“I Can’t Breathe”–Protests Are an American Tradition

Did the anti-war protests of the sixties and seventies hasten the end of the Vietnam War? In retrospect, probably not. They most certainly helped bring an end to the political career of Lyndon Johnson and bring on Richard Nixon as the next president in 1968. But I could hardly fail to participate in those protests, knowing what I did from spending the year between October 1967 and October 1968 in Vietnam . Did Rosa Parks bring Lyndon Johnson to confront the American South and shepherd the passage through Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Not directly or by herself, but she started a parade of protests by countless others when she refused to move to the back of the bus in 1955. In the end, all of the protests did make a difference. Will the “I Can’t Breathe” protests have similar result—eliminating the impunity with which police officers can kill unarmed suspects? Who can say for sure, but the protests must continue. In 1849, Henry David Thoreau was imprisoned for refusing to pay a poll tax. While jailed, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson visited him. He asked Thoreau, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” To which Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?” Thoreau in his civil disobedience (a published treatise) inspired Gandhi, who in turn inspired Martin Luther King. Nonviolent protest has a rich tradition in America. When an injustice occurs repeatedly, protests may be the one of the most effective tools at the citizen’s disposal, along with the ballot box, in generating a change.

The Torture Report

Are you tired of hearing, viewing and reading about this yet? If you are, then you should skip this post. But let me try a multifaceted approach that may overcome your reluctance. There is legality and there is morality. There is politics and pragmatics. There is truth and there are lies. There are causes and there are consequences (effects). Finally, there is the opportunity for national self-reflection–if one can get beyond the self-protective rationalization. Continue reading

You Might not Need a Mobile Carrier by 2020

 

Smartphone image

So says David Goldman in a piece a month ago (late to the party I am) on CNN Money.

Wi-Fi is ubiquitous. No longer the realm of coffee shops and homes, Wi-Fi spans entire neighborhoods. Trains, planes and automobiles are Wi-Fi equipped. Cruise ships have Wi-Fi. Comcast (CMCSA) has even made every customer’s router into a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

That’s good news if you’re a cell phone user. The more you email, watch Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), stream Pandora (P) and surf Facebook (FB, Tech30) over Wi-Fi, the fewer gigabytes you have to buy from your cell phone company. Plus, calls and texts are now able to be sent over Wi-Fi too.

Broadband customers that actively use Wi-Fi on a regular basis save more than $30 per month on their wireless bill, according to a Macquarie Group survey published last week.

Don’t cry for the mobile carriers, they still have many profitable years ahead. Before going all WI-FI, you will want to be sure that hot-spots get more secure, too. Still, it is is a sign of the times that carriers like Verizon are reducing the bandwidth for 3G service and shifting it use by 4G.

The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to switch to save bucks.

Do You Have a Book in You?

X-ray shows book inside man in doctor's office
Cartoon from Nicholas Rossis, https://plus.google.com/+NicholasRossis

          Aside from the humor, this seems like something many people might believe–even aspire to. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as the novice or non-writer could wish. Still, for many who are accustomed to writing reports, correspondence, analyses and other words it is not far-fetched. Watch for a new series on this beginning in the February Eagle Peak Quarterly. Why mention it now? I loved the cartoon so much that my friend Nicholas posted on Google + that I just had to jump on it now. In the meantime, I offer this: For those with expertise in one subject area or another, writing and marketing a non-fiction book can be easier than a first time novel. Tailor it to the audience that your work already attracts and you have a head start. I will try to introduce a little more from time to time until Groundhog Day comes along.

Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again when people eat prodigious quantities of food, engage in sometimes contentious conversations with relatives they haven’t seen all that often and perhaps watch football or parades. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving. Tongue-in-cheek comments as the above are not my real feelings. Probably they are not yours or those of the stereotypical American. Just in case they are, on the eve of this annual American version of this holiday let’s consider these words from Daisaku Ikeda.

 None of us can exist in isolation. Our lives and existence are supported by others in seen and unseen ways, be it by parents, mentors or society at large. To be aware of these connections, to feel appreciation for them, and to strive to give something back to society in a spirit of gratitude is the proper way for human beings to live.

