History Test: Will a Wakanda Appear on the World Map by 2100?

My last blog ruminated on race; this one reflects on historical trends. They are obviously intwined. This one is more of a test, though. If you are armed with some history. If you appreciate facts. If you understand the true nature of the term race as it applies to the human species. Then…and notice here I am using an If, Then proposal, i.e. logic….then you can see that history is not on the side of “Caucasians”. Does the future come full circle; From “Out of Africa” to “Back to Africa”? What do all these questions truly mean?

For the Millennials and their children, it is my hope that they engage in the following prompts meaningfully. Their future happiness is critical in how they do engage. I offer no advice, other than to read widely, spend more time ruminating, with a great deal of that time also alone, quiet and meditating. All of these make you a better person. The pace between now and 2100 is only going to increase, AI so much more invasive, your ability to ‘see’ changed beyond what it has ever been, the world smaller in so many ways, and……the political power shifts and issues facing that world so, so, so very different than what has happened in the past two millennia. Buckle up.


Your lesson for today is to look at three graphs. One is of the largest cities by regions, which demonstrates change in the world over three millennia by showing where to find the largest cities in the world. The second gives a list of those largest cities by listing them in a group of ten over time And, the third projects which cities will be the largest in 2100. Power and political interaction between them has driven a lot of history. What will happen for you Millennials going forward? What should you learn over the next generation to allow you to address these changes? What is contributing to these changes? Should you ‘protect’ yourself from these changes? Should you try to stop these changes? How has history contributed to these changes? Is Man the most important factor in all of these changes? What is the best answer for all of these in the shortest possible paragraph? Goodaye…as they say in Austrailia.


The Grand Replacement- Houston, we’ve got a problem: What happens when one goes into a game with bullies and plays by their rules?

The Grand Replacement, or White Supremacy, or White Genocide. Is this an issue? Is it even rational to discuss racial issues in scientific terms? Or rather, should the exposition be about how to celebrate cultural/ethnicity distinctions while appreciating the power of demographic change politically? In a recent article, a liberal journalist with an interesting family ancestry prior to coming to America takes on the White Right. Should he?

There are in the present world order myriad opportunities to see individuals and groups square off in defense of their racial preferences. Some are on the attack. Also, there are many racial groups who have been threatened, attacked and abused by other groups. Even countries in history have suffered from racial policies aimed at eradicating groups of humans. From the polarized views between Black Lives Matter supporters to the present discussions from Whites who are aggregating feelings, statistics and demographic trends to claim a threat to their existence, present racial tensions are surfacing in ways that might make political sense, but do not make scientific sense. In the future these ideas will most likely need to be addressed with a caveat that places race only in an historical context. Race as a concept will need to be addressed differently, replacing the term with ethnicity. DNA has and will play a role in defining race, but there will not be a pure race for any group going forward. Do percentages of racial delineation make viable sense, then?  That, though, is where we are at present based on the science available. Why use the term ‘race’ for classification anymore? It is now becoming ever more clear that science has changed the nature of our understanding.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, fomented by ever increasing changes in emigration, exploration, imperialism and globalization, citizens have come into contact with “the other”. It was in the twentieth century that a term was coined to address what was occurring in that century’s conflagrations, many of which were based on racial, or ethnic cleansing. Genocide became a word at that time. A task force arose, the Political Instability Task Force, to collect, assess and address data on whether the conflict might have risen to the status of a genocide. Though man has always tried to eliminate his adversaries (Greeks called them barbarians, Romans obliterated Carthage, Protestants and Catholics found it easy to wipe out each other legally and with religious justification, Native Americans and Aborigines were systematically culled), it became a problem of modern sensibilities when mass weapons and intensified government efforts were used in more recent times. Nations joined together in the post war years to write doctrines and attempted to stop genocides. Yet the Political Instability Task Force has established that there have sadly been more than forty genocides since then.

Perhaps we might move into a future era when it is no longer necessary to check a box on a form related to race. At the very least, future demographers will need to address the growing cosmopolitan nature of population movement and look for a new way to talk about ‘race’. Though today’s movement continues in a radical and sometimes erratic way, with wars, civil unrest, gang violence, economic disparity, religious persecution and environmental catastrophes impacting the increase in movement, many times people move to gain a better education or to sample the ways that other groups do things and then fall in love with the option and wish to stay. Perhaps we should now look at the inevitable and understand that we will need to accept that these new distributions will lead to more blending in future populations. Still, there is an alternative paradigm and it is not pleasant to consider. Science, also, makes this alternative, of giving each of us a percentage marker of how much of the different genomes are present in our unique DNA,  both possible and horrifying and sometimes flawed…..and humorous. The Human Genome Project is one example. Back to describing why a clean-playing athlete should not play by the bully’s rules.1000genome_map

What started some one hundred thousand years ago (this figure is being amended constantly due to new information, too) is now weakening man’s claim to unique racial characteristics; man is mixing with other ethnicities at an ever increasing rate creating a new DNA blending. An interesting- and this will impact future politics and laws tremendously- though not yet answered question is whether what started then and is happening now is adding anything new to the human race- (back to the old nature or nurture argument). What Darwin understood enough to call to our attention a century and a half ago is now something scientists can trace through DNA. That search is continually offering new theories. The distinctions that evolved because of long term isolation of specific groups in an environment and culture that allowed for distinctions to prevail through evolution, we are now overwhelming that previous isolation and offering a whole new discussion opportunity.

As the Germans were one of the 20the 502908-GettyImages-2629480century’s most egregious perpetrators of genocide, it is interesting (humorous?) to note that one of the most important places on earth tracing DNA is at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and one of the most important labs is the Reich Lab. The Max Planck Society evolved from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. Planck is an interesting figure in this history, obviously.


David Reich is the head of the lab, of Jewish decent and obviously his family had issues with Germany.  And, his name hails from that region. His dad is Walter Reich, former director of the Holocaust Museum in D.C., and one who has his own background of honorand issues. Strange and humorous is the web of history.

