Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Lessons Learned…Goals Identified

Unexpected colors – from my coloring book experiments

A load of lessons this year – big, small, in-between – physical, emotional, business, art, political. It’s always interesting to me to reflect on what I’ve learned in times of turmoil.

  1. I will stand up against hate.
  2. Knee surgery is a pain, literally, but necessary. Physical therapy is necessary. I am blessed with a great doctor, fabulous physical therapist, and a hospital that helps with financial assistance.
  3. Losing weight over 60 (…over 40…) is tough, but thanks to The Gabriel Method I might just be able to do it this year. No chocolate in over two weeks, n0 hunger pangs, no snacking – all because of visualization.
  4. Vermont pushes too many pills – finally found an integrative health doctor, rather than getting a prescription for anything that ails me without even looking at symptoms.
  5. Survived major surgery with hubby on his aneurysm repair last winter. Great doctor, learned a huge amount – he’s good to go.
  6. Walking still is my best form of exercise. So glad I can do more walking, much more comfortably, with the new knee.
  7. I like myself a lot more. Been years in the making, learning to deal with what I can’t change in the past.
  8. Still madly in love with hubby of 40 years. We always find something new to talk about.
  9. My mother was a full-blown narcissist, and I lived in fear of her most of my life. I have forgiven her and have moved on. She appears every now and then in dreams, and I find I can tell her off when she shows up – something I couldn’t do in real life. I’m moving on.
  10. I need to plan for art business this year. We had a great year last year, and my goal for this year is to sell a lot more art and make some good money.
  11. Newsletter each month for the marbling, more teaching opportunities, retirement sale of older works.
  12. Continue taking online classes for the pure enjoyment/learning something new. Work on color sense.
  13. I wrote a teaching manual – all 35,000 words – essentially in five months. It’s a template for teacher manuals, as it works with standards and ways of integrating new curriculum ideas for teachers. Thinking about a mathematics manual for algebra.
  14. I WILL publish my political novel this year. I am planning a Kickstarter campaign – or something similar. I have to do it in the light of current politics, and I need to get back to book 2.
  15. Made a lot of art last year. I want to make even more art this year, including a couple of large pieces. I’m keeping track of the process of taking my Pele piece apart and modernizing it with my new skills in free motion quilting.
  16. Three years ago I realized I only had 200 more b;og posts to do to hit 1000. Then I seemed to take long breaks from blogging. I’m still trying to hit 1000 – 920 and counting…I should be able to get 80 posts done this year……(PS – 921…)
  17. Politically it’s been a very difficult year for me. As a history/political science major I see trends before they are trends. I’ve been worried the last two years. It is time this year to write, speak out, demonstrate, listen, reach out.
  18. Be kind and listen, regardless of your own opinion. All of us need kindness and understanding.
  19. I will be out in nature more, travel more, worry less about finances.
  20. I will stand up against hate.

Memorial Day – in the Words of Howard Zinn

No one can really express these thoughts I have better than Howard Zinn. So I defer to him, a reprint of an earlier editorial of his that still rings true.

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe (from the Zinn Reader)
Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?
by Howard Zinn
Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year’s Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was canceled.

* * * * *

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

“The shell had his number on it. The blood ran into the ground…Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, the DSC, the Medaille Militaire, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian gold medal, The Vitutea Militara sent by Queen Marie of Rumania. All the Washingtonians brought flowers .. Woodrow Wilson brought a bouquet of poppies.”

Those are the concluding lines of John Dos Passos angry novel 1919. Let us honor him on Memorial Day.

And also Thoreau, who went to jail to protest the Mexican War.

And Mark Twain, who denounced our war against the Filipinos at the turn of the century.

And I.F. Stone, who virtually alone among newspaper editors exposed the fraud and brutality of the Korean War.

Let us honor Martin Luther King, who refused the enticements of the White House, and the cautions of associates, and thundered against the war in Vietnam.

Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.

On Memorial Day we should take note that, in the name of “defense,” our taxes have been used to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a helicopter assault ship called “the biggest floating lemon,” which was accepted by the Navy although it had over 2,000 major defects at the time of its trial cruise.

Meanwhile, there is such a shortage of housing that millions live in dilapidated sections of our cities and millions more are forced to pay high rents or high interest rates on their mortgages. There’s 90 billion for the B1 bomber, but people don’t have money to pay hospital bills.

