For governing a country well
There is nothing better than moderation.
The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.
Nothing is impossible for him.
Because he has let go,
he can care for the people’s welfare
as a mother cares for her child.
Tao # 59 New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
Occupy Writers is an interesting website someone sent me. A statement by Lemony Snicket, whose series of unfortunate events I simply loved, is pasted below. I am awaiting the outcome of the U.C. Regents meeting today and any news on a general strike at the various campuses. So, please use this post to address the Occupy Movement, Syracuse and related stories, or anything in the news you'd like to discuss. Many thanks! by Lemony Snicket Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.
5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.
7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.
8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.
9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.
10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.
13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.
My son played Cantaloupe Island on his alto sax when he was much younger. Then, when he grew into the tenor sax, he played it yet again. I love this version for so many reasons. With all due respect to Herbie Hancock, this You Tube is worth kicking back or getting down to on a holiday weekend. Dip trip, indeed.
As it acts in the world, the Tao
is like the bending of a bow.
The top is bent downward;
the bottom is bent up.
It adjusts excess and deficiency
so that there is perfect balance.
It takes from what is too much
and gives to what isn’t enough.
Those who try to control,
who use force to protect their power,
go against the direction of the Tao.
They take from those who don’t have enough
and give to those who have far too much.
The Master can keep giving
because there is no end to her wealth.
She acts without expectation,
succeeds without taking credit,
And doesn’t think that she is better
than anyone else. Tao verse 77
Is this the beginning of an American Spring? We are inured to seeing protest turn to violence and then turn to bloodshed. OWS has yet to reach a body count. But that day is now inevitable. Officer Pike at UC Davis has just moved us closer to that day. In the same way that the bloody images of Neda in Tehran began an inevitable Arab Spring, the mindless insanity of Officer Pike's actions will galvanize an already polarized populace into more and more deadly face-offs. His defenders will feel justified and somehow rationalize using military-grade pepper spray on your kids in college. The same pepper spray that is illegal to use on prisoners in penitentiaries. If high school kids decide to join in on the Occupy movement, will it be legal to use pepper spray on them? Will the question of legality even matter at that point?
If ours is a nation of laws, it has become very apparent that those laws are made to protect power and wealth above any individual rights or freedoms. The laws of free speech and lawful assembly fall by the wayside if the laws are interpreted only by the rich and powerful. When suddenly the amorphous "people" want to express discontent, there is a sudden need to clear parks and public areas for "the common good." The clear and present danger of a tent in a park certainly justifies giving a concerned young adult a concussion or a lung full of blood.
OWS is ridiculed for being a leader-less mass without a clear message. May I offer two ideas for the movement? First is to ban all lobbying now and forever. It would be as much a crime to try and influence an elected official with money as it would be to bribe a judge. The idea of all lobbyists losing their jobs would, I believe, have an enormous appeal. It would make for a great reality show and perhaps generate some good jobs. Oddly enough, they are all supposedly registered, so hunting them down would be a relatively simple matter.
The second idea is that all money currently paid to lobbyist and efforts to sway policy via advertisement, PACs, or other paid influence systems must now be paid directly to the nearest county librarian. It will be the job of every librarian with the county registrar of voters to then organize the issues and candidates into intelligible voter pamphlets listing both sides of every issue and all candidates in very dull and unbiased terms. Preferably on recycled paper.
Every citizen who comes and picks one up from the library or requests one via snail mail is automatically registered to vote. And if you vote, you are given your share of the money left over after printing the voter pamphlets and paying the librarians.
The catch in all this will be that the voter pamphlet will list the donors and how much they gave. So if you want to vote for the highest donor, you are free to do so. If they want to buy your vote, they are doing it directly and not wasting it on political middlemen. So much more efficient. And our brave politicians will always know if they were bought and sold, and so will we. The questions are so much simpler when reduced to just haggling over the price. The added benefit would be that librarians would take their rightful place in society and earn, eventually, a living salary.
Silly ideas? Well, not really in light of the ideas we are hearing in this election year. Are they any more silly than 9-9-9? Criminalizing miscarriages? DOMA? It is not a short list. But it is a list of buffoonery in face of the disaster facing those without jobs, without homes, and without hope for the future.
I don't think anyone in the Arab world thinks of the Arab Spring as a transitory thing. But the world did try and marginalize its nascence in the first few months. OWS is two months old. A bloodied kid or two more and we'll see the end of it, I'm sure.
When I was fifteen I had the backs of my knees bashed in by a police truncheon on the steps of the San Francisco federal building in an anti-war protest. Vietnam. Did we end war or even that war? Hardly. But it was time for something completely different.
Thank you, CA Guy, for this fabulous post! He will try to be available to check in to respond to your comments.
