By Don Pelton
As a pre-teen pre-pubescent sprite I was in love with actress Maureen O’Hara. It’s still a mystery to me. Maybe due to the effect of movies in the 1940s, I was in love with lots of things in movie theaters, including the tall brunette usherette at the Saturday matinee, and the Abba Zaba bars sold at the candy counter (oh man, peanut butter and taffy!).
It was probably the same mystery that impelled me to love the movie, “The Quiet Man,” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I particularly loved the scene where Wayne drags O’Hara by her hair across the beautiful Irish countryside.
The whole fantasy burst for good years later when I eagerly showed my new bride (a mostly Irish lass herself!) this most wonderful of all movies and she laughed and mocked the absurdity of the crucial hair-dragging scene!
Losing that fantasy was all for the good, but now, more than sixty years later, I still feel the faint tug of … Maureen O’Hara.
According to a new report by Pew Research Center and Rutgers University, social media are not quite the force for progressive change that many of us would wish. It’s perhaps not too surprising after all that, once again, the Internet simply amplifies many of the strongest qualities already dominant in human nature.
The Internet might be a useful tool for activists and organizers, in episodes from the Arab Spring to the Ice Bucket Challenge. But over all, it has diminished rather than enhanced political participation, according to new data.
Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.
The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world.
The Internet, it seems, is contributing to the polarization of America, as people surround themselves with people who think like them and hesitate to say anything different. Internet companies magnify the effect, by tweaking their algorithms to show us more content from people who are similar to us.
Read the full article here:
“How Social Media Silences Debate“
Here are some tough words about the Obama presidency from Cornell West, who argues persuasively that the fetish for the middle ground in politics often makes for poor leadership.
In the interview Thomas Frank asks West, “What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?”
“I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.”
West also says:
“He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.”
Read the full interview here:
Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”
By Don Pelton
One big difference between youth and old age that I’m noticing is my relationship to routine. When I was young I hated routine. I thought it was a trap. Hitchhiking to New York and running out of money was exhilarating in part because it was the total negation of routine.
Now that I’m old and approaching elderly, I enjoy all the little moments that make up my daily routine: getting up and biking on our stationary bikes for 30 minutes, doing some upper body exercises with our TRX straps, cleaning the kitchen, brewing the daily coffee for our afternoon chilled coffee, taking out the trash, feeding the mulch to the garden worms, refilling the bird baths, sweeping the leaves from the deck. Just being here. Now.
There’s a sort of reassurance to all this order that was of no use to me whatsoever when I was young.
When I was young I could find novelty only in grand adventures and dreams of grand adventures.
Now that I’m older and have (I hope) a larger perspective, I see that it’s entirely novel that I exist at all, novel that I continue wake up every day.
Gratitude is something that happens all the time now, not something that happens only on grand occasions.
Speaking possibly only for myself, it seems that in youth the heroic journeys are more outward (in the world) but in old age the journeys are more inward (in the imagination)
Either way, the journey continues …
Park in Nevada County DA’s Parking Lot on the Weekend When His Office is Closed and Your Car Will Be Towed
By Don Pelton
After spending about ten minutes this morning searching for a parking space within easy walking distance of the Grower’s Market in Nevada City, we finally lucked out and found a metered space on North Pine near Broad Street, about a block from the market. As we walked down Commercial Street past Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Company we noticed this sign posted at both entrances to the mostly empty parking lot next to the DA’s office:
Whatever brilliant logic is behind this arrangement is apparently not unique. We have encountered essentially the same situation at the parking lot across the street from the Del Oro and at the BofA parking lot in downtown Grass Valley on Sundays.
The curious thing about the sign above is that it seems to imply that anyone parking in that lot who is attending the grower’s market will somehow be an obstacle to the potential customer traffic for Three Forks. Apparently no one has considered the possibility that anyone who parks in that lot for any reason is a potential customer of Three Forks. The business inside Three Forks this morning about 10:30 AM was fair (about a half dozen customers) but it could arguably have been better if the parking lot were full and busy with traffic (potential customers) coming in and out.
I don’t know what to say about the DA. What’s his stake in this lot on Saturday, since his office hours are M-F 8AM – 5PM?
Good, historically accurate introduction to the Israel/Palestine conflict, in the form of a short (6+ minute) video, from Jewish Voice for Peace.
- Top sources for learning more about Gaza
Click here to read JVP Advisory Board member Aurora Levins Morales’ article “Latinos, Israel and Palestine: Understanding Anti-Semitism.”
Click here to download ICAHD”s primer, “Counter-Rhetoric: Challenging conventional wisdom & reframing the conflict” by Jeff Halper, Jimmy Johnson, and Emily Schaeffer.
Click here to download MERIP’s primer, “Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict” by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar.
Click here to read Phyllis Bennis’s primer, “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.”
Click here to download Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc’s) “Truth Against Truth.”
“Feb. 19, 2014—The menacing, magnificent storm clouds of Wyoming come to swirling life in this time-lapse, ‘Stormscapes,’ by photographer Nicolaus Wegner. He braved lightning and the erratic fury of supercell storms to capture these images in the summer of 2013.” (National Geographic).
Here’s Josh Fox’s latest update on Gasland. He lays out some more evidence for — among other things — the connection between fracking and the pollution of wells.
You can skip the ad after a few seconds …