Again, what science is teaching us is that former paradigms are no longer viable when discussing race. These labs are proliferating and advertising in an attempt to expand their databases and therefore our understanding of the past, while contributing to improved knowledge about medical conditions and solutions.DNA painter

Still, we have just witnessed another example of white males feeling threatened by ‘the other’, which led to the tragedy in New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the safest places in the world, though it is its Petri dish of racial profiling and history. The Maori are the first settlers, but they have not been on the island even a millennia as yet. Not too long afterwards the Europeans first arrived at the islands in 1642, and in quick succession the English settled and took over the island from the Maori. Though the first contacts were not so contentious, contact led to a major disruption for the Maori, whose culture would be forevermore altered and weakened. What would their MNZGA be?

What has happened since then is a small subset of what is happening the world over, though of course the island nature of New Zealand makes it special. So does its location, as the island of Great Britain has had a radically different view, impact and outcome on its status in the world.  The New Zealand government is involved in anthropology, archaeology and evolution in significant ways, most of which seek to move away from talk about race and towards ethnicity. Their science is the science of the future. We’re finding we can learn much from the world by the way New Zealand acts…think gun culture.

If that science is accepted widely enough, and here I mean by those who cling to falsehoods, to racism, to religious claims that are indefensible, then there will be no further arguments claiming superior status or privilege based on race. What should happen is a celebration of our differences, while respecting those that do not subjugate gender, sexual preference or class within a culture. Each decade we lose languages, species, weaken ethnicity and cultural distinctions. To leave everything to the corporate logo or the amalgamation of differences into a common offering should be avoided whenever possible, in my opinion. Regional differences, cultural distinctions and unique viewpoints should be celebrated, and understood. When traveling, I look for what is different, even unique. That is exciting. Seeing a Golden Arches is not a favorable outcome in traveling, nor or so many other corporate logos (while admittedly there are some logos that are very welcomed when sighted on the horizon, too).

America, long before it was named by Europeans, was settled more than 20,000 years ago by individuals moving east across Asia. After arriving, groups continued southward until both continents were inhabited. In more recent centuries, Europeans arrived in modern boats with modern weapons and unknown diseases. These Europeans would bring Africans as slaves to do their work.

Americas-Ancient-DNA-MigrationWe were amused by recent episodes of the Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It featured three African-Americans, Ava DuVernay, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Janet Mock. Coates has been a strong voice for Black justice and has spoken of reparations for descendants of slavery. DuVernay is the director of the Civil Rights film Selma. In working through their family histories, which is always concluded with DNA referencing for each participant, some fantastic revelations were exposed. As Coates’ roots around the city of Baltimore were uncovered, he found new information that revealed his family had been free before the Civil War and had property and significant wealth going into the Reconstruction. His personal claims for reparation are unwarranted. In a way, his voice is now likened to the one held by Elizabeth Warren, a white woman who has been embarrassed by DNA findings for claiming her Native American roots, but who also calls for reparations. Is there a difference between Warren and Coates, then in calling for reparations, or is a true descendant of slavery more appropriate? Would Coates be omitted from any list of recipients? Would DNA tests determine the list? For the strong Civil Rights director DuVernay, DNA and historical sleuthing determined that there were significant Caucasian aspects to her family tree. Enough so that whether DuVernay was actually ‘black’ was in question as the program unfolded her family history. In fact, that question is still relevant even so. Not until she turned the final page and saw the pie chart of percentages of genomes did she get the answer. Her percentage of African-American roots ended up, for her, a pleasing 56%. Are you ‘Black’ at that percentage? At 51%? At 48%? And, what if twins are one black and one white? What does that say? 2560px-World_Map_of_Y-DNA_Haplogroups

To again return to games played by bullies, the opening article by Farhad Manjoo of the NYTimes addressing whether whites should be worried by changing demographics. The real news is that demographics matter, but what those labels mean is more nuanced. His family is an example of this change in demographics. They emigrated from South Africa, but were of Indian ancestry going back to earlier generations-(Race is a major issue in both countries’ histories, too). He moved to the States as a young child and is now a long-time citizen of this country. His roots don’t determine his voting option and for most other groups this also shouldn’t be a factor. Blacks also shouldn’t vote any particular way, as whites are still in power in nearly every state and city. Why they do is often because one party is embracing a position that seeks to protect the traditions of the past, or the status quo of power, or support for Judeo-Christian values. While these factors are important, they will always be under threat from change. My favorite clip to offer here is from a white former Marine who wanted to stop acculturation and miscegenation, to the point of planning to kill hundreds in his hometown mosque. He is now its leader.

A segue here is to look at these three animated graphs to show historical trends… One is of the largest cities by regions, a second by listing them in a group of ten over time and a third by projecting which cities will be the largest in 2100. Power and political interaction between them has driven a lot of history. What will happen for you Millennials going forward?

How to accept the useful changes and celebrate that which should remain protected in society is an important discussion. Should the majority decide the changes? Can the courts decide that which should be altered, or protected? Must a minority always have protection from threats?

If you look at demographics in the South, Southwest, and both coasts, these are the regions seeing the largest immigration, the faster growth in minorities and the incidence of more change in cultural offerings. This has been the case for over a hundred years in the U.S. As this continues to occur, the individuals in these groups will continue to intermarry and alter the equation. Each time this occurs, there is another example of what has been happening for the past 100,000 years. Only now it is happening with huge numbers involved. There is no indication in events or measurements of demographic changes that illustrate this change being held up, regardless of attempts and attitudes by some to the contrary.

Time is one the side of change, it always has been. Yet, I truly hope we can keep so many things that are examples of cultural differences. These don’t have to be maintained through the promotion of racist policies, though. By celebrating differences and embracing tradition as a good thing, we can meander the tricky path of change and stasis.






Reich lab  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reich_(geneticist)


Max Planck  https://imprs.eva.mpg.de/index.html 






The Case Against Education: Or, Is there a bigger case against the arguments Robert Caplan offers?

