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Things That Are Not Working….

Damn.
Damn.

A partial list:

  • Becoming outraged
  • Sharing one’s outrage on social media
  • Screaming into the wind
  • Being all like, “I KNOW!!!” when someone else expresses outrage
  • Reading about all the ways people have become outraged
  • Sharing articles about all the ways people have become outraged
  • Watching TV until you throw up
  • Surfing the internets (which I think are a series of tubes) until you pass out
  • Refusing to pay attention
  • Going with the flow
  • Waiting for somebody else to fix it

Things That May Not Actually Be Working — at least in the short term — But Have The Potential To Work If We Have Faith

A partial list:

  • Reading enough news to stay informed, but not so much that you freak out
  • Avoiding self-reinforcing social media
  • Refusing to see “the humor” in any of this; it is not funny; it is dead serious
  • Trying to set aside your presumptions about “the other side,” because both sides will have to come together (or at least work together) to fix this
  • Considering the possibility that you could be wrong — or at least not entirely correct — about some things…or about a lot of things
  • Cultivating compassion and practicing good citizenship: remembering that you are a “brand ambassador” for your side, and taking pains to represent the brand as well as you can — especially to the other side; do not condescend; do not be a jerk
  • Engaging people, but mostly listening to people so we can be ready when the time comes for us to work together
  • Practicing what you preach — something many liberals are notoriously bad at; being nice to people who already are your friends doesn’t count
  • Contributing positivity; rightly or wrongly, we have a lot to overcome and it doesn’t matter whose damn fault it is; keep your eyes on the prize
  • Finding joy where you can, even if you have to manufacture it

Frederick Douglass: A Life

February is Black History Month, so this morning the Educator-in-Chief offered us a l’il history.

Frederick Douglass. Huge with the blacks.
Frederick Douglass. Huge with the blacks.

“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.”

He didn’t have time to cover everything, so I’ve made a short list below of things you probably didn’t know about Frederick Douglass. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

  • gaining traction
  • huge impact
  • very big with the blacks
  • invented peanut butter
  • and the stoplight
  • integrated the Brooklyn Dodgers
  • “skyhook”
  • phenomenal singing voice
  • sat in the front of the Underground Railroad
  • made millions from the hot comb
  • married a Kardashian
  • “The Greatest”

John Henry, et. al.

As the whatever you want to call this continues, those of us who can are accessing our back files (the “way back” in my case) on American history and the complicated and tragic legacy of race, class and gender in this country. The two big questions to be asked are: How did we get here from there?; and What happens next? Yesterday’s Jeremy Grantham article shed some interesting light from an otherwise unfamiliar (to me) perspective on the political and economic disenfranchisement of America’s working and middle classes since the 1970s.

The Grantham article triggered an email conversation between me and a college friend, an historian who specializes in late 19th Century U.S. politics. I’ve also been trying to interpret journalistic and anecdotal accounts of last Saturday’s [01/21/17] global Women’s March, specifically to parse the various strains of a movement that is being characterized by gender, but which may find (and generate) additional value as it moves forward by looking beyond that border. I’ve been writing about that last point since before the election, and will continue to refine my thoughts. Your thoughts (in the comments), of course, are appreciated.

Depiction of John Henry
Depiction of John Henry

“According to legend, John Henry‘s prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer, a race he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand as his heart gave out from stress.”

Continue reading

Road to Armageddon?

Take a look at this insightful article by Jeremy Grantham in the 4Q 2016 GMO Quarterly Letter (h/t: RME):

Time to grab the wheel!
Time to grab the wheel!

“[W]e live in a different world from the one we grew up in. A world in which a degree of economic struggle between the financial elite, perhaps 10% but more likely 1%, and all the rest is finally recognized. The wimpy phase is probably over. The question now is which path will this struggle take? Will it be a broad societal effort through established political means to move things back to the 1950s to 1960s when a CEO’s pay was 40x his average employee’s pay and not today’s over 300x; when corporations never dreamt of leaving the US merely to save money; when investment banks set the standard (and a very high one) of ethical behavior? Or do we try to do it through the other historically well-used method, and a much more dangerous one – that of resorting to a “strong leader?” Strong leaders work out just fine if we end up with a Marcus Aurelius, the mostly benevolent and wisest of Roman Emperors. But when things go wrong, as they often do, we could more easily end up with Caligula.”

You know, everybody likes candy. But if that’s all you eat, you will die — and not well. Can we at least consider the possibility that “the unregulated market” doesn’t always know what’s best, and that as participants in (and in some cases, stewards of) our capitalist society, we need to adopt a more nuanced approach to our preferred socio-political belief system than the current “dog keeps eating until it throws up” model?

We are not dogs. We are supposed to be better than this.

Full Article (7 pages):
The Road to T****sville: The Long, Long Mistreatment of the American Working Class