Sunday, June 24, 2018

The List ~ by Amy Siskind

The top item of my Facebook news feed this morning was Joy Weese Moll's regular feature:
What will we do today to take care of ourselves?  What will we do today to change the world?

Today, I will work through some negative feelings.  I've been suppressing them, but then I read the first line of Amy Siskind's Weekly List this morning:  "Generations from now will mark this week as the moment Americans realized we were losing our country as we have known it."  It's probably healthy to go through all five stages of dying right now.

Today, I will walk away from despair toward determination and be part of the 3.5% of the population that is all it takes to sustain resistance to inhumane and oppressive policies.
In the first comments, Joy shared links to explain some of this:

(1)  Amy Siskind's Weekly List is new to me.  I see from the latest list (Week 84) why I'm feeling so overwhelmed by the news.  Siskind compiled the first 52 weeks into a book (The List, published in March 2018):
The shocking first-draft history of the Trump regime, and its clear authoritarian impulses, based on the viral Internet phenom “The Weekly List.”  In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump's election as president, Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive and the founder of The New Agenda, began compiling a list of actions taken by the Trump regime that pose a threat to our democratic norms.  Under the headline, she has these words:  “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you'll remember.”  Siskind's “Weekly List” now has more than half a million viewers every week.

Compiled in one volume for the first time, The List is a comprehensive accounting of Donald Trump's first year.  Beginning with Trump's acceptance of white supremacists the week after the election and concluding a year to the day later, we watch as Trump and his regime chips away at the rights and protections of marginalized communities, of women, of us all, via Twitter storms, unchecked executive action, and shifting rules and standards.  The List chronicles not only the scandals that made headlines but just as important, the myriad smaller but still consequential unprecedented acts that otherwise fall through cracks.  It is this granular detail that makes this such a powerful and important book.  For everyone hoping to #resistTrump, The List is a must-have guide to what we as a country have lost in the wake of Trump's election. #Thisisnotnormal
(2)  The 3.5% Joy mentioned comes from It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator — with civil resistance, an article by Erica Chenoweth in the Guardian.

(3)  And then Joy shared a book title:  This Is an Uprising by Mark Engler and Paul Engler (2016).
Strategic nonviolent action has reasserted itself as a potent force in shaping public debate and forcing political change. Whether it is an explosive surge of protest calling for racial justice in the United States, a demand for democratic reform in Hong Kong or Mexico, a wave of uprisings against dictatorship in the Middle East, or a tent city on Wall Street that spreads throughout the country, when mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media portrays them as being as spontaneous and unpredictable. In This is an Uprising, political analysts Mark and Paul Engler uncover the organization and well-planned strategies behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

This is an Uprising traces the evolution of civil resistance, providing new insights into the contributions of early experimenters such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., groundbreaking theorists such as Gene Sharp and Frances Fox Piven, and contemporary practitioners who have toppled repressive regimes in countries such as South Africa, Serbia, and Egypt. Drawing from discussions with activists now working to defend human rights, challenge corporate corruption, and combat climate change, the Englers show how people with few resources and little influence in conventional politics can nevertheless engineer momentous upheavals.

Although it continues to prove its importance in political life, the strategic use of nonviolent action is poorly understood. Nonviolence is usually studied as a philosophy or moral code, rather than as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. This is an Uprising corrects this oversight. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, and if we decline to incorporate them into our view of how societies progress, then we pass up the chance to fully grasp a critical phenomenon—and to harness its power to create lasting change.
I can't read every book I want to read, but (having discovered that Amy Suskind's first 52 weekly lists have been published (in March 2018), I rushed to put it on reserve at my library.  There are two in the system, and one is checked out.  I'm first in line for the other copy, which happens to be my own library branch.  Since it's labeled NEW, I'll be the first person to read that copy.  In the meantime, I'll start reading her daily lists.

