"There's great contentment in minding our own business."
The wisdom of the Sequichie of the Cherokees
I think the important part here is not "minding our own business,"
it's the "great contentment" part….
Have you focused on great contentment lately?
One way of thinking about minding your own business is to understand and
accept that you cannot live someone else's life.
But you can be engaged in another person's life, even better if it's a mutual
openness, if both of you can frankly touch hot spots of shared intuition and delight
and experience….I think screaming together, thigh touching thigh, as the roller
coaster plunges down is a pretty good example….
There is great contentment in minding your own business with someone you
The current rate of human population growth cannot continue for more
than a few decades.
In the time it took you to read that sentence, Earth's population
increased by about 300 people. Think about your whole neighborhood growing by
100 households every two seconds.
This is an almost invisible threat to our way of life.
It should put some starch in any argument you want to make about global
supplies of food and drinking water, global climate change, fossil fuel
reserves, international politics and conflicts, international and domestic
terrorism, air pollution in China, traffic jams on I-405 in southern
California, parking spots in London or Hong Kong, beachfront summer rentals,
you name it….
The human population of Earth is increasing by about 220,000 people EVERY
DAY. That's about the population of Scottsdale, Arizona. Imagine that a new
city the size of Scottsdale will come into existence somewhere tomorrow in
Michigan. The day after that, a new Scottsdale in southern France. And then
Zimbabwe the next day, and so on….
It took modern man, Homo
sapiens, about 200,000 years to create a living population of 1 billion
people—that was the estimated world-wide population in 1800.
It took 130 years to add the second billion (1930), then less than 30
years for the next billion (1959), then another billion in 15 years (1974),
then 13 years (1987), 12 years (1999), and 12 more years to reach a total of 7
billion in 2011.
I'm picking a dreadful fact almost at random: right now, close to 1 billion
people don't have access to clean drinking water.
At the current population growth rate we'd get to 14 billion in 2095,
but I really don't think the planet will support another 7 billion people.
"You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that
you are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from
school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect their
little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with their little
foibles until they get to crowding you too much."
Even if you're not old enough to recognize the "Rosie the
Riveter" moniker from World War II, you've probably seen her poster.
When Geraldine/Rosie died on Dec. 26, 2010, the Washington Post eulogized her as "a 17-year-old factory worker [who] became the
inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female
power and independence."
The Post forgot to say explicitly that Geraldine was one of the
anonymous 3 million women who stepped right up to "do a man's job" in
defense production plants throughout the war. Many of them realized that it
wasn't "a man's job," it was "a job." After the war ended,
most of them returned to then-traditional women's roles and "women's
jobs," but they opened the door for the explosion of women in the workplace in the last half of the 20th century. In 1950 about 34% of
women worked outside the home; in 2000, about 60% of women were on the job.
"Rosie the Riveter"
was a fictional character, a wartime morale-boosting invention aimed at
recruiting women for wartime work. There were several iterations in different
locales, a "Rosie the Riveter" song, and numerous local press
celebrations of the local "Rosies" on the assembly lines.
One day in early 1942 a United
Press International photographer snapped a candid shot of a good-looking
brunette teenager bending over a machine in a metal factory in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. Geraldine was the girl in the polka-dot bandanna. She did not know that
the photo ended up in the hands of an artist, who took Geraldine as his inspiration
and created the "We Can Do It" poster with an intensely determined young
woman rolling up her sleeve.
In fact, Geraldine didn't find out
that she was the girl in the poster for more than 40 years. A family member read
an article in a 1984 issue of Modern Maturity magazine that linked the teenage factory
worker with the iconic patriotic poster.
Much belated thanks to Geraldine
Doyle for doing her bit in the war.
Tacuit in praesepio illa nocte hiemali gelida, laeta nocte illa.
In praesepio nulla telephonicula, nulli vestigatores, nullae cicadae, nee alia molesta . . .
It was quiet in the manger that cold winter night, that joyous night
There were no cell phones in the manger, nor pagers, nor beepers, nor other noisy things . . .
Thanks to Larry Lipkis (English text) and Dennis Glew (Latin translation)
for "Tacuit in praesepio" (excerpt above), performed December 15, 2013,
during the Moravian College Christmas Vespers Service in Central Moravian Church,
I'm no fan of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey
(R-PA), he's a right wing ideologue whose concepts of constitutional, economic,
social and civil realities don't match up with mine.
