James Channing Shaw
Revelations, rants, and the occasional recipe
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
42 ways to combat obesity (some more feasible than others)
Sunday, June 19, 2022
LOVE IN THE TIME OF WAR
Meet Benjamin Cohen, a musically gifted boy, age 13, full of life but out of place in his family, the youngest of three siblings, overshadowed by Émile, eight years his senior in medical school, and sister Miriam who can do no wrong.
Picture Benjamin’s brilliance, his ability to disassemble and rebuild malfunctioning radio receivers, collect rocks and gems with scientific names, and play advanced violin two years ahead of his peers, all without the recognition he craves from his no-nonsense mother and physician father.
Picture Benjamin’s life turned upside down the day after his bar mitzvah when, on May 10th, 1940, he hears the first BBC announcement of Germany’s imminent invasion of France.
Picture Benjamin in the first year of the war as German soldiers patrol the streets and national anti-Jewish decrees strain the lives of the small Jewish section of Rouen, France. He finds solace in his fifth-floor bedroom from his pet cockatiel and hours of violin practice, a room in which he discovers the bells from the cathedral, the carillon pieces that waft into his room. And with that discovery, his future is born: he seeks out the carilloneur at the cathedral to teach him carillon, and his road to becoming a man begins.
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS is the coming of age story of this boy, his personal struggles and the strength he finds to survive the German occupation of France.
Benjamin enters a Catholic world at the cathedral, a culture unfamiliar to him, one he cannot share with his family. Words spoken, vestments donned, all foreign to a boy who has had a sheltered existence within his Jewish community. But the music, the carillon, takes him into new realms of learning and insulates him from the harsh realities of the war while the support from his new Catholic ‘family’ builds his confidence.
The carilloneur, Monsieur deTarot, becomes a supportive father figure to Benjamin; Jacques-Milan, the frightening, disfigured caretaker becomes a helpful friend. And there is Marie-Nöelle, the beautiful-but-troubled young novitiate nun who changes Benjamin’s life forever. must also grow as a person far quicker than most, as the horrors of the war rain down on him and his family, and the bonds and love he shares with his parents, his siblings, and a young woman in the church he grows fond of, begin to take on a much more impactful meaning than he thought possible…’ …Pacific Book Review of THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
So, how does Benjamin acquire the strength and courage to get through struggles of war, oppression, and existential threat? It is sometimes said that one can accomplish anything if one works hard enough. Everyone knows that is not true without good fortune on your side. And belief—whether in one’s God or in the good of humanity—might offer distractions but rarely delivers on its own.
The one thing that does deliver much needed inspiration and strength in bad times, is Love. Benjamin’s falling in love with Marie-Nöelle not only unlocks the wonders of his coming of age, it also takes him out of himself, frees him to care about something other than his own self-centered concerns. It is love that actuates his bar mitzvah declaration, ‘Today, I am a man’. In the same way, love frees Marie-Nöelle from the constraints at the Abbey under which she has lived since escaping from her troubled past.
Is it fantasy to think that love can blossom during wartime? Loss can be overwhelming, after all. This story sends a buoy of hope into a sea of evil during wartime. In doing so, it reaches beyond World War II, beyond the characters in the story, to calamities of all kinds, present and future.
Available as audiobook on Audible.com or Amazon.com.
Friday, February 18, 2022
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: A Young Man's Untold War Chronicles-- now available on audiobook!
Actor Joey Shaw delivers a masterful narration of THE CAGED BIRD SINGS, the coming-of-age story of Benjamin Cohen, a gifted teen who aspires to play the carillon in the Rouen Cathedral during the German Occupation, his love affair with the young nun-in-training Marie-Noelle, his brother Emile's life in the Resistance, and his life or death decision when confronted with an imminent pre-dawn Nazi roundup of his people.
