Needed: Informed Thinkers

January 22, 2019

Does Journalism Have a Future?

In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.

The New Yorker

Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.

Between January, 2017, and April, 2018, a third of the nation’s largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs.

Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. In 1986, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle bought the Worcester Telegram and the Evening Gazette, and, three years later, right about when Time and Warner became Time Warner, the Telegram and the Gazette became

“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,” Alan Rusbridger, for twenty years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, writes in “Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.

The big book that inspired Jill Abramson to become a journalist was David Halberstam’sThe Powers That Be,” from 1979, a history of the rise of the modern, corporate-based media in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his reporting from Vietnam for the New York Times, took up his story more or less where Villard left off. He began with F.D.R. and CBS radio; added the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc., and CBS television; and reached his story’s climax with the Washington Post and the New York Times and the publication of the Pentagon Papers, in 1971.

In 1969, Nixon’s Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, delivered a speech drafted by the Nixon aide Pat Buchanan accusing the press of liberal bias. It’s “good politics for us to kick the press around,” Nixon is said to have told his staff. The press, Agnew said, represents “a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history,” consisting of men who “read the same newspapers” and “talk constantly to one another.”

The present crisis, which is nothing less than a derangement of American life, has caused many people in journalism to make decisions they regret, or might yet. In the age of Facebook, Chartbeat, and DT, legacy news organizations, hardly less than startups, have violated or changed their editorial standards in ways that have contributed to political chaos and epistemological mayhem. Do editors sit in a room on Monday morning, twirl the globe, and decide what stories are most important? Or do they watch DT’s Twitter feed and let him decide? It often feels like the latter. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger; it makes everyone sick. The more adversarial the press, the more loyal DT’s followers, the more broken American public life. The more desperately the press chases readers, the more our press resembles our politics.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future?utm_medium=social&utm_brand=tny&utm_source=twitter&utm_social-type=owned&mbid=social_twitter


This book by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols (2011) is an important read as pretext to Lapore’s piece.

“Journalism cannot lose 30 percent of its reporting and editing capacity and continue to provide the information needed to maintain a realistic democratic discourse,  open government and outlines of civil society at the federal, state and local levels.”

The United States is not experiencing a brief recession for journalism as the silliest commentator continue to suggest; newsrooms will not be repopulated, let along restored to their previous vigor, with an economic recovery. Instead it is an existential crisis, one decades in the making and as we argue heron, it goes directly to the issue of whether this nation can remain a democratic state with liberties and freedoms many take for granted.

The crisis is right here, right now and unless there is forceful policy intervention, an unacceptable circumstance will grow dramatically worse.

In our view the evidence is overwhelming: If Americans are serious about reversing course and dramatically explained and improving journalism, the only way this can happen is with massive public subsidies.

The market is not getting it done, and there is no reason to think it is going to get it done. It will require a huge expansion of the nonprofit news media sector as well. It is imperative to discontinue the practice of regarding journalism as a “business” and evaluating it with business criteria. Instead, embracing the public good nature of journalism is necessary. That is the argument we make in this book.

If the U.S. government subsidized journalism today at the same level of GDP that it did in the 1840’s, the government would have to spend in the neighborhood of $30-35 billion annually. Subsidies are as American as maple pie; indeed, our democratic culture was built on them.

We met with a group of exceptional journalism students wo had read the book and wanted to talk about our proposals. They especially liked our proposal for a ‘Journalism for America’ initiative that would provide young people with stipends to cover underserved communities in the United States. By the end of the dinner they had framed out a plan for linking the ‘Journalism for America’ initiative to the Peace Corps so that young journalists could cover an immigrant community in the United States for a year and then travel wit the Peace Corps to foreign lands with connections to the American communities.

We came away with confidence that, when this great debate opens up, as it has begun to do, American journalism and American democracy will flourish.”

Ed Madison and Ben DeJarnette (2018) write,

“Fundamentally, journalists and teachers have similar roles within a society. They exist to educate us so we can collectively move our communities forward. Yet crises within K-12 education haunt our society’s future prospects: if we’re not raising generations of young people who are thoughtful and informed participants in our democratic process, then the future of journalism–and democracy–is very dark indeed.

The objective is not to spawn future journalists; the intent is to support students win becoming what we refer to as informed thinkers. Educators often speak about cultivating critical thinking, yet the term remains as elusive concept that does not fully encompass the levels of student engagement that young people need to navigate effectively in this increasingly complex and nuanced world.

Informed thinking articulates a clearer method and result than does critical thinking. Students learn to distinguish fact from fiction and to detect biases and agendas.

Our need to improve education is not optional; it is an obligation we must embrace.”


