Category Archives: Culture

Myths… True or False?

There is a foolishness within the human being.  Either it is played out in drama as in myths of those so imperfect gods like those of the Greeks, or it plays out in our parodies of myth,   political myth,  which we find manifested as untruths that citizens  choke down grave-faced.    The first can lead to a great belly laugh.   The latter in time, to war.

Gary Hart recently wrote:

Myths play a central role as metaphor in many world religions, according to Joseph Campbell. In The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth he studied the world mythologies, found common themes in a wide variety of cultures, and reached a startling conclusion: myths, he said, come from dreams and, therefore, people around the world have common dreams. It is a profound and still controversial insight for religion, psychology, and human culture. Students in all these fields continue to consider the power of myth.

Myths in politics, however, play a much different role. “Widely held but false idea” is one dictionary definition of myth in common usage. For reasons that are still unclear, myths abound in recent American political history. Perhaps the most glaring and consequential was the myth that Iraq under Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

There are other cases in point. Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya and therefore not an American citizen. These are myths, yet they are widely believed in certain circles. Poor people are poor by choice. A classic myth. A rising tide lifts all boats. Much more true when we were an industrial society and manufacturing products created jobs. Much less true when the economic tide is one of finance and money manipulation which lifts the gilded yachts but not the rowboats of the rest of us. Jobs are not created when crackpot financial schemes make hedge fund managers rich. Thus, a myth.

Myths in politics are dangerous. In an important speech at Yale University during the Cold War, John Kennedy said:

“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

He was speaking of the myths on both sides that perpetuated a Cold War in a dangerous way.

Exactly 50 years later, no assessment comes closer to describing much of our current political world. Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth.

If this strange world were the product of mere laziness it might be understandable. But today’s political myths are more perverse. They are a conscious hiding place from a changing, challenging, and often uncomfortable new world. Globalization, immigration, cultural and racial diversity are threatening and frightening to many who wish to freeze the former comfortable world in time and prevent any change.

Myths which have no basis in truth, or which do not operate as metaphors for religious truth, eventually fade away with the passing of those who perpetuate them and in the face of reality and fact. But the most dangerous myths create demons where none exist, the demons being anyone who disagrees with the myth-makers. In the meantime, however, they serve not only to delude the deniers but to frustrate our Founders’ belief in the progress of the human mind.

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David adds,  Citizens who expect to be informed for free, on the largesse of the commercial interests are bound to find themselves in a pool of opinion and unsubstantiated so called facts.  A society that cannot agree on facts, or whose facts do not correspond with reality is indication of being within political myth. Only by funding and protecting reporters with the citizen’s interest in mind, will the ‘freedom of the press’ guaranteed by the constitution be more than a vacant promise.   Freedom of the commercial press is what we have today, and as any schoolboy can see, that does not result in freedom, but ongoing war.

I am developing a list of political myths…   please send me your ideas.
both those that go down, nice and smooth,  and those that stick in your craw.
Thanks
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Civilized Breakdown

The examples below indicate the breakdown in communication in the western world.   We cannot agree on the Facts of how many US Troops died in Afghanistan.   These facts are concrete.   Our service men and women dying are nameable and countable.  And in that reporting… 2,000 died as of Sept, 30, 2012; but No! that was Aug 21, 2012 according to the New York Times, and yet another date provided by icaualties.org .   None of these 2,000 count articles noted the truly alarming rates of serviceman & veteran suicides that eclipse the battle deaths by 18 times.

Look at the reporting:

US military deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000 after 11 years of war

By Patrick Quinn, The Associated Press | Associated Press – Sun, Sep 30, 2012

According to Brookings, hostile fire was the second most common cause of death, accounting for nearly 31 per cent of Americans killed.

In Toll of 2,000, New Portrait of Afghan War    ….  August 12th, not Sept 30th

By JAMES DAO and ANDREW W. LEHREN

Published: August 21, 2012  New York Times

Suicides Outpacing War Deaths for Troops

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

Published: June 8, 2012  New York Times

The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the Pentagon said Friday.

A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame

better:

Veterans Death at own Hand, the Nation’s Shame

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: April 14, 2012

HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

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News

American Forces Press Service       (a product of the Department of Defense)

Battaglia Calls Reducing Suicides a Top Priority

By Karen Parrish

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2011 – Military leaders are committed to reducing suicides in the ranks, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the Defense Department’s top enlisted leader, said here Dec. 9.

Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters after the recent release of a report on military suicides by the Center for a New American Security.