001college educationIn perusing the articles in the Atlantic, this morning’s news vein offered an opinion piece by a George Mason professor of economics, Robert Caplan. Of course, to catch a reader’s eyes in this world of the usually blasé reader, a bold comment was needed. The article was titled, The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone.

In reading the piece, I took issue with so much within it that a blog was the result. In doing a bit of research about the author, it was ascertained that he has a commitment to all things libertarian for solutions. His take on college is that we are the prisoners of the theory of educational signaling; that anyone who earns a specialized degree, especially a Masters or PhD, is best qualified for a job and should thus be so remunerated. Caplan finds education misused, boring, carried out in arrogance and ignorance, and unnecessary in so many ways as colleges are now prosecuting it. This interview will give you an excellent insight into the individual.

Caplan, for me, though, is illustrative of the problems of libertarianism in society (take a look at this article as an example). In reading the article it illuminated the point that he is only interested in specific educational purposes that must only lead to expertise in a vocation. All other education is useless, a distraction. The Humanities are completely useless, as are all those courses required for high school graduation. He would make all education voluntary and remove all government subsidies for education. If his college Humanities professor in English were to get ahold of this work, it would have some red marks on it. The article itself is an endorsement for better writing and composition courses, and this from a man who has his own PhD.

There are so many things wrong with his position in a democratic society. While he does offer some valid criticisms, his piece loses sight of his thesis quickly and wanders in myriad directions in order for him to complete drafting his contentious issues related to education while utilizing his patented cynical delivery. A self-admitted cynic, and one who was rated with some real condemnations and major reservations from his students who otherwise conceded a competent assessment of his knowledge. I do not agree with his pedagogical approach.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic article by Caplan that encapsulates his writing approach:

“Suppose your law firm wants a summer associate. A law student with a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford applies. What do you infer? The applicant is probably brilliant, diligent, and willing to tolerate serious boredom. If you’re looking for that kind of worker—and what employer isn’t?—you’ll make an offer, knowing full well that nothing the philosopher learned at Stanford will be relevant to this job.”

Just after I found his article and read it, the morning programs aired and CBS did a piece on the pressure placed on high schoolers to obtain admission to college. By the way, Caplan is also heavily indebted to the Koch brothers in many ways, which is problematic and part of the reason I am frustrated with the Atlantic Magazine. Within the piece, at the 4’50” point, a psychologist offers what she felt was the most important characteristic to look for in a matriculating student, that each child must be ready to assume self care. There was much good sense to this segment. Of course, there is much discussion about college admissions of late due to the scandal of some wealthy parents bribing the way for their children into elite institutions.

In the end, a review of Caplan’s book dismissing the need for pressing for a college education, I found one by Sarah Carr that was most critical of Caplan’s approach. I found myself agreeing on all points. 

Here is an excerpt from her piece:

For someone who chafes at Caplan’s often-specious reasoning and disagrees with most of his conclusions, there is still something refreshing about the cheeky questions he raises about the role of vocational education, the value of college, and the mismatch between educational offerings and job opportunities. Moreover, the conversation about education is often dominated by debates over governance: who should run schools and control the purse strings. Even the debate over the Common Core curricular standards centered less on what should be taught than on perceived (or misperceived) federal intrusion into states’ and districts’ jurisdiction over their schools: the perennial question of who has control.

And I’ll use her closing as my own for this blog:

“The Case Against Education” raises some important questions, but beyond that it offers little more than dangerous, extravagant ideology masking as creative data analysis.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/is-education-a-waste-of-time-and-money/2018/02/16/7e3fdcfe-0a86-11e8-8890-372e2047c935_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.aa05ba31a2bd 








Ken Burns and America’s Past: Does His View of Our History Tell Us Anything About 2020?

Ken-BurnsFor those of us PBS viewers, Ken Burns is a lifelong part of that life. Recently a conversation with him, moderated by Don Shelby, was aired (it is scheduled for re-airing this week in Maine) that was fascinating and illuminating about Ken Burns’ views on journalism and how his perspectives on life, politics and society arrive on screen in each of his projects.

If you view this clip that previews the show, you will see that before going on stage he signs the wall of the theater. His monograph contains the phrase more “Unum”. More “Unum” is a part of the Latin phase defining our country’s mission: E Pluribus Unum   

Burns is hoping for us to become more “One”, that the many together should be focused on the One that is our nation. His work always moves us towards that possibility that Burns assumes more a probability than a possibility. But, we are really, in my opinion, more a collection of many, many ones than one big One. History, the media, technology and our societal psyche all collude, in my option, to position us more as individuals only looking out for themselves in this country in far too many instances. Then, the Electoral College supports this premise. 2020 will test the math and history in a way that is profound. Though there is much to celebrate in Burns’ optimism about the country’s past that could allow us to hope there is a place in the future for a correction- and his documentaries all can lead us to this conclusion- the conversation with Don Shelby has prompted this blog.

As Ken Burns is a most rational being, I appreciate him immensely. In the conversation, being rational, Burns builds on the points of discussion in this manner. He opines by offering offering a premise, then follows with evidence to support this. He referenced Ecclesiastes and the portion of its long narration in the words of God that maintains that Everything Under the Sun has been done before…which, for Burns, implies that history is a good teacher. But, he also agrees that history is not exactly repeated, but, to use Dicken’s as yet unproven but often asserted to him quote, that it rhymes. 

Burns, also, believes human nature is consistent throughout history, always. That each era, each place, allows us to hope that the collected “Unum” will make decisions that offer hope, moving in a positive direction. Evolutionary characteristics, then, give each of us a propensity to choose collectively for our own individual support within the group think. This, for me, is problematic. 

My own thoughts accept that history, and the new things brought to Man’s attention and utilization, have changed our paradigms; perhaps even changed our minds and DNA. We behave differently from generation to generation- and also place to place, yet I understand the basic human is the same creature as he has always been…to a degree. Our differences are profound and the tribal nature of many of us allows us to maintain beliefs in a most stubborn way. And, is that nature naturally bending towards some progress? That is an arrogant thought, to me. Again, nature or nurture looms up in its ambiguous way.

Let’s now go back to 2020 and explore this in real time we move towards that date. The present political landscape in America is both divided by design and by geography and by class. There are those who live in rural areas whose jobs are focused on basics; the weather, consistency, often with religious paradigms for guidance. These individuals have suffered from a hollowing out of hospitals, jobs, family and economic diaspora and hope for the future as they now see it- surprisingly, this group also often embraces a strong libertarian work ethic. Those others in the top 1% usually live in urban areas and are split between Democrats and Republicans. The issues that push them one way or another in political persuasion are based on fiscally responsible government, extension of American might and imprint on the world, climate change impact, socially conscious programs that improve citizens’ opportunities and lives, religious conservatism, acceptance of immigration as a useful method for continued economic growth, and how much government should be involved in mediating social conditions. They are above the fray though and do not need to worry about maintenance of infrastructure, social justice, growing automation of industry and the impact of AI, or health insurance. Those who live in cities, and a growing number of the youngest generations, have opened up to a much more socialist agenda for dealing with all of these problems in society and embrace many of the things that split the top 1%, save religious conservatism. They are also suspicious of wielding America might elsewhere based on our poor track record of the last few decades.

Now, returning to Ken Burns’ interview, and a most important comment he supported in the discussion. He supports the social concept of interaction among the electorate with the caveat that “There is no communication except among equals”. While noble, this is not reality and will be problematic for this country going forward. The dilemma facing the Democrat Party illustrates this. They are trying to sort out whether to lean towards those Progressives that mostly live in the city or the Left and Right coasts, where immigration and our melting pot is endemic and obvious, while being conscious of the Electoral College and its great influence on the outcome of 2020.

We can use Beto O’Rourke as an example of this dilemma and use his attempt to secure the senate seat from Texas in the last election as how the 2020 election might go. The map provided and the issues he supported and the electorate to whom he appealed are all apparent in the upcoming two years’ political discussion and divide all the candidates must maneuver. goldsberry-texas-2-beto-tocHe was successful in cities, with those lower income voters and with Progressives. He also brought out more voters in the rural areas. Can he pull enough of the middle moderates his way or to ask it another way, must the final candidate somehow appeal to those middle of the road, socially conservative, libertarian-leaning voters, too. That is the big question. Take a look at this discussion on the website FiveThirtyEight, named for the numbers of representatives involved in our political process and to which all faces should turn in 2020.



Sustainability and Shaving: Can All of Us Men Enjoy Doing Our Daily Rituals Differently?

1soapMany of my thoughts on blogs are directed at looking at life backwards with hopes of figuring out how best to go forward with the rest of the days available. History is always attractive in setting up those thoughts. Recently, I was looking for a bar of shaving soap to replace my diminishing supply in my little plastic traveling container I’ve been using these past couple months. It became a travail to replace it, though. I have gone into supermarkets, drug stores, variety stores and specialty stores with no joy to find even a simple replacement. It turns out my practice of shaving the old-fashioned way, with lathering up a brush and covering my face each morning, is a dying art and act. Should it be so? I think not.

For all you guys out there who shave- congrats to my bearded friends who only need occasionally trim– you might consider the advantages in sustainability in using the handmade lather. If you use a cream, squirt it out of a canister, or use an electric shaver, you are impacting the environment in some small way either through metals, plastics or use of electricity. This is a minuscule invasion compared to the other ways we chip at the earth’s surface and air, I realize, and this is sort of a tongue in cheek blog to utilize this space as a Zen experience. In the myriad events that occur each day, which are experienced incrementally, we usually just put our heads down and marshal on. Each deserves its Zen perspective, though that is also another story. Let’s play with shaving.

The illumination of the event is required. Is there a ritual for each of you gents? Do you mobilize your senses when  you perform this act each day? What, for instance, is involved in the decision when you contemplate, on those occasions when this happens, to not shave for the day? When is the best time to shave? Do you enjoy parts of the act or find it an imposition? With anything that is required- again, hats off to those bearded friends of mine who have decided it is not– one has to consciously address why and how something must be afforded its rightful place in the daily obligations.

Our senses are involved in the act to a great degree; but how so? There is touch…and smell…and sight…but not so much taste and hearing…gratefully so. I would like to add more to the sense of smell, though, and accentuate it as we look at the “issue” of shaving in a broader discussion. First touch; the use of a brush has advantages. When using a brush and soap, the disposable container is avoided. Sustainability is enhanced. Then, the touch of brush to face is pleasing. The clean up is easy and the brush lasts years. Little is placed forward into the outside environment. Then there is sight, which is the same for each of us shavers, though it would be an interesting comparison to see how we lather. Is there a ritual? Do we start under the nose, on the right side near the sideburns, under the neck? Where? What is different in sight between the brush and the squirting of lather into one’s palm? Hmm. Lastly…Smell….this is an option. I am now electing to add it where it has only been a little prick of my senses in the past.

In my final frustration of being absent of joy in finding shaving soap locally, I have taken to the online purchase option. This in itself has caused issues. I will not buy from Amazon out of principle. I try to use them only for videos. So, do I pay for shipping is the next question. I elected to do so because it is another matter of principle involved and one that was trumped by other principles. Yet, how far afield and how much am I willing to pay?

If you shave with soap, then one should, or at least could, ask about the nature of that soap. A short visit online gets you to many options. What is in that soap? What are the best ingredients? What are the costs? What are the benefits in each? What are the aesthetics? What is the company’s history? Does it have a special or unique place in its community? Should these questions be asked?

You can make your own. Advantages and disadvantages. It turns out there is quite a bit written about the subject. I decided at this point, though, to be lazy and to advance the nation’s economy by buying a puck, as they are sometimes called. There are many options here, too. These could take you afar to England or France or Italy or Germany or Japan or India ……..or?   I decided on one and it is now on its way. It is a months’ long commitment and I don’t know if it will be the first of many of this brand or whether this is going to be like wine, sampling many to see which is the most pleasing. I did opt for one with a slight scent. It will make my mornings more of an event, I hope. 