Wonderful book for reference and U.S. history, by Jill Lapore.


Journalist Marguerite Martyn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made this sketch of herself interviewing a Methodist minister in 1908 for his views on marriage.

 

January 21, 2019

“If I can help somebody.”

If I can help somebody, as I travel along
If I can help somebody, with a word or song
If I can help somebody, from doing wrong
No, my living shall not be in vain
No, my living shall not be in vain
No, my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I’m singing the song
You know, my living shall not be in vain
-Mahalia Jackson Sings the Best-Loved hymns of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8VwTYm8mz0&list=RDk8VwTYm8mz0&start_radio=1&t=18
“God always sends us a comforter, and every time the Nego gets despaired he can think about a great Negro in his time that was unafraid–that was a great leader. God always sends us a comforter–we can follow in his footsteps, like we follow in Jesus’ footsteps. You understand? We can just look back and say our hearts are not afraid. Look what Dr. King did for us. Look at the Southern Christian leadership and many people who have helped the Souther Christian leadership. Look how the Lord touched their hearts. You know, God can pull the spear of hate out of people’s hearts if He wants to. But God had let Martin do just what he wanted him to do.”
-Mahalia Jackson, 1968
[Mahalia Jackson performing on the march in Washington, August 28,  1963.]
“I been baked and I been scorned/ I’m gonna tell my Lord/ When I get home/ Just how long you’ve been treating me wrong,” she sang as a preface to Dr. King’s “I’ve got a dream” speech before 200,000 people in Washington DC at the Lincoln Memorial.

AXIOS

As the elite descend on Davos, Switzerland, for this week’s World Economic Forum, two stark stats:

  • Wealth held by the world’s billionaires has grown from $3.4 trillion in 2009, right after the meltdown, to $8.9 trillion in 2017. (UBS and PwC Billionaires Insights via Bloomberg) 
  • The 3.8 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half saw their wealth decline by 11% last year. (Oxfam, which works to alleviate poverty, via AP)

A new display of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers in Atlanta “provides insight into the slain civil rights leader’s thought processes as he drafted some of his most well-known speeches and notable sermons,” AP’s Kate Brumbach writes:

  • “The Meaning of Hope: The Best of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection,” opened this weekend at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, in the Voice to the Voiceless gallery.
  • “There are drafts of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance and ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speeches and of his eulogy for four girls who died when Ku Klux Klan members bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama.”

“In drafts and outlines of speeches and sermons, both typed and written out longhand, words and entire lines are crossed out and rewritten.”

  • “Even an already published copy of ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ is marked with further handwritten edits.”
  • “Also included in the exhibition are King’s school transcripts — including one from Crozer Theological Seminary where he got a C in public speaking.”

Remembered as a great orator and a champion for human rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. also was a deep thinker on economics.

Between the lines: King’s philosophy has often been painted as a socialist because he advocated for the redistribution of wealth, referenced Karl Marx and even called for a “guaranteed annual income.” But King repudiated socialism and communism, noting in his 1967 speech “Where Do We Go From Here” that when it came to communism, “I have to reject that.”

“What I’m saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.”

King’s economic philosophy would find him with few ideological allies in today’s political climate. He argued forcefully there was “something wrong with capitalism” — a sentiment gaining popularity among today’s Democrats.

“It is a well known fact that no social [institution] can survive when it has outlived its [usefulness],” King wrote in notes at Crozer Theological Seminary. “This, capitalism has done. It has failed to meet the needs of the masses.”

But he also warned against traditional government welfare programs, saying that there was an inherent value to work and that a job could not be replaced with government handouts or jobs for jobs sake — a popular talking point among today’s Republicans.

  • “It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished,” he said in “Where Do We Go From Here?”
  • “Work of this sort could be enormously increased, and we are likely to find that the problem of housing, education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.”

[King’s last protest March for workers’ rights in Memphis, Tennessee before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.]

 In the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including an interracial poor people’s march on Washington, and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration.

The big picture: King was for sweeping government reforms. But he also lauded the successes of the market economy, while warning of its “dislocations,” and against the belief that a rising tide would lift all ships.

  • “There are 40 million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there 40 million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.”

https://atlantadailyworld.com/2013/08/28/it-was-like-a-civil-rights-woodstock-an-oral-history-of-the-march-on-washington/

The March on Washington in 1963 was part of a total strategy in the movement to bring about social change. It was not simply another march or demonstration. It grew out of the Birmingham movement. It came about because of things that were already in motion.

