Imagine Peace

August 12, 2015

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuiana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

—John Ehrlichman, Nixon counsel and assistant, in a 1992 interview

Got this quote off the Doonesbury page on the Washington Post.

The genius premise of the Nixocrats was to wage war on imaginary enemies at home so they could keep waging war on imaginary enemies abroad.

Sound familiar.  We conjure imaginary enemies all the time.

We devalue the humanity of entire segments of the population.

We lock up our crazies, visionaries, peace makers.

Black Lives Matter

Hippie Lives Matter

Vietnamese Lives Matter

It’s true that all lives matter, but when some can use the apparatus of power and media to dehumanize, marginalize and systemically de-value the lives of a group they have deemed an enemy in their own imaginations, a distinction has to be made.

We have to admit that a silent war has been waged in this county.  We have such vivid imaginations, why can’t we imagine peace.  Now that’s ironic.

Chews for Jews

February 24, 2015
‘blessed art thou o lord our god, who sanctified us with your commandments and instructed us on the eating of the herb’
Just in time for Passover.
Now that’s ironic.

Pariah – Absolutely
Pig – Consummate
Deviation from the Norm – Unfortunately not

What pains me most about the ignorant, racist hate speech of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is that it’s being treated like an aberration.  The problem is that although, in 2014, his retrograde ignorance is in the minority opinion, it isn’t that small a minority.  The fact that the Supreme Court just rolled back decades of progress by enforcing the Michigan ban on affirmative action is evidence that the work of changing the mindset of our populace is far from over.

Here is a well written opinion on the subject

I would also like to see the discussion framed from the point of view that rich, white men still think they are free to exploit whoever, whenever and however.  Treat players/employees like they are property, check.  Treat women like they are property, check.  I’ve heard the term plantation mentality attributed to Sterling.  I think it is something deeper.  There is a segment of our nation that still believes it is operating above the rest of us.  They believe they are somehow better and can act with impunity.  In doing so, they prove themselves to be the opposite and that’s ironic.


Mental Ecology | The Practice of Productivity.

This is a cross post from another blog I write on business and productivity.  Today’s topic kind of overlaps the areas of social commentary so I wanted to share in this space as well.

Have a look via the link above.

Quoting myself is not ironic.

Status Consciousness

April 14, 2013

I frequently overhear teens and millennials talking about status. They constantly change theirs. When they hear a funny quote or take a phone photo of their dirty chai latte. Their impulse is a new type of status consciousness.

For them status is not something to be attained and then maintained. It is mutable. Also it reflects their opinion of themselves and is generally not derived from others’ opinions of them.  Social media enables tagging everything, including our own sense of self.

For the generations before them (myself included) status was based on what we owned, where we worked, our graduate degree.  Something more permanent.  It was granted after effort and no matter how hard we tried, we could not confer it upon ourselves.  It was to be earned and guarded with your lives.  Even if that meant stepping on our co-workers or friends.

Seems like it works better now.  That’s ironic.

Orange for Passover

March 28, 2013

Folks have been turning their Facebook pages red in solidarity with the GLBT community and particularly to support gay marriage this week as the Supremes hear oral arguments on two key cases before them.

At this time of Passover, I think we should go Orange as we have on the Seder Plate.  Here is the origin (pun intended):

The Origin of the Orange on the Seder Plate
In the early 1980s, the Hillel Foundation invited me to speak
on a panel at Oberlin College. While on campus, I came
across a Haggada that had been written by some Oberlin
students to express feminist concerns. One ritual they devised
was placing a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of
solidarity with Jewish lesbians (“there’s as much room for a
lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the Seder
At the next Passover, I placed an orange on our family’s Seder
plate. During the first part of the Seder, I asked everyone to
take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit,
and eat it as a gesture of solidarity with Jewish lesbians and
gay men, and others who are marginalized within the Jewish
community (I mentioned widows in particular).
Bread on the Seder plate brings an end to Pesach – it renders
everything chometz. And its symbolism suggests that being
lesbian is being transgressive, violating Judaism. I felt that an
orange was suggestive of something else: the fruitfulness for
all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and
active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange
segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out – a gesture of
spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too
many Jews.
When lecturing, I often mentioned my custom as one of many
new feminist rituals that had been developed in the last
twenty years. Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal
maneuver occurred: My idea of an orange and my intention of
affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the
story circulates that a MAN stood up after I lecture I
delivered and said to me, in anger, that a woman belongs on
the bimah as much as an orange on the Seder plate. My idea,
a woman’s words, are attributed to a man, and the affirmation
of lesbians and gay men is simply erased. Isn’t that precisely
what’s happened over the centuries to women’s ideas?