We must be practical, say those whose practicality has consisted of a war every generation. We mustn’t deplete our defenses. Say those who have depleted our youth, stolen our resources. In the end, it is living people, not corpses, creative energy, not destructive rage, which are our only real defense, not just against other governments trying to kill us, but against our own, also trying to kill us.

Let us not set out, this Memorial Day, on the same old drunken ride to death.

###

Thoughts on Voting

This is an important election, not like some I remember when it really didn’t seem to make any difference who was elected. Voting is our right and our privilege. Women have not had the vote for 100 years yet. And the picture I have in my mind is of the purple thumbs of the people in the Middle East and Africa who are voting for the first time.

Speaking of the first time, I went to register to vote while I was still in college, but I couldn’t prove I graduated from high school. I had to take a literacy test. This is 1968, with the Voting Rights Act still new. I was incensed, but I had a much better understanding of the struggle to vote. The only time I missed voting was in 1994 when we moved to Tucson, and we just didn’t get registered in time. Enter Fife Symington in Arizona. Hey, we left Arizona a week after Evan Mecham was elected, and we come back to Symington.

There are a lot of articles and innuendo floating around about being denied the right to vote this year. I’m not sure what’s true and what isn’t. I do know that NOW is the time to make sure you are registered and have everything you need to vote. The days are gone when all you had to do was give your name at the polling place. I made sure my license has our current address, so I can’t be denied my ballot. You are running out of time to register before deadlines. Check. Re-check. Verify. Get your ID ready. Do what you need to.

I had my tutoring student, who is 19, tell me he wasn’t sure he was going to vote. It didn’t seem worth it, he said. I went politely ballistic, with a brief lesson on the struggles for suffrage. I said I didn’t care who he voted for, but he had to vote.

Here’s an interesting article: Voting as a Responsibility: How Hard Should It Be. Do your part and be ready.

And…as part of my own personal attempt to support and practice civil discourse, here’s an editorial by Captain Mark Kelly on this problem.

 

 

Thursday Thoughts – The Rise of Incivility

It has been an interesting 24 hours in terms of comments I have received. Now, I am still, at 64, a pretty naive person. I believe in the good in everyone until I am proven wrong. In the past I’ve only had one situation where I was backstabbed in a job. Most times I can ignore unpleasant people, and I can work with just about anyone. Part of this ability, I am convinced, is the result of an alcoholic parent. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic, and as such I have always been concerned with keeping people happy.

Over the years I have come to see that this has been an asset for me in working with teachers. I listen to what people want and then try to make it happen, while always taking their needs into account. That said, I know that incivility is rapidly o the rise in this country, and I have been slowly eliminating blogs and such where the message is one of hate or discrimination or just plain nastiness. I was doing pretty well…

…until yesterday. Wow, I was confronted with two situations that really troubled me, as this is becoming the norm in dealing with people. Situation 1: I had sold a small art quilt in a specialty auction on Tophatter. I debated putting this piece up on line, as I really liked it, but I am trying to bring in some additional money. I put this piece up, description was accurate, price was good ($30 plus $5 in postage). I know a number of people would say price was way too low, but hey, my decision and I needed some money. And…the piece sold. I was thrilled and it went in the mail to its new owner.

Yesterday I went online to schedule some new items for auctions on Tophatter to find that I couldn’t schedule anything until I took care of negative feedback. Huh? We’ve sold on Ebay for 8 years and have 100% feedback. The closest we came to negative feedback was a neutral, and as it was, we refunded the money without even asking. Here’s what I read:

“What a waste of money! Don’t buy from this seller unless you want to just waste your hard earned money. I’ll make something 100X nicer. All he sent was a 9′ by 12″ piece of lousy fabric, hand sewn with metallic thread in a few spots, and had the gall to charge $35.00 for it. We, quilting night at my house, just laughed, and burned it. Must be VERY lazy. I will NEVER buy a thing from him again. What a RIP OFF! You should be ASHAMED to call yourself a quilter…what a joke.”

That “lousy fabric” was a piece of hand-marbled denim, which no one does that I’ve been able to see. This was a small art quilt, and it was billed as such. They burned it!

This was just vicious. Never emailed and said they didn’t like it. We would have refunded the money. We have an “on the wall” policy for folks who buy our art quilts. Put it on the wall for a week to be sure you like it. If you don’t, it comes back to us for a refund.

