Rush Drummer Neil Peart died on January 7th at the age of 67.
“Peart’s love of literature and reverence for history deeply informed his songwriting. “Red Sector A,” for example, emerged after he read accounts of World War II concentration camp survivors. “Manhattan Project” addresses the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, from multiple viewpoints. For much of Rush’s career, Peart was also dogged by long-ago praise for the author Ayn Rand, whose works were an influence on the sprawling 1976 song cycle 2112. (He later clarified that Rand’s work no longer resonated with him.)
In a 2015 Rolling Stone cover story, Peart self-described as a “bleeding-heart libertarian.”And, above all, his lyrics made people think — Rush fans were liberal, conservative, religious, non-religious — but they all united around their respect for the band and their admiration for how Neil could articulate their experiences, or give them a new way to look at an issue.”
In no small part because of his erudition, Peart’s erudition earned him the nickname “The Professor.” It was apt: Carrying himself with an air of well-spoken authority, he possessed knowledge about a variety of topics, owing to his extensive global travels — on Rush tours, he was known for taking off on bicycle rides and, later, would hop on his motorcycle to travel between gigs — and a voracious curiosity about the world around him. In his 2002 book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, he described going to art museums in the afternoons before Rush concerts “to feed my growing interest in paintings, art history, and African carvings.”
While an interesting travelogue, at its root Ghost Rider was a chronicle of how to repair a shattered self. The book details how Peart embarked on a solo motorcycle trek “to try to figure out what kind of person I was going to be, and what kind of world I was going to live in” after his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a 1997 car crash, and his wife Jackie passed due to cancer the following year.
All told, Peart released seven nonfiction books, several fiction collaborations and poured out thousands more words via his personal website. “What made Neil such a good writer is how much he loved to read,” Halper says. “He really loved and respected books. He loved good literature — he and I sat around one night talking Shakespeare — he loved poetry, he loved philosophy. He valued good conversation. He was a thinker — in the truest sense of the word.”
As any Rush fan will share, air-drumming to 1981’s “Tom Sawyer” can be one of life’s greatest pleasures.
[Excerpt from ‘Remembering Neil Peart, A Monster Drummer With A Poet’s Heart’, by NPR’s Annie Zaleski.]
A favorite quote from Bob Dylan, taken from a 1978 Rolling Stone interview: “The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”
Rush was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
Fewer Students Are Going To College. Here’s Why That Matter
This fall, there were nearly 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than a year ago, according to new numbers out Monday from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment by student.
“That’s a lot of students that we’re losing,” says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the Clearinghouse.
And this year isn’t the first time this has happened. Over the past eight years, college enrollment nationwide has fallen about 11%. Every sector — public state schools, community colleges, for-profits and private liberal arts schools — has felt the decline, though it has been especially painful for small private colleges, where, in some cases, institutions have been forced to close.
“We’re in a crisis right now, and it’s a complicated one,” says Angel Pérez, who oversees enrollment at Trinity College, a small liberal arts school in Hartford, Conn.
Why is this happening?
- The biggest factor for the years of decline is the strong economy. The last time U.S. college enrollment went up was 2011, at the tail end of the recession. As the economy gets better, unemployment goes down — it’s currently at 3.5 % — and more people leave college, or postpone it, and head to work.
- When the recession hit a decade ago, the reverse happened: Many people, especially older adults, returned to college. That bump in college enrollment set records, and in some ways the current downturn is simply “colleges returning to more historic levels of enrollment,” Shapiro says.
- U.S. demographics are also shifting. The number of high school graduates is flat — and in some cases declining — because of lower birth rates about 20 years ago. Those numbers are also projected to decline, so the trend of fewer students coming from high school isn’t going away anytime soon.
- And finally, there’s the cost of college. States are putting less money into higher education, and that’s led to an increased reliance on tuition. As tuition goes up, and grants and scholarships don’t keep pace, that’s pushed the cost of college down to students and their families. Without state investment, institutions are strapped, and so are American families.
“The power in this image speaks to the current reality in the U.S. and around the world of the plight of immigrants,” said the Rev. Kenny Irby, an independent visual consultant with more than 40 years of experience in journalism and education. “It’s an authentic truth that needs to be part of the narrative.” -NPR/Emily Bogle
‘Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river in Brownsville, Texas, and started back for his wife in Matamoros, Mexico. But seeing him move away, the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.’