One key component in the strategy for nonviolence is that in order to win or succeed in making major change, or in order for a revolution to succeed, there are certain components that are necessary. One is that no revolution has ever been successful without winning the sympathy, if not the active support, of the majority. The March on Washington was the part of the strategy to demonstrate that the majority of people in America were ready for change.

Will CEO’s save society?

[Full page ad placed in the Washington Post over the weekend.]

~

The Delta Airlines Foundation provides a grant to open Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park for the MLK holiday since the government shutdown.

“Without the assistance provided by The Delta Air Lines Foundation, it would have remained closed during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.”

The reopening comes as the civil rights leader’s family and fans celebrate what would have been King’s 90th birthday. And because of the grant, those celebrations and remembrances can now include visits to the home where King was born and his longtime church.

The 35-acre park, which draws more than 670,000 visitors to Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood each year, reopened Saturday. With an $83,500 grant from Delta and money from National Park Service recreation fees, it now has enough funds to operate until Feb. 3.

The contributions are coming from businesses, groups and states. New York is paying to operate the Statue of Liberty National Monument, for instance, and Utah’s tourism office is paying to keep visitor services running at the Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks. And in Yellowstone National Park, snowy roads are being groomed thanks to money from Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

https://www.npr.org/2019/01/21/687103456/martin-luther-king-jr-national-park-reopens-for-holiday-thanks-to-a-private-gran

~

Patagonia’s Action Works

For almost 40 years, Patagonia has supported grassroots activists working to find solutions to the environmental crisis. But in this time of unprecedented threats, it’s often hard to know the best way to get involved. That’s why we’re connecting individuals with our grantees, to take action on the most pressing issues facing the world today. We built Patagonia Action Works to connect committed individuals to organizations working on environmental issues in the same community. It’s now possible for anyone to discover and connect with environmental action groups and get involved with the work they do.

Learn more at: patagonia.com/actionworks

~

AXIOS

There’s more pressure on CEOs than ever to address complicated issues facing society, and those that don’t embrace the opportunity could find themselves dealing with frustrated employees and customers.

  • A loss of trust in traditional leaders, like government officials and journalists, is pushing people to develop more trusted relationships at work and with their employers, according to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer survey.

  • Why it matters: This crucial shift in the employee-employer relationship creates new opportunities for CEOs and corporate executives to rebuild societal trust. But it also puts an enormous responsibility on them to address complicated issues, from civic inequality to gun control.

Over three fourths (76%) of the respondents from the latest edition of Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer survey say CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it, up 11 points from last year.

  • A majority think CEOs can create positive change in issues like equal pay, prejudice and discrimination, training for the jobs of tomorrow and the environment.

  • Nearly three fourths (71%) of employees agree that it’s critically important for their CEO to respond to challenges, like industry issues (how automation will change jobs), political events (how elections will impact companies), and national crises.

Specific tactics can help CEOs rebuild trust, the study says:

  • Leading change at the local level by solving problems in the communities in which they operate.

  • Enlisting employees to have a voice regarding certain issues and empowering them to use it.

  • Showing commitment to issues inside and outside the organization through philanthropy or workplace trainings.


The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust has changed profoundly in the past year—people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers. Globally, 75 percent of people trust “my employer” to do what is right, significantly more than NGOs (57 percent), business (56 percent) and media (47 percent).

Despite the divergence in trust between the informed public and mass population the world is united on one front—all share an urgent desire for change. Only one in five feels that the system is working for them, with nearly half of the mass population believing that the system is failing them.

In conjunction with pessimism and worry, there is a growing move toward engagement and action. In 2019, engagement with the news surged by 22 points; 40 percent not only consume news once a week or more, but they also routinely amplify it. But people are encountering roadblocks in their quest for facts, with 73 percent worried about fake news being used as a weapon.

https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top

Public service and community growth.

As term ends, a commissioner considers legacy,

Larry Schoen looks back at a career in public life

by Mark Dee
Idaho Mountain Express

“I think elected office is immensely challenging. And I felt that, on a personal level, I needed that sort of challenge. I needed to try to live up to my ideals of public service.” Larry Schoen, former Blaine County commissioner

Schoen, who is 63, has had time to consider how a self-described private man transitioned to so public a life in Blaine County. And, he’s had time to consider his motto, which he attached to that career like a goal more than a decade ago: “To leave office with my integrity intact.”

He sat through plans for rampant growth, and saw them hollowed by the global belt-tightening of the Great Recession. He presided during natural disasters, fires and floods that wolfed up swaths of the Wood River Valley in quick and angry bites. He worked on wolves themselves, and other environmental fights that pitted interest against interest. There was Bowe Bergdahl, and the frenzy that swept through Hailey afterward. There were debates with Idaho Power, and Deer Creek and Camp Rainbow Gold—and thousands of other rulings, small to most everyone but the world to those involved, the discrete decisions that make up a career in politics that, at times, surprised Schoen himself.