—Susannah Heschel, April, 2001 Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies Dartmouth College

I’m changing my Facebook profile photo to an Orange.  Now that’s Iconic.

No iStone unturned

January 4, 2013

There is a commercial running for Verizon FIOS that essentially claimed that in the next few years the number of devices connected to the Internet in my home will double. Hard to understand how this is possible. Right now my wife and I have two smartphones, two iPads, two iPods, a Mac desktop, AppleTV, a SONOS music router. When any of our four daughters visit you can add three devises per (phone, pod and either a laptop or other similar). So if one is home we are a household total of 12 connected devices.

What could we possibly add?

An iThrone – Apples’s new 4G toilet

iFood – A networked refrigerator that scans bar odes of the contents of the fridge and orders from Fresh Direct when we slip below minimum stock levels of smoked turkey, half and half or apples.

iClean – a networked robot vacuum that lets me see dust bunnies in realtime

iPet – a wifi collar that lets you talk to your cat from anywhere anytime. If you have the iPet and iClean you can have extra fun stalking your pet with your robot and watching the fun with FaceTime on your iBook that’s always on anyway and sitting open on your coffee table via your iPhone

iPud – an Internet enable dildo streaming to your WordPress blog. Now that would be ironic.


Distractive Patterns

December 21, 2012

We are hardwired to see patterns.  It is a survival mechanism.  On the African Veldt our ancestors successfully passed their genes onto a next generation if they avoided being eaten by lions.  Discerning threat from amongst a tableau of shrubbery is a darwinian gift of this type of progressive conditioning toward pattern recognition.  This is also why I see the snouts and eyes of cats buried in floral wallpaper.  I used to think it was the acid.  Now I know it’s the  human penchant for scanning the environment for threat.

It’s easy to fall prey to fear in our pattern recognition.  After the Hurricane and the Newton tragedy no one is going to name their daughter Sandy for a while (one positive outcome will be that no will mount a Broadway revival of Grease anytime soon either).

As we are all inundated with prophesies of both doom (Mayan Apocalypse is only the most current flavor) and of a dawning New Age of peace and love (the Harmonic Convergence was a cosmic appointment reminder from the same calendar) I am thinking about how maybe the real hidden message is that within our consciousness is an innate longing to work through the endless yin/yang cycling and move to an age of Balance and if I may go out an a little Cartesian limb here, REASON.

So today on the Winter Solstice, that solar extreme of darkness I am wishing our world a prolonged period of the Middle Way, Neutrality and a cessation of againstness.  Maybe 12/21/12 can be the end, not of the world, but of the pendulum.

Now that would be ironic.

The Spam President

August 10, 2012

I was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. I donated, signed petitions, participated with Like many, I held a hope for a much more active progressive agenda but as a pragmatist I can at least revel in the passage of universal healthcare, the end of don’t ask/don’t tell, dismantling the cynical “no child left behind” apparatus and the albeit grudging support for gay marriage.

The diminution of my enthusiasm comes not from the president’s weak record on civil liberties, his escalation of the war in Afghanistan or his abandonment of the environmental movement. What has me twisting is the level of spam generated in his name, Michelle’s, Biden’s. It’s worse than Viagra and Nigerian princes combined.

I get that we live in the world of social media and I get that a big part of the success in 2008 was engaging the grassroots support, largely online. But now it’s too much communication, too much touch. Can you imagine a world in which I have to add the email address of the president to my spam filter? Now that’s ironic

Physical Specimen

April 27, 2012

I happened to catch picks 21 and 22 of the NFL draft last night and I was struck by the subtle racism of the commentary from the ESPN analysts on each in juxtaposition to the other.

Pick #21 was Chandler Jones, a Defensive End from Syracuse.  He was described as long, fast and able to create power from speed.  “an amazing physical specimen”.

Pick #22 was Brandon Weeden, a Quarterback from Oklahoma State.  He was described as having poise, vision and being a winner.

Now I know there is a difference in their positions, but the fact is that there is a plantation mentality at work here, where two white TV announcers call Weeden and winner and Jones a “physical specimen”.  Guess which of the four men is an African-American.

Oh, by the way, Chandler Jones is graduating with a 3.7 GPA.  Brandon Weeden has a 3.2 GPA.

Now that’s Ironic