20 October 2014

TEAR DOWN THAT WALL…

0830 by Jeff Hess

tom peters 141020

Previously…

20 October 2014

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART IV A…

0600 by Jeff Hess

BETWEEN the aims of the post-totalitarian system and the aims of life there is a yawning abyss: while life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom, the post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline. While life ever strives to create new and improbable structures, the post-totalitarian system contrives to force life into its most probable states. The aims of the system reveal its most essential characteristic to be introversion, a movement toward being ever more completely and unreservedly itself, which means that the radius of its influence is continually widening as well. This system serves people only to the extent necessary to ensure that people will serve it. Anything beyond this, that is to say, anything which leads people to overstep their predetermined roles is regarded by the system as an attack upon itself. And in this respect it is correct: every instance of such transgression is a genuine denial of the system. It can be said, therefore, that the inner aim of the post-totalitarian system is not mere preservation of power in the hands of a ruling clique, as appears to be the case at first sight. Rather, the social phenomenon of self-preservation is subordinated to something higher, to a kind of blind automatism which drives the system. No matter what position individuals hold in the hierarchy of power, they are not considered by the system to be worth anything in themselves, but only as things intended to fuel and serve this automatism. For this reason, an individual’s desire for power is admissible only in so far as its direction coincides with the direction of the automatism of the system.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless

20 October 2014

THE VAULTS SHOULD BE READING ROOMS…

0530 by Jeff Hess

bookstore 141020
Munro’s, Victoria, Canada: In 1963 Jim Munro and his first wife, the Nobel-winning short story-writer Alice Munro, opened a bookshop in a narrow space near Victoria’s movie theatres. Now Munro’s is in a neo-classical building designed for the Royal Bank of Canada in 1909. “They keep their overstock in the old bank’s vaults,” says Campbell.

20 October 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Fire crews practice techniques on donated structure
Career Center project finally sold
Fall fun for all on the farm
Paying it forward: School volunteer finds job rewarding
WSCC offers honors program to new students

Top Headlines Poll: What do you do with your leftover Halloween candy?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

19 October 2014

I APPROVE OF ANTHONY FOSSACECA…

1930 by Jeff Hess

19 October 2014

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART III C…

0600 by Jeff Hess

The smaller a dictatorship and the less stratified by modernization the society under it, the more directly the will of the dictator can be exercised. In other words, the dictator can employ more or less naked discipline, avoiding the complex processes of relating to the world and of self-justification which ideology involves. But the more complex the mechanisms of power become, the larger and more stratified the society they embrace, and the longer they have operated historically, the more individuals must be connected to them from outside, and the greater the importance attached to the ideological excuse. It acts as a kind of bridge between the regime and the people, across which the regime approaches the people and the people approach the regime. This explains why ideology plays such an important role in the post-totalitarian system: that complex machinery of units, hierarchies, transmission belts, and indirect instruments of manipulation which ensure in countless ways the integrity of the regime, leaving nothing to chance, would be quite simply unthinkable without ideology acting as its all-embracing excuse and as the excuse for each of its parts.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

19 October 2014

NOW THIS IS THE LIFE…

0530 by Jeff Hess

bookstore 141019
The Book Barge, Lichfield (and environs), England: This 60-feet narrow boat, which is also a bookshop, has toured the canals of Britain since 2011, along with bookshop rabbit Napoleon Bunnyparte. “Owner Sarah Henshaw has just bought a plot of land in France and is determined to take Le Book Barge across the sea,” says Campbell.

19 October 2014

NOT THE (SUNDAY) MARIETTA TIMES…

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S PARKERSBURG NEWS AND SENTINEL FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

MasqueRave
Heritage Day draws visitors
Wood early voting starts Wednesday
W.Va. political figure, doctor Gillespie dies
North Hills has field of nine candidates

Top Headlines Poll: Was it appropriate for outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to sit with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and wear Redskins team gear during a recent NFL game?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously..

18 October 2014

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: IIIB…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless

Politics, Are you revolted enough yet…?, President Barack Hussein Obama, Election 2014, Social Justice & Advocacy, Organized Labor, Chapbook

18 October 2014

AND THE ESPRESSO MACHINE IS WHERE…?

0530 by Jeff Hess

bookstore 141018
Libreria Palazzo Roberti, Bassano del Grappa, Italy: This bookshop is in an 18th-century palazzo which sprawls over three floors, with grand frescos by Giovanni Scajaro, a student of Giambattista Tiepolo. It also regularly hosts photography exhibitions and classical concerts.

18 October 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Food safety
Local Democrats rally at dinner
Woman awaits sentencing for drug trafficking
Call of duty in Marietta
130 years in city; roots in Harmar

Top Headlines Poll: What’s your level of confidence in the government’s response to Ebola?

My confidence is high that we are running around like little school children terrified by the boogie man. How many people died in the last 12 months from the flu? How many died from Malaria? (hint: a fecking lot more than those who have died from Ebola). I have a personal and disturbing theory regarding our current silliness: people associate Ebola with the other Ebo word they know: Ebonics. Now why would that be distributing? JH

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

17 October 2014

OHIO COAL THRIVES UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA…

0700 by Jeff Hess

ohio coal jobs callahan

As angry bipartisan crowds of Ohio politicians gather to defend “our coal jobs” from the US EPA’s proposed new rules for coal power plants, it’s worth noting just how many jobs we’re talking about.

