My youngest daughter (I have two) is in the 10th grade in high school. Her history class is studying the French Revolution right now and, during the Thanksgiving break she decided she wanted to build a scale model guillotine for extra credit. She, of course, enlisted my help. It never even occurred to me that I could probably find something online that would suffice and, in fact, I just looked and found a couple of places I could have purchased a kit. Here’s a really simple one. Here’s another.
As it turned out, I think I jumped at the opportunity to re-arrange our ridiculously stuffed garage, so I could get to my woodworking bench and use all the tools I’ve purchased or was given over the years and haven’t used for nearly a decade. Amazingly enough, they all worked despite some rust and corrosion.
I took some pictures as I was going along, and finished it yesterday so she could bring it to school today. This afternoon, I came across the original note her teacher gave her with the “rules”, e.g. it must work, it can’t have a sharp blade, and it isn’t due until Friday . . . grrrrr. Frankly, I became a wee tad obsessed with pulling this off and I’m glad it’s done and gone. I was having a hard time doing anything else, even though there were periods of time in between gluing and when I needed to build up my confidence that I could pull something off. Sometimes it mostly involved my remembering how to do something.
I made the whole thing out of a plank of 3/4″ thick Pine and a hobby piece of 1/4″ Oak. Since most of the table called for 3/4″ square pieces, I had to use an old table saw designed for onsite carpentry. It belonged to a friend of mine and, even though it’s been in my garage for at least 17 or 18 years, it still belongs to him. I just get to use it. Some of the cuts I had to make concerned by fingertips greatly, but they all managed to survive.
It is clear to me that racism in America will not go away if white people do not stand up and denounce it as the destructive force it is. In order to do so respectfully and honestly, white people need to listen to the voices of people of color. Only by listening to their authentic voices; to their stories and their life experiences, can we even begin to understand how racism affects their lives and why it needs to stop if we’re to progress as a race . . . a human race, that is. Here’s an interesting story that was shared with me on Facebook. Though I would share it here as well.
First Massive African American Protest in American History (July 28, 1917) were children in New York City participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots. Between 8,000 and 10,000 African-Americans marched against lynching and anti-black violence in a protest. The march was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riot of May and July of that year, which was an outbreak of labor and race-related violence that caused up to 200 deaths and extensive property damage. The Parade was organized by famous civil rights activist and first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University) W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. The protesters hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and to promote black cases; to the great horror of civil rights activists across the country, Wilson repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination actually increased during his presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York and the second public civil rights demonstration of African-Americans.
The paraders assembled at Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue and marched thirty-six blocks downtown to Madison Square Park. They were led by about 800 children, some no older than six, dressed entirely in white. Following the children were white-clad women, then rows of men dressed in black. The marchers walked wordlessly to the sound of muffled drumbeats. Despite their silence, their concerns were articulated on neatly stenciled banners and signs.
The banners and signs read: “MOTHER, DO LYNCHERS GO TO HEAVEN?; “GIVE ME A CHANCE TO LIVE”; “TREAT US SO THAT WE MAY LOVE OUR COUNTRY”; “MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?; AND “YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD.”
In honor of this year’s (2019) Independence Day festivities in the nation’s Capitol which, for the first time in our history, looks to be more like a campaign rally for Trump than a celebration of our Independence from a(nother) tyrant, I offer this wonderful cartoon.
I suppose you could say newsletters are in my blood. My father was the radioman aboard the USS William H. Webb during the second World War and one of his duties was to publish a newsletter for the crew. I remember looking through and reading his saved copies of each edition as I was growing up. I may even have some of them in a box in the garage somewhere, though I doubt they have held up all that well. They were printed on some pretty flimsy paper to begin with. I don’t think archival was part of their thought process.
Over the years I’ve done my share of newsletters, ranging from merely creating a SoCal edition of The War Bulleting, a publication out of Berkeley, California, that documented what was happening in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and the activities we were engaging in to protest our nation’s involvement, to a newsletter I created for my local golf course that garnered me lots of free range balls and rounds on the course, sometimes with a pro who couldn’t help but give me some instruction during the course of a round.
So . . . a series of events have convinced me it’s time to go through all my papers—and I have a ton of ’em—and organize, scan, and recycle as many of them as I can, memorializing what I find here on my blog. I also intend on gathering some of it into book form and see if anyone cares to read it.
Here’s the only saved edition I have of a newsletter I put together for the Student Bar Association of the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law. I’m a bit miffed to discover I didn’t put a date on the damned thing, so I can’t be sure if I published it in 1974 or 1975. Now that I think about it, I believe I was the 2nd year, full-time representative to the Student Bar, so that would have been ’75 . . . a mere 44 years ago.
