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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News Factoids for First Quarter 2015

Oxford University Press sent a letter to all of their authors in January 2015 telling them not to have pigs or pork products in their manuscripts so as to not to offend 'other cultures'. Stupid, scared people.

The Koch Brothers's invitation-only 'primary' conference in Palm Springs in January 2015 featured Marc Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz & straw poll winner Scott Walker; their announced (nefarious) plan is to spend $889M in the 2016 election cycle.

"Deep injection of wastewater [from fracking] is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S." — per February news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey that corroborates a recent study published in Science Magazine

"Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation [est. 2006] suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support."

"Target said [in mid-March] that it would increase the pay of its workers to at least $9 an hour, joining retailers like Wal-Mart and T.J.X. in raising its hourly wage in a more competitive job market and facing pressure from labor groups." — per New York Times

"“[T]he fast-food movement’s next big wave of protests . . . is now scheduled for April 15 . . . the organizers hope [to] turn the fast-food workers’ fight for a $15 hourly wage into a broad national movement of all low-wage workers that combines the spirit of Depression-era labor organizing with the uplifting power of Dr. King’s civil rights campaign." — per New York Times

The Totten Glacier in Antarctica is melting extremely fast, partly due to warm sea water sinking into recently-discovered sea-floor trenches directly beneath it; the completed melt will raise the world's oceans by eleven feet.

I have discovered a nice food treat. A little package of sliced Baby Bella mushrooms costs $2.29 in the produce section where I shop and scarfing half the 'shrooms works nicely as a meal. The taste is nutty, no dressing required, and best of all: no dishes!
Copyright 2015 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 2015 Quotations (60)

"The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry."
~~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt [1882-1945]

"To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness."
~~ marketing expert E. Joseph Cossman [1918-2002]

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it."
~~ W.C. Fields [1880-1946]

"A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness."
~~ Elbert Hubbard [1856-1915]

"I wish life was not so short . . . languages take such a time, and so do all the things [that] one wants to know about."
~~ J.R.R. Tolkien [1892-1973]

"Those who prefer their English sloppy have only themselves to thank if the advertisement writer uses his mastery of the vocabulary and syntax to mislead their weak minds."
~~ Dorothy L. Sayers [1893-1957]

"I always invented to obtain money to go on inventing."
~~ Thomas Alva Edison [1847-1931]

"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."
~~ J.K. Rowling

"I am by nature a dealer in words, and words are the most powerful drug known to humanity."
~~ Rudyard Kipling [1865-1936]

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."
~~ Laura Ingalls Wilder [1867-1957]

"Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know [that] she is better than every other country."
~~ Sinclair Lewis [1885-1951]

"Heroes are not great statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better."
~~ Louis 'Studs' Terkel [1912-2008] Page

"To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived."
~~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [1859-1930]

"Love is the strange bewilderment which overtakes one person on account of another person."
~~ James Thurber [1894-1961] & E.B. White [1899-1985]

"The best of our fiction is by novelists who allow that it is as good as they can give, and the worst by novelists who maintain that they could do much better if only the public would let them."
~~ J.M. Barrie [1860-1937]

"Chance is the playground of fools."
~~ Capt. Francis Newcombe [1878-1956]

"Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves."
~~ Nathaniel Branden [1930-2014]

"Only a great mind that is overthrown yields tragedy."
~~ Jacques Barzun [1907-2012]

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
~~ William Shakespeare [1564-1616]

"Art is made to disturb. Science reassures. There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain."
~~ Georges Braque [1882-1963]

"Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
~~ Benjamin Disraeli [1804-81], in the novel 'Coningsby' [1844]

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserve and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists . . . it is real . . . it is possible . . . it’s yours."
~~ Ayn Rand [1905-82], in "Atlas Shrugged" [1957 novel]

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
~~ Samuel Beckett [1906-89], in 'Worstward Ho' [1984]

"There’s only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best."
~~ Doris Lessing [1919-2013], in 'The Golden Notebook' [1962]

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget."
~~ Arundhati Roy, in 'The Cost of Living' [1999]

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
~~ Edgar Allan Poe [1809-49], in 'Eleonora' (1841)

"Human history is in essence a history of ideas."
~~ H.G. Wells [1866-1946] in 'The Outline of History' [1920]

"It has been said, 'The West has to be seen to be believed'. But it has to be believed to be seen.”
~~ Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday

"Freedom of speech and opinion is non-negotiable."
~~ Anonymous cyber collective video, 2015

"The reason that Republicans are not seen as leaders in America is that it is tough to lead when you are moving backwards."
~~ G.E. Nordell

"SHUT UP – in the name of free speech!"
~~ cartoonist Jen Sorensen

"If a businessman makes a mistake, he suffers the consequences. If a bureaucrat makes a mistake, you suffer the consequences."
~~ Ayn Rand [1905-82]

"The only thing standing between me and total happiness is reality."
~~ Brandon B.