And now for something completely different...this demonstration of the Total Immersion school of swimming. This instructor mesmerizes me every time I stare at the video. I also employ the TI method of swimming, only I can assure you I look nothing like this man. Rather, think Great White meets Arthritic Orca. Either way, being "slippery" in the water truly is much easier than slamming the water and gasping for air at the end of every length. Since I began studying TI in books and on video, I've reduced my crawl strokes from 25 to 15, per 25 yards. Not bad for an old lady who is turning one year older.
Everybody in the pool. It's open thread time.
More than twenty years ago I worked for ABC News where I was a lowly desk assistant in New York. I worked a variety of shows and desks. But for a period of time I worked on a desk called DEF, which stood for Daily Electronic Feed.
Every day, DEF would cull stories from the affiliates and O & O’s (owned and operated - bigger stations than simply affiliates) throughout the country. And then at the end of the day, there would be the major feed from the network to all those stations with about a dozen stories. That way, a little station in the Midwest could have footage and a voice/over of, say, an explosion at a factory in the south. Or a speech in Boston by someone famous could run on the news in Texas.
For a while, I worked the 4pm to midnight shift. After the main feed, most of the staff would go home and I would be there alone working with a man I’ll call Bob. He was a family man in so much as he had been divorced and had sole custody of a young child right up until he remarried and had a newborn.
As I’d rip wire copy off the machines and label tapes in the lonely newsroom, Bob would regale me with stories of his S & M sex with various women while his kid slept in the next bedroom (before his recent marriage.) He would chuckle a lot and the scars all over his face and neck would outline the bulge in his eyes as he’d wait for my reactions to his prowess.
I was too young to understand that his crude talk was unacceptable and inappropriate. I can’t recall, but if I had to guess, I’d say that I probably blushed and guffawed and tried to move across the room and answer a ringing telephone. I certainly didn’t tell my union boss. I didn’t tell the news director of DEF. I never told my family.
The only thing that interrupted this routine was my nightly delivery of tapes to the main ABC building (we were down the street in a dump of a building) and one other building where I used to see Susan Lucci come out after wrapping up her show each day and fans would fawn all over her.)
It seems I went past Bob’s favorite hamburger stand each night, or at least near it, and he knew that, so he would give me a dollar and tell me to buy him dinner. He never asked. He always told me and assumed I’d do what he said. I recall many a night when I’d be shivering in freezing temperatures waiting for Bob’s hamburger to get wrapped in paper so I could bring it back to his fat self.
Every night I complied without so much as a boo. Until the night I didn’t.
The DEF newsroom was full of producers and editors - the main staff had not yet finished for the day - and Bob was already giving me his marching orders. Only this time, I said that no, I was not going to buy his hamburger. I can’t recall why. I had just had it with his orders. I wanted to come back, get warm and eat my own dinner. I wasn’t around to get Bob’s dinner. And I’d become fed up. It was not in my job description. It was not something I had to do.
What happened next was all so simple. Bob crawled onto the top of a desk across from me, leaned toward me as if to grab me and said the following:
“I ought to fucking kill you.”
Perhaps it was the new baby at home. Perhaps it was the lack of bondage. I don’t know. All I know is that no one, and I do mean NO ONE in that crowded newsroom said a word. Oh, you could hear a pin drop. People sucked wind. People were aghast. But no one said anything either to Bob, or in defense of me.
I walked to another phone, shakily called the main newsroom and said I was going home.
I lived at the time with the mother of a friend on the East Side and she took care of me. When the vice president in charge of desk assistants called a short time later, I told him the entire story. And said I wasn’t coming back.
The next night when I reported for work with this kind VP’s encouragement, I was assigned to the main assignment desk. And when I saw the people who worked in the DEF newsroom pass by, they would not speak to me.
A short while later, two huge union thugs right out of central casting followed me onto the elevator and told me to press charges. Everyone knew this had happened. No one spoke of it, except for the two defensive nose tackles that wanted me to make trouble through the union I was a member of. But what difference would it make? Because abuse by men - and women - had been going on for as long as I had been at the network.
DEF was also the newsroom where a famous science correspondence would kiss me on the cheek any time he walked by me. And the news director there, the son of a very, very famous newsman, would fall out of a nearby bar so fall-down-drunk many nights, it was a miracle he could get home to his family on Long Island.
When I tried to tell my family the story about Bob threatening to kill me because I would not buy his hamburger, they would not listen. They laughed and said that sort of thing simply didn’t happen. Perhaps not in their world, but it happened all the time at the network. Shit happened all the time! It happened with the sports producer who was a cocaine addict and felt that his uncontrollable bursts of rage were acceptable, indeed, delightful for those of us on whom they landed.
It happened with the famous anchorman whose hands were in his pants any and every time I walked into his office.
It happened with the rage-aholic alcoholic, past-her-prime producer who had been jilted by a famous correspondent in London and who took her bra off at the assignment desk every night, through the arms of her pontoon dress (she was very busty) and then who sipped her booze through a flask until she was so hostile drunk she would corner me and hiss incoherently just before the show went live. And it would happen with the nastiest of them all: an obese woman with a full beard who wore Hermes scarves and had no jurisdiction over me at all, yet who used to sidle up to me in her Ferragamo shoes, smirk, and tell me to make a pot of coffee for her (I told her - and this is a direct quote: “I don’t drink it, so I don’t make it.”) She didn’t like me very much.
