Newspapers are essential for our democracy. But they don’t get paid for it.

… a blast from the past (2003)

“Or, suggests Peter Bakke, online manager at the Concord Monitor, perhaps it’s a downfall of newspapers in general, be they print or online. “Why (should politicians) advertise with somebody who’s writing about you every day anyway?” he asks.”

Source:

https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/17348/early-state-news-sites-not-as-primary-as-you-migh.html

         Democracy Dies in Darkness

 

The concept of “help thy neighbor”

 

peter bakke - golden rule - Confucius

In Debt: The First 5,000 Years, anthropologist and economist David Graeber proposes a concept of “everyday communism” which he defines, when analyzing peasant lives as “The peasants’ visions of communistic brotherhood did not come out of nowhere. They were rooted in real daily experience: of the maintenance of common fields and forests, of everyday cooperation, and neighborly solidarity. It is out of such homely experience of everyday communism that grand mythic visions are always built”. Also, “society was rooted above in the ‘love and amity’ of friends and kin, and it found expression in all those forms of everyday communism (helping neighbors with chores, providing milk or cheese for old widows) that were seen to flow from it”.

Closer to home, he gives this example: “If someone fixing a broken water pipe says, ‘Hand me the wrench,’ his co-worker will not, generally speaking, say, ‘And what do I get for it?’ … The reason is simple efficiency…: if you really care about getting something done, the most efficient way to go about it is obviously to allocate tasks by ability and give people whatever they need to do them.” Moreover, we tend to ask and give without thinking for things like asking directions, or

“…small courtesies like asking for a light, or even for a cigarette. It seems more legitimate to ask a stranger for a cigarette than for an equivalent amount of cash, or even food; in fact, if one has been identified as a fellow smoker, it’s rather difficult to refuse such a request. In such cases—a match, a piece of information, holding the elevator—one might say the “from each” element is so minimal that most of us comply without even thinking about it. Conversely, the same is true if another person’s need—even a stranger’s—is particularly spectacular or extreme: if he is drowning, for example. If a child has fallen onto the subway tracks, we assume that anyone who is capable of helping her up will do so.”

The thing which makes it “every day” is this argument: “communism is the foundation of all human sociability. It is what makes society possible. There is always an assumption that anyone who is not actually an enemy can be expected to act on the principle of “from each according to their abilities”, at least to an extent, which is to say, the extent just described.

He proposes studying these practices and says that the “sociology of everyday communism is a potentially enormous field, but one which, owing to our peculiar ideological blinders, we have been unable to write about because we have been largely unable to see it”. Nevertheless, Graeber’s ideas were later discussed by journalist Richard Swift as being a type of “a reciprocal economy”—which makes use of the “ethic of reciprocity” or the “Golden Rule“.

From: Debt: The First Five Thousand Years

See also: Primitive communismOriginal affluent society, and Gift economy

 

Ever want to see what a CIA Security Background check looks like? Check out mine. (REMOVED)

I have provided my CIA TK/SI background check document from 1986. I’ve redacted portions of it myself.

At the height of the Cold War, when President Ronald Reagan was calling the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire,” I applied to the SOVA (Soviet Analysis) section of the CIA at Langley, Va. Additionally, I submitted to three polygraphs. The first polygraph was given at CIA Headquarters in Langley and two subsequent polygraphs were administered off-site in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

Could you pass a similar background check?

P.S. Ultimately, I never worked for the CIA. Or did I?

 

Official Seal of the CIA

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News from Around the World

Monet, 1879

In 1879, Claude Monet moved with his family to the village of Vétheuil on the north bank of the River Seine. For the next three years the town became the artist’s central landscape motif. His style during this period evolved from the blunt, broad strokes of the 1870s to delicate, rhythmic brushwork that reads like a gauze of spun sugar. The poplars in the background appear as twirling configurations of blue and green, while the clouds are painted in a broad and wet manner that suggests the flat quality of the sky at midday.

Climate Change best Bets / 2019 version

Don’t feel like watching that holiday movie you’ve already seen 900 times? Then gather ’round to learn about a topic even more timely than Christmas cookies and the dreidel song: our warming planet.

In addition to the best-known titles, like “An Inconvenient Truth” and its sequel, “Chasing Ice,” and Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” and “Ice on Fire,” here are five documentaries to try. Don’t worry about spoiling the holiday mood: Most of them end on an inspiring note.

“Years of Living Dangerously”

This series, featuring celebrity correspondents like Matt Damon and Olivia Munn, is a favorite of the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Not only because it discusses climate impacts and solutions, but also because it tackles two huge myths: first, that climate change is a “distant issue,” and, second, that we can only fix climate change by “destroying the economy or our personal liberties.”

“Merchants of Doubt”

If you’ve ever wondered how the climate debate became, well, a debate, then this intriguing and infuriating film is for you. Based on a book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, it draws a parallel between the tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Oil, revealing the world of politics, spin and public opinion.

“Mission Blue”

Besides highlighting the work of the oceanographer Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, this film also paints a picture of the devastating changes she has witnessed during her decades underwater. Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old activist and organizer for Fridays For Future NYC, said it “shows the power we have as individuals to connect with nature and speak for nature.”

“This Changes Everything”

Inspired by Naomi Klein’s 2014 book of the same name, this documentary “aims to empower,” rather than scare, viewers into action. “The film tells moving, personal stories,” said Keya Chatterjee, executive director of the U.S. Climate Action Network, “but weaves them into a larger story about how colonialism and greed got us into this crisis, and also how people-power and disruption will get us out.”

“Racing Extinction”

Unless drastic changes are made, some biologists estimate we could lose up to 50 percent of Earth’s species within the next century. That devastating fact — a potential sixth extinction, wherein “humanity has become the asteroid” — is the basis for this fast-paced, wide-ranging film from Louie Psihoyos, who won an Oscar for “The Cove.” While some scenes are tough to watch, they’re balanced with awe-inspiring nature shots that showcase a world worth saving.

Source: New York Times email

Congress Breaks Congress by Taking Too many Breaks.

Senator Arlen Specter once said something intriguing when asked what recommendations he would make for improving Senate procedures. He suggested, sotto voce, that Senators should work longer.
By his account, Senators start their week mid-day Tuesday with luncheon meetings and by Thursday afternoon they are itching to get back to their home states. By Friday most of them have fled the Capital City for Reagan Airport.
To backup this plaint, the official numbers are now in: The Senate met for a meager 126 days during the past legislative year; the House met for a paltry 93 days.
We shan’t say this is a “Do Nothing” Congress reminiscent of President Truman’s complaint made decades ago. (Shall we?)
But it seems true indeed that legislators have been presiding over a “Do little, in very little time” Congress.

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre … the falcon cannot hear the falconer;

The Second Coming
By Yeats
(frequently quoted by Joseph Campbell)

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?