Now I feel better!  As I commented on Joy's Facebook post:
Thank you, Joy. I needed this right now, as I'm beginning to lose hope. I'll also work on that despair today, in part by blogging about it, using what you've shared here. I want to be among those toppling our dictator, so I've added Amy Siskind's Weekly List to my reading (I have a lot to read over the 84 weeks she's posted to date). My library has a new copy of her book of the first 52 Weekly Lists, so I put it on reserve. Just seeing something positive I can do today to get me out of this funk has already made me feel better.
Today, I will wear my RESIST tee-shirt.
And maybe tomorrow, as well.

Sunday Salon ~ library loot and a kitty toy

The Lightkeeper's Daughters ~ by Jean E. Pendziwol, 2017, fiction (Canada)
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed.  No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family — a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.  With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenage performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together.  Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own — to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.  As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed.  While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.
I discovered this book on Sue's Book by Book blog, googled the book, and decided to put it on reserve at my library.  She wrote:
"On audio, I finished listening to The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Jean E. Pendziwol, an intriguing novel that reminded me a bit of The Orphan Train, with its mix of past and present.  A modern teen is sentenced to community service at a retirement home and gets to know one of the residents, who is wondering about secrets from her own childhood spent on a remote island where her father was the lighthouse keeper.  It was excellent, with warmth and emotion but also plenty of surprises!"
The Overstory ~ by Richard Powers, 2018, fiction
An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan.  An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut.  A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light.  A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another.  These four, and five other strangers — each summoned in different ways by trees — are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.  If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us?  "Listen.  There’s something you need to hear."
I've been on the library's reserve list for many weeks waiting to read this one.  In the meantime, I found an article about it:  The Novel That Asks 'What Went Wrong With Mankind?'  (It was entitled "Rhapsody in Green" in the June 2018 print edition of The Atlantic.)

The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth ~ by Michio Kaku, 2018, science
Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility — and a necessity.  Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will one day need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species.  World-renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explores in detail the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space.  He reveals how cutting-edge developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars.  He then takes us beyond the solar system to nearby stars, which may soon be reached by nanoships traveling on laser beams at near the speed of light.  Finally, he takes us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space.
Interesting that this book I recently put on reserve arrives at the same time as The Overstory, but this one is nonfiction.  And both are about humanity's impending future.  I've also read Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible and rated it 9 of 10, so I look forward to reading this one, even though it looks daunting.

Home to Harmony ~ by Philip Gulley, 2002, fiction
In this inaugural volume in the Harmony series, Philip Gulley draws us into the charming world of minister Sam Gardner in his first year back in his hometown, capturing the essence of small-town life with humor and wisdom.
When I got home with this book, I pulled Gulley's Front Porch Tales (1997) off my shelf and discovered an article I'd printed out and folded inside the book:   "Beyond Belief" (March 31, 2015) from Indianapolis Monthly.

Clawdia watched this whole video, and then watched most of it again.  She has NEVER paid any attention to anything on my computer screen.  So I decided to buy this toy for her.  I like that it has two tracks for the balls.  From what Clawdia wrote yesterday, my cat apparently likes the catnip wafting into the air.  If this video quits, view it on YouTube.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Every day is Caturday!

Why does Bonnie think Caturday is the day after Friday?  Doesn't she know EVERY day is Caturday?  I didn't realize it's the day after Friday until she left to go to lunch with someone (probably our friend Donna), and I was able to get online.

When the food-giver is away, the cat will play ... on the computer.  She gave me a thing to play with, like the cat is playing with in this picture, and it has catnip in the middle.  Oh, the catnip made me roll on my back and purr.  Okay, I pushed the balls this way and that way for awhile, because I could smell the catnip even better.  But I can't reach the catnip in the middle.  I know because I tried to lick it ... and touch it.  If I can't have the catnip, I'd rather play on the computer.

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Friday, June 22, 2018

Meditating on the oceans ~ and all that moves within them

Psalm 69:34 (CEB*)~ "Let heaven and earth praise God,
the oceans too, and all that moves within them."

This blogger thinks of the places in the ocean
"where the garbage gathers.
Swirling islands of plastic bags and water bottles
and things we have thrown away."

What an image to ponder today!  I've seen photos like this one (found here), and I am appalled at what we are doing to our planet.  We don't have an alternate, you know.  We'd better take care of this one.