"I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it ceased to be one."
~~ Mark Twain [1835-1910]

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."
~~ Cardinal Richelieu [1585-1642]

"In this world, hate has never yet dispelled hate. Only love can dispel hate."
~~ Gautama Buddha [5th Century BCE]

"You see, in our century we've learned not to fear words."
~~ character Lt. Uhura, on 'Star Trek' TV series

"There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts."
~~ Mahatma Gandhi [1869-1948]

"My worst nightmare is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read."
~~ Barbara Kingsolver

"The goal of storytelling should be to make stories as ubiquitous as music."
~~ Malcolm Gladwell

"I still wake up so jazzed that I don’t have to go to school."
~~ Sarah Silverman

"If the problem is digital, the solution is analog!!"
~~ Anonymous

"You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns."
~~ Charles Pierce, in Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

"The only thing harder than speaking truth to power is speaking truth to stupid."
~~ TV producer Aaron Sorkin

“Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don't ever apologize for anything."
~~ Harry S. Truman [1884-1972]

"My folks came to the U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood, and became an alien."
~~ Leonard Nimoy [1931-2015]

"You want to lose all of your customers? Lie to one of them."
~~ Bartolo Aglialoro [1909-89]

"Sean Hannity is probably the most loathsome dude at Fox News. Everything is presented in as devious a manner as it could possibly be presented."
~~ Jon Stewart

"Beware lest in your anxiety to avoid war you obtain a master."
~~ Ancient Greek orator Demosthenes [384–322 B.C.E.]

"The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library."
~~ Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

"The thing about [independent films] is that you know everybody's there for the right reasons."
~~ Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons

"Movies are like people; you either trust them or you don't."
~~ director Bennett Miller

"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."
~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929-68]

"Often in life, the most important question [that] we can ask ourselves is: Do we really have the problem [that] we think we have?"
~~ Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink

"We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one."
~~ Steven Pinker

"Strategy is often in the things [that] you decide not to do."
~~ Anonymous

"You gotta be a beast - that's the only way [that] they'll respect you."
~~ rocker Nicki Minaj

"A mistake repeated more than once is a decision."
~~ Paulo Coelho

"I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one."
~~ Martha 'Calamity Jane' Cannary [1852-1903]

"Twenty years from now if there is some obscure trivial pursuit question, I am confident [that] I will be the answer."
~~ Sen. Ted Cruz

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Working Minds Essay #107: The New Civil War Is About Justice

{I got into a back-and-forth in the Opinion/Letters Dept. of the weekly local newspaper that took from October 2014 to March 2015 to be resolved. My final essay of 828 words had to be cut down to 512; this is a variation of the longer version.}

The open question was: 'What makes the United States the best country in the world?'.

The French Revolution [1789-1799] took on the slogan "Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, brotherhood)" but that does not satisfy the open question. Americans generally agree with the French motto, but this was not what drove the signers of the Declaration of Independence to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor".

I say that what the America's Founding Fathers were about was the achievement of Justice for the residents of the American Colonies.

'No taxation without representation' was at the forefront. And there was no way to attain representation under the authoritarian King George III. (Such was impossible in the practical sense as well: imagine trying to deal with votes in Britain's Parliament from across the Atlantic Ocean, a voyage that then took more than a month each way.)

The United States was built on the notion of the existence of the Individual, for whom the local and national governing bodies should provide a just environment. And that also meant justice for all, although it took a long while for such benefits to include slaves, females, and minorities – even in theory. A large part of the tension and acrimony and violence today is because theoretical justice for black and brown and red and yellow people, women, LGBT people, non-Christians, the elderly, the young, and the poor are being rolled back. The fascist Koch Brothers, their A.L.E.C. program, their Koch-funded T.E.A. Party radicals, white supremacists, and other anti-justice folk really intend to cancel the rights gained by the oppressed in hard-fought battles over the last 200 years.

There is no justice in working a full-time job of any kind and being unable to feed one's family. Thus the outcry by the working poor and their sympathizers. (None of whom have the dollars that were decreed to be free speech by the fascist Supreme Court all of five years ago this January.)

There is no justice in my personal vote having to battle with the multiple millions of dollars available to each member of the Oligarchy, the One Percent.

There is no justice in the Republican Party's attempt to bankrupt the U.S. Postal Service and the member-funded Social Security program, and to destroy life-saving Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare.

The citizens of America are willing to pay for equal opportunity – in health care, in education, for insurance of all kinds, for access to wilderness and recreation, and inside the criminal system – while the Oligarchy spends a tiny percentage of their largely untaxed wealth to prevent equality of opportunity. The fascist Oligarchy purchased both houses of Congress in November 2014, while the working poor cannot come close.

As I say, the concept of Justice was central to the Founding Fathers, and the great extent to which that abstract Value has been removed from the public conversation is why the United States is faltering in its role as Leader of The Free World. (Rather tough to lead when you are moving backwards, eh?)

Black citizens of Ferguson and the rest of Missouri, black and brown in Florida, any minority in Jim Crow Kansas, and short brown people in Apartheid Arizona continue to experience the brunt of the anti-Justice policies of the largely white and largely male and largely pseudo-Christian majority.

The ideal of Justice is why many of our ancestors came to America and why many in other lands are still hoping to get here somehow.

But the reality is that Justice is being taken away while the ignorant watch dance shows and soap operas, the violent wear hoods in the night, the mis-informed suck up more propaganda from right-wing Faux News pundits, and the weak give up and stay home.

The Oligarchs want no taxation, period – at least not for them. The citizens of America, however, want to fix our broken infrastructure, to clean up the polluted environments that we live in, to educate our children, to restore justice to the criminal justice system, to boost the economy by creating jobs, to enable health and well-being for all, and to bring back the once-thriving Middle Class.

The extant Civil War in America is being fought over the issue of Justice. Which side are you on?
Copyright 2015 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved