Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sleeping In Public, Immigrants, Separating Kids From Parents, Can Getting Stoned Cure All This? Sunday Reading

NPR's Ted Talk show this week* , Attention Please, was about how the world is vying for your attention.  They noted the average person sees (does that include hears) 4000 - 10,000 ads a day, all competing for your attention.  I've been writing here about how people's attention is diverted from critical issues, from learning deeply enough to understand critical issues.
*Link gets you to this week's show which will thus be out of date soon  This link gets you to one of the talks on this subject.

And I'd remind you that this blog DOES NOT TAKE ANY ADS.  The more time you spend here, the fewer adds you're subject too. :)

Here are some recent  articles that cover well issues that we either don't hear or think about enough, or at all.

1.   Sleeping In Public - Starts with a story about a Yale student calling the police because black Yale student dozed off in a dorm common room, but goes on to explore our norms against sleeping in public.  It gives some examples of where it's ok, but doesn't mention the beach, where it's ok if you're in swim wear, but not if your in street clothes.  Think about your reaction to people you see sleeping in public - when is it ok, where is it ok, does it matter how they're dressed or what color they are?

2.  Crackdown on immigrants takes a toll on federal judge: 'I have presided over a process that destroys families' - a judge talks about how soul destroying his job is.  Here's a brief snippet:
Brack also sees migrants charged with drug offenses or long criminal records and is unsparing in their punishment. But they are a minority, he said.
“I get asked the question, ‘How do you continue to do this all day every day?’ I recognize the possibility that you could get hard-edged, you could get calloused, doing what I do,” he said. “I don’t. Every day it’s fresh. I can’t look a father and a husband in the eye and not feel empathy.”
Brack, 65, is the son of a railroad-worker father and homemaker mother and earned a law degree at the University of New Mexico. He served as a state judge before being named to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.

3.  Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror - Masha Gessen is bi-cultural having grown up in both the US and the Soviet Union/Russia (maybe they makes her trip-cultural.)  She was a journalist in Russia and has written a searing biography about Putin.  She's someone I think understands the world better than most.  Here's a paragraph from that piece that is a relevant follow-up to #3 above.
"Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror. Memoirs of Stalinist terror are full of stories of strong men and women disintegrating when their loved ones are threatened: this is the moment when a person will confess to anything. The single most searing literary document of Stalinist terror is “Requiem,” a cycle of poems written by Anna Akhmatova while her son, Lev Gumilev, was in prison. But, in the official Soviet imagination, it was the Nazis who tortured adults by torturing children. In “Seventeen Moments of Spring,” a fantastically popular miniseries about a Soviet spy in Nazi Germany, a German officer carries a newborn out into the cold of winter in an effort to compel a confession out of his mother, who is forced to listen to her baby cry."

4.  Why We Should Say Yes to Drugs  - Andrew Sullivan argues that psychedelic drugs help expand people's minds,  help people  experience universal love  and  see the unity of humankind. From Jesus to Lennon we've heard "All You Need Is Love."   And that's why authoritarian leaders over the same time period have wanted them banned.  (The last sentence is my thought. But the idea is connected with George Carlin's piece  )


  1. No. 3 -- We can stop asking how low will this Administration go. There is no bottom as we watch democracy die in real time. It's hard not to lock the doors, close the blinds and curl up in bed in a fetal position. It's only knowing I'm not alone, through sites like yours, that keeps me hanging in there. And I am in CANADA!

  2. I've always thought that suicide seemed such a waste. If someone felt they had nothing to lose, then they became totally powerful because they take bold stands, great risks, because there was nothing left to lose. I've since come to understand that depression and pain drain people of their will to do anything.

    But standing up to power for justice is and has been the human condition. The choice of all people. I think of prisoners in the Gulag creating codes to talk to prisoners in other cells with taps on the wall. I think of people in the German concentration camps clinging to life and hope for change. I think of slaves in the US South. If they could find ways to maintain hope, I have a wealth of resources in comparison. Every act of resistance requires those in power to use up some of that power to deal with. It's our job to awaken those who've lost hope to see the power they have, and specifically to vote in November and change the power in Congress. But also to be loving and respectful of those whose pain has made them receptive to Trump. Their anger thrives on anger towards them. Love and respect has the power to disarm them. It's what they want, but aren't used to dealing with.

  3. We can all do our bit: it’s always been in our power, whether plebeian or patrician.

    As to those whose life, anger, or philosophy bring them to embracing what I see as me-first politics, I'm not too sure how we would attract them to a you-too politic, one that builds on mutual benefits.

    Me-first politics has many of the trappings of 'lotto liberty', where we each play to win even though nearly all gain a scratch. What to do?

    Simply put, we are the many; we can help ourselves by electing ourselves. Our power comes from joining ranks, using a bit of that love and respect for the many rather than for the few.

    Our problem is, any power can become tyranny – that in solving problems through elected politicians, power is ceded once more to those few who interests can never be fully known.

    And there we go, again.


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