Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dolphins in the Mirror


I love this story about dolphins demonstrating self-cognition, the ability to recognize themselves as themselves in a mirror.  Not many animals (besides humans) can do this, and watching them makes it clear that these young dolphins seem to enjoy seeing their own reflections in the mirror! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Riding the Rollercoaster

There's the story of the cave, Plato's version of reality in which we're chained to the cave wall, watching the shadows of chairs, or, in some cases, the digital recreation of football players vying to gain points over opposing football players.  In the digital recreation of other people's lives, it's possible to view the digital recreation of the elevated heartbeat of a real human being.

Our hearts beat wildly for the players.  We breathe deep and should loudly in response to those remote views.  I like that our Vikings have won another game and get to play again next weekend, but we cheer for the men who wear the purple uniforms.  We get to know them, put our hopes in them and wish for the best.  But we know very little about them or what they stand for, what they represent.  They carry the flag of Minnesota, but most are not Minnesotans.  And I'm not a Minnesotan.  Most of the Minnesotans I know don't care all that much whether their football team wins or loses.

Still, it was a momentary joy to see the improbable come-from-behind win from a team that has taught us to watch in disappointment.  But not this weekend!   Skol!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Whitman and Dickinson Again

Today I get to talk again with a group of young people about a remarkable thing, a revolution in language that began to take place with the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson in the second half of the 19th century. 

Not many people get to do the same.  This is my job today, or at least part of it.  I spend fifty minutes with some young people and some poetry. 

A world is changing around us, with technology and culture and the environment, but the poems that these two figures managed to put together in their lifetimes will remain.  Whitman tells us that he sees us from his far vantage point.  Dickinson seems to see herself, and us, in a bog. 

In a time that seems to offer an option for every way of looking at the world, I appreciate the comfort of these two poets who recognized the changes in their own times and how an imagination can help us see a bigger picture. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Five Days In

So, it's clear that the landscape is changing so fast and furious it's like a flood washing away much of what was built over the last eight years.  Was it so bad?  Is this a sign of better things to come?  I don't think so.  I think it's a sign of petulance and arrogance.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.
From News and Guts
*credit for compilation: Karen Cornett-Dwye

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Election Election Election

I'm more worried about this election cycle than any other I've been through, because I've seen the devastation that can come from a president who doesn't have a firm grasp of consequences.  And it's not just that there's still a small possibility that the US might elect a president that sends us off the rails.

It's the high level of rancor over the election campaign.  How do we get past the divisive rhetoric that we're seeing today?  I want my candidate to win, but I want them also then be able to govern, to rally the people of the US to do better, to be better people.

I think of it this way--the election on November 8 is the gateway to a new beginning.  I'll take what happens, whatever it is, whatever my worries.  But I want a functional government.  My worry is that politicians will see opportunity in the vast divide to rally a portion of the populace to their side and demonize the rest, leaving us at odds with each other, prey to forces that loom.

Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  Today's rancor seems to me to be a crisis similar to the one Lincoln faced, a country divided by an issue that still hasn't healed.

It isn't one issue that divides our country today; it's many.  The multiple challenges our country faces--mounting and crippling debt, threats from abroad, political gridlock, and environmental devastation--together present a crisis that needs decisive action.

We must face this crisis with seriousness and purpose, forging a way forward with respect for differing opinions and positions.  And we want a leader who will inspire us with the values that the founders of the country did.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kitchen remodel summer 2016

Here are a few photos showing how we spent most of our summer. Whew!