Tragically, necessarily, indelible.
In memoriam. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and Valeria.
‘Your sweet memory comes on the evening wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks’
by Kelly McBride/Ethics & Trust
The shocking image joins a small portfolio of iconic photographs that magnify the suffering of children caught in geopolitical chaos, including Kevin Carter’s 1993 picture of a starving Sudanese child collapsed outside a feeding center during a widespread famine, Nick Ut’s 1972 picture of a naked girl burned by napalm in Vietnam, and Nilufer Demir’s 2015 picture of 4-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey.
These photographs have the power to galvanize the public, much the way that David Jackson’s picture of Emmett Till’s open casket did in 1955.
No matter what your political views on immigration are, the fact that so many children are suffering because of decisions made by the U.S. government is something every American should take note of.
The Story Behind That Photo Of A Father And Daughter On The Banks Of The Rio Grande
‘NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman about the Salvadoran family who lost their lives trying to cross the Rio Grande.’
“Lots of us have a bit of Eeyore’s angst and gloom.”
“When you’re experiencing a lot of stress, it’s easy to head into a downward spiral,” says Judith Moskowitz of Northwestern University. She is trained as a psychologist and studies the ways positive emotions can influence people’s health and stress. She developed the program taught to the caregivers.”
Here’s a quick summary of the eight techniques used in Moskowitz’ study:
- Take a moment to identify one positive event each day.
- Tell someone about the positive event or share it on social media. This can help you savor the moment a little longer.
- Start a daily gratitude journal. Aim to find little things you’re grateful for, such as a good cup of coffee, a pretty sunrise or nice weather.
- Identify a personal strength and reflect on how you’ve used this strength today or in recent weeks.
- Set a daily goal and track your progress. “This is based on research that shows when we feel progress towards a goal, we have more positive emotions,” Moskowitz says. The goal should not be too lofty. You want to be able to perceive progress.
- Try to practice “positive reappraisal”: Identify an event or daily activity that is a hassle. Then, try to reframe the event in a more positive light. Example: If you’re stuck in traffic, try to savor the quiet time. If you practice this enough, it can start to become a habit.
- Do something nice for someone else each day. These daily acts of kindness can be as simple as giving someone a smile or giving up your seat on a crowded train. Research shows we feel better when we’re kind to others.
- Practice mindfulness by paying attention to the present moment. You can also try a 10-minute breathing exercise that uses a focus on breathing to help calm the mind.
‘Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.’
Rainer Maria Rilke
NPR/Morning Edition with David Green and Actor Melissa McCarthy discussing her new film, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
GREENE: Did you learn anything about yourself in this role, in this film?
MCCARTHY: I think, for me, it made me really try to remember more like to look up and see people. Here’s this amazing, ridiculously talented, interesting, difficult, fascinating woman, and most people passed her by on the street. And she was invisible. So I do feel like I look differently as I’m passing people. And I think, what is your story, or what are you amazing at? Like, who loves you? Who do you love? What do you miss? What breaks your heart? I try to like – is – I don’t know if it sounds strange but make more eye contact.
And I do really think that there is an effective – if one person really looks at you in a day, that can change the whole trajectory of your day and then maybe your week. And maybe you look at one other person and connect that you’re humans. And to have someone know they’ve been seen, I think, can do a lot more than I had remembered it can.
Enlightening & educational interview with Dave Davies speaking to the importance of identity, community & purpose, combined with vulnerability. Excellent dialogue.
‘A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out’
“…after eight years as a neo-Nazi, Picciolini began to question the hateful ideology he espoused. He remembers a specific incident in which he was beating a young black man. His eyes locked with his victim, and he felt a surprising empathy.
It was a turning point. He withdrew from the movement and in 2011 co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that counsels members of hate groups and helps them disengage.
So it was the fear rhetoric. … I can tell you that every single person that I recruited or that was recruited around the same time that I did, up to now, up to what we’re seeing today, is recruited through vulnerabilities and not through ideology.
In fact, I had never in my life engaged in a meaningful dialogue with the people that I thought I hated, and it was these folks who showed me empathy when I least deserved it, and they were the ones that I least deserved it from. I started to recognize that I had more in common with them than the people I had surrounded myself for eight years with — that these people, that I thought I hated, took it upon themselves to see something inside of me that I didn’t even see myself
Here we are in 2018 and we have a lot of hallmarks coming from political figures, the administration and policies that are very similar to what we espoused 30 years ago. … It is a white supremacist culture that is being pushed.”
[A couple of weeks before the end of President Obama’s White House, Life After Hate received a $400,000 grant to continue their work. After the new administration took office in 2017, the grant was rescinded. Comedian Samantha Bee brought awareness to the situation and helped raise $500,000 for the organization.]
During a political season laden with polarized vitriol and hateful rhetoric, ‘voices of compassion’ is a reminder of the human heart and the kind thoughts and gestures that bring light to the shadows in life.
Two stories: One of harbored guilt and responsibility for a tragic event in our nation’s history; the other from a man who continues to immerse himself in the studies of addiction to help those caught in a system without support, or care.
“That was one of the mistakes God made,” Bob Ebeling, now 89, told me three weeks ago at his home in Brigham City, Utah. “He shouldn’t have picked me for that job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.’ ”
Jim Sides listened to the NPR story in his car in Jacksonville, N.C.
Other’s listened to this story as well, were touched deeply, and reached out to Bob to offer kindness and encouragement. Here’s a link to their story from All Things Considered.
‘It’s a tough sell on two sides. No. 1, it’s a tough sell for people who suffer from addiction. It’s tough to hear, “I’m sorry, we don’t have a cure. You can’t get detoxed, go away for 30 days, get your head straight and not be affected.” Same is true for diabetes. There is no place that I know of that gives you 30 days of insulin treatment and a hearty handshake and sends you off to a church basement. It just won’t work, so that’s tough.’
For researcher A. Thomas McLellan, who has spent his entire career studying substance abuse, the shift is a welcome one, though it has come frustratingly late.
McLellan is co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia and former deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. His work has focused on understanding addiction as a disease and improving the ways it is treated, a mission that took a personal turn midway through his career when he lost a son to overdose.’
I teacher’s morning pledge with her students in one school that started over again after the Bush Administrations’ failed NCLB policies. ‘I will do my best today.’
The classroom’s are multi-aged, with no textbooks, or desks, and re-trained teachers.
Here’s a case study from NPR:
Tues., Sept. 29th, 2015
In this excerpt, Dr. O’Connell shares a story of a homeless woman, in need of a liver transplant, who makes an unusual, and tender request:
“Stories From The Shadows: Reflections Of A Street Doctor.”
GROSS:You have treated a lot of patients who have died – not necessarily died under your care directly, but eventually died from living on the street. And you write about how some of the shelters do funeral services or memorial services. And I would like you to describe one of the funerals that you’ve attended for a homeless person who you treated that you found especially moving.
O’CONNELL: One woman who was from the streets who used to describe herself as a bag lady. And she would keep you and I away by having just the smelliest clothes she could. And her belongings were smelly, and she would put those around her so that it would protect her from anyone coming near her. And she developed – she drank and had gotten hepatitis C from a blood transfusion many years ago, and she needed a liver transplant. And it turns out if you’re homeless, you have a very hard time getting a life-saving liver transplant unless you can show at least six months of residential stability and at least six months of being clean and sober. So we kept her in our facility for that time so that the transplant surgeons could have the documentation they needed. And I remember just before she was at the top the list, she called me over one Sunday morning and asked if I would take her picture. And I was not used to taking pictures of people’s faces at that time. I used to take pictures of, you know, feet – frostbitten feet, et. cetera – that I can use for teaching medical students and residents how to handle some of those problems. But I took a picture and brought it back to her. She got all dressed up – put on a dress, put lipstick on, tied her hair up. She had a Styrofoam cup in which she put some flowers and put it next to her bedside table. And I took the picture, and I brought it back to her a couple of days later in a little frame and asked her what was going on. And she told me that she was facing this major liver transplantation, didn’t know whether she’d live or die, but that she had not seen her daughters – two daughters – since they were 4 and 5 years old, and that was 25 years ago. And she wanted to be sure there was a picture of her in case her two daughters wanted to look and see what their mother – what had happened to their mother someday, and she wanted to be presentable. So I was blown away mostly because she was telling me – I think in graphic ways – what it’s like to experience illness, suffering and the specter of death when you are homeless and have lost everything. And what I have learned about homelessness in our city and I think across America that it is about as lonely a situation as you can have. People are alone, ignored, kind of abandoned. And I think when they face death, they look at their lives and wonder, you know, what could’ve been – think about what could have been, wonder about stuff. And I shudder every time I think about what that must be like to really have lost even touch with your own children, have no family members, have no money and really no hope for a future that looks any better than living on the streets. But anyway, what was striking to me is when I came back into – I gave her that picture when I came back to – our McInnis House is what we call it – I think there were 22 people the next day that asked me to take their portraits. And it’s…
GROSS: You have a lot of these photos in your book. Is that – so this is how you started doing that?