I have asked for resolution from Tophatter to get this feedback reversed. I had to respond to the person, and I did, nice and sweet…well, at least rational and no name calling. Over the years I have become less PMS-y when it comes to dealing with most people, except for politicians. If I call, they get the full brunt of my sarcasm. But I would NEVER even consider responding to someone this way.

So I pulled an item from an auction for today, same auction that the person bought from last week, as I just don’t need to deal with this.

So as I was slowly getting over this yesterday, I get an email with a returned newsletter that had just gone out. We use MailChimp, and every newsletter has a place to unsubscribe, and you are only getting a newsletter because you opted in for one. Here’s the email with this one:

“I am so disgusted with your narrow, small-minded attitude about GUN CONTROL that I never want anything to do with you or your products.  Take me off your email list. NOW. “

Okay……..You can certainly boycott me; I don’t have a problem with that. But I wasn’t aware I had this attitude. I have been very careful to keep my political posts as balanced as possible in this climate. The posts I do tweet or share are as reasoned as I can find. Such was the case with the gun post over the weekend. I can only assume that was what she was referring to. Other than that, I’ve never said a thing about gun control. Now, I am not a fan of Jason Alexander of Seinfield fame, but I thought his post over the weekend was well done and had good points. That’s what I shared.

A couple of months ago I posted in another Thursday Thoughts that I would really try to look for balance in politics. I am reading some hateful things in blogs in an attempt to understand what people are thinking. I’ve had to stop a number of those blogs, because they are just ugly. This also applies to both sides of the political fence. I found an article from Addicting Info that would have been so much better had the sarcasm been eliminated.

The headline is antagonistic, and it doesn’t need to be. A better, less inflammatory headline might be “20 Lies That Will Shock You.” You’ll probably get more people reading the article. Here’s a paragraph from the article, as is:

9) You don’t have a “right” to anything that other people have to pay to provide for you. Then you do not have the right to police protection, a fire department or even a 911 emergency line. You do not have the right to clean air or safe food. You do not have the right to a military to protect you from foreign invasion. You do not have the right to a single thing that is government-run. Oh? What’s that? You pay taxes so you deserve all of those things?

Exactly, you stupid bastard. If everyone else was not chipping in, i.e. “paying to provide for you,” you would not be able to afford all that nifty stuff. It’s called “socialism” and only very stupid people think they are completely self-sufficient.

Pretty inflammatory. I would rewrite this:

9) You don’t have a “right” to anything that other people have to pay to provide for you. That includes police protection, a fire department or even a 911 emergency line,  clean air or safe food,  a military to protect you from foreign invasion, or any single thing that is government-run. If everyone else was not chipping in, i.e. “paying to provide for you,” you would not be able to afford all that.

Probably would not sell as many articles, but a lot more civil.

So I will continue my own campaign, despite nasty, vicious people and all. I have to believe that the actions of one can make a difference. Thoughts? And be civil about it, or I will delete you…..

Not Again…..

Jane Goodwin, Mamacita of The Scheiss Weekly, says it best:

Read the full article here.

May our thoughts be with the families in Aurora, Colorado….and perhaps we might still learn something……

Treason in the United States

Okay, folks, I’ve studied enough Constitutional law to understand when I hear treason, and  it’s coming loud and clear from citizens in this country who are in violent disagreement with the Supreme Court ruling on health care, which is just the latest in unpopular political decisions. It sounds like the childhood game of “it’s my football, so you have to play my way,” except now we’re talking guns and violence. So….I’m taking my own form of action, and I invite you to do the same. The Federal Bureau of Investigation handles treason investigations, and I’m hereby publicly writing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking them to investigate, and I will continue to do so, regardless of your political affiliation. Civil disobedience is one thing; treason is in a whole ‘nuther sphere.

Here’s the situation:

Tea Party Leader Calls For Violent Overthrow Of Government Over Health Care Ruling (VIDEO)

June 30, 2012

By

Treason. It’s a word that conservatives don’t seem to understand. In their minds, treason is when the duly and legally elected government passes a law that they don’t agree with. In other words, if Democrats do it, it’s treason, but when conservatives do it, it’s patriotic. And, of course, after the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, conservatives whined about the decision and some took the ultimate step of calling for violently taking over the government.