The top image above is from an article with a video of 35-year-old garbage islands.
* CEB = Common English Bible

Beginning ~ with forty head of cattle

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn ~ by Lori Benton, 2014, fiction (North Carolina)

Since this book is about Tamsen escaping from the life her stepfather forced upon her, we need her first chapter as well as the one about the frontiersman who helps her escape, which comes first.  (I described the book when I bought it last week.)  The blue dress on the cover?  She's wearing it in her first scene, but I'm pretty sure it won't recur in most of the story.  Two beginnings:
Western North Carolina
September 1787

To Jesse Bird's reckoning, any man charged with driving forty head of Overmountain cattle to market best have three things in his possession ― a primed rifle, a steady horse, and a heap of staying power.

Morganton, North Carolina
Tamsen Littlejohn peered through rippled window glass at the rutted street beyond. "I suppose this is entirely that painter's fault," she murmured and hoped her mother didn't hear the dread behind the words.
I was ready for some fiction when I started this book last night.  I've been reading lots of nonfiction, and it was nice to fall into a story for a change.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

October the First Is Too Late ~ by Fred Hoyle

October the First Is Too Late ~ by Fred Hoyle, 1966, science fiction
Renowned scientist John Sinclair and his old school friend Richard, a celebrated composer, are enjoying a climbing expedition in the Scottish Highlands when Sinclair disappears without a trace for thirteen hours.  When he resurfaces with no explanation for his disappearance, he has undergone an uncanny alteration:  a birthmark on his back has vanished.  But stranger events are yet to come.  Things are normal enough in Britain, but in France it's 1917 and World War I is raging, Greece is in the Golden Age of Pericles, America seems to have reverted to the 18th century, and Russia and China are thousands of years in the future.  Against this macabre backdrop of coexisting time spheres, the two young men risk their lives to unravel the truth.  But truth is in the mind of the beholder, and who is to say which of these timelines is the 'real' one?  In this book, world-famous astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) explores fascinating concepts of time and consciousness.
Let me tell you how I happened to buy this science fiction novel. I was reading The Time Illusion by John Gribbin (2016), a Kindle Single I'd bought because I was reading something else.  And I came across this, which fascinates me:
"In 1966 I read a science fiction story, October the First is Too Late, written by the eminent astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.  It is an entertaining tale involving an unusual kind of time travel ― time on Earth is jumbled up so that, for example, Britain was 'in' 1966 while the North American continent was 'in' 1750, and a traveller could pass from one time to another by moving around the globe" (loc. 517).
I read another paragraph or two, returned to these two sentences, got online to find out more about Hoyle's book, and ended up buying the Kindle version.  The image at the top is the first edition, but the Kindle version I just bought has this cover.  I'm still trying to decide which I prefer.

My problem now is making myself finish the Kindle Single, even though I'm at the 92% mark.  The few paragraphs I read in Hoyle's book before buying it are calling to me.

Maybe you'll understand if I tell you about my undergraduate paper about whether or not time could flow in reverse.  Although we have time travel stories, where (for instance) someone could JUMP to the past, nevertheless the time traveler still experienced the "arrow of time" flowing on one direction (note the arrow on The Time Illusion book above).  One example of that is The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895).  I was not able to find a story where time "flowed" backwards, so I wrote a short story and included it in my paper.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Nielsen ratings ~ Wednesday Wondering

I wonder how much it skews their statistics when Nielsen chooses to give a gift basket to someone who does NOT have a television, informing her they will be regularly checking for updates every couple of months for the next two or three years?  The woman who delivered the gifts said finding someone with NO television is a first for her, after ten years on the job, but she cannot change who gets the basket.  This non-TV person now represents 2,300 people.  Are there 2,300 people in this area who are without a television?  I wonder if they expect her to run out and buy a TV.  Oh, you want to know what the gift includes?
  • Charles Chips
  • Cracker Barrel Crackers
  • Cracker Barrel's triangle game
  • Peppermint sticks
  • Lemon sticks
  • Awful tasting red twists
  • Sanded lemon drops
Hmm, makes me wonder who exactly is sponsoring this.  Ha!