And then there was one of the founding fathers of Nightline who used to ask me to come into his office, have me sit in a chair across from him, take several calls while staring at me, hang up, then tell me I was free to leave.
ABC News was an abusers paradise in my experience. It was full of amazingly dysfunctional and marginally talented people who truly believed, as the French say, that they farted higher than their own assholes.
Did I learn much about news, about writing it, or how to craft a story? Hell no. I learned about survival (the main receptionist told me to keep my back against the wall every minute I was in the building.) I learned about abuse and how powerful people make sure it’s not noticed. I learned that some of the most famous people you see on TV are some of the dumbest folks you’ll ever meet. I learned that some employees there felt it was their divine right to scream anything at anyone they wanted whenever they wanted. Oh, and I learned how to pad an expense account.
The best advice anyone ever gave me was from Peter Jennings who said that if I wanted to be a reporter I needed to have something to report about. I needed to just go out and do it. And it wasn’t going to happen in that factory of fucked up nut jobs like Bob who were mired in midlife misery and dead end jobs.
So I left and I went west and I became a reporter. And I never looked back. I still have friends from those days. People I care about and liked then and still like now. We had fun, met a lot of famous people, and tore a lot of wire copy.
But I’ll never forget the emotional and verbal abuse that was allowed to go on. Nor will I forget the famous dude from Nightline who called the assignment desk one night and said, “Let’s do it and let’s do it now.” He thought I was the frustrated divorcee editor who was hoping to fuck her way to the top and who had worn a fur coat and full make up for that evening’s shift for some strange reason. So I put her on the phone and seconds later off she went in the elevator. She returned before her dinner break was up, hair disheveled, lipstick worn off. She never did get promoted. And he had a handful of kids and a wife at home. Yuck. And Yup. Those were the good old days in the news business.
And then there are new words. Words that Congresswoman Gabby Gifford is learning every day.
There are things I want to blog about and issues I want to address, but they pale in comparison to THIS
report that I just watched. Or at least I'd like to pause for a day and honor this couple by pondering the miracle of this story.
H/T to Mistah Charley for providing the link. Each section is well worth watching. I was amazed and in awe of this brave, beautiful young woman, her brilliant and dedicated husband, and the family and community that has supported them through this long ordeal since last January.
It feels wrong to make a crack about "surveyor's marks" right now, so I won't. Though I guess I just did. Perhaps instead I need to remember those who died and the true miracle of this woman's survival and the people who have dedicated their lives to professions that made it possible.
H/T to reader Tom for providing two links worth reading and discussing. First, this ESPN
post with video (and 2,200 comments no less, which are as illuminating as the blog post itself) on Sandusky's childhood and how people who have known him on a personal level through the years were blindsided by these allegations.
Further down in the article is mention of a phrase I'd not heard before. "Socially adept preferential child molesters." Yikes. So how does someone who "likes to be with children" turn into a predator who harms them? And must we have a nice name for everything? How about "sick mo fo?" (that is for those whom the charges have been proven.)
Along those lines, I recall meeting a woman at a dinner party many years ago who worked as a psychologist counseling prisoners. Her clientele were all sexual predators. She told us that she explained to the men that they were not bad people, but that their actions were bad. I'm going to mull over those words of hers again. I'm not sure I like them.
We also have THIS
link to an interesting blog post. It ties in with what I heard on NPR this morning about New York state's legislature now pondering a bill that would require coaches to become "mandated reporters." Do we really need a law to tell coaches that they need to report suspected child abuse? Really?
I'm still scratching my head about that missing DA. I need to find more on that to read. But between the current AG and the former AG-turned-governor, there is so much to absorb about the Keystone State.
My husband calls her "Audrey." I call her "Belle." Either way, meet Nepenthes Ventricosa
a long dormant member of our family who has found firm footing in our kitchen window:
I bought her a few years ago at my favorite place: the (UC) Berkeley Botanical Garden.
I spend a lot of time at the garden, when I can, just walking, or sitting and writing, or thinking and being. We picnic there and try to support the University at their semi-annual plant sales. Sometimes I think I must have been a plant or bug that lived in those acres of hilly land because it touches my soul like few other places do.
So, since it's Sunday and there is more serious news always around the corner, perhaps you'll tell us your favorite place to just "be."
Oh, and as for Audrey/Belle, she is full of spiders and flies that my husband catches and places in her pitchers. He's like something out of a horror movie, chuckling as he watches them float in her sticky pools. Me? My karma is too conflicted to really enjoy that. And I fear he overfeeds her. But after this blooming season, I suspect she'll go dormant again for quite some time. And I'll miss the miracle of her blooms.