Saturday, December 31, 2016

A sample of the Tao Te Ching, Ellen M. Chen, 1989

Oh the Tao, so deep.
I am reading the tao te ching, learning I have known these things,
astounded at the coherence and beauty of these things.


From knowing to not knowing,
This is superior.
From not knowing to knowing,
This is sickness.

One who is courageous out of daring is killed.
One who is courageous out of not daring lives.

the way of heaven:
Without contending, it is yet good at winning,
Without speaking, it is yet good in responding,
Without being beckoned, it yet comes of its own accord,
Unhurried, it is yet good at planning.
The net of heaven is vast,
Widely spaced, yet missing nothing.

Therefor the sage knows himself,
But does not see himself.
He loves himself,
But does not exalt himself.

The way of heaven ,
Is it not like stretching a bow?
What is high up is pressed down,
What is low down is lifted up;
What has surplus is reduced,
What is deficient is supplemented

The way of heaven, It reduces those who have surpluses,
To supplement those who are deficient.
The human way is just not so.
It reduces those who are deficient,
To offer [to] those who have surpluses.
Who can offer his surpluses to the world?
Only a person of Tao.

Therefor the sage works without holding on to,
Accomplishes without claiming credit.
Is it not because he does not want to show off his merits?


This is a sample. I hope you have enjoyed it.
--

Sunday, December 11, 2016

They called us Elitist, and we acted the part.

12/11/2016

 

We – if you didn't feel disoriented after Trump's election you won't feel included in this "we" – are listening now to people who don't feel their survival depends upon the survival of all of all of humanity, who accept their privilege as a right condition of human relations, who see themselves as being in competition with other human beings to have their needs met, who feel forgotten by us, who neglected them. I don't expect every Trump supporter to accept these characterizations. But we are guilty as charged. We forgot a significant number of Americans because they lived in "red" states, listened to Rush Limbaugh, like to drive big trucks, and work in oil fields. There is a large segment of the American populace whose interests we defend, but they didn't get the word. And we didn't reach out to them.

 

It's true, if the Democratic party  had not been corrupt, we might have had Bernie, and if we had, some of these disaffected Americans who voted for Trump might have voted for Bernie, and he would be president. I'm not letting the Democrats off the hook, by saying we failed to listen. The democrats absolutely failed to listen, and I'm including myself in the mistake they made, that progressives could ignore the disaffected masses and get away with it. And I think I am not alone. I'll bet you made that mistake too.

 

We are listening now because enough of them there were to elect a President who channels their fear, their anger, their sense of loss and need to be considered in the affairs of the nation. We are listening now because we were so disconnected from them and their needs that when their candidate won it shocked us, and set us back. Because we were too comfortable in our cozy little bubble of self-righteous "inclusivity". Except we forgot to include them. Now we are wondering, "Who are they?".  

 

So now, in our shock, we are re-grouping. We are looking for allies and preparing our defenses. We are thinking about the damage a Trump administration is likely to do for our agenda. We are gearing up to resist and obfuscate, to do to him what the Republicans did to the Obama administration. We are preparing for strikes and protests, we are hunkering down in our mountain lairs, preparing sneak attacks on their convoys. We are getting ready for guerilla politics, because that is what the group out of power does. We are re-counting our resources and allies, re-formulating our strategies, getting ready the political IEDs we will need to stop the onslaught of dangerous new policy. We are thinking about how to protect our prior gains, and how to avoid new losses.

 

Thus we are on two tracks. We vote culturally and with our politics for diversity and inclusion, but we forgot to vote the interests of our brothers and sisters who live, feeling ignored by the system that deprecates their white privilege, in desperate downward mobility. We ignored them, because we thought they were wrong and we were right. And this, we learn, is wrong. We need to own our elitism and stupidity. It's nice to win, as we did when Obama won, but then someone else loses, and scapes the winner. We need to do what their politics reject: we need to share. We need to take account of the humanity of even those whose values we deplore. We must ensure that  everyone wins equally. We must ensure that the needs of everyone are on the table, and that government policy is good for them too. Then there will be no need for bigotry.

 

The  other track is the obvious need to defend civil liberties, democracy, equal opportunity, protection of minority communities, and the sharing of prosperity. We must protect, as best we can, the sense of a shared humanity. Indeed, we must remind OURSELVES of a shared humanity.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What happened to the human? A missive to Act Blue

May 8, 2016


Apparently it's our fate to talk to machines. It feels really lonely. Ok, so if they work, we can move on. What if your organization is not getting what it wants because the machine is fucking up?
 