In what looks to be a repeat of history, some conservatives are calling for open civil war against the United States government for passing laws they don’t agree with. On Thursday, Mississippi Tea Party Leader Roy Nicholson took the Supreme Court’s health care ruling as a sign that it’s time for an armed rebellion against the government that we the people chose for ourselves. On the state Tea Party website , Nicholson referred to the government as a gang of criminals who must be violently subdued in the name of the Constitution.

“When a gang of criminals subvert legitimate government offices and seize all power to themselves without the real consent of the governed their every act and edict is of itself illegal and is outside the bounds of the Rule of Law. In such cases submission is treason. Treason against the Constitution and the valid legitimate government of the nation to which we have pledged our allegiance for years. To resist by all means that are right in the eyes of God is not rebellion or insurrection, it is patriotic resistance to invasion. …May all of us fall on our faces before the Heavenly Judge, repent of our sins, and humbly cry out to Him for mercy on our country. And, may godly courageous leaders rise up in His wisdom and power to lead us in displacing the criminal invaders from their seats and restore our constitutional republic.”

Here’s the video:

 

This is NOT freedom of speech.

Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:

Section. 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. (I’m thinking that going public through YouTube constitutes having at least two witnesses.)

From May 22, 2012: (actual link here)

Here is my open letter to the FBI. Please feel free to copy and share this post.

I want to file a complaint on a person inciting acts of terrorism and violence. The following links describe the crime and incitement. This happened the week of June 25. Enough is enough. I have included a video showing Roy Nicholson of the MS Tea Party inciting violence and acts of terrorism, which are clearly against federal laws.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/06/30/tea-party-leader-calls-for-violent-overthrow-of-government-over-health-care-ruling-video/

This has to stop. Violence is not acceptable, regardless of your political affiliation. We have survived unpopular presidents, misguided wars, laws, and Supreme Court decisions in the past.

Here is a link to finding your local FBI office. I welcome reasoned and civil discussion. I will delete comments of hate and dissension.

And now….back to art, which does have the power to make change for all of us.

Thursday Thoughts – “Truth”

I’ve been bookmarking lots of articles lately, except not the ones having anything to do with the science of tutoring, which is what I should be looking for….but these have been articles that are causing me to think. A lot of these fall into the category of WTF….but I will say I am trying to be more circumspect in evaluating my information. My liberal bent won’t go away, but I do want to be more cognizant of “truth” and how it’s presented to us these days.

This first is from the Huff Post, and it is about obscenity – in a most unusual place. It seems there was a hearing in Washington on the House Committee on Natural Resources. The woman presenting is a coal field activist and concerned about the availability of clean water to families in the area. She had a photo to share of a naked child playing in filthy water, full of pollutants and poisons.

“…well water is the only source of water most coalfield residents have, people who live far from any municipal water supply. In most of these communities, city water just isn’t an option, and buying containers of drinking water is expensive. As a result, for so many people, this is the water they drink, the water they bathe in, the water they use to live. Human beings require a lot of water, and while you can distill and filter it, this is still the water you’re stuck with, the water that comes out of the ground. When that water gets poisoned, that’s the water you put in your body.” (From the Huff Post).

The picture shown was of a child (with the parents’ permission to show the photo) bathing in this polluted water. At which point the Capitol police took the woman aside to question her about child pornography.

Okay. This whole issue is not about pictures of naked children. It’s about a picture of the living conditions in an area severely polluted. At no point was this even debated. Now the liberal part of me is outraged. I immediately want to blame coal money  having a hold on what gets brought up for discussion in the House. And the liberal part of me should stay outraged that we have these kinds of living conditions for families in the 21st century in this country. That’s the outrage that should be heard, not changing the tenor of the committee hearing to idenitfying whether something is pornographic.

So what is the “truth” here? That’s where I am trying to wrap my head around some of the articles that we are seeing. Yes, the Capitol police released the woman, saying there were no grounds for pornography. So what happened to the debate in the committee? Who were the Senators? How much money have they (regardless of party) received from coal mining interests? What was the overarching purpose for this committee hearing? These are questions that should all be answered. We can’t determine “truth” without far more information.