“I’m a very private person,” he said. “You won’t find a Facebook page for me. You won’t find a lot of personal information out there. I hate having my picture taken, and I’m not very good at remembering people’s names. I’m not the sort of person you’d think of as primed for political life. But I think government service is important. I think elected office is immensely challenging. And I felt that, on a personal level, I needed that sort of challenge. I needed to try to live up to my ideals of public service. ‘To leave office with my integrity intact’—it all goes back to that.”

He turned 18 in 1973, a draft year at the ragged end of America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was a lottery—just luck that his number wasn’t called. Today, with the safety of decades between then and now, he wishes it was.

“I never did military service—I always regretted that,” he said. “I felt that at some point in my life, I needed to do some sort of serious public service. In a way, on a personal level, running for public office was my way of compensating.”

 If his work as a reporter helped him explain policy, his life as a farmer helped shape it. He’s tried the three main modes of American living—urban, rural and suburban—and his view for the future of Blaine County is steeped in that experience.

“Hardly anybody has put as much effort into reading things, and parsing language,” said Len Harlig, a former county commissioner who remains a close observer of Blaine County politics. “He’s absolutely meticulous, going through materials to make sure they are correct, and accurate. He brought an efficiency to ordinances. His viewpoint was thorough, exhaustive and unaccepting of any comment not based in vigorous research. Even when you reached different conclusions, you never doubted the effort.”

His environmental record can match anyone’s in the county, according to Harlig, whether that meant advocating for conservation, or securing easements for open space and recreational access, or updating recycling and solid waste.

But Schoen describes himself as a progressive, and a pragmatist. Those combine to form a view of government that is closely tied to customer service, and much of his legacy—from internal communications, to organizational structure, to budgeting procedure—is, like the engine of any operation, hidden under the hood.

“As a county commissioner, Larry was a consummate professional,” said current board Chairman Jacob Greenberg. “His journalism background meant he was our go-to person to articulate policy.”

“Some of the most desirable and valuable communities in America have some of the strictest zoning—thought-out zoning codes that try to project the present and future values of those communities,” he said. “That’s especially true of small ski towns in Europe. And that’s why they still have their charm. We don’t want to lose our charm.”

Maintaining it was part of the Blaine County 2025 planning effort that Schoen participated in during the mid-2000s, as a member of P&Z. Back then, elected officials prepared for an unending boom. There was talk of two new towns—one by Gannett, another at Timmerman Junction. Projections envisioned the population swelling to 80,000 people in 20 years. Soon, Schoen thought, development pressure would burst out into the unincorporated county like champagne past a cork.

 “I don’t know that they are all on the same page,” he said. “People acknowledge certain common values, like the need for affordable housing, the need to preserve our public lands and recreational access. The conversations really haven’t been had in a long time. Ketchum is doing its thing. Sun Valley does its thing. Hailey’s doing its thing. We need to work on a regional equation. If people are opposed to increased density in cities, but there’s development pressure, there’s only one place for it to go, and that’s out in the county. The question is, do we want to turn it into a suburbanized area? That’s a question for the community. The community needs to answer.”

Schoen’s personal answer is written across his land. He placed a conservation easement on the property curtailing its ability to be developed; those acres will never be subdivided.

“I would judge his view of county government as that of a purist,” he said. “He interpreted it as it was intended, and was fair in its application.”

Schoen: “When I talk to students, I tell them if you’re going to enter elected office, your main goal shouldn’t be to get re-elected. It should be to do what’s in the best interest of the community. To uphold the law. In a very dynamic, engaged county like ours, that will leave some people happy. Others won’t be. Eventually, that catches up with you.”

“There are roles I’ve been able to play because I was a county commissioner. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made, what I’ve been able to do. This job’s been immensely rewarding—for me personally, and, I hope, for our community.”

Thomas Merton

January 20, 2019

Descending into the crowed, the individual loses his personality and his character and perhaps even his moral dignity as a human being. Contempt for the “crowd” is by no means contemporary for mankind. The crowd is below man. The crowd devours the human that is in us to make us the members of a many-headed beast. That is why the monastery builds itself in the wilderness: cuts off communications with the world, and with the press and the radio, which too often are simply the voice of the vast aggregation that is something less than human. As a specialized, spiritual society, the monastic community must take care to form itself carefully in the atmosphere of solitude and detachment in which the seeds of faith and charity have a chance to sink deep roots and grow without being choked out by thorns, or crushed under the wheels of trucks and cars.