I wanted to increase my donation to Bernie. The machine does not offer any convenient way to do this.(I thought I would make a donation and select a button that says "add to your existing donation".) I am unwilling to add another line to my bank statement. I want to increase my donation, let's keep it simple.
 

So I follow the link to "contact us", fill in the fields, and select the topic "modify or cancel your donation" (my paraphrase). When I do, the machine gives me a page where I am expected to look up a donation because I do not remember it. This is not what I want to do. How much work am I supposed to do to give you extra money?
 

It occurs to me I will need to look up my donation to modify it. Has the machine given me any clue that that is its intent? When I encounter this kind of junk programming I think maybe I should just become a homeless person, get leprosy and die. When is the programming world going to get some empathy and think about its users? 

At least there is a "subject" called "other". I wonder if a human is going to read this. I would feel gratitude for this concession to humanity, except I suspect the only value of this letter is to let me express the pain I feel as the gears of the machine rake over my body.


Friday, April 22, 2016

What is the Untold Story?


4/21/2016

Many of us are committed to social-economic-cultural-political change that reduces violence and injustice and increases the health and well being of all creatures. After years of trying to understand where my efforts can be most strategically and meaningfully applied, I have come to rest on the project of promoting awareness and empathy. It's a path of healing and becoming.

Having identified the many ways that humanity can cause harm and misery, a long list I will not tax you with, it seems to me that the shortest line between injustice and justice, between poverty and grace, between taking and giving, is through the story which has not been imagined, the story of the victim whose well being has not been made a factor in the calculations of another actor, the story which draws on the emotions of the listener, which reminds the listener of their common humanity with the they who have been hurt.
For however rapacious American capitalism may seem, some other countries are far worse. 

As I study these other examples, It seems to me that what is missing is a commitment to health and dignity by the leaders and power actors. There are so many people who work with extreme ambition to become ever richer. But how does this wealth actually help these people? What I advocate is that we reward systems which promote adequate resources that allow people to take care of themselves, and we weaken system which strengthen the strong. Again, these actions are promoted by telling the stories of people who have fewer resources, and suffer not for being unkind and not for failing to plan, but only for being unlucky and impoverished.

My particular field of interest is the experience of being marginalized here in Chittenden County. I am showing up and networking with the homeless, and pretty soon, I expect, I will be going on a radio show to talk about the stories I am being told. The homeless have many untold stories. I intend to tell them.

Please call me Challenge.




Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wratchet of Rhetoric

Have you noticed the Republicans talking about how reprehensible and unacceptable Trumps bigotry is? 
Normally we expect Republicans to tolerate and soft pedal their criticism of bigotry. We are watching a special process.  The ideals and rhetoric of inclusion and diversity were set up by progressives over decades, and are suddenly helpful to the Republicans when they are confronted by a venal, disruptive force. It becomes a watershed moment, because for the relatively small benefit of depracating their nemesis, they are driven to acknowledge a huge principle.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Payback

They have been the party of the super wealthy and business for decades.
They have managed well to give advantages to those who are already
prosperous. They have built their electoral base on the promises of an
expanding capitalist economy that - they say - will lift all boats
equally, on the promise of an America which allows individuals to work
hard and succeed by dint of their individual effort. But the rich have
gotten richer and the poor poorer. The promises made by the party of the
rich were wrong, perhaps lies.

And Donald Trump is their punishment. The people are fed up. Trump is
how they sabotage the party that promised prosperity and delivered debt
and insecurity. They feel betrayed and they are thrilled to deliver the
message in a candidate who will destroy the party.


---
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Theory of the Difference in Power Between Men and Women.