This next article is from Trouthout, “Don’t Thank Me for My Service.” Wow, very different. A veteran talks about his guilt at serving in the military, and being thanked for the killing skills he learned. Here’s an excerpt:

“So, when you thank me for my service, it disturbs me … a lot. First off, it brings to mind my wasted youth and lost innocence, and the horrible and unnecessary deaths of good friends and comrades. Second, it reminds me of my responsibility and culpability for the pain and suffering I caused innocent people, again something I would rather forget, but cannot. Third, it reinforces my belief that you have absolutely no idea about the nature and reality of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, because if you did, you would understand that thanks are inappropriate. Fourth, it reminds me that many of those who feel the need to offer thanks were apathetic about – or even supportive of – the war, while they refuse to participate themselves or did little or nothing to end it. And lastly, I have to admit that I doubt the sincerity of these expressions of supposed gratitude, as “Thank you for your service” is just something to say not because you care about what I did or sacrificed, but only to demonstrate your supposed good character, or patriotism and/or “support” for members of the military and veterans.”

Powerful stuff. Those of you who follow me know I fervently believe in peace, and I feel all avenues need to be explored – honestly, rightly, with whatever it takes to listen, before war  or “military action” is declared. Being one who didn’t want us in Iraq or Afghanistan, I worry about all the injured vets coming home, men and women alike, who face a lifetime of flashbacks and rehabilitation. Cutbacks in veteran services make me mad, because these people gave the full measure of their lives and will never be the same because of it. War is fought by young people, sent to war by older folks. Nothing has ever changed.

I find this an interesting “truth.” We are here today because of those who fought in past wars, especially our “Greatest Generation.” But they brought their demons home with them, just like today’s vets. Hitler and Tojo – not much choice for us there. But what about now? There’s nothing on the news to remind us of what’s happening to our men and women. No pictures. I don’t particularly want the living room war of Vietnam, but in the midst of all the crap out of Hollywood and the wealthy, we forget there is an ongoing war. I listened to a military mom in the doctor’s office saying she would vote Republican because Obama didn’t support the troops. How much truth is there in what she believes? One 10-second sound bite doesn’t give us the facts we need to determine why our troops are where they are, how they are being supported, and how they are being led.

What we are sorely lacking in this country now is ANY form of civil discourse, where we can have facts, partisan as they may be, and the chance to investigate and discuss all the issues. This whole issue of “whose truth” is keeping me awake at night. What has happened to the voices of reason and the journalists who do whatever it takes to get the news to us, as unbiased as possible? And what is happening to the teaching of the discipline of history, so that we have the tools to analyze the information we do get? Where are the voices of reason?

Thursday Thoughts

Lots of ramblings through the mind this week, a good chunk on medical care. Last week I checked into possible vision therapy as a result of losing the vision in my left eye. My insurance would not cover any of it, not even out of network, and the treatment is very expensive. So there is no way I can do this. Now I am already paying a lot of money each month on my COBRA, until Medicare kicks in.

Keep in mind I have always felt like I needed to pay my fair share, and I realize I am lucky to have health insurance. But come on, people, we shouldn’t have to feel lucky. We should be able to access what we need without going broke or going in to bankruptcy….and I know whereof I speak. Every person in this country should have access to affordable health care. I don’t think this necessarily means the government needs to be completely involved, but I think the attitude of “medicine for profit” is hurting the average American.

In line with the previous thought, I am making a effort to try and read more “conservative” blogs to try and widen my views on current issues, as well as be sure what I believe is accurate. This has been a challenge, because I seem to see – and feel – a great deal more vitriol on these blogs. Michelle Malkin’s blog has so much sarcasm that it becomes difficult to plow through to find nuggets. And yes, she seems way more sarcastic than Rachel Maddow, who does have her share of sarcasm, but then there is a footnoted nugget to follow.

Notice I am reading women. I think if I want a truer look at “the war on women,” then I need to read women. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. Women’s rights are being attacked.

Which is just another reason why I get so incredibly depressed, thinking about the amount of evil in the world, and it’s no longer just outside our borders…yes, I have managed to stay pretty darn naive all these years, and this global/national/local evil is coming unrelentingly….

Which is why I lament the lack of good history teaching in the schools, that now brings me to….

…my tutoring session this afternoon, where I am helping a college student prepare for a philosophy test….a class I never had. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking up information to help me understand the topic and then help my student understand what could possibly be asked on a test tomorrow. And all this led to a really interesting hour and a half of philosophical questions on topics in history that would illustrate deontology and consequentialism. From Harry Potter to the movie Black Hawk Down to the killing of Bin Laden – quite an interesting 90 minutes.