Note the simplicity. There was no computer involved in any aspect of this publication, as PCs did not exist at the time. I’m pretty sure the headlines were stick-on letters I had to apply one at a time, and the copy was all done on a typewriter, though it may have been an IBM Correcting Selectric, because I was working as a secretary/clerk in a small law office in Beverly Hills at the time.
I’m surprised the paper held up as well as it has over all these years. It’s yellowed a bit, but it was still reasonably malleable; not brittle and parchment-like, as I suspect my father’s newsletter would be if I could find them. Then again, they’d be around 75 years old now.
I have also found a bunch of newsletters I created for Rocketdyne, as well as menus and promotional items I designed over the years, when I wasn’t working at Rocketdyne. I’ve also found some strange things I created as jokes during my tenure at what we called “The Rock.” I intend on sharing all of them.
As I have noted previously, I am seriously considering working on a book, either of my memoirs (my whole life) or one about my activities in the Peace and Justice movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Most of that work was in protesting the war in Vietnam, but some of it was in protest of racism and inequality. If fact, I just found this document I authored about six years ago, which I called “20 things about me” and I can see it doesn’t say a word about my work with the Committee to Free Angela Davis. Clearly, I’ll be adding to this list, which I believe I will use to help me organize my thoughts about my life.
I was born with club feet, one of which was corrected with casts, the other of which was corrected with surgery at 5 years old.
When I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1966, I failed my physical because of my foot, but argued successfully that you don’t march in the Navy. Big mistake; it’s about all you do in boot camp. Was subsequently discharged when they discovered I had arthritis in my ankle.
My father, fearing I would become a bum, bought a small snack shop for me when I was 19 and a half. I was there during the Summer of Love (1967) and ended up having him sell it at a loss so I could go up to Haight-Ashbury and find out what the hell was going on.
It took me 3.5 years to complete High School because I cut so many classes and just didn’t want to be there. I subsequently gained admission and graduated with a Juris Doctorate from an accredited Law School ten years later, without having attended undergraduate school.
I provided armed security – as a bodyguard and with a team doing bomb searches, etc. – for numerous groups and individuals during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, including Jane Fonda, Arco Iris, Hortensia Bussi, and Vietnamese students in the U.S.
I, along with my brother and my roommate, provided armed bodyguard services for Roger MacAfee and his family after they had put up their ranch for Angela Davis’s bail. They were guests of honor at a fundraiser called “In Concert For Angela,” which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. His family, and the three of us, were about the only white people there.
I was a bartender at the Ash Grove in Hollywood, a venue distinguished by having been burned to the ground numerous times by anti-Castro Cubans (Gusanos).
I spent two months in Cuba as a guest of the Cuban government and a member of the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade.
I taught myself Spanish for the trip.
My first wife was Cuban (totally unrelated to my trip many years earlier) and my current (2nd) wife is Sansei (3rd generation Japanese-American).
I’ve smoked pot since I was 19. I’m currently 66 (and my brain still functions pretty darn well).
I love good single-malt Scotch.
My last dog was a Rottweiler who was given to me as a gift from a girlfriend who couldn’t handle him. He loved to chase shadows and stomp ants.
I have had at least a dozen cats throughout my life, including two right now – Zack and Weezy.
I accidentally ended up working on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program beginning a year before the Shuttle’s return to flight after the Challenger disaster. I stayed there for 23 years.
I accepted an early retirement package in 2010, as the Shuttle program was winding down and the space program was contracting.
I earned a Masters degree in Knowledge Management from CSUN in 2009, at the age of 62.
I became a first-time, adoptive father at the tender age of 55 and, in a stunning display of higher intelligence, did it again at 59. I feel responsible, but not guilty, for the part I have played in IA.
I attempted to provide social media marketing services for small businesses after retiring, but soon discovered nobody could afford to hire me and most were abysmally ignorant of what was possible.
At the end of last year I decided to offer my services as an editor and proofreader and my efforts are beginning to pay off.
I just signed two contracts to write for a couple of organizations I have a great deal of respect for.
Most historians in the U.S., as far as I can tell, tend to believe in the “Great Man” theory of history; the belief that history can be largely explained by the impact of great men, or heroes; highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill used their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.
Howard Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States, takes the exact opposite view; that history is made by the people, the masses, the average working man and woman who comprise the body politic, and whose lives tell the story of a society’s development. Individuals are seen as products of the society in which they grew and came to prominence, representatives of the people or oppressors of the people, but not apart from the “salt of the Earth”.
If you ever wanted to read this wonderful book, but haven’t gotten around to it, or you’d like to be able to peruse it before taking the plunge (it is a formidable, but entertaining, read) you can find the book in its entirety at History is a Weapon. I believe this particular book is more important than ever, as we become more and more politically active and strive to wrest control over our government, which has been hijacked by vile white nationalists, religionists, and science deniers. I’ve included the link to the book below.