Here is my root hypothesis:
Power is distributed between men and women according to the relative
importance of their contributions to the survival of the community. In
pre-literate, pre-agricultural societies, women and men tended,
therefor, to share equal status.
A second hypothesis holds that because men tend to be larger and
more muscular than women, they are able to dominate women through
physical power.
Persons familiar with western history might tend to believe that the
current pattern of male dominance is a product of male violence and
physical power. Supporting this argument they might dispute the first
hypothesis by noting that the production of children is obviously the
most important role in any community, and yet women do not retain a
status equal to the importance that this role would imply. However men
have not always dominated women. So what happened?
The problems in these apparently contradictory hypotheses can be
resolved if the first hypotheses allows the second to operate. Among the
pre-literate societies known to us are some that are matrilineal or even
matriarchal; In these societies, the permission of women may be required
for men to pursue a course of action, such as an attack on another
village; even though they have different roles, their positions have
equal status. The explanation for this is that the products of women's
labor are as important as those of men - perhaps more important.
Moreover, many pre-literate and paleo-lithic societies were thought to
engage in fertility worship, a clear statement of the importance given
by the community to the power of women to produce children and an
obvious veneration of women's status. However with increasing
complexity, changing demands on men and women, and increasing disruption
of human communities, the core function of women to produce children
lost its primacy to the need for men to protect the community and
acquire new resources.
Male violence takes on more importance as conflict between
communities becomes more common. The Huron Indians, a matrilineal
society related to the Iroquois, turned to warfare for a period just
before the arrival of Europeans because hunting was becoming less
successful, and men needed a way to demonstrate their masculinity. Hence
they were developing a violence-oriented society while still a
matrilineal culture. Whether the Huron would eventually have become
patriarchal can't be known, but this sort of transformation required
millennia, and was observed to occur in the cultures of the middle east
over the period of agricultural development. The key here is that as
violence becomes more important, the relative economic output between
men and women becomes less important. Also becoming less important is
the natural family structure required to raise healthy children, which
is typically led by women. The production of children is still
important, but women's roles and the production of children in
particular are subsumed in importance by the need to support male
military activity. Men, who must protect the community from attack and
raids by other communities, must now be given deference they did not get
before, and to a degree not seen previously, they have permission to be
controlling and use violence in their domestic relationships.
This transformation was very gradual. It was fostered by the dynamic
produced by agriculture and by husbandry that men could have multiple
wives. Families came to favor male children because, if they were
successful, they could multiply the number of children for the family
name much more than any one female child could. Of course every man with
a second wife means there is a man without a wife, so a male child will
not automatically produce more children, but it is possible and a gamble
seen as one worth taking.
The availability of agricultural surpluses, inducing theft and
violence and supporting more children for successful men, and the
possibility of having multiple wives, further inducing control and
violence, produced cultures which value and assign power to males and
men, in preference to females or women. Female fertility ceased to be a
resource owned by the women themselves; men came to see themselves as
owning it. These beliefs have persisted in western cultures for at least
4,000 years; they are deeply encoded in our religions and traditions;
despite this, women of western societies in the last century and more
have taken on the power structures which accord privileges to men, and
have demanded equality. What is so fundamentally different about the
present circumstances which women face that the time came to so
profoundly change the relationship between men and women?
One obvious cause is that women got fed up, but this was probably
always true. What was new were education (rationality and science being
big contributors), wealth (colonialism did benefit some), communication,
the formation of mass societies, and the deep complexity of western
economies. With the loss of the tradition of individuals living in
extended families on farms, the widow in an industrial economy will have
to raise her children on her own income; same for a woman whose husband
has left her (until the advent of contraception, almost all women were
mothers). Being in the workplace, having the same responsibilities as
men, or more, and seeing no material difference in the roles they or men
were expected to fulfill, except that men were paid more, women rejected
the argument that men's roles make them deserving of any privilege.
Indeed, with a general decline in the level of violence between
communities and a declining utility for violence in the community,
violence and the control that comes with it could be rejected as
necessary to the male - female dynamic. Women, seeing themselves as
used, abused, and trapped, having the education to know better, and
having the responsibilities to compel them, rejected the subservient
roles they had been assigned, and demanded equality with men.
I think it is worthwhile to discuss "equality". The first hypotheses
above suggests that equality for men and women does not require they
have equal access to the same roles. They can have different roles, but
the different roles must provide to each an equal chance to acquire the
resources they need to live and possibly to have children. For practical
purposes, because of the complexity and turmoil of our cultures and
societies, there are very few jobs which truly require a man or a woman
- sperm donor and mother? For now the only reasons to support role
distinctions at all only require some accommodations to motherhood, such
as allowing women to rejoin the workforce at the same status as when she
left the workforce to have children. Then a woman does not need to
choose between having a family and having a satisfying career. Since men
are generally not required to make this choice, this would be an
important achievement of equality. Other, "affirmative" accommodations
are also needed, due to the extra burden from producing and raising
children, and we could discuss "affirmative action" to further level the
field.
Unfortunately if you're man, you're not near as smart, as aware, as
connected or as competent as your rank equal. The unexpected outcome of
the Feminist revolution may be that men become more domestic and women
become the providers.