The report concludes that suicide among service members and veterans challenges the health of America’s all-volunteer force. From 2005 to 2010, service members took their own lives at a rate of about one every 36 hours, according to the report. It also states that while only 1 percent of Americans have served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, former service members represent 20 percent of suicides in the United States. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 18 veterans die by suicide each day.

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Put another way, while 3 million of our men and women serve in the armed forces, out of our total population of 310 million,  they commit suicide at a rate equal to that of 60 million civilians.

While roughly one soldier dies in battle a day in Afghanistan, on that same day 18 veterans kill themselves.  A day.   Are we aware of this? …. is this worthy of comment by presidential candidates, none of which have served?   And where is the Press?    This information is available from DoD sources.

In short, these are potent and concrete facts.   And we cannot get them reported straight.   Without the straight truth, is there any wonder that our politics is dysfunctional.   Could it be otherwise?

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The conclusion by reading these pithy headlines, noting the differences in dates and omissions leads me to surmise that the democracy that we have fought to preserve for 236 years cannot remain if we cannot agree on simple facts.    The AP and New York Times cannot seem to agree.  Isn’t that obvious?   Bloody Obvious.    Without a unity and veracity in facts, our opinions shall never knit.

This is the heart of my communication on the eve of presidential debates where the candidates are each willing to spend a Billion dollars  (One thousand million dollars) to advertise that their opponent is an idiot.     Admittedly, so far, a down-beat message.

So, let me leave you with an antidote:   Our press system has failed because its funding model of display advertising has been eclipsed by Google’s intentional advertising.  Newspapers are dying and broadcasting is become vapid.  The press is strangled without funds.   Google’s motto is “Do no Evil”.    Killing the funding of the press so it can no longer provide the function of Saying Truth to Power, and staying on the point, might be considered evil.    Thus, given the corrupt condition of money, politics and corporate lobbying let me suggest this tonic:     To have Google, and and all who agree with this challenge to continued existence of our country lobby for having a portion (for example one half) of Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) revenue be applied to content.   i.e. Creatives and Reporters be paid for what they provide in some proportional way that allows reporters to be protected and culture makers to be paid for providing sources of social inspiration.

Give it a think.

yours,   David Bean………..      and please at least, pass this along.

The Grand Recession

Let us call this crisis that commenced in September of 2008 the “Grand Recession” for this is when the kids move back in with the grand parents.

In my opinion, the nuclear family as almost no one seems to notice, was a post 1945 invention. Wha? you say. True, for before 1945 only Los Alamos fellows were mouthing the term nuclear, for only they and a few physics geeks knew of the term. And no one used that term to refer to family. Yes the terms nuclear and nucleus were around, the second used in biology, the first in a very rare (still) corner of physics.
But after 1945 with the atomic bomb the cat was out of the bag; Bigtime. After that even sociologists began to use the term.

Funny question- what was the family unit without grandparents called prior to the 3 networks, Ozzy and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver? Never had society had such a unifying force as Television and never that I know of has there been such conformity as during the 1950’s in America. A huge pulse of wealth, with everyone getting appliances and televisions and new cars…. and they were able to start a new home without family help. How often has that happened in history?

Well yes, we had the homestead act, where a family could obtain 160 acres early on by establishing a claim, but that was not easy. Only about 40% of those who tried succeeded. It was not easy for ma, paw, and the kids to make a go of it all by themselves. Tough work plus one needed experience, a three generation family had a much better chance. In the end, only about 10% of US land was homesteaded. Like military spending today, in times past the lions share of riches went to well connected corporations, foremost among those were the railroads.

Thus as we industrialized, urbanized and suburbanized after WWII it was easy and common to create a nuclear family. We had the middle class. But in the 50’s and 60’s middle class was an economic term, now it is a political term.

Have you noted that as time passed, only fogies and those graying baby boomers watch the boob tube. The young and mobile use their mobile device or laptop. The internet maps for the current generation what TV mapped for the boomers, and only when the recession pushes them together do they realize their media incompatibility.

So we are in the grand recession and will not lift ourselves out of it until we realize that out political, economic and media formats no longer map what is.

The News Shadow

Ever wonder what is really happening? When the US spends millions of dollars and months of diplomatic time to fly the Secretaries of State and Treasury to China and have all the coverage about a blind man?

Or to send the President to the Latin American Summit to discuss the failed US drug war policy that all the latin leaders want to end…. and have all the coverage about secret service men rooking hookers?

The PR pros call it distraction. We News Readers call it the News Shadow.

How do you get around it? You read the foreign news. Best in the local language, but here at least is the China story that is hidden:

CHINA denied that the yuan is undervalued and pressed Washington to ease controls on exports of high-tech goods on the first day of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged China to let the currency strengthen and open its markets wider.