GOP Truculence Persists

From the time Obama entered office in 2009, the GOP has opposed virtually every initiative he has proposed. With little assistance and plenty of opposition, the economic collapse Obama inherited  from his predecessor Bush has been substantially dealt with–ongoing job creation has continued for nearly five years. GDP is on the upswing and interest rates remain low. Housing starts are up and unemployment down. A universal health plan first proposed decades ago by Republican presidents is the law of the land but the hair on Republican heads continues to blaze. One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing with an expectation of a different outcome. The GOP-led house has attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (popularly/unpopularly known as Obamacare) over 50 times. The act has survived court scrutiny. Now Speaker of the House, John Boehner has said he will sue the president over it. Continue reading

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Will Marijuana Legalization Follow on Same-Sex Marriage Path?

141110200503-erin-dnt-mattingly-kettle-falls-5-marijuana-00021528-story-top
Photo from CNN online, 11/10/14, opinion by Steph Sherer. See photo credit via link below to CNN piece.

Medical marijuana is now legal, with many restrictions and qualifiers, in 23 states and more are pending. Two states already allow sale of recreational marijuana. Another, Alaska, will soon follow. Others are considering the matter. The tide of same-sex marriages becoming legal has now taken on an inevitability with now only a small minority NOT permitting it. The process started out slowly but now is happening rapidly. While there is a significant federal component (tax and retirement benefits, treatment of military and federal employees, federal employment discrimination laws, etc.) the actual recognition of marriages is a state matter. Marijuana, however, has a substantial federal law enforcement component–it is a Schedule 1 drug, regarded  subject to federal prosecution for possession, growth or sale much like very serious narcotics such as heroin. In federal law, it has no redeeming medical or other value; it is simply a dangerous drug whose users must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In the meantime, terrible federal legal consequences can and do follow for some of those who use it legally under state laws for the significant medical benefits they receive. See this opinion piece from CNN.  Continue reading

A Mind Open to the New

“To shift one’s thinking and see things from another perspective is the first step to changing both oneself and one’s environment.”

Daisaku Ikeda

The ocean rejects no river, taking the latter’s freshness as a trifling dilution, replenishing the water lost to evaporation. There is always room for more. The aging mind has accumulated vast amounts of information over decades of interaction with the physical and social environment—education, conversation, books, movies, TV, radio and travel here and there. Like the ocean depths, there is always room for more data in the human brain—at least so long as the mind remains open to the new. Rejecting the flow of ideas which may conflict with cherished views already resident and fully formed into concrete concepts is the nature of a closed mind. It’s an unhealthy mind, subject to stagnation, that won’t accept the new.

Ronan Farrow is Too Young to Take Seriously

From AARP’s perspective, ageism is the scourge of youthful, millennial to pre-middle aged folks. Often in advertising, TV programming, human resources or supervisory/managerial roles the younger ones assume boomers and beyond are of no value. They mock their elders’ supposed lack of understanding of technology with ads like the one about the woman putting up her photos on her actual, not virtual, wall. They expect that the older folks’ creative juices have evaporated, that the boomers and up are set in their ways and should be let go as soon as possible or at least not promoted. But it came to me the other day, looking at Ronan Farrow on MSNBC, that ageism can run in the opposite direction. He just looks WAY TOO young to know anything of consequence or be capable of passing along any sensible information. Oh sure, he no doubt has a good grasp of the newest apps for smart phones and tablets. Probably has the scoop on what’s trending on Twitter and other social media,  knows the best clubs to hit, etc. But anchor his own show on MSNBC? Seriously! In fact, it does seem he is well educated and intelligent—graduating from Bard College at 15, getting a Yale Law degree and attended Magdalen College of Oxford—all before his current age of 26. I won’t hold it against him that he is the son of Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra; nobody, including his mother apparently knows for sure. Of course, I knew plenty when I was 26—just not enough to know what I wanted to do with myself until five years later. Oh well. Still, education is no substitute for life experience. Ronan is STILL too young to have his own show; even if he does have a pretty face, I change the channel when he shows up.

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