For you ladies, should you have even made it this far. Another option is soap can be a great gift if you think your man is ready for the brush and bar. Have a nice day and enjoy that smooth face for as long as it lasts.

Only A Clear and Present Danger Trumps Free Speech: Free Speech or Free Thinkers? How does one tell the difference? When Do We Know We are IN Clear and Present Danger?

louis-d-brandeis-portraitAs we continue the Sisyphian chore of looking for adults in the American leadership room, the president has recently weighed in with a proposed Executive Order to assist with the Free Speech portion of how we in America should conduct discourse. Trump’s thoughts and proposal brought the ire and condemnation from one of the nation’s most adamant supporters of Free Speech, Robert Zimmer, head of the University of Chicago. His views echo many others in a long line of advocates for free speech. How should institutions of higher learning approach the issues that need to be aired, explored, discussed and upon which the very nature of a democratic republic depend for sound functioning? Then, the liberal party in the States, the Democrats, are arguing about what to do about free speech within their party.

Perhaps we should we look to Brandeis University and its take on Free Speech, though it is perhaps too exciting and problematic, too; “Be realistic demand the impossible”.  Also, it, too, has had its moments of crisis. The school was founded by Jewish funding as Israel was forming as a nation in 1948 and was named after this nation’s first Jewish Supreme Court Judge, Louis Brandeis. Louis Brandeis’s opinions are the bench marks for defining the First Amendment and society’s approaches to defending and prosecuting when it is taken beyond safe boundaries. Brandeis wrote 90 years ago in his famous concurrence in Whitney v. California, “It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears,” and spoke to his interpretation of the intent of the nation’s Founding Fathers: “They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of American government.” 

Warning against government overreach in limiting speech, he stated: “that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.” Of course, evil and good are problematic adjectives. That is why having an odd number of justices sometimes leads to votes of 5 to 4 and those in the minority are still not persuaded the decision is correct. And, over time later justices may change the law.

brandeis photoBrandeis also opined on when to limit speech. This was called the CounterSpeech Doctrine:  “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” In more recent times, Kennedy elaborated that “the remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true,” calling it “the ordinary course in a free society.”  Ah, but who determines “Speech that is true” Now in today’s world?

In limiting speech, an authority must submit that there is a clear and present danger from allowing the dissemination of speech that could harm society. The recent incidents involving universities and colleges, like Ann Coulter, Richard Spencer, Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, Condoleezza Rice or Christine Lagarde have brought to light the difficulty of defining the issue. When is there a clear and present danger from allowing any kind of discussion. Our president has been blamed for inflaming rhetoric and pushing the boundaries and hate crimes and groups have increased dramatically over the tenure of his campaign and presidency.

It is problematic to consider the Brandeis admonition/exhortation; those who are speaking with hate in their hearts and mouths are often supported by organizations and media outlets that are followed specifically by those who wish to hear those views. Often they do not seek alternative opinions to temper their understanding of the issue. The president himself, when he does not like what he hears, labels it “fake news”. There are hundreds, thousands of options to gain access to ideas and opinions about all manner of issues. We are finding polarized views on Islamophobia, Antisemitism, Climate Change, Vaccination, Web Neutrality, Gender Issues, Same Sex Marriage, etc., etc., etc. where advocates on either side of an issue are unbending. This is not new, but the means for adjudicating an outcome are becoming more fearful and violent. As this blog opened with the comment about looking for an adult in the leadership room, we are heading into a two year period of contentious public debate. I hope against statistical reality that we can arrive at an appropriate choice in that leader that will move the country towards a reasoned approach to governance. Although, I do take heart that leaders like AOC may shake the tree and move us towards a better future. Then, that incident with Omar that brought the Democrat Party into a pretzel pose and response to her and to a condemnation on the Judge Jeanine Fox Show, has now led to perhaps a Brandeis-style option in society. Here is one response from a member of the Black Caucus…“We have to be careful,” said Ms. Kelly, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which fought to blunt criticism of Ms. Omar. “She was elected just like I was, and she has the right to say what she believes, just as I do.” The comments on the Fox show hosted by Jeanine Pirro that called Omar’s Islamic culture into question as to its compatibility with the US Constitution drew a rebuke from the network. She backpedaled to an extent. Pirro is now invited Omar onto the show to discuss the issue. Perhaps this should have been the first and best option if everyone thought of Brandeis’ position on free speech. And, to leave you with what some of the members of our youth class are doing in terms of hate, take a look at this viewpoint for further adding to the conundrum.

Great links:



http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/j6075/edit/readings/brandeis_concurring1.html  Whitney v. California



HBO: Did it just get better…or only bigger or shorter or to be mostly viewed on the small screen? Why should you care about the differences?

In viewing this blog, you probably logged onto your computer (though it is possible that you may go through your Smartphone or even your Internet viewing options on your Smart TV, or some other device that accesses the WorldWideWeb) and that is a portion of your day spent in front of some screen. Other screens compete for your eyes: the digital reach is now immense and your car, refrigerator, Alexa, eyeglasses and myriad other delivery devices are coming onto the market to add to that reach.

The Golden Age of Television (whatever the term “television” means anymore) grew out of the Cable portion starting in the late 1980s, which took a huge portion of our country’s economy and squirted out HBO, Showtime and such to eventually provide original programming that has now spawned Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. The recent purchase of HBO by AT&T, which had also purchased Warner Brothers and many other companies, has pushed a new option into the mix. This is not the first blog into which I’ve delved to address how we gain our information.

If you follow the trajectory of MaBell and its breakup many years ago, all you need to do is look at AT&T for a lesson in how monopolies form and what they can do to the market, to quality control and to the reputation of capitalism. I invite you to read through Wikipedia’s page for such, which seriously needs updating. It is perhaps the page that should track, as a harbinger of something profoundly significant, the course of capitalism in the 21st century. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him? AT&T needs to be researched for the term AT&T Inc. and not Corp. and the name is not what it once used to be. There is a whole smorgasbord of companies now placed under that term’s umbrella. Some people are not happy with this change. Even Trump has his opinion. So did Michael Cohen. AT&T already has a record with Consumer Reports. Should you be weighing in with your opinion, too?

What is happening during the past three decades has not been positive in many ways, even though for “television” it is a Golden Age. What color is the egg being laid right now? I’m not so sure. That Roma came out of Netflix. That Netflix aired it and you did not view it on the big screen. That the Academy Awards yet again offered to the white population a rebuke of Spike Lee with someone driving a car to portray the status of race in America. All of these are signs we should follow.

An excerpt from an Atlantic Magazine article illuminates these changes and changing trends:

Netflix’s fire hose of original content, combined with the entry of the massive tech companies Amazon and Apple into the television game, has the rest of media spooked. Disney is preparing to roll out Disney+, a premium streaming service that will launch on the backs of its Marvel and Star Wars brands. WarnerMedia is prepping its own bundled streaming service, which HBO might be a part of (WarnerMedia also controls the sizable TCM and MGM film libraries, which were part of the now-defunct FilmStruck, another casualty of consolidation).

Vincent-van-Gogh-Red-Vineyard-1888The pursuit of quality is always an elusive game. Measuring quality is always elusive, too. Often the vanguards of arbitration and its definition are attacked, only to be allowed future prominence and acceptance by history. The term is in serious jeopardy, in my opinion, by the “lowest common denominator” practice of late. Game of Thrones and its genesis from the changes HBO  implemented over the past two decades might now produce Game of Toilet Bowl Thrones. Be picky about your choices as you continue to look at those screens. There  is a cost, both in financial terms but in so many other ways you need to know. Trump’s MAGA, his packing of the courts, his push to give power to the financial elites, is a worrying sign of the weaknesses our system has within the walls of power.

Socialism- Today’s Commentators on Television Want to Know What It Means: 150 years ago did Bismarck provide an answer we can use?

As the other blogs connected to this one all have to do with historical context and the ideas of personal responsibility or how we understand how Europeans with white heritage dominated the world’s economies, politics and held dominion over much of the world starting in the late 19th century, or how any individual in his lifetime needs to answer the personal questions associated with a quality life, it will be this blog’s charge to expand the knowledge about one of the most misunderstood terms on the televised political discussion panels- socialism. The fourth blog deals with the ramifications of progress and asked what must be done to ameliorate its effects on the world. What is sustainable and what needs to be addressed to make it so?

The concept of socialism goes back to the time of tribes. Sharing the kill was common practice among many tribes. When Western cultures, during the Enlightenment, sought the path of progress, some, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, sought a form of socialism in his ideology. As industrialism spread throughout Europe, some Christians felt Christ supported a socialist solution to society’s shortcomings. Marx, an atheist, went further and denied the viability and sustainability of capitalism by claiming it was obvious pure socialism would evolve from capitalism. History, he believed, was on the side of his thinking. One could assert that the last thirty years of capitalism in America has prompted the reopening of the case for socialism.  As Europe turned the century from the 19th and into the early 20th century, the diversity of economic models was so vast that only revolution and war could resolve the societal tension that had built up. How to implement a proper economic system? After that war we had fascism, Soviet-style communism followed by Maoist communism. NAZIism was particularly gruesome and various Scandinavian-style socialist countries have evolved. Here in America we became terrified of the word. Who or what was in charge of property, production and the market? The answers to those queries is still far from determined. Television pundits have done little to assuage fear of clarify the term’s meaning.

After the presidential campaigns in 2016, socialism was returned to the American political system, mostly through the efforts of the admitted socialist, Bernie Sanders. He has spent his life defending the precepts of what he calls democratic socialism. Yet, this term does not offer enough specifics to establish a system to implement it. Sanders has described outcomes he supports, like universal health care and full employment, but many decry his claiming a socialist mantel in economic ideology. Noam Chomsky, whose views on society and economics is perhaps the most radical, feels Sanders is a New Dealer. What has happened is that the word socialism is bandied about by Fox, MSNBC and anyone who has an axe to swing in chopping down the opposition. The concept needs a complete, concise and comprehensive exposition and all of us need to engage in the implications involved. Outcomes are easy to describe, but how to get there is always problematic. But, 2020 is now going to expect those understandings to make the election meaningful and useful.

The first country to embrace a form of socialism was Germany, that new country that formed from unifying most of the German speaking countries (with the noted and directly excluded Austria as an exception) by the Prussians and Bismarck. Bismarck_unmaskedThe brilliance of Bismarck was that he could tamp down the Catholic threat in this new country where half of the Germans were Catholics,


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and attack the communists and more radical socialists politicians by embracing socialist programs to disarm their attacks against the new government.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keep in mind that in the 1870s and later European leaders were attacked by assassins and sometimes successfully. Think Victoria, Tsar Alexander II of Russia.  In 1894, an Italian anarchist stabbed to death the French president, Marie François Sadi Carnot. In 1897, another Italian anarchist shot and killed Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, because of his role in the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in Spain. In 1898 in Geneva, an anarchist missed his chance to assassinate Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, the exiled claimant to the French throne, but settled for stabbing Empress Elisabeth of Austria to death instead. Then, in 1900, Gaetano Bresci assassinated King Umberto I of Italy in retaliation for Umberto’s support of the violent suppression of a worker’s general strike, known as the Bava-Beccaris massacre.  Jean-JauresThe death of the socialist Jean Jaure is said to have been a contributing factor to the conflict of the Great War.   In America, Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley were assassinated and Teddy Roosevelt was shot just at the beginning of the 20th century. The assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Jean Jaures were directly tied to starting the Great War. Of course, the later 20th became more violent on American politicians and assassination was all too common.