Available on Amazon.com, all audiobook platforms or these links:
Monday, November 1, 2021
We sould be doctors first, specialists second
Thursday, October 7, 2021
DEBUT NOVEL: THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: A Young Man's Untold War Chronicles
My long overdue novel with co-author Cal Orey about a Jewish boy who learns to play the carillon bells in a Catholic cathedral during the German occupation of France.
Now available in kindle, paperback hardcover at all online bookstores, and AUDIOBOOK through Audible.com and other outlets.
1940, in the Nazi-occupied city of Rouen, France: Despite Germany's stranglehold on the French, Benjamin Cohen, an introverted but musically precocious teen defies his father to study the fifty-five-bell carillon in St. Julian's Cathedral. Hindered by the German threat and dismissed by family, his confidence grows with the help of his new 'family' in the cathedral and his pet cockatiel, Frere Jacques. Can Benjamin's mastery of the instrument and his love affair with troubled nun-in-training, Marie-Noelle, give him le courage he needs to perform the one act that can save his people from Nazi arrest and earn back the respect from his father he craves, or will it doom them all? Inspired by true events, this coming-of-age story tells of wartime dynamics between Catholic and Jewish, boy and girl, father and son, and two estranged brothers on their journeys through love, tragedy and war.
Sunday, September 5, 2021
HERE COMES A NEW NOVEL: THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: A Young Man's Untold War Chronicles
Coming in November!
My long overdue novel with co-author Cal Orey about a boy and a set of carillon bells in France during the German occupation.
1940, in the Nazi-occupied city of Rouen, France: Despite Germany’s stranglehold on the French, Benjamin Cohen, an introverted but musically talented thirteen-year-old, defies his father to study the carillon in the Catholic cathedral, a huge instrument of fifty-five bells. Though impeded by the German threat and his perceived dismissal by family, his confidence grows with the help of his new “family” at the cathedral and his pet cockatiel, Frère Jacques. This coming-of-age tale tells of wartime dynamics between Catholic and Jewish, boy and girl, father and son, and two estranged brothers on their journeys through war, love, and tragedy. Can Benjamin’s mastery of the carillon and his love affair with troubled nun-in-training, Marie-Noelle, give him le courage he needs to perform the one act that can save his people from Nazi arrest and earn back his father’s respect? Or will it doom them all?
Available in November at all book outlets. Pre-order information coming soon.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
It is no longer politically correct to die
CNN headline today: Hospitals in US Covid hotspots: “We are seeing people passing quicker than before.”
PASSING. It looks as if no one dies any more. They ‘PASS’. To PASS has replaced to die faster than flip-flops replaced thongs for summer foot wear.
Is humanity, that highest level of evolution so far, so afraid of DEATH that we can’t even utter the word? This, of course, feeds into the afterlife myth at a time when atheism is just hitting its stride. PASSING sounds like a fallback position, something to grasp. It's like,There is still something more to come!! I have an idea: let’s all believe that if we’re good little boys and girls and worship somebody every weekend, the place we pass into will be comfortable, not surrounded by flames like the entire West Coast is every summer and promises to get worse.
When I was growing up, ‘PASSING’ in my household was either "PASS the ketchup" or PASSING gas. My dad used the medical term FLATUS. He was a doctor. He died.
Grandmas used to die. Then they started to pass away. Now, they just pass. And so now, we wait for our grandma to PASS, although the thought occurs: maybe it is to PASS along her inheritance.
Monday, March 1, 2021
This can be made in less than 30 minutes and is delicious! Servings: 2-ish
Excellent with carrots, sweet potato, or winter squash. Add apples for a lovely accent of sweetness.