-The Silent Life

Outside the matrix.

 

“I keep coming back to a tweet from the Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who wrote:  “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” Mr. Kasparov understands that the real threat of the flood of “alternative facts” is that many voters will simply shrug, ask, “What is truth?” and, like Pontius Pilate, not wait for an answer.”

The Aspen Institute re-publishes a piece from American Magazine in 2017 from an Aspen Ideas Festival that same year with Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor and former conservative talk show host, currently editor-in-chief of the website The Bulwark.

“We might assume that people naturally want to seek out information that is true, but this turns out to be a basic misunderstanding of the human psyche and our new tribal politics. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes the power of tribalism in shaping our ideas about truth. “Once people join a political team,” he writes in The Righteous Mind, “they get ensnared in its moral matrix. They see confirmation of their grand narrative everywhere, and it’s difficult — perhaps impossible — to convince them that they are wrong if you argue with them from outside the matrix.” 

Mr. Haidt also cites the work of his fellow social psychologist Tom Gilovich, who studies the cognitive mechanisms of strange beliefs. If we want to believe something, Mr. Gilovich says, we ask, “Can I believe it?” and we need only a single piece of evidence, no matter its provenance, so “we can stop thinking” because we “now have permission to believe” what we want. The flip side is that when we are confronted with uncomfortable or unwanted information that we do not want to believe, we ask, “Must I believe?” and look for a reason to reject the argument or fact. Again, only a single piece of data is necessary “to unlock the handcuffs of must.”

The only antidote is an educated, critically minded electorate who can see through the hoaxes.”

Yes, absolutely. However, a deeper more complex follow-up question: is this a reasonable expectation, or possibility, in context of confirmation biases and deeper polarizations?

full article: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/truth-matter-no-longer-theoretical-question/


“And the fourth cycle (of computers), which is now arriving, shifts direction from the previous two (which were about connection more than processors) and brings prediction to the table. Call it AI if you want to, but to be specific, it’s a combination of analyzing information and then predicting what we would do if we knew what the computer knew.

The prediction of the fourth cycle isn’t simply done in a centralized location, because the previous cycle put the computer everywhere. So now, we’re connecting all the computers the way we previously connected all the people. Now, we’re giving those computers the ability to make predictions based on what thousands of people before us have done.”

-Seth Godin

Entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age, teacher and former dot com guy.

“Really, really great.”


Nathan Philips, Omaha Nation, Vietnam Veteran:

“I heard, I heard them saying, ‘Build that wall, build that wall.’ You know, this is indigenous land, we’re not supposed to have walls here, we never did, for a millennium, before anyone came here we never had walls, we never had a prison. You know, we always took care of our elders, we took care of our children, we always provided for them, you know. We taught them right from wrong. I wish I could see that energy of those young men, put that energy into, you know, to make this country really, really great, you know. Helping those that are hungry.”


A story about Nathan from 2008.

https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/american-indian-veterans-honored-annually-at-arlington-national-cemetery-tMOxOLqrJU6Ux9hZvXAzYQ/

Updated 1.21.19

An event captured on tape, obviously cruel in nature, is now being polarized onto a political side, those who wear red hats, and those who do not. It isn’t the act, right or wrong being judged, it is the ideology. It is clear how this young student was treating a native elder, as were his schoolmates…long or short version. And justice, again, belongs to those who can afford it, including hiring the services of a PR firm to spin what we can plainly see.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –MLK

Unexacerbated Joy

January 19, 2019

[Bob Carr, the creator of Bob’s Crystal Cave near Joshua Tree, Calif., where he welcomed visitors for 15 years.]

Joshua Tree Artist Built A Crystal Cave Of Wonder

With Chicken Wire, Spray Foam

NPR

“There’s nothing out there. It’s all you. The whole universe. The etherium. It’s already in you. You’re looking out there.”

Bob could be cryptic, especially when talking about the Crystal Cave. When I asked him why he built it, all Bob would ever say was: “Just plain old unexacerbated joy.”

Despite his radiating happiness, Bob had lived a hard life. He told me he grew up as one of seven kids, to poor parents who fled the Dust Bowl.

“There was never a book in the house. There’s no kind of library, you know,” Bob said. “We didn’t have a shower or a bathtub. Poverty sucks.”

“I needed to express the uncontainable joy I built up over so many years,” he said. “That’s surrender. When I look at you, I can see you. Therefore, I am stunned by the beauty of joy of every single human I meet.”

It may seem strange to suggest that the key to happiness can be found in a spray foam cave, in the middle of the California desert. But Bob taught me that every one of us is capable of making beautiful experiences for each other. Even out of chicken wire and spray foam.