Bismarck was able to weaken the more extreme socialist agenda for the new nation by adopting his own model. It is one that would be worthwhile for us to understand in our own time. ’The so-called “conservative-corporatist” model, that we may want to re-name “categorial” or “Bismarckian” model, organized on the basis of occupational categories, is designed much less to reduce inequality than to provide workers with security, and to conserve their status. The level of social protection offered to each beneficiary is determined by market performance and employment situation. As a result of the relatively generous level of the social benefits provided, it also guarantees insured individuals a certain level of independence in relation to the market in the event of a contingency.’ The programs that were implemented became immediately popular and are central to the current fabric of German life today. When introduced by Bismarck, he called it “practical Christianity,” but this policy’s aims were to defang the more radical ideas of Marx and Engels, Marx a German living in the country. What Bismarck started in 1883 became the foundation of the country Germany is today. Universal health insurance, accident insurance, social security, disability insurance and workers protection laws all improved the lives of the common man. As a Junker, a person from the noble, entitled class, this was an issue of survival, not benevolence. Could the current upper class learn from Bismarck?

Current projections and polls show that American youth hold similar views to those workers and the Common Man of Bismarck’s time, with financing of full tuition for public colleges and universities another aspect of where the government should step in to cover costs. Though the voices saying this is impossible to finance are many or that they smack of communism, there are progressive economists like Paul Krugman who offer logical ways to do so. As taxes would surely rise, that does not necessarily mean that the money spent on the programs offered would. It would just come from a different source and the government would administrate and regulate that program’s functioning. This is, I believe, what Bernie Sanders is discussing when he says he would not object to becoming a country with programs offered in Scandinavian or Germany. The money would be brought in though progressive taxation, expanding the pool of users of the government service, and eliminating the profit to the private entity that supposedly offered a lower cost through competition. The savings from eliminating the profit motive would be passed on to the citizen, who would have paid for the service in profit-inflated prices anyway. This can be problematic, but the factors with the issue of government oversight of a program are the same as those in allowing a market oversight. What is the most efficient, the most fair, the most sustainable and the most cost effective in the long run. In other words, which constituency benefits the most? That discussion would be an interesting one to have to allow for a democratic choice on the outcome. This takes us back to Bernie Sanders and his new cohorts, who call themselves Democratic Socialists. I’d love for the country to engage in this discussion meaningfully without slinging names that are red herrings. Mr. Rogers, a lifelong Republican, offered his program on Public Television. It was his impromptu defense of his Neighborhood to the Congressional Oversight Committee that saved Public Television from the Republican ax in 1969 when the newly elected Nixon and his GOP supporters in the Senate sought to kill government support for Public Television. An amount of $20million at the time. Europeans pay a tax per annum for public services. Think of the dollars you could spend for services now between Netflix, Hulu, various cable options, Amazon Prime, CBS Plus, Youtube, Google Play, ITunes, etc. etc. But, be forewarned, the democratization of consumption does not often lead to quality, but the lowest common denominator. What do the most people want most of the time? 










http://www.fvinstitute.org/bismarck2017/    http://www.fvinstitute.org/causes/dignity-work-initiative/ 









Mr. Rogers: Life’s Lessons Learned and Taught

mister_rogers_feature_2_1050x700With four blogs interconnected on the thoughts of how an individual understands her life, each has a connected theme. The mention of 150 years in three of them offer historical context. One is on socialism, about which Mr. Rogers, as a lifelong Republican, must have had suspicions. Yet, his ideas on sustainability and community leaned towards this ideology often. Note the quotes below. Within that time period, it is possible for each us us to contemplate our own family members- which is what another blog does- and how they could have passed on information and context over that period down to us. Several ideas have surfaced to become the most important ones that arrived at the top of the list because of what our parents, grandparents the earlier inhabitants of the earth decided, with sustainable and socialism rising to the top of the list. Sustainability is the topic of a third blog. Another, this one, deals with one person’s life and how sustainability can be applied to it- Mr. Rogers’ life.

If you have ever watched a program that featured Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, you would have seen a plaque with the number 143. Each of us should consider the concept of a personal 143. On the show, Fred explained that it were these three numbers’ individual significances that represented three words of the a length represented by each number. 1 for “I”- 4 for “love” – 3 for “you”



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yet, sustainable was a very important term in Fred’s own life. He was a Christian and that lifelong Republican. His conservatism was based on sustainability; you needed to be able to afford what you used and you really didn’t need all that much to have a happy life. His footprint was small in terms of resources, huge in terms of impact. His neighborhood addressed how anyone who lived within it needed to communicate. One had to love his neighbor. Everyone needed to include all that visited or lived there as equals. That each person had a responsibility to address his or her life with the thought of how their actions impacted the greater community was always explicit. He wished for good to come out of all those interactions.

rogers philosophy

His life was recently featured on an award winning documentary about his life. It is followed by a tribute in film with Tom Hanks playing him in the lead role. While 143 is a great hook for “I Love You”, it is also his sustained weight for his entire life. In his concept of sustainability, he got up each day at 5 AM. He swam in a pool each day and then stepped on the scale. It was always 143 lbs, which always brought a smile to his face. Great to think of that approach to life. Some quotes from Fred Rogers:

I got into television because I saw people throwing pies at another person. That really makes me mad.pie throwing

What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has-or ever will have-something inside that is unique to all time.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that the space between people who are trying their best to understand each other is hallowed ground.

Fox News does not hold a good opinion of Mr. Rogers, but, when the Republican controlled Senate in the 1960s tried to defund Public Television, it was the Republican Mr. Rogers who came to the community’s defense and saved the day. More need to think like him and less like Fox.



Garbage in Garbage Out:  Is Sustainability the most important term or is a best understanding of the term Socialism the Most Important Concept to address in the 21st Century?

