for the transfusions already given.

Ditto with his comment which you excitedly put in bold: "There is no doubt, if you are bleeding to death from a trauma you need a transfusion." Not if you need immediate oxygen transfer, you don't, per his previous remark. What you need is fluid to replace the volume lost. It need not be blood, and it appears blood holds no advantage over non-blood volume expanders, perhaps even something so simple as saline solution. In an otherwise healthy person, the body, with restored volume, immediately goes about making new red blood cells.

So his latter two comments seem to me to be a sop to the blood sensibilities of his audience. They don't logically follow from the research he presents. He is simply being diplomatic.

Similar points could be made regarding Dr Speiss. And the non-sequiters presented above illustrate pretty well his comment that transfusions are practiced almost as a religion.

The fact is, both sites I've presented plant severe doubts to the wisdom of transfusion. You act as if they've strengthened the case.

Yours truly,

Tom Sheepandgoats

..................................................................................

Now, did my mock outrage over my name being massacred in any way placate him? Or my reasoning on the articles I linked to? Alas....

...........................................................................................

Tom Sheepandgoats has previously ignored my questions and most of the facts I presented here, here, here, here, here and here.

Now we get this; [he reproduces my reply; I have deleted my words, as I did in his prior reply]

Listen to me Mr Bedknobsandbroomsticks, its unreasonable to go around with that appellation without expecting the mickey to be taken. In the unlikely event that no one has actually told you this before, then I can now have the honour of revealing to you that they have all thought it. Even if it is your real name, didn't you know you could have changed it in the "blogosphere"? How about Mr Iwouldletmykiddieiftheyneededabloodtransfusion?

[It's a good thing for him my Great Grandpa Shepundgoots from the old country isn't here to read his words. He would not turn the other cheek as readily as I have done.]

I am not trying to persuade you of anything Mr Cheeseandbiscuits, I am trying to look into this issue. You are not. In fact you seem to simply be trying to justify these primitive views by picking out selective quotes from people who completely disagree with you so that you don't feel as bad when the next JW man, woman or child dies needlessly. I assume these are your views - you have not said so explicitly but it seems a reasonable assumption from your posts.

For the record, Mr Bangersandmash, I write this Blog for the pleasure it gives me. I occasionally win a small victory for the side of rationality and reason and I even get appreciative feedback sometimes. Most often though I get to learn things. Learning about the sinister cult that is JW's has certainly been an eye opener for me.

I did not learn anything from your comments apart from your willingness to distort the words and opinions of some doctors to "support" your silly but dangerous beliefs.

So as far as the small kingdom that is this blog I am the ultimate fount of wisdom - so "suck it up" as I believe you say on that side of the pond.

The other reason I blog is that I think that very occasionally some one who has not been completely indoctrinated into the JW's or whatever form of woo I happen to examining, perhaps someone who has nothing to do with whatever it is might come across the odd item on this blog and make their own mind up based on the evidence.

You have provided excellent evidence of selective quote mining and anecdotal stories being used to justify a practice which amounts to letting people die.

That is what you have done for this blog and I thank you for it.

I have often quoted before that I don't think it is possible to use reason to persuade someone from a view which they have reached without use of in the first place.

As I previously remarked, quite eloquently I thought [naturally], "Suck it up". You can't expect to defend a practice of letting people die needlessly and go around flaunting the name of Mr Saltandvinegar without someone taking the mickey.

Next you demonstrate your inability to engage in a complex issue. For you it must be black or white, it can't be complicated or incompletely understood.

The research you speak of is a preliminary finding based on just 10 patients - proper clinical trials are only now being set up - if changes to medical practice are demanded by results which can be replicated by people who don't have a financial interest in the results then medical practice will change - which gives the lie to the comments about dogma.

It was I who gave the full quotes from the articles which clearly show that none of the doctors agree that blood transfusions should be stopped. You were the one who just picked out the bits to suit your argument - this is dishonest in itself - to now claim that you were open about both sides of this issue is a simple lie.

The doctors you quoted out of context even comment with concern about being quoted out of context in the very item you linked to.

Excuse me Mr Smokeandmirrors you pulled quotes out of context and you continue to refer to small scale preliminary findings as research as if we can draw conclusions from them.

Go and examine your conscience.

- - -

PS you are still ignoring all the questions previously raised - but hey - just keep quiet and hope no one notices eh?

......................................................................................................

sigh....The sources I link to speak for themselves, as does the Watchtower videos.

Sometimes my greatest fear is that these atheists are right and that their cherished evolution is how we all got here and that they represent its crowning achievement. If so, kiss goodbye to any hope for peace on earth. Such a pit bull, attack-oriented people I've rarely seen. Does it come from the grandmaster Dawkins himself?