However, Trade Minister Chen Deming denied the yuan was undervalued and pointed to China’s shrinking global trade surplus. China reported a US$5.3 billion surplus in March, down from a monthly level of at least US$15 billion for most of 2011.

“Given that China’s global trade is basically balanced while running a surplus with the US shows that the exchange rate plays a minimal role in trade,” Chen told reporters.

Geithner urged further appreciation of the yuan while acknowledging China’s plan to overhaul its financial system to increase support for private enterprise and reduce special treatment for state-owned companies.

“The United States has a strong interest in the success of these reforms,” he said.

“A stronger, more market-determined currency would reinforce China’s reform objectives of moving to higher value-added production, reforming the financial system and encouraging domestic demand,” he said.

The yuan has gained more than 13 percent over the past two years since China announced an acceleration of exchange rate reform. With the yuan standing at around 6.3 against the dollar, Chinese authorities said earlier that the yuan had approached a relatively fair value.

from:
http://english.eastday.com/e/120504/u1a6531142.html

In other words, the Chinese have granted a strengthening of their currency, as requested agains ours, but Timothy Geithner says that is not fast enough. Now. What kind of headline would that make?

Thus our News Shadow is covering domestically what the world at large is learning. Whenever there is a big story that is inane and goes on incessantly, such as the OJ Simpson story, or ‘baby Jessica’, or any of Michael Jackson’s, Elizabeth Taylor’s or uncountable celebrity’s stories, one must ask, ‘What is being hidden behind this screen?’: The News Shadow.

It is my opinion that still too few of us realize the depth of propaganda in which we are immersed. The way out of it is so simple, yet requires collective action. We must fund the free press by free citizens. This is not free: gratis. If free individuals pay for more than 60% of the press, whatever it is, that press is free to investigate where the facts lead. If commercial interests pay for more than 50% of a publication of media source, it limits the realm of coverage. The old saw: ‘Do not bite the hand that feeds.’ is ever true. It may not be formal commercial censorship… the simple common sense of an editor wishing to keep his or her job and please the employer is all that is required.

No offense to blind Chen Chuangchen, Michael Jackson, or the news splash personality of the moment. Independent of their plight, they are, and have been used by forces far bigger than they. It will tend to border upon some wedge issue of the moment; that emotion makes it all the more effective distraction.

Today, as flagged by the News Shadow, one can tell when events are drawing toward some item that requires veiling. So consider it a hint when the news is especially vapid. Or is the wedge is an issue that enflames your emotions, especially infuriating.

Patriot Act Charade

Every single person inaugurated into elective office, all people who serve in the military, over six million of them,  swear to protect and defend the constitution.   It is a short document.  The very most important part of it personally, to you, and to me, is the Bill of Rights, without which the thirteen colonies would not have signed on to become the United States; not enough protection.   The most personal part of the Bill of Rights which are the first ten amendments to the constitution is the Fourth Amendment.   It protects You, a person.

The Fourth Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In short it means you and your stuff are free, unless there is a search warrant signed by a judge with particulars stating where, who and what is to be searched and seized.

That was regretfully obliterated by the ‘lone wolf ‘ provision of the patriot act. The enemy needs no affiliation.   That means is could be you, or me, anybody.

Sorry, they say.   There is no law, The world is a dangerous place and we are here to protect you…. but forget the fourth amendment and all the millions of Americans who swore to protect it, and those who died thinking they were protecting it.

I have been too morose to post this.   I guess you could call it denial, the first stage of grieving.     I have a good carpenter friend who just lost his house.  Oh, and his family.   He got securitized out of his mortgage after eleven years paying on it.  I  feel I am losing my country.  I made the vow as I entered the Navy to protect and defend the constitution.    So did President Obama and all congressmen and senators now serving.  I repeat myself because I cannot believe all these people do not honor their own word.

What nudged me out of my stupor was when Miss USA was driven to tears by the personal violation by a TSA airport frisker.   Flying home through Dallas she had the ‘freedom of choice’ to get radiation from a new high powered airport scanner that virtually undress you and gives an unhealthy dose of radiation, or to be molested by a female TSA frisk specialist.  But that is for another post.

The P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act was prewritten when 9-11 happened and was passed with the hysteria of that very dramatic moment, quickly.  It was not deeply considered then, nor by the congress  when it sunsetted a decade later, conveinently, Osama bin Laden had just been killed and a huge trove of intelligence was captured, and what responsible congressman had the political counterwieght to say “Stop Everything, let us discusss the Forth Amendment and the Patriot act.”  Few, the two Oregon Senators  Wyden and Merkley and Udhall from Utah, but not enough.  So the Patriot Act was extended without discussion another four years, fourteen years after September 11th of 2001.      Meanwhile, the population, especially those who travel by air, become habituated to being frisked for….. being in the USA.