Here’s All You Need:
1 or 2 medium carrots, cubed or chunks
1 small sweet potato (orange meat), cubed
½ Winter squash, butternut or other, peeled, cubed or chunks
Ginger root chopped, 1 – 2 tsp or ground ginger ½ tsp
Chopped onion or leek or both, 2 Tbsp or more
Vegetable broth, homemade*, about 1 Cup – 1 ½ Cup
Salt, black pepper
Rosemary, chopped finely, ½ tsp at most
½ Apple, any kind, chunks (optional)
Olive oil, 2 Tbsp
Here’s what to do:
Heat oil in soup pot
Add chopped ginger and onion/leeks, cook for 1 minute medium high
Add carrots/sweet potato/squash, cook 2 min medium high
Add apples (if using)
Add Veg broth enough to cover and boil medium to high until soft,10 to15 min.
When cool enough to handle, blend to fine puree or thinner with more liquid
Add chopped Rosemary
Season with salt to taste and simmer for 5 minutes
Serve with freshly ground black pepper and croutons* (optional but very good)
*Vegetable broth, homemade Prep time 15 min
Place bits of carrot, onion, celery, some parsley, and any other green veg you have, cover with about 1 to 2 cups water depending on quantity of veg. Bring to boil and then simmer for only about 10 min for freshest flavor. Taste and salt, cook more if necessary but pour off otherwise. A very fresh tasting broth, perfect in soups or plain with noodles or rice.
*Croutons: Follow Josh McFadden’s recipe in Six Seasons, or break up bread, toss in small quantity of olive oil, mix and bake at 400 for only 5 to 10 to 15 min depending on the bread, until a bit brown and crispy but not dried out (a little chewy in the middle)
Friday, February 26, 2021
SCALES OF JUSTICE
This is how ignorant I am: For years, I’ve had a real hate-on for the legal system in the U.S. because trials seemed to be more about winning the argument than about seeking the truth. And the winner was often the person with the most money. If the argument was good enough, the defendant or plaintiff rich enough, seemingly guilty parties were acquitted and innocent people convicted. You could get away with murder if you had a good enough lawyer. That just did not seem right.
But, lo and behold, I recently found out why this was the case.
My friend and accomplished litigator, Robert Shapiro of Chicago, explained to me for the first time that it is because our legal system is an adversarial, or ‘adversary’ system. This is a legal technical term, not an interpretation. In an adversary legal system, presenting the better argument is precisely what the lawyers are supposed to do.
Each side presents its perspective on the facts of the case and a neutral party decides which perspective is more convincing, the neutral party being a jury, judge, or tribunal of judges. Truth, supported by evidence, is required and assumed on both sides. It is the neutral party’s conclusion regarding which perspective, which interpretation of the facts, is the better one, that determines the outcome. The exception is in a criminal trial where the jury is not 'neutral' because the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the prosecution leaves any doubt about guilt in a criminal case, it is the jury’s duty to acquit.
The adversary system applies to all or most legal systems that originate from English law…as opposed to an inquisitorial or magisterial system (common in Europe and most of the rest of the world) where the judge investigates the case before ruling.
So, that’s the essence. Here in the West, the argument is the determining factor. I now have more respect for the system and how prosecutors, litigators and defense attorneys operate.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
THE WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL MARKETING
In the history of branding, one image has captured the world more than any other. Many have come close: the Nike swoosh, the MacIntosh apple, the hammer and sickle, the swastika, even Coca-Cola. But no symbol has had more world-wide recognition than the Christian Cross.
Whether unadorned or with Jesus nailed to it, The Cross took the world by storm more than two thousand years ago and probably earned the Holy Roman Empire trillions of dollars. That’s some marketing! Were there consultant fees? Who owns the trademark?
The Cross is a killing device, nothing more, a wooden structure on which to nail convicts for as long as it takes for them to die. Crucifixion was the method of choice for executing criminals long before Jesus walked the earth. Supposedly invented by Persians in circa 300-400 BCE, the Romans seem to take most of the credit for perfecting the design and creating the cruelest, slowest way to punish or dispatch undesirables, e.g. thieves and Jews.
