11 November 2014

ROLDO RIGHTS ON: WHY EXPECT NEWSPAPERS
TO BE BETTER THAN THE REST OF OUR SOCIETY?

1200 by Jeff Hess

[Note: due to time constraints, the copy below has not been fully formated or copy edited. JH]

roldo pd 141111

The latest episode in the Plain Dealer history of shortchanging its readers by the removal of the taping of the single meeting of the Ohio gubernatorial candidates is hardly the first instance of corruption of a free press. It won’t be the last either.

Do we expect that newspapers or other media outlets would be any better or more open than the steady stream of misdeeds by cigarette, automobile, food companies or Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J, or the countless other corporate or politically corrupt individuals that often grace the pages of newspapers? Or be more open than the NFL hierarchy on the dangers of concussions or the behavior of its people on sexual or other assaults?

Why would the news business be expected to be so much higher-minded than the rest of the society? Because often it isn’t.

Do you trust members of the media have some special divining ability to see corruption and expose it? Do they even see our culture’s defects? Or want to?

Do you think that the top editors of the Plain Dealer rub shoulders, go to lunch, parties and other social events with the citizens of name your low income neighborhood, or do they dine, rub shoulders with some business leader, foundation official, or other “respected” citizen? You know who they talk to most Continue Reading »

9 November 2014

HAVE COFFEE WILL WRITE: THE BLOG
9 NOVEMBER 2004—9 NOVEMBER 2014…

0000 by Jeff Hess

On 17 July 2002, there was Have Coffee Will Write, the website

Some 27 months later came Have Coffee Will Write, the blog.

Gone thinking if I want to do this for another 10 years or no…

8 November 2014

VACLAV HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART VI H…

0600 by Jeff Hess

The fact that human beings have created, and daily create, this self-directed system through which they divest themselves of their innermost identity is not therefore the result of some incomprehensible misunderstanding of history, nor is it history somehow gone off its rails. Neither is it the product of some diabolical higher will which has decided, for reasons unknown, to torment a portion of humanity in this way. It can happen and did happen only because there is obviously in modern humanity a certain tendency toward the creation, or at least the toleration, of such a system. There is obviously something in human beings which responds to this system, something they reflect and accommodate, something within them which paralyzes every effort of their better selves to revolt. Human beings are compelled to live within a lie, but they can be compelled to do so only because they are in fact capable of living in this way. Therefore not only does the system alienate humanity, but at the same time alienated humanity supports this system as its own involuntary master plan, as a degenerate image of its own degeneration, as a record of people’s own failure as individuals.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

8 November 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

After the military
Early gift shoppers stroll city
Marietta man accused of rape for contact with girl, 7
Devola man accused of kidnap, assault
Museum fundraisers

Top Headlines Poll: How would you assess job opportunities for today’s graduates?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

7 November 2014

HINT: NOT BECAUSE THEY HATE OUR FREEDOM…

1000 by Jeff Hess

To get a full scope of American violence in the world, it is worth asking a broader question: how many countries in the Islamic world has the U.S. bombed or occupied since 1980? That answer was provided in a recent Washington Post op-ed by the military historian and former U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich:

As America’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extent into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.

Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew.

Bacevich’s count excludes the bombing and occupation of still other predominantly Muslim countries by key U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, carried out with crucial American support. It excludes coups against democratically elected governments, torture, and imprisonment of people with no charges. It also, of course, excludes all the other bombing and invading and occupying that the U.S. has carried out during this time period in other parts of the world, including in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as various proxy wars in Africa.

Glenn Greenwald writing in How Many Muslim Countries Has the U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980? for The//Intercept.

7 November 2014

MARCUS AURELIUS KNEW NOS. 2-10…

0900 by Jeff Hess

1. Step away from the email
2. Just say no
4. Leave work at work
5. Forget about perfection
6. Don’t be a martyr
7. Ease off the adrenaline
8. Think about retirement
9. Make ’em wait
10. Set your own rules

Stuart Jeffries writing in Ten tips for a better work-life balance for The Guardian.

7 November 2014

WHY BUCKEYES ARE CALLED WORTHLESS NUTS

0800 by Jeff Hess

The march toward gay marriage across the U.S. hit a roadblock Thursday when a federal appeals court upheld laws against the practice in four states, creating a split in the legal system that increases the chances the Supreme Court will step in to decide the issue once and for all.

The cases decided were from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Breaking ranks with other federal courts around the country, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that states have the right to set rules for marriage and that changing a definition that dates to “the earliest days of human history” is better done through the political process, not the courts.

“Surely the people should receive some deference in deciding when the time is ripe to move from one picture of marriage to another,” said Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for himself and a fellow George W. Bush appointee, while a Bill Clinton appointee dissented.