I only watched a portion of (P)resident Trump’s speech in Phoenix last night. I can’t stand listening to the man. I did, however, see excerpts as they were shown during Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC program, “The Last Word”, and what I heard was disheartening, to say the least.
I know I can read it if I want to, but I don’t really want to. I saw enough of his lying, self-aggrandizing bullshit to last me a lifetime. Today I came across this little snippet of Don Lemon of CNN, recorded last night as he opined on what he had just heard. It’s worth a listen.
We truly are going down the rabbit hole with this insanely unqualified train wreck of human being actually “leading” the Executive branch of our government. While I’m beginning to gain some modicum of confidence most everyone is learning how to ignore him, I’m not entirely satisfied we’ll come out of this safely . . . or ever be whole again.
My Favorite Representation of What The Dialectic Represents
I am not an academic. Neither am I a philosopher or a journalist. Nevertheless, I do write on occasion and make an effort to share my thoughts in a somewhat coherent manner. I have to admit it’s gotten a little bit more difficult over the last few years, what with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media apps, platforms, and sites, slowly turning me into a scattershot reader of content.
My goal for the foreseeable future is to reverse that trend somewhat and spend more time writing and sharing my thoughts, perhaps some of my dreams, and a few (or more) of my memories. I’ll be 70 years old next June and, in mid-April of next year, will have outlived my father by a decade. Although relatively healthy, I do have my share of ailments that seem to come to everyone eventually: Mild Hypertension; Type II Diabetes (though, thanks to Fitbit and a little willpower made easy by the data retrieved from my Aria scale and Charge HR (link is to their latest version), I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds in a little over a year — and it’s had its salutary effect on my blood sugar); surgery for a Melanoma; Dupuytren’s Contracture; trigger finger; and a bunch of weird-ass nerve issues that are making many reaching movements with my hands problematic. In other words, I’m doing pretty good for an old guy.
I’m hoping to live long enough to share a little of the adult life of my children, who are currently 15 and 13, but there’s no way to know if that will happen. A lot of folks around my age have been dying off lately, and I can feel the inexorable decline of my physical strength, stamina, and overall health accelerating as I age. It’s a strange trip, I must say. Sometimes I worry a bit that I’m paying too much attention to the end, but I have always been one who has enjoyed the ride and I’m not really too concerned with its conclusion. I just happen to be fascinated by the concept of nothingness, which I contend is nigh onto impossible for we humans to comprehend. I also believe it is a big part of what has long attracted people to religion; they need to believe there’s some sort of consciousness after they die. I don’t believe that’s possible.
As someone who has embraced (if not always lived up to the practices inherent in doing so) Systems Thinking, I long ago came to the conclusion that the philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Dialectical Materialism, is the framework from which systems thinkers can best view the development of the natural world which, of course, includes human beings and our social constructs.
In that regard, I thought I would share this compilation of the elements of the philosophy, as culled from the works of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, one of the world’s clearest explicators of the work of Marx. Here are the 16 elements I’ve been able to find. I once had a slightly shorter version, which I had printed out and displayed at my desk. Several years before I retired, someone had the audacity to take it down from the wall, rip it in half, and leave it on my seat. I’ve never quite understood the cowardice it takes to do something like that but, no matter, the words — and the concepts they represent — can’t be erased quite that easily. Here’s the list:
Summary of Dialectics
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The objectivity of consideration (not examples, not divergences, but the Thing-in-itself).
The entire totality of the manifold relations of this thing to others.
The development of this thing, (phenomenon, respectively), its own movement, its own life.
The internally contradictory tendencies (and sides) in this thing.
The thing (phenomenon, etc.) as the sum and unity of opposites.
The struggle, respectively unfolding, of these opposites, contradictory strivings, etc.
The union of analysis and synthesis — the breakdown of the separate parts and the totality, the summation of these parts.
The relations of each thing (phenomenon, etc.) are not only manifold, but general, universal. Each thing (phenomenon, process, etc.) is connected with every other.
Not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?].
The endless process of the discovery of new sides, relations, etc.
The endless process of the deepening of man’s knowledge of the thing, of phenomena, processes, etc., from appearance to essence and from less profound to more profound essence.
From coexistence to causality and from one form of connection and reciprocal dependence to another, deeper, more general form.
The repetition at a higher stage of certain features, properties, etc., of the lower and
The apparent return to the old (negation of the negation).
The struggle of content with form and conversely. The throwing off of the form, the transformation of the content.
The transition of quantity into quality and vice versa.