Bob died earlier this month at age 80. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and daughter Zena. Bob “died as he lived — on his own terms and with dignity and grace,” Elizabeth says.

Bob’s Crystal Cave: https://hiddenca.com/portfolio/bobs-crystal-cave/

After the initial primal scream.

[Seen at the Women’s March 2019]

CIVIC ACTION

Building America’s Next Great Awakening

JUNE 13, 2017  • NICOLE COREA

Eric Liu believes that we are on the precipice of a civic awakening. Even prior to the US presidential election, he watched as global movements rose up against established hierarchies and institutions. This inspired Liu to compose a guide for citizens who sought to create real, lasting change. The result was his new book, You’re More Powerful Than You Think.

Protests and marches are only the beginning of a movement. Truly knowing how to wield citizen power requires a deeper understanding of power itself.

Around the planet, great numbers of everyday citizens

are pushing back against concentrated, monopolized,

institutionalized power.

“Online activism is necessary, but completely insufficient,” Liu said. “What we’ve got to do to revive the body politic and to revive civic life is to use digital means for analog ends.” He mentioned the Tea Party model, a grassroots effort started on social media that made waves in congressional elections.

Despite their distinct cries, movements like Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter had one thing in common: they were the product of decades of radical inequality. “Around the planet, great numbers of everyday citizens are pushing back against concentrated, monopolized, institutionalized power,” Liu said. This will not be an easy fight. Those with power are unlikely to concede willingly. Changing the game will require leveraging the power of citizens who stay awake and show up.

Building America’s Next Great Awakening

1.20.19

January 18, 2019

 

Power Path

We have been in this window between two eclipses since the New Moon on the 5th putting the screws on to our self reflection of what we need to do, where we need to go, what we need to change, what to keep, what to release, who we are, and who we are not. Once this Eclipse window is over, we get to come up for some air and reshuffle our lives based on emerging decisions, choices and intentions.
Despite the intensity, it is crucial that you focus on your personal truth regarding your intentions, dreams and desires. Don’t get derailed by drama that is not yours and make sure to be around people and in places that you love and feel inspired by. Any prayers during this time will be greatly supported so be generous with them.  What do you have a passion for? Embrace it and put forth your desire to explore it in the adventure that is your life. Include a little gratitude as well for all that you do have and all that is going well. 
It is also a good time to focus prayers on how you wish to experience your world. Without judgment, blame or attachment to how it should look (in your opinion), imagine how it would feel everyday if you woke up feeling the inspiration, beauty and joy of a cooperative, compassionate and loving planet.  Put that prayer into your heart and project it like an arrow into the world. There are a lot of things in this world you cannot control, but your prayers are something you can. So pray your very best during this intense and powerful time, not only for yourself but for all your relations. 
This is a good time for change, commitment, putting yourself first, expanding your growth, pushing beyond your comfort zone, thinking outside the box and dreaming big. Lets set some good intentions and do it!
[‘The full moon comes with a total Lunar Eclipse visible in much of North and South America and in parts of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Whenever you have this combination, the intensity increases, people could be reactionary, overly impulsive and emotional highs and lows are exaggerated.’]

Mary. ღ

January 17, 2019

Just got real in Idaho.

January 16, 2019

Little on Climate Change: “It’s a Big Deal”

“Climate change is real,” Little said.“Climate’s changed, there is no question about it,” Little said. “We’ve just gotta figure out how to cope with it and we gotta slow it down. Now, reversing it is going to be a big darn job, if 90 percent of the scientists are right. … The rate of change, we can make a change in. But it’s a big deal.”

“Actually, we can do it by regulation, but a lot of it takes place from the market.” He said, “Bankers are inclined by their very nature to be risk-averse,” and over time, they’ll be more likely to finance something “that’s going to have a smaller carbon footprint, vs. something that’s going to have a bigger carbon footprint.”

“The ultimate solution is we want to have things that keep the air cleaner and produce less carbon,” Little declared.

He noted that back when Idaho did its energy plan, people thought it was a stretch to move Idaho to 20 percent renewable energy not counting hydro, but it happened.

“Climate change is real,” Little said. “I’m old enough that I remember feeding cows all winter long in deep snow, and I go to the ranch now and talk, ‘You wimpy guys, boy, back in the old days when I was a kid, we had winters.’ And there are other things. These ecosystems are changing.”