The ruling ran counter to a remarkably rapid string of victories for the gay rights movement over the past few months that have now made same-sex marriage legal in at least 30 states.

From The Associated Press: Gay marriage ruling means high court review likely.

7 November 2014

ON THE SUBJECT OF GENIUS…

0700 by Jeff Hess

For sometime I have had my personal aphorism on the subject of genius—Genius is doing the work… Now!—taped to the top of my laptop screen. I’ve even gone so far as to have the copyrighted phrase printed on pencils that I both use and distribute to my students.

This morning I was reminded of another man’s position on genius, that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle speaking in the voice of the character who was both his greatest creation and nemesis: Sherlock Holmes. In one of the modern versions permutations of Doyle’s own genius, the actor Jonny Lee Miller, in the character of Elementary’s Sherlock Holmes (at time mark 38:20) says: Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

Those words come from the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet published in 1867, where Doyle wrote:

As he spoke, he whipped a tape measure and a large round magnifying glass from his pocket. With these two implements he trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face. So engrossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for he chattered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of encouragement and of hope. As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well-trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and forwards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent. For twenty minutes or more he continued his researches, measuring with the most exact care the distance between marks which were entirely invisible to me, and occasionally applying his tape to the walls in an equally incomprehensible manner. In one place he gathered up very carefully a little pile of grey dust from the floor, and packed it away in an envelope. Finally, he examined with his glass the word upon the wall, going over every letter of it with the most minute exactness. This done, he appeared to be satisfied, for he replaced his tape and his glass in his pocket.

“They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.”

Gregson and Lestrade had watched the manoeuvres of their amateur companion with considerable curiosity and some contempt. They evidently failed to appreciate the fact, which I had begun to realize, that Sherlock Holmes’ smallest actions were all directed towards some definite and practical end.

What will you take pains to do today?

7 November 2014

VACLAV HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART VI G…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Position in the power hierarchy determines the degree of responsibility and guilt, but it gives no one unlimited responsibility and guilt, nor does it completely absolve anyone. Thus the conflict between the aims of life and the aims of the system is not a conflict between two socially defined and separate communities; and only a very generalized view (and even that only approximative) permits us to divide society into the rulers and the ruled. Here, by the way, is one of the most important differences between the post-totalitarian system and classical dictatorships, in which this line of conflict can still be drawn according to social class. In the post-totalitarian system, this line runs de facto through each person, for everyone in his own way is both a victim and a supporter of the system. What we understand by the system is not, therefore, a social order imposed by one group upon another, but rather something which permeates the entire society and is a factor in shaping it, something which may seem impossible to grasp or define (for it is in the nature of a mere principle), but which is expressed by the entire society as an important feature of its life.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

7 November 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Two old gems
Vote on oil, gas leases a step closer
Citizens dive into saving Beverly’s pool
Race for holiday sales is on for retailers
Rotary’s day for veterans

Top Headlines Poll: Will we see less gridlock out of Washington in the next two years?

Hmmm… Am I the only person to note that the first and third answers are simply variations of the same statement?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

6 November 2014

AYN RAND’S ALPHA AND OMEGA IN PICTURES…

0630 by Jeff Hess

From Ayn Rand by Daryl Cunningham

6 November 2014

VACLAV HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART VI F…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Everyone, however, is in fact involved and enslaved, not only the greengrocers but also the prime ministers. Differing positions in the hierarchy merely establish differing degrees of involvement: the greengrocer is involved only to a minor extent, but he also has very little power. The prime minister, naturally, has greater power, but in return he is far more deeply involved. Both, however, are unfree, each merely in a somewhat different way. The real accomplice in this involvement, therefore, is not another person, but the system itself.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

6 November 2014

EVERY PROPHET IS THE LAST PROPHET…

0530 by Jeff Hess

Via Zen Pencils

Previously

6 November 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Business fire
Ormet plant’s scraps for sale
Tape has jail’s call; deputy’s report on fatality
Panel rejects 5th St. permit proposal
Changes touted at MMH

Top Headlines Poll: What should Ohio do with Common Core?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

5 November 2014

ROLDO RIGHTS ON: JOHN KASICH, CHRIS QUINN AND
CLEVELAND’S DYSFUNCTIONAL PLAIN DEALER…

1300 by Jeff Hess

roldo kasich 141105

The Plain Dealer—and I use that name despite the division with the Northeast Ohio Media Group (which sounds like some ad consulting firm)—appears to display a dual personality disorder. A web site and a printed paper. Would Macy’s tell Gimbles?

Why the division within a newspaper?

And does the newspaper understand the confusion it displays?

If I go to the web site—which presumable is NEOMG run – the first thing I see is The Plain Dealer. Isn’t it the Plain Dealer? That’s been the name of the newspaper since the mid 1850s.

The newspaper is trying to find its way in the new digital world.

But the new world is getting the PD in trouble.