Yes, those are the actual numbers—no zeros have been omitted.

(It’s off topic, but note the increase in Ohio coal employment during the “Obama war on coal” years.)

Another 4,000-5,000 Ohioans work at fossil-fueled power plants, mostly operated by the utilities. Can’t tell from the LMI figures how many of those jobs are at coal-fired plants, but the state has almost as many utility generating sites fueled by natural gas as by coal these days.

So estimating generously, Ohio might have as many as 7,000 actual “coal jobs”.

(For perspective: Total jobs in the state—about 5.4 million. Total unemployed in the state as of April—328,000. At least 46 individual companies—retailers, banks, health systems, manufacturers, universities—had more than 7,000 Ohioans on their payrolls in 2013.)

Bill Callahan writing in Ohio coal: How many jobs? for Callahan’s Cleveland Diary

See also, Cleveland Diary: The Lost Years

17 October 2014

JONNY JOO’S HAUNTING HOMES…

0630 by Jeff Hess

haunting houses 141017

17 October 2014

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART III B…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, “What’s wrong with the workers of the world uniting?” Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

17 October 2014

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON READING…

0530 by Jeff Hess

bookstore 141017
Barter Books, Alnwick, England: “With lines of poetry written along its shelves, and model trains running along the top of the bookcases, this is a bit of a booklover’s dream”, says Campbell. This giant shop is also where the second world war poster campaign that nobody ever saw, Keep Calm and Carry On, was uncovered.

17 October 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

(Note: Newseum doesn’t usually update the front pages until 0630 or so)

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Breast cancer
Marietta firm helps famed QB
Custodian foils school break-in
No Ebola screening at local airport
Council opts for hearing on oil, gas lease

Top Headlines Poll: How would you react if you found out later you were on a plane with an Ebola patient?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

16 October 2014

EBOLA COULD TAKE US ALL BEFORE 2016…!

1130 by Jeff Hess

Twin Peaks returns: will it answer all our questions?

16 October 2014

OUR FANTASIES SAP OUR MOTIVATION…

1100 by Jeff Hess

[P]icturing an imaginary glass of water might make people less motivated to get up and head to the watercooler or the tap in order to quench their real, non-imaginary thirst.

This conclusion is precisely the reverse of one of the central tenets of pop psychology: the idea that picturing the future you desire makes it more likely you’ll attain it. Again and again, in her research, Oettingen has shown that making a fantasy of something you want can make it harder to achieve in reality. Imagine yourself having a productive week, and you’ll accomplish less. Imagine receiving a windfall of cash, and you’ll be less motivated to engage in the kinds of activities that might bring you money. Intriguingly—though admittedly the link may not be causal—there’s even a relationship between how much “positive thinking” language American presidents use in their inaugural speeches, and how much unemployment rates change by the end of their presidential terms. The more positive the fantasy about the future, the fewer jobs in real life.

Fist-pumping motivational gurus have long claimed that your brain “can’t distinguish between reality and imagination”. Ironically, Oettingen’s experiments show they’re right about that – but also that the conclusion they draw is spectacularly wrong. Attempting to “experience your success as if it had already materialized” is a fast-track to disappointment.

Oliver Burkeman writing in How to be fitter, happier and more successful: stop dreaming and start getting real for The Guardian.

16 October 2014

A BOOKMOBILE FOR THE MASSES…

1030 by Jeff Hess

bookstore 141016
Tell a Story, Portugal: The concept of Tell A Story is as simple as it is effective: a bookshop in a van. The project aims to promote Portuguese literature, in English, to tourists. The team travels around the country and also sells pens and postcards so people can write stories for their friends and so start a chain-reaction of story-telling.

16 October 2014

VISITING THE WHITENESS PROJECT

0900 by Jeff Hess

The Whiteness Project is a multiplatform investigation into how Americans who identify as “white” experience their ethnicity.

The project is conducting 1,000 interviews with white people from all walks of life and localities in which they are asked about their relationship to, and their understanding of, their own whiteness. It also includes data drawn from a variety of sources that highlights some quantitative aspects of what it means to be a white American.

This project is not what you might first assume. Take a look.

While many media projects have investigated the history, culture, and experiences of various American ethnic minorities, there has been much less examination of how white Americans think about and experience their whiteness and how white culture shapes our society. Most people take for granted that there is a “white” race in America, but rarely is the concept of whiteness itself investigated. What does it mean to be a “white”? Can it be genetically defined? Is it a cultural construct? A state of mind? How does one come to be deemed “white” in America and what privileges does being perceived as white bestow? The Whiteness Project is a multi-platform media project that examines both the concept of whiteness itself and how those who identify as “white” process their ethnic identity. The project’s goal is to engender debate about the role of whiteness in American society and encourage white Americans to become fully vested participants in the ongoing debate about the role of race in American society.

After almost two decades of making films with my black producing partner, Marco Williams, I have come to believe that most whites see themselves as outside the American racial paradigm and their race as a passive attribute. Subsequently, they feel that they do not have the same right to speak about race as non-whites. The Whiteness Project hopes to bring everyday white Americans, especially those who would not normally engage in a project about race, into the racial discussion—to help them understand the active role their race Continue Reading »

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