Though in retrospect, there may be some failure to communicate. Psiloiordinary seems to feel the goal of the Watchtower videos (and my own comments) are to demolish the blood transfusion industry. They are nothing of the sort. They seek only to persuade the medical community that it is not unreasonable to try to accommodate our stand. We always hope that yet more doctors will come to treat our stand of religious conscience simply as a fact to adjust to, much as they might for an allergic reaction that rules out a favored medicine. Recent years' developments have seen considerable progress along this front. Whereas two or three decades ago, a doctor's opinion was unchallengeable law, these days, in the U.S. anyway, the principle of bodily integrity is recognized. It has come to be widely acknowledged that patients have the right to authorize or decline what is done to their own bodies.

*********************

Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

And You Know Something is Happening But You Don't Know What it is.

When one year rolls into another, every blogger with even an ounce of social responsibility prepares a summary of the prior year‘s great events. Bloggers with more than an ounce actually wait until the year is over before posting their list, in case something happens during the final days of the old year. For example, the 2004 tsunami that took a quarter million lives struck December 26. Those impatient bloggers who just couldn’t wait and had to be the first ones out with their list missed it completely.

We at the Whitepebble Historical Society positively reek with social responsibility. That’s why the final days of 2007 were firmly in the can before I posted my list, just in case something should happen in those last few days. As it turned out, nothing did.

Now….the big Rochester event of 2007 is that Mr. Jones died, the same Mr. Jones that Bob Dylan sang about in Ballad of a Thin Man:

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

 

Turns out that Mr. Jones was a real guy and he lived in Pittsford, not ten miles from my house. I had no idea. Until I read it in the Democrat and Chronicle Nov 13th, that is, and found that  Jones was a dorky kind of kid back then, a know-it-all most likely, and probably from the suburbs, ill-prepared to interview the inscrutable Dylan, yet given exactly that assignment by Time magazine back in 1965 at the Newport Film Festival. The young intern probably pitched a lot of  pseudo-hip questions at Dylan, and Bob threw it all back in his face the way he likes to do or at least used to.

Mr. (Jeff Owen) Jones went on to do a lot of things, the D&C reported, even working at that newspaper for awhile.  All his relatives said nice things about him at the funeral, how he was a regular guy and all, and how he finally settled in as a film professor at RIT (I wonder if he was at the concert) before he died of cancer at 63.

Regarding Dylan’s 40-year-old portrayal of him as an over-educated fool, the stuff music critics were made of back then (and now?), Mr. Jones had long been philosophical. After all, he reflected, Dylan was right enough: something was happening back then and no, he didn’t know what it was. Dylan appeared with electric guitar the next night at the folk festival, roughly the equivalent of farting in church. Wasn’t it just after that he released Like a Rolling Stone, the greatest song of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine? Besides, Mr. Jones wasn’t even that uncool. He drove a Volkswagen. And he played the harmonica himself, just like Bob!

Jones’ death can’t be good news to the singer/songwriter. Weren’t they around the same age? And aren’t I not too far behind them? Bob is conscious of his mortality. Aren’t we all?

I see people in the park forgetting their troubles and woes
They're drinking and dancing, wearing bright colored clothes
All the young men with their young women looking so good
Well, I'd trade places with any of them
In a minute, if I could……..

The sun is beginning to shine on me
But it's not like the sun that used to be
The party's over, and there's less and less to say
I got new eyes
Everything looks far away

Highlands, from Time Out of My Mind, 1997

After putting this mortality interpretation on Dylan's words, I came across a source in which Bob denies that's what he meant. Rats! It reminds me of that scene from Up the Down Staircase (the book) in which a kid gets an 'F' for misinterpretting a poets' words. He tries hard to change his grade, but to no avail, even when he brings the poet himself to school and the poet says yes...the kid was right, that is exactly what he meant by his line! The kid's only bittersweet consolation is to know he's changed school policy; from then on the school only asks questions about dead poets.

And so I too am going to leave my interpretation right where it is. You'd think a songwriter would be able to interpret his own songs!

Other things happened in Rochester last year too, at least I think they did, but the reason I led with Dylan is because I have learned that if you want readership to go off the charts, you mention him. At least that’s what I discovered in October when I went to his concert at the Rochester Institute of Technology's Gordon Field House and posted about it afterwards. One of those Dylan fan sites picked up the post and I got over 1000 hits in a day. The only other time I even came close to that was when some anti-Witness forum site latched on to my blog and all participants had to take several looks and bat it around for days on end. Only, whereas feedback from my Dylan post was positive, feedback from the sorehead site ran more along the theme of  “can you believe this jerk!?”

I told Moristotle about my findings and he promptly put it into practice, sprinkling Dylan throughout his posts, whether it fit or not. I did the same for awhile, referring to Richard Dawkins and Bob Dylan, Ronald Reagan and Bob Dylan, Pope Benedict and Bob Dylan, and so forth. And now I’ve allowed him to top my 2007 great events list. Will lightning strike twice?

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)