--


---
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trump charges ahead

Hi Kevin, I have a question about the electorate.

Conservative commentators are saying Trump isn't all that conservative,
and I've heard interviews with conservatives who don't care as much
about the policy positions as about the attitude. Another variety of
Trump supporter said that he was torn between Bernie and Trump, because
both want, this supporter averred, to make the system work for the
little guy. There is a lot of evidence that there is - despite the
apparent animosity between these groups - an overlap between the Trump
base and the Bernie base.

I'm thinking that both the Democratic and Republican parties are in
convulsions over the divide of whether the system is working for people
or the wealthy. Both Democratic and Republican parties have their
capitalist wings, and now that Bernie has come forward, their populist
wings. The populist wings have not fused yet because they have distinct
visions of what "working for the people" looks like, and the capitalist
wings have not fused for the homologous reasons. But the internal
tensions are tearing these parties apart, or will.

To put it one way, the revolution has already started.

In a Trump V Sanders race, a populist/capitalist would be going head to
head with a populist. In a Trump v Clinton race, two capitalists? In a
Cruz/Rubio v Sanders, would it be capitalists v populist? The lines are
not distinct to me but I can see a further purification of the
ideologies which divide the American electorate, in years to come.

My question is, if Trump were not nominated, would a significant
fraction of Trump supporters prefer Sanders over any Republican?

Steve.

If you "reply all" your reply will go onto my blog. If you do this,
wise to use a new subject.



---
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trump charges ahead

Hi Kevin, I have a question about the electorate.

Conservative commentators are saying Trump isn't all that conservative,
and I've heard interviews with conservatives who don't care as much
about the policy positions as about the attitude. Another variety of
Trump supporter said that he was torn between Bernie and Trump, because
both want, this supporter averred, to make the system work for the
little guy. There is a lot of evidence that there is - despite the
apparent animosity between these groups - an overlap between the Trump
base and the Bernie base.

I'm thinking that both the Democratic and Republican parties are in
convulsions over the divide of whether the system is working for people
or the wealthy. Both Democratic and Republican parties have their
capitalist wings, and now that Bernie has come forward, their populist
wings. The populist wings have not fused yet because they have distinct
visions of what "working for the people" looks like, and the capitalist
wings have not fused for the homologous reasons. But the internal
tensions are tearing these parties apart, or will.

To put it one way, the revolution has already started.

In a Trump V Sanders race, a populist/capitalist would be going head to
head with a populist. In a Trump v Clinton race, two capitalists? In a
Cruz/Rubio v Sanders, would it be capitalists v populist? The lines are
not distinct to me but I can see a further purification of the
ideologies which divide the American electorate, in years to come.

My question is, if Trump were not nominated, would a significant
fraction of Trump supporters prefer Sanders over any Republican?

Steve.

If you "reply all" your reply will go onto my blog. If you do this,
wise to use a new subject.




---
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reminder: Please accept my invitation to join Digital Journalism Collaborative - Chittenden County

 
Meetup
 

Digital Journalism Collaborative - Chittenden County

Join Stephen and 13 other digital journalists in Burlington. Be the first to hear about upcoming Meetups.
The internet offers everyone a chance to produce and distribute audio or video: You Tube is the commonest video example, and the "podcast" is the audio example. Community radio is an example, too, pro... (learn more)

This message was sent by Meetup on behalf of Stephen from Digital Journalism Collaborative - Chittenden County.

Questions? You can email Meetup Support at: support@meetup.com

Unsubscribe from this type of email.

Meetup Inc., POB 4668 #37895 New York NY USA 10163

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Please accept my invitation to join digital journalism collaborative - Chittenden County

 
Meetup
 

digital journalism collaborative - Chittenden County

Join Stephen in Burlington. Be the first to hear about upcoming Meetups.
The internet offers everyone a chance to produce and distribute audio or video: You Tube is the commonest video example, and the "podcast" is the audio example. Community radio is an example, too, pro... (learn more)

This message was sent by Meetup on behalf of Stephen from digital journalism collaborative - Chittenden County.

Questions? You can email Meetup Support at: support@meetup.com

Unsubscribe from this type of email.

Meetup Inc., POB 4668 #37895 New York NY USA 10163