As I said, I am hardly a philosopher; merely a person who has found Materialism, whether it be Dialectical or Historical, to be the best method available to understand history and the development of society without — and this is important — the intervention of the supernatural. I try to apply this type of thinking to everything I ponder, but I do fall short at times. I, like most of us, am a work-in-progress. More to come.
Dave Winer has played, mostly unbeknownst to me, a critical role in the development of blogging and other forms of online communication, including outliners and other types of online authoring and publishing software. I have been blogging for about ten years and I just recently came to realize his role. Actually, ever since I began following him on Facebook and experimenting with his numerous free offerings, e.g. Little Facebook Editor, which currently allows you to post to both Facebook and your WordPress blog, as well as edit and update both simultaneously, Little Card Editor, with which you can upload graphics (with added text) to both Facebook and Twitter, and Fargo, a quite useful outliner I’m using for a couple of things I’m working on.
Today, he posted in celebration of his twenty year anniversary of blogging. It’s an interesting explanation of what he’s been through (not exactly pretty) and what he thinks he’s learned from it. You can read it here. It’s really worth your while, especially if you’re a blogger and you sometimes wonder if it’s worth it.
I occasionally wonder why I’m doing this, as I’ve no intention of making any money off of my efforts but, rather, am merely looking for a way to express myself and, hopefully, reach a few people who like what I have to say. My biggest reason for blogging nowadays is to leave something of myself for my children, who may or may not find anything of value in it. I keep writing, though it’s sometimes a struggle – especially in terms of sharing some of my more personal thoughts, observations, and desires.
Anyway, this is my way of thanking Dave for what he’s done and recognizing his work in making all this possible. If you’re a blogger, you may not realize the role he’s played. Perhaps you should. At the very least, I always find it interesting to learn more about how we got to where we are. It’s frequently not terribly apparent unless you seek it out.
Mazel tov, Dave. Thanks for the ride. I, for one, am deeply appreciative.
I think most anyone who finds their way to this blog, whether for the first time or if they’re regular visitors, knows I’m not really trying to promote myself or to make money off of it. Since I use the WordPress.com engine for this, I know there are occasional ads that pop up, but I don’t receive any compensation from them. I’m really not interested in it. I guess it’s a vestigial behavior related to my actually having a real job for over two decades. I’m not terribly adept at promoting myself, though I will surely have to improve if I’m to accomplish anything of value from my latest endeavor. More on that below.
Nevertheless, I am interested in making a difference; in reaching people and sharing something of my unique perspective on things. Because of that, I do look for one thing other than remuneration . . . feedback. Unfortunately, I get precious little of it. Certainly much less than I get on Facebook. One of the reasons I have a hard time tearing myself away from FB is the engagement I receive. There’s almost always a conversation going on and I get a fair amount of likes, comments, and shares for a guy who is far from well-known for anything.
As far as this blog is concerned, I do watch my stats, which WordPress does a damn good job of providing. I also try to promote most of what I write here using the share buttons and the automatic sharing the engine does when I publish. It’s gratifying to see how many people read (or, at least, visit) my blog, but there’s one thing missing and I’m hopeful that can be remedied somewhat.
What I’m referring to is comments. I get very few comments. I’m not sure why and I do worry sometimes it’s just because I’m not all that interesting. In some respects, it shouldn’t (and mostly doesn’t) make one whit of a difference in terms of whether or not I speak my mind. However, I think that’s about to change.
I’ve announced I’m working on a book. It will be my memoirs of activities I was involved in during the period 1967 through about 1976. This was the period in which I was most active in the Peace & Justice movement, especially the effort to end the war in Vietnam. I am currently in the process of connecting with some of the people I worked with back then and am discovering it is difficult. I need to do a lot of research, as my memory is like a steel sieve. I remember a lot, but it was nearly four to five decades ago and I’m not sure I completely trust what I recall happened. Additionally, I want to include as much as I can from others who experienced some of the same things I did, either with me or in similar circumstances.
I will be sharing more and more of what I’m doing, including posting portions of the book as it progresses. What I’m really hoping to see, and what I’m asking readers of my blog to provide, is a little feedback. If you or someone you know was involved in any way, e.g. anti-war demonstration, march, rally, love-in, teach-in, cultural event, or concert, etc., I’d love to hear from you and, if you are willing, I’d like to talk with you. I suppose you could call what I want to do an interview but, in this case — since I was so involved at the time — I tend to think what I’m seeking is an opportunity to reminisce.
Feedback. It’s what I need right now. After the book is complete everyone can go back to ignoring me. 😉
Born in 1947, I am an officially retired pensioner who still has two teenage daughters and a desire to contribute. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Machine Learning, Knowledge Management, Decision Intelligence, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowdsourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. Since my "retirement" I have done a little bit of freelancing as an editor/proofreader, as well as some technical writing. I've also done a fair amount of Facebook marketing as well.
There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0)
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.