And that is the latest from yourconstitution.   Honored, in the breach.

Inspired by the Land

It is summertime now, and most folks are on vacation. What does vacation mean? Without Work. A foregoing of commercial intention. A release from intention to engage in the discovery of the I AM that lives in this human being. And most folks in the Northwest go out into the woods, into the mountains.

What we get, if we actually get away…. from media, city rhythms, from other’s sounds, from our inner hum-drum…. is genuine inspiration. Ancient trees, moss covered fortresses that have withstood centuries of rain and wind. and that wind, which I never understood till this year, is very orderly. Yes, it makes us confused, it disturbs us with the dust it raises, but it is not confused. It is the gentle mover. It moves the dapples in the canopy of trees that shade the earth from the scorching sun. That sun that we will seek for warmth as the dry autumn falls upon us as leaves fall upon the ground, now in summer that sun burns what it touches. The earth, it misses its ancient canopy.

It is amazing to me that so few realize the profundity of the gift that old trees give. A lofty canopy of rich cool shade, with tall stems reaching deep into spongy soil netted with roots and mycorrhizal rhizomes, or as the Indians used to say: grandfathers shaking hands, beneath the ground. Big trees not only provide shade, and in their death – topsoil, oh, and the air we breath, the culture of their roots provides the nursery for soil creation, home to the flowers of rot: mushrooms.

My patriotism is nourished by the land, the respect for the land that the original people here had and still have. They are sometimes called Indians, sometimes called Native Americans, but in practice here, in the Pacific Northwest, They call themselves by the name of the river near which they were born. The Yakima, the Warm Springs, the Cowlitz, the Stillaguamish, the Tulalips all members of the Salish, or Salmon Eaters. Try googling
Salish.

So inventive we Americans. Coming back from the woods, refreshed, inspired. I wonder how many city dwellers now across the land, create the chance, to be so inspired.

Music in the Family

It was on this day in 1913 that the French Academy of Fine Arts — for the first time in its history — presented its highest award, the Prix de Rome, to a woman.

That woman composer, Lili Boulanger, was just 19 years old at the time. Born in Paris in 1893, she was the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger, and far more gifted. Nevertheless, Nadia would become the most famous teacher of composition in the 20th century, numbering among her students an amazing array of famous American composers from Aaron Copland, Philip Glass and Elliot Carter who is still composing at 102.

Nadia’s sister Lili, however, suffered from poor health. Her tragically short career was interrupted by World War I, when she volunteered to nurse wounded soldiers. She died before the great conflict was over, on March 15, 1918, at the age of 24.

While Nadia, who never married composed music herself, she had played with genius as she grew up, and one would speculate, that led to her fecund nurturing of so many composers, a beacon of human cultivation for the ages.

The Bach family too, was famous for the competition among siblings and family in little musical games. This was the very play, initiating the idiom, “playing music”. Too often it is seen as work. Noted Montana composer and teacher Eric Funk played games with his gifted brothers. Why gifted? Was it because they played with music, as well as “played” music. They played together in the car, for example, the children saw music as game.  Singing second harmonies, or inverting the melody of the last line sung.    There are games where alertness breeds alertness.

Our culture seems to have not “time” for music in the play. Too concerned with matters of consequence to educate our children in music or art. Too concerned with performance, and the ‘canning’ and often sale of the creative relationship all can hear. This was certainly not the view of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in letter on June 8, 1778, in which he was dreaming of a farmers orchestra : “I retain among my domestic servants a gardener, a weaver, a cabinet-maker, and a stone-cutter, to which I would add a vigneron.     In a country where music is cultivated and practised by every class of
men, I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could  perform on the French horn, clarinet, or hautboy, and bassoon so that  one might have a band . . . without enlarging their domestic expenses.”

This was a farmer looking to have culture at home. Today with the internet
we can simulate culture….. but the vitality of people playing live music together for fun has been thrown into the garage with the teenagers. Oh that we could have music played together, acoustic and un-amplified, so that culture could blossom,  as it did around young Lili Boulanger’s sister, Nadia.

Update on Ted Glick of yesterday’s post.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg on Tuesday sentenced Ted Glick, policy director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, to 30 days in jail but suspended the term. However, Weisberg ordered Glick to perform 40 hours of community service, pay $1,000 in fines, and serve one year of unsupervised probation. 7-7-2010. The threatened three year prison sentence in this case was the prosecutor’s shot across the bow.