Little said even the microbes in the soil are changing, altering how they take in oxygen. “So when we do a range project, you’ve got to make that to where it’s changing for a different climate type. The silviculturists will tell you, because of the changing climate, the number of trees, the species of trees, the mix of trees, it’s all changing. … You’ve gotta adapt to it.”

https://www.idahopress.com/news/state/gov-little-climate-change-is-real-must-be-reversed/article_61ed12b3-5c38-50f2-b8cb-68f7cd6bcdb1.html

The Yes Men (Did it again.)

This was supposed to be real.

This was not. (How I wish.)

‘Fake editions of the Washington Post with a large headline announcing DT’s departure from the White House were passed around Washington DC early Wednesday morning by a group of activists.

The paper, which was printed on a broadsheet eerily similar to the real Washington Post, was dated 1 May 2019 (with a high in DC of ’79’) and included a series of anti-Trump and women empowerment stories. The stories and a PDF of the spoof newspaper were also published on a website that imitated the Washington Post’s homepage.

“Trickster activist collective” the Yes Men revealed they were the organization behind the prank newspaper later Wednesday following initial confusion on who was behind the paper.

The Yes Men have conducted similar stunts before, passing out a satirical of the New York Times in 2008 with the headline “Iraq War Ends” and a similar fake edition of the New York Post in 2009 about climate change around New York City.’

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jan/16/washington-post-spoof-papers-trump-dc

The Yes Men are a culture jamming activist duo and network of supporters created by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos. Through various actions, the Yes Men primarily aim to raise awareness about problematic social and political issues. [wikipedia]

http://www.theyesmen.org

“We still have a lot to learn before 2020.”

Stanford World Class

Former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos (now at Stanford) discusses Russia’s election interference and the use of pure propaganda techniques. Much of the spotlight on Big Tech is warranted. However, Stamos also argues that our government, the media, and we as citizens all have a role to play in the security of our elections.” #MSM

“To block Russian propaganda during 2016 really Facebook would have had to block the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.”

Tech companies have failed in a lot of ways, but there was a lot of misplaced raged by main stream media against tech companies because they have not dealt with their own failings in 2016. […] They’re not writing stories about their editorial decisions, but those decisions were critical.”

Attorney General Nominee William Barr

January 15, 2019

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar: “Will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?”

William Barr: “I can conceive of situations where as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag…there could be a situation where someone would be held in contempt.”

Also, Barr stated today he would not fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller at the president’s order unless there was ’cause.’ And ’cause’ is defined as…?

1st Amendment

I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


ACLU in reaction to Barr’s comment on jailing journalists:

Wrong answer.

The freedom of the press is a bedrock of democratic principle. Under no circumstance should the government put journalists in jail for doing their job.”

 

“After much thought, what I would be willing to die for, and give my life to, is the freedom of speech. It is the open door to all other freedoms.”

Terry Tempest Williams

Margaret Fuller, 1810-1850

This country… needs… no thin Idealist, no coarse Realist, but a man whose eye reads the heavens, while his feet step firmly on the ground, and his hands are strong and dexterous for the use of human implements… a man of universal sympathies, but self-possessed; a man who knows the region of emotion, though he is not its slave; a man to whom this world is no mere spectacle or fleeting shadow, but a great, solemn game, to be played with good heed, for its stakes are of eternal value, yet who, if his play be true, heeds not what he loses by the falsehood of others; a man who hives from the past, yet knows that its honey can but moderately avail him; whose comprehensive eye scans the present, neither infatuated by its golden lures, nor chilled by its many ventures; who possesses prescience, the gift which discerns tomorrow — when there is such a man for America, the thought which urges her on will be expressed.

From Maria Popova:

‘At age six, Margaret Fuller was reading in Latin. At twelve, she was conversing with her father in philosophy and pure mathematics. By fifteen, she had mastered French, Italian, and Greek, and was reading two or three lectures in philosophy every morning for mental discipline. In her short life, Fuller — one of the central figures in my book Figuring, and the person whom Emerson considered his greatest influence — would go on to write the foundational treatise of American women’s emancipation movement, author the most trusted literary and art criticism in America, work as the first female editor for a major New York newspaper and the only woman in the newsroom, advocate for prison reform and African American voting rights, and become America’s first foreign war correspondent, trekking through war-torn Rome while seven months pregnant. In her advocacy for African American, Native American, and women’s rights, Fuller would ardently espouse the simple, difficult truth that “while any one is base, none can be entirely free and noble.”

Ursula K.Le Guin: the invention of women, when when every woman was man.