To tie this to teaching history in schools, how can we have philosophical discussions and look at morality if we don’t understand our own history, what makes us a country, and how we fit with the rest of the planet? That’s a good philosophical question……

I must say, however, that the philosophy book stinks…..no index, the glossary is worthless, and the table of contents leaves much to be desired. When you are working with a student on study skills, being able to access an index to find information is critical. How can a textbook NOT have an index? This is such a basic skill for any of us wanting to access information from a text and not just the internet. Yes, Google is essentially an index, but its algorithms bring up results based on our previous searches. And let’s face it, not everyone uses the internet, especially if they have spent a LOT of money on a class text. I would think for 80 dollars a book should have an index.

Yeah, the mind is all over the place this week…..who knows where I’ll be next Thursday?

World Water Day 2012

From The Huffington Post, statistics on water. Every time we drink from a plastic bottle, we are depleting resources. Most of us in this country never give a thought to the problem of fresh water on this planet,  not just where we live. Becoming conscious of the problem is the first step to becoming active.

According to Water.org, every 20 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. That’s a pretty frightening statistic.

Visit the Free Water Project to see what you can do.

Water.org

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday….never know what you’re going to find! Plus I love reading about what people are doing. And blogs about history – but I’m staying away from current politics – makes me too angry and depressed, and I just don’t need that! So here’s just the cool stuff….

Speaking of politics (and this will be the last time, I promise), when I do look at headlines, I scan Al Jazeera in English. If you depended on just the US media, you wouldn’t know nearly 75% of what is actually going on around the world. Forget your previous conceptions of Al Jazeera – this is good all-round news.

From Cool Hunting – a really interesting take on working with crystal – including rings and weapons….

From Cool Hunting this week also comes where to play on Bora Bora. I REALLY want to go on vacation now!!

From the JPG Blog,  a new contest – photos are FABULOUS!!

Antelope Canyon, Abstract #1 by Linda Clifford

Also from Cool Hunting, a short video of an art show in Mexico:

Cool Hunting Capsule Video: Liquid Sculptures from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.

From MAD Magazine, a look at the class of 2015 (hey, it’s the teacher in me…..).

Seven Steps that May Dramatically Boost Your Happiness from Dumb Little Man – some good ideas here. One step? Follow your bliss.

If you have not discovered fractals yet (and forget about all the math involved – just go for the beauty), you need to look at Fractal World. Here’s their fractal of the week:

Shopping more at Farmer’s Markets more? If you follow Summer Tomato, you will be able to tour farmers’ markets around the world. Here’s Shanghai….

Mix zentangles, ATC’s and color, and you get Enthusiastic Artist‘s  gorgeous work!

Have a great week – send me cool stuff you find online!

Thursday Thoughts

As I have written over the last month or so, the shootings in Tucson really affected me, especially the fact that we had almost headed over to the Congress on Your Corner but we had a doctor’s appointment instead and decided to do the next one. I wrote here about what it was like for that following week at school, helping kids process the shootings and the hate from the Westboro Baptist Church directed toward our school.

I studied history and political science in college, at the height of the Vietnam War. I was a drug-free hippie who believed in freedom of expression and the peace movement. I loved seeing trends and themes in history, and then when I taught Advanced Placement US History, I kept discovering things I hadn’t known about our country. I followed that up with reading Howard Zinn’s A History of the American People. That is a pretty amazing book. You can follow The Zinn Education Project on Facebook.

Throughout January, into February, and particularly March and April I sank into a real morass of despair, looking at everything going on in this country and the lack of civility in understanding. I “unfriended” some folks who’s attitudes I felt were very destructive. I would listen to the news and start yelling at the television, reminding the screen about all that came before. Needless to say, I accomplished very little….

I have since gotten myself on track with enjoying life through a couple of – what turned out to be major – changes. No more news. I read the headlines each morning from the local paper on line, and I read the headlines from Al Jazeera English, each time amazed at what is going on in the world that we have no idea about in this country.

Stay away from movies that will P*** me off, like Sicko. There is nothing I can do. I understand the situation, and I cope as I can, but there’s no point getting upset.

Stay positive. I am working with the Co-creating Our Reality site, and I am amazed at just how happy and relaxed I am becoming, Of course, retiring from teaching didn’t hurt…..

Create art. I am finally getting back into the creative spirit, and I think as I create more, not only will I feel better, but I will begin to get some of my frustrations out into art work.