The Cross has a longer history than, say, a guillotine or the rack or the electric chair. And nicer lines from a design standpoint. But what if Jesus had been executed by guillotine? Would modern followers be wearing miniature guillotines around their necks or installing bigger-than-life guillotines on the frontispieces of their megachurches?
What would Christian athletes from Latin countries do, tilt their necks and apply a chopping motion instead of crossing themselves before running onto the soccer field or after hitting a home run? I suppose one can get used to anything.
What if Jesus’s head had been severed on a chopping block? A double-bitted axe is not a bad look, symmetrical as it is; it could work well on a necklace or on the front of a church. Blood would be optional.
A noose? Not so much. A gun? Was there even gun powder in Jerusalem back then?
Or how about this: What if Jesus had been strangled? That would have been a marketing challenge, indeed.
But, the cross! A forlorn-looking Jesus nailed to a cross, upright with his head still on? People loved it! Brilliant!
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
It Must Be Someone's Birthday
Here's my latest composition, a little rendition of the old standard. To hear it, go to:
Friday, January 29, 2021
THE GREENE NEW DEAL
|The Greene New Deal|
What’s with all the dumb blonds seeking Dad’s approval by one-upping their fathers’ political stances.Will blond hair become the next rightwing meme? The Donald is pretty cute. Would Cruz, Josh and Rubio look good in blond hair?
If Coulter and Ingraham @Fox weren’t enough, now we have to put up with whako blonds like Grreene, McEninny and Ivankahh? It’s ok girls, your daddy loves you. You can give it a rest. Put the gun down.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
LET EVIDENCE DRIVE YOUR HATE
IF YOU MUST HATE, EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE FIRST. What real evidence is there that Antifa, not Trumpism, caused the riots (FBI reports?--NO), that the election was fraudulent (court cases?--NO), that you can trust Trump (joke), that QAnon is anything other than an insane belief (that would be NO), that Covid is a hoax (the science is real), that masks don’t matter (there are flow studies), that gun ownership keeps us safer (homicide and suicide rates), that Rudy is trustworthy (joke), that Oswald killed Kennedy (triangulated fire proven), that the fall of Viet Nam caused domino Communism in the region (hello?), that God created heaven and earth in 7 days (doesn't deserve comment), that Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed rose to heaven (ditto), that heaven or hell even exist (double ditto)?
So far, the evidence points strongly against all the above. The evidence says these claims by Trump supporters are all lies. Why do you think that is?
READ. BECOME KNOWLEDGEABLE. CHANGE YOUR MIND. FOR THE BETTER.
Good luck, America. You are in big trouble.
cheers and Happy New Year.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Americans do NOT want unity
DUDE! JOE AND KAMALA! AMERICANS DO NOT WANT UNITY
Trump supporters desire unity about as much as Christians desired unity with Jews in the Spanish Inquisition, as much as slave holders did with their slaves, or lions do with gazelles on the African savannah. Everyone knows the U.S. is more divided and full of hate than ever.
The violent responses by white racist Republicans and white police across the country over the last year are a clear sign that most Americans are not interested in unity. Democrats always try the koom-by-yah unitarian approach, but this time, attempts at UNITY will just anger Republicans and solidify the divisiveness.
This time, for once, Democrats need to abandon unity and focus on something unheard of in America: social responsibility. That’s not socialism, it is the commitment to improve the well-being of the citizens of the United States through legislation, laws, and policy.
What does social responsibility look like? It comes down to policy that promotes the well-being of Americans even if one group hates another. Opportunity, education, voter rights, access to health care, tax codes that lead to the betterment of all Americans, not just the wealthiest. Such taxation does not mean Communism and economic collapse. The rich will still be rich.
Striving for Unity will fail. Striving for social responsibility could succeed. Then we can all go on hating each other as we all thrive.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
I'm REPUBLICAN: Ode to the Odious
I’m Republican, don’t tell me what to do
I’m Republican, I don’t wear a mask.
I’m Republican, I carry if I wanna.
I’m Republican, I’m against all tax.