Fuller left her native New England to journey westward into the largely unfathomed frontiers of the country. She returned home transformed, awakened to new social, political, and existential realities. Eager to supplement her observations with historical research, she persuaded the Harvard library to grant her access to its book collection — the largest in the nation. No woman had previously been admitted for more than a tour. She then set about relaying her impressions and insights, ranging from a stunning portrait of Niagara Falls to a poignant account of the fate of the displaced Native American tribes with whom she sympathized and spent time. This became Fuller’s first book, Summer on the Lakes — part travelogue, part anthropological study, and part political treatise.’

2.5.19

Maria:

Figuring explores the complexities, varieties, and contradictions of love, and the human search for truth, meaning, and transcendence, through the interwoven lives of several historical figures across four centuries — beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalyzed the environmental movement. Stretching between these figures is a cast of artists, writers, and scientists — mostly women, mostly queer — whose public contribution has risen out of their unclassifiable and often heartbreaking private relationships to change the way we understand, experience, and appreciate the universe. Among them are the astronomer Maria Mitchell, who paved the way for women in science; the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who did the same in art; the journalist and literary critic Margaret Fuller, who sparked the feminist movement; and the poet Emily Dickinson.

Emanating from these lives are larger questions about the measure of a good life and what it means to leave a lasting mark of betterment on an imperfect world: Are achievement and acclaim enough for happiness? Is genius? Is love? Weaving through the narrative is a set of peripheral figures — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Caroline Herschel, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman — and a tapestry of themes spanning music, feminism, the history of science, the rise and decline of religion, and how the intersection of astronomy, poetry, and Transcendentalist philosophy fomented the environmental movement.

Prelude:

How can we know this and still succumb to the illusion of separateness, of otherness? This veneer must have been what the confluence of accidents and atoms known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saw through when he spoke of our “inescapable network of mutuality,” what Walt Whitman punctured when he wrote that “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives.

So much of the beauty, so much of what propels our pursuit of truth, stems from the invisible connections — between ideas, between disciplines, between the denizens of a particular time and a particular place, between the interior world of each pioneer and the mark they leave on the cave walls of culture, between faint figures who pass each other in the nocturne before the torchlight of a revolution lights the new day, with little more than a half-nod of kinship and a match to change hands.

Free Press

January 14, 2019

From Digital Free Press:

Digital First Media — which is notorious for gutting local newsrooms to turn a profit for its hedge-fund owners — is trying to buy Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher.1

The owners of Digital First have been called “vulture capitalists” by journalists in their own newsrooms.2 The company has censored journalists’ work and fired reporters3 who criticize their ruthless tactics — which are designed to pad the bottom line.

Tell Gannett’s board: Support your newsrooms and the communities they serve. Don’t sell to Digital First Media.

In recent years, more and more private-equity companies have been buying up newspapers, slashing jobs, turning newsrooms into shells of their former selves and spending profits on anything BUT journalism.4

This isn’t just bad for newsrooms: It also spells doom for millions of people around the country who rely on their local newspapers to find out what’s happening. When local news disappears, fewer people participate in their communities.5

And while Gannett itself has a questionable track record when it comes to investing in news, if the company sells to Digital First it will decimate news coverage in thousands of communities across the United States.

As one journalist noted, if Digital First Media is “knocking on the door, you should lock the deadbolt.”6

Shareholders will pressure Gannett’s board to let the vultures in the door. We can’t let that happen. Take action today to support communities around the country by protecting local news.

For the future of local news,

Mike, Heather, Candace and the rest of the Free Press team
freepress.net

P.S. Digital First Media’s bid for Gannett will decimate local coverage of communities around the country. Tell Gannett’s board to reject this bid.

Contempt for the crowd.

B R E X I T explained in a new HBO film debuting Sat., January 19th, focusing on mega data, mined personal data funded by Robert Mercer and social media. [Mercer played a key role in the Brexit campaign by donating data analytics services to Nigel Farage.]

Thomas Merton:

“Descending into the crowd, the individual loses his personality and his character and perhaps even his moral dignity as a human being. Contempt for the ‘crowd’ is by no means contempt for mankind. The crowd is below man. The crowd devours the human that is in us to make us the members of a many-headed beast […] the press and the radio too oftener simply the voice of the vast aggregation that is something less than human.”

Mary.

January 13, 2019

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save.

-Mary Oliver

 

“We are who we protect. Who we stand up for.”

 

sohbet

 

“Sin as such does not exist. You only bring it into manifestation when you act in ways that are adulterous in nature. It is for this very reason that the Good has come among you pursuing its own essence within nature in order to reunite everything to its origin.”

“All of nature with its forms and creatures exist together and are interwoven with each other. They will be resolved back, however, to their own proper origin, for the compositions of matter return to the original roots of their nature. Those who ears, let them hear this.”

-Rabini

 

 

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