Do Birds Shit in the Nest? Baby birds do, but responsible adults keep the nest clean. How do we humans, those who are “adults”, exhibit responsibility for our nests and how big is the nest? This blog is actually only for All You Post-Babyboomers whose children, grandchildren and those to come need to sort out the century and beyond. We are presently in a very interesting time. Technology is impacting our lives in ways that we don’t comprehend. Yet, we love the possibilities and succumb to its lure with nearly every adaptation and advance. This blog is part of a collection of four, with one directed at us Babyboomers and those of slightly older vintage. They may read this one for interest, but we are only around to vote forward a few more ideas as we all slowly exit the scene.

Bernie Sanders was born in 1941 before Pearl Harbor and therefore is older than a Babyboomer, yet he shares much of the context of the world, in both time, sentiment and ideology, with me.  An openly “socialist” politician from Vermont who characterizes the president’s approach to being “racist, sexist, xenophobic”, is now running for president himself again. Trump gave a speech recently railing against “Socialism” and there are dozens of versions of what this means to the future. America, since its impact on the world that has transpired in the last 150 years is so immense, needs to understand its meaning and whether the economic and social paradigms associated with its implementation are the appropriate ones for the States’ (and the worlds’) citizens. Those 150 years a central to the understanding and are driving an unusual four, interconnected blogs this time. Beyond this one, there is a blog about one individual and how his parallel live to mine, with his emphasis on sustainability on a personal level important to note. A third deals with those 150 years and what has happened in Africa in that time and how that connects to an overall understanding. Since Sanders’ Socialism is primarily an economic system, and Bernie distinguishes himself as a Democratic Socialist, that needs unpacking. A fourth blog expands on the slightly longer than 150 years of socialism, though that time period is sufficient to explore the implementation of socialism in countries, with Bismarck, an authoritarian, being the first to bring it into the political arena. We could learn from him. Economics, politics and how they impact the environment- again, those 150 years of impact are critical to understand- drive this blog’s discussion of sustainable.

To “sell” the idea, context (and for the historian context is sometimes divided into comparative eras for clarity and this I love) between a generational appreciation of what is transpiring compared to another generation is useful. Babyboomers date from the Post War era, when “new” was the “In” word. Sustainable was not only not part of the social lexicon, it was an abhorrent concept. In the decade or two after World War II, builtin obsolescence was the order of the day. Each year, as examples, new car designs, new methods of delivering food to the family, new ways to arrange and design living spaces, new ways to mold plastic products, new fashions and shapes of men’s ties and women’s dress lengths, etc. Yet, other things that were available in the West, a new term in the Post-War.

At the beginning of the Babyboomers’ lives, those in control of their world, the Post War leaders of the East and West, were pushing for a New World. One of those leaders was Churchill, who defined these terms in his Iron Curtain Speech: 

“If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men; if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high-roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time, but for a century to come.”

While at the same time that this is happening, we are seeing many countries’ populations dividing along the lines of wealth, education and health. Then, most countries’ citizens are living longer, more are living in cities and they are often making unsustainable choices, for themselves and for the collective us. The solutions will surely have to rely on some political entity to resolve the issues, which means that each country will need to address what its citizens choose or are forced to accept as the way forward. The political spectrum runs from the anarchist who is appalled at the intrusion into his private life, to the libertarian who wishes to make the best decisions for himself, to the polar opposite of that, the socialist, who believes collective decisions will offer the best way forward.”

The individual who really needs nurturing, in my opinion, is the libertarian. This is a difficult definition to develop. Again, the libertarian ideology is not a new one. From Thoreau and Emerson at the beginning of the 19th century, the idea evolved and expanded with Nietzsche and the Nihilists that were opining about his time. American Tea Partyers and Ayn Rand have their own take on what they recommend. Each of us, though, must consider whether these ideas are sustainable beyond our own lives, even if one could argue selfishly that no other life is important beyond our own in the short time that we are here. The rest of us usually weigh in on such a perspective to dissuade such thinking. Assigning attributes to the libertarian involve examining thoughts and actions that each of us would need to admit harboring, but the results of those actions are what are important. 

As the definition of sustainability is complicated, the quotes below will provide some ideas on what constitutes sustainable development and sustainability (from https://www.globalfootprints.org/sustainability/) :

“A process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations” The World Commission on Environment and Development

“Sustainable development is a dynamic process which enables people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earth’s life support systems” (Forum for the Future)

“In essence sustainable development is about five key principles: quality of life; fairness and equity; participation and partnership; care for our environment and respect for ecological constraints – recognising there are ‘environmental limits’; and thought for the future and the precautionary principle”. (From Making London Work by Forum for the Future’s Sustainable Wealth London project)

“The environment must be protected… to preserve essential ecosystem functions and to provide for the wellbeing of future generations; environmental and economic policy must be integrated; the goal of policy should be an improvement in the overall quality of life, not just income growth; poverty must be ended and resources distributed more equally; and all sections of society must be involved in decision making”. (The Real World Coalition 1996, a definition based on the work of the World Commission on Environment and Development)

“We cannot just add sustainable development to our current list of things to do but must learn to integrate the concepts into everything that we do.” (The Dorset Education for Sustainability Network)

“A sustainable future is one in which a healthy environment, economic prosperity and social justice are pursued simultaneously to ensure the well-being and quality of life of present and future generations. Education is crucial to attaining that future.” (Learning for a Sustainable Future – Teacher Centre)

“The first and perhaps most difficult problem, one that seldom gets addressed, is the time frame…Is a sustainable society one that endures for a decade, a human lifetime, or a thousand years?” (The shaky ground of Sustainable Development Donald Worster in Global Ecology 1993)

Probably solutions or tracks that will be taken (which appeals most?):

  1. Turn everything over to the ladies
  2. We all succumb to big brother
  3. Education will be the biggest investment the smart countries make with sustainable the most important focus in the curriculum
  4. Mad Max wins
  5. Ahwahnee Principles are adopted everywhere and the Native American Indian practices are promoted as preferable to any other method of sustainability

Wonderful sources for exploring the idea of sustainable:













https://www.netflix.com/title/80134814  sustainable food production