I’m Republican, gimme money
More money, more money
I want more money
Life is money
Money is Life
I’m Republican, I don’t buckle up
No one tells me what to do
I don’t scoop poop
I drive a pickup (and a golf cart)
And ride right up your ass on the freeway
Don’t tell me what to do
Want more money
Want no regulations
I like to burn fuel
Go as fast as I want
Break the rules when I want
Want, want, want it now
I don’t slow for pedestrians
Throw lit butts out the window
I’m white, so
Don’t want immigrants
Even though they just picked my apples for almost nothing
I’m a Republican
What I care most about (after money) is hating Democrats
And non-white people, except athletes maybe
I know what I want, I know what’s right
Don’t need to weigh both sides, there’s only one right
Global Warming, don’t buy it
Gun control, don’t trust it
Abortion, don't need it
Infrastructure, don't use it
And lock her up while you’re at it
Don’t tell the truth if it doesn’t fit my scheme
Oops, I wasn’t s'pposed to say this
Cause I’m a devout believer in Jeesus Christ
Claim to go to church, get saved every week
Family values, honesty, I’m so pious
But don’t raise my taxes
Do not raise my taxes
Pussy grabber, who cares?
Tax evader, who cares?
Prostitute user and payer-offer, who cares?
Dishonest, who cares?
Dishonest Liar, who cares?
Dishonest liar and cheater, who cares?
Don’t care about Covid, who cares?
But really all I want, want, want
Is no taxes
And more money
Monday, December 14, 2020
It Must Be Someone's Birthday
Composed and recorded by James Channing Shaw
Thursday, December 3, 2020
GOD, GUNS AND GREED
(this article was published in Medium.com)
Donald Trump tapped into a dangerous American sentiment in 2016.
But remember this date: November 2nd, 2004. A major turning point in American history occurred that day. On that day, George W. Bush got re-elected legitimately, and it became clear what America wanted: God, guns, and greed. A majority of Americans, including those who stood to benefit most from affordable healthcare, gun control, fewer tax loopholes for the rich and more regulations on Wall Street, seemed instead to favour ignorance (i.e. Creationism and God), the NRA, market-driven healthcare, oppression of women’s reproductive rights, military bravado without follow-through, and unrestrained abuses by Wall Street.
Combine the historical impact of W’s win in 2004 with Trump’s election in 2016 and what you get is this: America will never be interested in making wholesale changes to provide inclusive societal approaches to the well-being of its populace. Instead, the every-man-for-himself approach, ostensibly answering only to a higher power, will likely continue. This will lead to a gradual decline in the financial and international stature of the United States. It’s already happening. The same happened to the Holy Roman Empire.
Eight years of Obama slowed the deterioration, but Trump’s four years accelerated it beyond Republican’s wildest dreams. Evidence abounds:
Trump’s tax code that increased the wealth of the 0.1% and widened wealth inequality said it all. His support in the financial sector was to be expected but his uneducated supporters went along whole hog as well. And Trump’s tax returns? Meh, they all said.
Despite numerous mass shootings in the past two decades, Americans were not interested in putting the lid on private ownership of military-grade weaponry. Congressional candidates chose to please the NRA over their constituents. The Obama administration failed to pass any significant gun control legislation, and under Trump, any lingering interest in reducing gun violence in the U.S. withered.
State laws, pushed through by bible-thumping Republicans (including women!) eroded women’s reproductive freedoms. Dressed up as pro-life, defended in the name of God, it translated to misogyny and oppression of women, and both W and Trump have been the heroes of the effort. Women voting for this legislation is an astounding example of misguided belief, selfishness and ignorance. But now, with Barrett in place, Roe v. Wade is in jeopardy.