Nevertheless, give credit where
credit is due….
Last week Toomey crossed over from
the dark side and joined the other Pennsylvania senator, Democrat Bob Casey, to
sponsor a bill that would prevent the EPA from implementing a thoughtlessly
costly new rule.
Seems the Environmental Protection
Agency intended to protect the environment of your throat and mine by requiring
local governments everywhere to replace malfunctioning fire hydrants with new,
certified, expensive lead-free hydrants, and discard any existing spare hydrant
As Toomey pointed out, the
rationale for this EPA rule was really bogus, namely, that sometimes people
drink the water that comes out of fire hydrants, and we don't want anyone
drinking lead-contaminated water.
Of course we don't want anyone to
routinely drink lead-contaminated water.
Let's all pledge to resist the impulse
to drink water directly from a fire hydrant.
Let the world know: in America, we don't
drink water from fire hydrants.
OK, I'm comfortable saying that I'm a liberal progressive, I
voted for President Obama twice, I believe we need government to regulate the
predatory impulses of the so-called "free market."
But I don't support the idea of a minimum wage law.
According to a fairly basic economic concept, it's
counter-productive to set a floor on the price of anything, including labor, if
it's above whatever level that may be set by supply and demand—any higher price
will reduce demand.
Even if somehow a minimum wage law made economic sense, I
don't think there's any rational way to set a "minimum wage" at the
"right" level to achieve any particular policy purpose you have in
mind. What's the "right" number? No matter how you slice it, any
specific dollar figure for the minimum wage is a wholly arbitrary choice.
Take the current debate.
No matter how you slice it, a law that says an employer
can't pay less than $10.10 per hour means that some employers who would be
willing to hire a new worker at $10.09 per hour might not hire anyone. The
working poor who have jobs will make more per hour....and the working poor who
don't have jobs won't earn anything.
Look, why don't we just set the minimum wage at $30 per hour—do
you think that will raise the collective incomes of the working poor?
OK, suppose we make it $29 per hour….think that would be
made a splash when he publishedDe
nova stellain 1573,
challenging the Aristotelian doctrine of a perfected, unchanging celestial
before the advent of practical telescopes, the Danish gentleman-scientist was the last
of the principal "naked eye" astronomers, working without telescopes.
was in the van of astronomer-scientists who gradually debunked the Ptolemaic concept
of the cosmos as an Earth-centric (geocentric) system. Brahe proposed a cosmos with
the sun and the moon orbiting the Earth, and the other planets orbiting the sun,
with stars in the classical "fixed spheres."
Copernican cosmological system was at odds with Brahe's geo-heliocentric system,
and Kepler later proposed a more correct orbital system based substantially on Brahe's
astoundingly detailed and (for his time) spectacularly accurate astronomical observations.
wasn't in the mainstream, and he was not shy about promoting his own system.
his less-than-tactful characterization of others with divergent views:
This is the kind of movie that
makes you want to cry—not because you watched the movie, but because what
you're watching really happened.
I didn't live in Montgomery,
Alabama, in 1955….didn't know about the bus boycott at the time. Shame on most
of the white folks who are accurately portrayed in "The Long Walk
Home," the racist citizens who complained at their dinner parties that
"the niggers don't want to work" while their black maids were serving
dinner. And much too tardy and much too inadequate praise for the other white folks who are
accurately portrayed, the ones who felt the injustice, a little bit or a lot,
that framed their everyday lives, living with their black neighbors in Montgomery.
This is a message movie, plain
and simple. Sissy and Whoopi are the messengers, plain and simple. They know
what they're doing and they send the message to the viewer, straight from the
shoulder, right between the eyes.
It all seems very calm, except for the one, not-too-violent
crowd violence scene at the carpool intersection—frankly, it's a bit awkwardly choreographed,
but the denouement is satisfying.
Sissy, rather incredibly, tells
her domineering, bigoted, abusive husband to stuff himself at the very end. Good
message, but not too realistic, I guess, from a white 1950s housewife in Montgomery, Alabama.