O’CONNELL: That’s exactly how I started doing it. I was always – I thought it was being kind of voyeuristic to take pictures of homeless people. I didn’t want to take advantage of the privilege I had of being in their lives to also take pictures, so I was kind of – it’s all upside-down from what I would’ve once thought. But that was a long-winded way of saying that death – when people die, we really try hard to mark their death and to gather people around and celebrate and memorialize these folks. Many, as you know, we don’t know where their families are. We don’t know if that was even their real name. And when they die, they’re in the morgue – the city morgue – until someone claims them. And if no one does, then they will be buried in a pauper’s grave somewhere in the city, so we try hard to not only one – try to find the families – but two – if no family is found, make sure we have a memorial and mark the burial and passage of that person. And it’s the other homeless people who really cherish and value that.
GROSS: So let me ask you, this – this photo that got you started taking pictures of the homeless patients that you treat, she wanted the photo taken so if she died, her daughters who she had lost touch with would see what their mother looked like.
GROSS: Did anyone come looking for her?
O’CONNELL: No one ever came.
GROSS: That must have made you sad.
O’CONNELL: It did. It was really sad.
‘A group at San Diego State University says they’re trying to strike a balance by starting a Buddhist fraternity and sorority.
The idea for the Buddhist houses wasn’t surprising to the school’s Interfraternity Council.
“It’s kind of in line with things — Greek organizations are usually values-based,” says council president Blake King, and he’s eager to see the idea become reality. “You intermingle them, it provides an overall benefit, kind of a better-than-a-sum-of-our-parts type of deal.
But while there have been Buddhist dorms at schools like Wesleyan University in Connecticut, San Diego State will have the first official Buddhist Greek organizations in the nation.
San Diego State senior Matt Sheldon says he wanted something more than a Buddhist club, which might wane as students graduated or lost interest. He wanted “a brotherhood based on, like, ideals and based on practices that are constructive,” he says.’
Delta Beta Tau (Fraternity)
Delta Beta Theta (Sorority)
Beautiful audio essay from Chenjerai Kumanyika who is an ‘artist, activist and scholar who holds an assistant professorship in Clemson University’s department of communication studies and a creative professorship in the College of Architecture, Art and Humanities. His January 2015 article on whiteness and public radio voice, published at Transom, was featured at NPR, The Washington Post and Buzzfeed, and spawned a nationwide discussion on diversity and voices in public media’
NPR/All Things Considered
Don’t miss this one!
From Planet Money/NPR
1. Sign at the Top of the Form
2. One Line
3. Bet Against Yourself
“The band was also guided a spirit of inclusion and mutual respect toward their audience — values the members adopted during the “peace and love” hippie era of 1960s San Francisco. “The Grateful Dead treated their audience as partners, not as cows with wallets,” he says.
That partnership was nourished by a few key decisions along the way. The Grateful Dead famously encouraged fans to tape their live shows, and those tapes were then traded among fans and served as a pre-Internet form of viral marketing. The more the tapes circulated, the more people wanted to go see them live.
“But that’s not at all why they did it,” McNally says. “They did it because they were terrible cops and recognized that if they stopped taping, they would have to ruin the ambiance of their own shows.”
To get those fans to actually attend the shows, they created their own in-house, mail-order ticketing agency, and in the process created a massive database of devotees. The end result was twofold: They eliminated the middleman, thereby putting more money into their pockets, while gaining a reputation for superior customer service.”