Enjoy people. Given my background and being very shy, I tend to stay away from a lot of socializing. That is changing. I am meeting more people, going out with friends more, having people over, and the like. I’m enjoying sitting on the couch in the afternoon with hubby (35 years this Saturday), streaming something from Netflix that we can enjoy together, and not hve to worry about marking papers or doing lesson plans!

Ooooh yeah, I’m gonna love retirement!

50 Years Ago….

Fifty years ago today I became political. I didn’t know it at the time, but I remember in very clear detail that day. I was twelve and only out of the hospital from eye surgery for three weeks. I still had tape on my glasses to leave only pinholes to see from, and I could only watch television for 90 minutes each day. there was definitely no reading.

On January 20 I watched the inauguration of John Kennedy as the first president I could remember really understanding and seeing. It was cold that day. I sat with my grandmother, an immigrant from Lithuania when she was only 3. I remember Robert Frost reading a poem. Even then I loved Frost’s poetry.

And I listened to Kennedy’s speech. I mean really listened. I realized I understood everything he was saying. He wasn’t a “boring politician,” which was how most people my age categorized people in office. I was transfixed.

And then he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Wow. Talk about impact. I was idealistic enough to think he was actually giving me a clarion call. But there was no Peace Corps because I couldn’t be vaccinated, so no overseas travel at the time. There was no military because my vision was so bad. There were no offices to hold, because women didn’t do that then. The only thing that seemed to be available for service was teaching. I stood when the flag was raised. I stood every time I heard the national anthem, even when no one else did. I loved everything about this country.

As a sophomore in high school, in biology class, I even wrote a scathing paper against Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. How could she say our government would do that? By the time I was a senior in high school, I was debating the role of “Red China”  and its admittance into the United Nations. Quite controversial at the time. William Lederer’s A Nation of Sheep was my bible.

Were I not in fear of family reaction, I probably would have become a true hippie. But I ran for office in college, ran the Student Court, and walked for Bobby Kennedy.

Life got in the way, but I think I have found a new way to advocate. Peace has got to be the answer.

January 20, 1960. A really good day.

Top Ten Tuesday – A Word from Your Mother

This is from the front page of the blog “A Word from Your Mother:”

“The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
~ Albert Einstein

Very powerful words to introduce an extremely powerful blog about our planet. Normally I have ten different things, but this time I want to introduce you to A Word from Your Mother and ten different entries that you should read if you are at all concerned about our planet. There is some very troubling stuff on this blog, but I firmly believe that we need to understand as much as possible about the potential fate of our planet and the sentient organisms inhabiting it. Our history has been woefully uninformed on many of these issues. Be prepared to be worried, upset, and more knowledgeable. With knowledge comes action.

First up, Indigenous People: Not Only Plants and Animals Face Extinction. “According to the latest estimates, there are only approximately 370 million indigenous people, spread across 70 countries, left on earth.” There are loads of great links to human rights and the UN Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights.

Chief Seattle sums it up well:

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.”

~ Chief Seattle

Next, a video from TED, Ideas Worth Sharing: America’s Native Prisoners of War.

OMG – One More Generation – Saving endangered animals for the next generation, an organization started by children. This is just one of the many interesting and important organizations you can get to on the sidebar of the blog.

Monsanto – a company most of us have never heard of, or if we have, we connect it to rugs. Unless you read Michael Pollen (Omnivore’s Dilemma), Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), and watched Food Inc. Then you’re aware of what’s happening with our food sources, and potentially our farmer’s markets. This entry, Do You Know What You Are Eating and Breathing? takes on Monsanto. This is part 1 of 10. Again, be prepared to be troubled.

Mother Earth Still Has a Few New Things to Show Us is more uplifting.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an entry looking at the Gulf oil spill. Take a close look at the issue of plastic in our environment.

Protected Area of the Week from ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) –  world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. Take a look at what’s disappearing from the planet.

And finally, (I know, it’s only 8…) a reminder from Randy Newman…It’s a Jungle Out There.

Algebra and Politics – Who Knew?

Who would have thought algebra would get political? Surely not me, naive person that I still am….I’m at Walgreens earlier today and I commented on a Halloween picture. Seems Walgreens will give a free 4 by 6 photo if the kids come in costume to the store on Friday. I mentioned that I thought that was a great idea. I said my students and I were celebrating Distributive Property Day instead of Halloween.