But Sissy is the other strong character—Sissy
is on the right side of the bus boycott, and she sticks her neck out a lot more
than Whoopi's maid character does.
There is dreadful truth, and heroism,
in "The Long Walk Home."
p.s. I talked with a trusted personal
advisor about this movie, and her comments moved me to add these thoughts:
I can read about the Egyptians
enslaving hundreds of thousands to build the pyramids and feel sympathetic, and
I can read about the Huns sacking Rome and killing tens of thousands and
feel rueful, and I can read about the
Inquisition and feel indignant, and I can read about the wholesale destruction of
the First Peoples of North America after the Europeans arrived….and you know,
on and on….and then I can look at the 1920s photos of the lynchings in the
South and feel desperately angry, and then I can watch “Long Walk Home” and
feel wretchedly helpless and realize
that lots of the white folks who lived in Montgomery in 1955 are still alive
and wonder if they’ve changed their outlook at all, and hope that their
children aren’t in schoolrooms teaching my grandchildren anytime soon…..
More than 33,000 Americans have died from gunshot wounds in the year
since a crazy man with several guns killed 20 first graders and six school
staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The shooter fired 155 shots in about five minutes, and then killed
Imagine waking up to find that everyone cared—really cared—mostly about
the right things.
The other day the rector asked for contributions to an "End 68 Hours
of Hunger" campaign.
I heard him explain that some local kids live in such poverty that the subsidized
lunch they get in school on Friday is the last thing they get to eat before the
subsidized breakfast they get in school on Monday morning.
another tally finds that only 17 per cent of the directors of the Fortune 500
companies are women—and only 15 per cent of the senior executive slots are
filled by women.
was the same story last year, and the year before that….
know the story: most directors and executives and managers are men, so men are
much more likely to have managerial and executive experience, so the men in
positions of power mostly hire men to fill empty positions.
get real about executive qualifications and experience—I'll argue this point: the
average female executive/director is a
lot more qualified and experienced than the average
male executive/director, because the woman ran a longer, tougher gauntlet to get
into her seat.
course there are really good male candidates for every empty board seat….and really
good female candidates.
I think no one would ingenuously argue that all of the current male prospects for
Fortune 500 board seats are more qualified than the handful of exceptional female
candidates who would be seriously considered.
love to challenge every Fortune 500 board that's looking to fill an empty chair
right now to demonstrate that there is no woman who outshines the top three short-listed
ahead, crunch the probabilities for yourself.
think the conclusion is inescapable: all those guys who fill the board rooms should
do themselves and their companies a favor and increase the female contingent to
at least, say, 18 per cent.
State and local governments are giving $1 billion a year—that's
$1,000,000,000—to privately-owned NFL teams, for tax exemptions and stadium
If you're a football fan, I hope you're enjoying the use of my tax
dollars (I'm saying this in a nice way).
I couldn't find any hard numbers on the giveaways for other pro sports.
There's no proof—and never has been any proof—that public subsidies of
professional sports generally have a positive payback to all the taxpayers of
the state and local governments that are handing out the cash….obviously, some of the taxpayers are enjoying the benefits. And all of the team
owners are enjoying the benefits.
Just imagine how many math teachers we could hire with a billion
dollars a year….or how many elementary and secondary teachers we could RE-HIRE
with a billion dollars a year….
Almost indubitably this is the first "selfie," taken about
175 years ago in Philadelphia:
You're gazing at the un-famous visage of Robert Cornelius, a 19th
century chemist in the City of Brotherly Love who sat in front of his camera
for a minute to create this image in 1839.
He couldn't share it on InstaGram because the Internet hadn't quite
been invented yet….
Nice to see that he was fully clothed and doesn't appear to be smashed
or high, and wasn't playing air guitar, and wasn't doing anything of a sexually
compromising nature, and I'm hoping he wasn't signaling any gang I.D. there….
Just in case you were wondering, the Oxford Dictionaries people decided
that "selfie" is their "Word Of The Year." Not sure what
that means, really, in terms of cultural sophistication…I haven't done any "selfies"
yet so I guess I'm slow on the uptick….
And by the way, "selfie" was first used to describe an online
self-portrait by an Australian dude in 2002.
I wonder what "selfie" means in Awstraylyin….it doesn't mean "beer,"
I know that much.