In the past week or so the paper has been getting whopped by news media critics. Rightly so.

The reason: The PD had the candidates for governor meet with its editorial board. It taped the meeting. It put the results up on The Plain Dealer’s Cleveland.com. It’s news, folks! You’ll remember that Gov. John Kasich has haughtily refused to debate other candidates, especially Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, his Democratic opponent. Indeed, in the taped editorial meet, the governor Continue Reading »

5 November 2014

THE 19TH CENTURY IS THE NEW 21ST CENTURY…

0800 by Jeff Hess

In the wake of the violent upheavals of the French Revolution, European monarchies came together in 1791 at the Pillnitz Conference to declare their support for the embattled Louis XVI and warn the burgeoning revolutionaries of the dangers of toppling a fellow monarch. Far from stifling the ambitions of the insurgents however, this declaration was widely seen as a provocation which helped kick off the devastating French Revolutionary Wars, in which the new French Republic battled a number of neighboring monarchies.

In their aftermath, and after the defeat of Napoleon’s imperial ambitions on the continent, the empires of Austria, Prussia and Russia came together to form the “Holy Alliance” – an effort to maintain the political status quo and to stifle the spread of popular republican ideas among subjects.

Signatories to the alliance affirmed that, “the three contracting Monarchs will remain united by the bonds of a true and indissoluble fraternity, and consider each other as fellow countrymen,” and pledged to, “lend each other aid and assistance; and, regard themselves towards their subjects and armies as fathers of families.”

This happens to be very similar to the patriarchal and fraternal language that Arab autocrats use when discussing their relations with one another. And just like their contemporary Arab counterparts, European monarchs characterized themselves as champions of religious orthodoxy in an effort to shore up popular support.

Murtaza Hussain writing in The Middle East’s Unholy Alliance for The//Intercept.

5 November 2014

DEMANDING, AND RECEIVING, SATISFACTION…

0700 by Jeff Hess

Social psychologists use the dull term “self-schema” to describe the mental maps we use to make sense of our own personalities: we think of ourselves as traditional or conven­tional, self-disciplined or lazy, optimistic or pessimistic. Yet when researchers try to measure such things, they run into people who are “aschematic”: they’ve simply never given much thought to whether they’re traditional or conventional, etcetera. So it is with oblivious rude­ness: your always-punctual friend may think of herself as conscientious, but your always-late friend has probably never considered the matter. The silver lining is that remedy­ing obliviousness, in principle, ought to be a simple matter of ­triggering a person’s a­wareness. I’m not about to start picking fights with wearers of leaky headphones, but it’s amazing how effective it can be to tap one’s fingers amiably to the beat of the leaking music.

The vicious rudeness of much ­online discussion might seem like an exception to this rule, as it can feel very calculated and conscious. But something similar is surely involved: an obliviousness, albeit a partial one, to the fact that one’s inter­locutors in cyberspace are real people. Not being a commentator on politics, I don’t get many venomous emails from strangers, but when I do, it’s usually clear the writer didn’t think through the fact that a specific human would be reading their words. It is the purest of joys to respond to such emails—demurely, of course, yet by one’s very demureness upbraiding the sender for rudeness. I like to think I’m being insulting without ­being ungentlemanly

Oliver Burkeman writing in The insulted and the injured for The Guardian.

5 November 2014

VACLAV HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART VI E…

0600 by Jeff Hess

If an entire district town is plastered with slogans that no one reads, it is on the one hand a message from the district secretary to the regional secretary, but it is also something more: a small example of the principle of social auto-totality at work. Part of the essence of the post-totalitarian system is that it draws everyone into its sphere of power, not so they may realize themselves as human beings, but so they may surrender their human identity in favor of the identity of the system, that is, so they may become agents of the system’s general automatism and servants of its self-determined goals, so they may participate in the common responsibility for it, so they may be pulled into and ensnared by it, like Faust by Mephistopheles. More than this: so they may create through their involvement a general norm and, thus, bring pressure to bear on their fellow citizens. And further: so they may learn to be comfortable with their involvement, to identify with it as though it were something natural and inevitable and, ultimately, so they may—with no external urging—come to treat any non-involvement as an abnormality, as arrogance, as an attack on themselves, as a form of dropping out of society. By pulling everyone into its power structure, the post-totalitarian system makes everyone an instrument of a mutual totality, the auto-totality of society.

From The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, 1978

Previously…

5 November 2014

THE IMPORTANCE OF STATE OVER CHURCH…

0530 by Jeff Hess

Via Zen Pencils

Previously

5 November 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Commissioner
Deputy on leave after fatality
County helps Johnson win 3rd term
Thompson keeps Ohio House seat
Race for Ohio’s 94th District seat too close

Top Headlines Poll: What’s your favorite main dish for Thanksgiving dinner?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

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