If you follow this blog, you know that I’m attempting to bring some humor to an otherwise excessive candy day that drives teachers nut – it’s on Sunday this year, so Monday will not be pleasant….Distributive Property Day is when we “share with everyone. Here’s an example of the distributive property: 3(x + 2). When you simplify, you end up with 3x + 6. You “share” the 3 with everything inside the parentheses, hence my “sharing is caring.” I tell the kids Halloween is just a marketing ploy to selll candy, and we’d be better off if we practiced sharing is caring.

Back to Walgreens. I tell the guy my class celebrates Distributive Property Day, and I explain about “sharing is caring.” To which he says (and I am not kidding) “That sounds like something Obama would do – distribute property to all.”

What? Huh? Am I missing something?

Thursday Thoughts – Election Year

I will be glad when November 3rd arrives because I am SOOOOO tired of all the political ads. The negativity and the inaccuracies are ridiculous, on both sides. I lament the decline of rational discourse, the inability of so many Americans to be civil, rational, and truthful. This is on both sides: negativity is an equal-opportunity style of campaigning. In Arizona we are innundated with propositions on our ballot; on the one hand, evidence of democracy and the voice of the people in action. On the other hand, many of these are crafted by very special interests, and these propositions do not have the best interests of the people in mind. Yet they are presented in a slanted manner to try and sway people who have no real grasp of historical impact. Every “solution” brings interesting new problems.

Case in point: the Interstate Highway System, started by Eisenhower as a way of being able to move troops and weapons across this country easily during the Cold War. Resulting new “problems” were decline of small towns and loss of downtown businesses. But without some good grounding in American history, we rarely see these trends from the past.

I believe there is a real lack of understanding of American history. Immigration is a major issue this year, yet so many people do not understand the trends in immigration throughout our history. While we openly admire ourselves for being a “melting pot” of nationalities, the reality is far from this. Native Americans – we tried to exterminate the race. African-Americans – we tried to enslave the race. We tried to send the Chinese back to China. Every immigrant group has had to assimilate and faced issues while doing so. We have never had a “fence” – and the thought of one just smacks – to me – of the Berlin Wall. Do we need to address immigration? Absolutely, but from a reasoned, historical, and economic approach. These are people’s lives, regardless of race or ethnicity. Unless you are 100 percent Native American, we are all immigrants.

There is also major religious intolerance in this country, we who expound our freedom of religion. The Compact of Religious Toleration of 1649 in Maryland (Maryland Toleration Act) is an eye-opener; we use this as the earliest example of the country’s belief in freedom of religion….

Passed in accordance with instructions from Lord Baltimore, this document protected Maryland from the charge of intolerance toward Protestants. When the Protestants were in charge of the colony for a time after 1654, Catholics were not protected in their faith, but this document was reinstated with the restoration of Lord Baltimore as proprietor. The Maryland Toleration Act constitutes the broadest definition of religious freedom during the seventeenth century and was an important step toward true freedom of religion. It sounds strange to our ears that such a harshly worded document should be called a toleration act, but the breadth of toleration defended also required that the sensibilities of religious people not be offended regardless of denomination. Aside from prohibitions on the calling of names, the meat of the act is found near the end of the text—no one will be punished or disadvantaged because of his religious beliefs. In any case, the harsh blasphemy provisions were never enforced. (http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1048&Itemid=264)

But when you read the actual act, it is “Christian” – nothing about Jewish persecution. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/497485/Act-of-Religious-Toleration). Strictly Catholics and Protestants. I remember reading this for the first time and realizing that our ideal of religious toleration in this country was not realized.

It is the profession of the ideal…we – everyone in the world – needs to make progress in this direction – toward the ideal. But it seems like those of us who actually refer to the wording in the US Constitution are tagged with the “L” word – when did liberal thinking, respect for all, a desire to help those who need help, and a wish that all could reach for the stars without barriers become something to be ashamed of? When did it become a disease, an affliction?

And when did it become acceptable to slam the office of the Presidency and the President? We may disagree…I certainly did many times over the past 8 years, and that is my right, but never to the level of hate we see today. I truly fear for the direction this country is headed. I will continue to educate my students when I can about the historical connotations of some of the things they see and ask about. I will be respectful of others’ opinions while I try to get a student to think about what they are saying and what facts they have to back up their statement, regardless of whether or not I agree with it.

Rational discourse and civility – much needed, desperately lacking…..

And now, back to our regularly scheduled art programming……

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