The economy. So-called ‘job-creators’ have never cared about creating real jobs for Americans. It has always been just a slogan for Republicans. They care about creating profits for themselves, and do so only when they are allowed to out-source to cheap, run-down labor forces in the developing world. They continue to fight all attempts to change tax codes that might reduce their profits by one nickel. And concerning federally funded infrastructure projects? Meh, ‘it’s not American’, or ‘it’s socialist’.
Back in ’08, every person who worked in finance blamed the recession on Bill Clinton’s freeing up of mortgage money to the middle class in the 1990s. They accepted no culpability for investment bankers figuring out how to game the system, making oodles of money, and dumping all risk downstream to unsuspecting homebuyers who shouldn’t have been given mortgages in the first place. “Clinton made me do it,” the finance sector used to say as they stuffed their portfolios. And now the smartest and richest have learned to game the new system and we’re back to where we were. Those same gamers still talk of deregulation, fewer taxes and ‘job-creators’ as solutions to all our problems. In a word, greed.
Democrats are partly to blame for all of this. They rejected real change back in 2016 and again in November, 2020. If the Senate flips to the Dems, modest inroads could still be made toward a society that values the well-being of its people. But if Democrats lose in the battle for the senate, Republicans will rightly celebrate, having effectively neutered Biden’s legislative agenda. At that point, God, guns and greed will become etched in America’s headstone, thus hastening the decline of American society and any international influence she once had.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Is YUZU safe?
As Helen Rosner wrote in the New Yorker (Feb 27,2020), “Yuzu is yuzu; there’s nothing else quite like it.” Yuzu has already become a popular international citrus fruit. If you have never experienced Yuzu, you are in for a treat. But could there be any health problems with Yuzu?
We know that grapefruit juice can dangerously raise blood levels of several drugs (statins, calcium channel blockers) because it inhibits enzymes that normally break down the drugs. There is also evidence that the same happens with the body's estrogen hormones, potentially increasing estrogen levels and the risk of breast cancer in women and erectile dysfunction in men. Could Yuzu do the same?
Yuzu is new to the West, and it takes up to ten years for a yuzu tree to fruit, but Yuzu juice is likely to be on grocery store shelves soon, the way lemon and lime juice are today.
Research to date points out some probable anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties similar to other citrus. In one study (2015 Japan) Yuzu inhibited platelet aggregation to a degree that would add to the effects of aspirin and other anti-platelet drugs.
The question of whether Yuzu contains the chemicals found in grapefruit (called furanocoumarins) that inhibit drug and hormone metabolism has not been fully answered. Japanese researchers showed in 2018 that lime pulp and zest contained the highest concentration of these substances, higher even than grapefruit, and another Japan study (2011) showed that Yuzu had very low activity of the same substances.
So, at the present time, Yuzu appears not to have the same risk as grapefruit or lime, but juice from Yuzu can inhibit platelets, which would account for some cardioprotective properties but also the potential for additive effect in those taking anti-platelet drugs.
Monday, October 5, 2020
My Ship. Arranged by James Channing Shaw. Music by Kurt Weill, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Just posted my piano arrangement of MY SHIP on the website.
Check it out!
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
COVID SCULPTURE #2: "IRAQ"
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Open letter to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Congratulations! You now have a special opportunity, one that could change how Americans and the rest of the world view politicians in the United States. Put simply: never use the word BELIEF. Never base your views on what you BELIEVE. The word immediately places your commentary in the category of opinion, not truth. Opinions can be wrong, are never universal, and create division.
“I think” is so much more palatable than “I believe". You can still hedge if the facts are incomplete. Recognizing uncertainty will increase your credibility, given that Trump is so certain about the lies he spews.
We all realize it is your job to know everything but we all recognize that you can’t possibly know everything. To turn uncertainty into “I believe” puts you up against the ropes defending yourselves. The “I think” moment elevates you and the mind of your listeners to a higher place, one that instills the trust that you are actively seeking the truth and will ultimately do the right thing. Thank you and good luck.
For all of James's blogposts, books, and more, visit https://www.jameschanningshaw.com