Thursday, June 16, 2016

President Obama in Hiroshima**

"Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed.  A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.  

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima?  We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past.  We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 in Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner.  Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become. 

It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man.  Our early ancestors, having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood, used these tools not just for hunting, but against their own kind.  On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold; compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal.  Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated.  And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time. 

The World War that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations.  Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art.  Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth.  And yet, the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes; an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.  In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die -- men, women, children no different than us, shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death. 

There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war -- memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism; graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity.  Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species -- our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will -- those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction. 

How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth.  How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.  Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.  Nations arise, telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats, but those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different. 

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds; to cure disease and understand the cosmos.  But those same discoveries can be turned into ever-more efficient killing machines. 

The wars of the modern age teach this truth.  Hiroshima teaches this truth.  Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us.  The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution, as well. 

That is why we come to this place.  We stand here, in the middle of this city, and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell.  We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see.  We listen to a silent cry.  We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war, and the wars that came before, and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering, but we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.  Someday the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness.  But the memory of the morning of August 6th, 1945 must never fade.  That memory allows us to fight complacency.  It fuels our moral imagination.  It allows us to change. 

"And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope.  The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.  The nations of Europe built a Union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy.  Oppressed peoples and nations won liberation.  An international community established institutions and treaties that worked to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back, and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons. 

Still, every act of aggression between nations; every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations –- and the alliances that we’ve formed -– must possess the means to defend ourselves.  But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them. 

We may not realize this goal in my lifetime.  But persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe.  We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles.  We can stop the spread to new nations, and secure deadly materials from fanatics. 

And yet that is not enough.  For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale.  We must change our mindset about war itself –- to prevent conflict through diplomacy, and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun; to see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition; to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build. 

And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.  For this, too, is what makes our species unique.  We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We can learn.  We can choose. We can tell our children a different story –- one that describes a common humanity; one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted. 

We see these stories in the hibakusha –- the woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself; the man who sought out families of Americans killed here, because he believed their loss was equal to his own. 

My own nation’s story began with simple words:  All men are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens.

But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for; an ideal that extends across continents, and across oceans.  The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious; the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family -– that is the story that we all must tell. 

That is why we come to Hiroshima.  So that we might think of people we love -- the first smile from our children in the morning; the gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table; the comforting embrace of a parent –- we can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here seventy-one years ago.  Those who died -– they are like us.  Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it.  

When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done. 


The world was forever changed here.  But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace.  What a precious thing that is.  It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child.  That is the future we can choose -– a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening. " 

-President Barack Obama, delivered on May 27, 2016.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Privilege is what allows Sander Supporters to say they'll "never" vote for Clinton**


"Let’s think practically about the election in November.

If Donald Trump gets elected, how many vulnerable people will be hurt, how many programs cut, how bad will the the economy get under conservative policies? How much damage will be done if Trump, an open racist and misogynist, is empowered to commander military, veto bills, and nominate people to the Supreme Court, impacting life in the US for decades to come?

Trump exhorts his followers to attack protestors at his rallies (“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” a follower said after punching a black protestor at a rally.) Trump excuses his followers who attack a homeless Hispanic man on the street, claims that Mexican immigrants are rapists, refused to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan, supports banning Muslims from entering the US, advocates killing the families of terrorists, and is openly sexist. Trump is the worst America has to offer.

How privileged do you need to be to imagine that it’s a good idea to risk the actual lives of vulnerable Americans because you “hate” Clinton so much that you vow to stay home if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination? How protected from the consequences of a Trump presidency do you need to be to think your hatred of Clinton constitutes, as I saw someone say earlier this week, an “inviolable principle,” meaning that it’s more important than the lives of vulnerable Americans? That all applies equally to any Clinton supporters saying the same about Sanders. 

Vote for whoever you like in the primary. But let’s step away from vicious attacks and hatred...and whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, the stakes are far, far too high for us to selfishly stay home because we didn’t get our first choice. I will happily, proudly vote for either Clinton or Sanders, and I hope you will do the right thing and join me."

While my posts on this blog do carry political connotations, they are never outright political. This post reflects the growing consensus of the Republican party in the United States to say Trump will be the face of the GOP. In doing so, they are losing touch with the intellectual framework thats guided their party in the previous century. Embracing Trump reveals their true colors and proves that they remain political and morally bankrupt. Power over principle is a very dangerous thing. Let's work to make sure Trump doesn't come close to the White House.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Charlie Chaplin: The Greatest Speech Ever Made**



Transcript:
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grinnell Point

Last month, I was sick for ten days and when I wasn't sleeping or hacking up a lung, I was watching videos on Netflix. In the middle of night, I received a notification from a History app I recently downloaded on my phone. I followed the link, a picture appeared on my screen with a caption below that read "Today's picture is from 1912, and it shows a group of Native Americans on horseback. I do not recognize the peak in the background but hope one of you visitors could comment on where this picture might be." 

1912, huh? I knew right were that was. I even had a picture to prove it.

Indians on Horseback













Grinnell Point, Montana 2010


Montana Roadtrip 2010
My picture from 2010 is a scanned photo so the resolution isn't great. But you can still observe the flanks and ridges of Grinnell Point in the background to the right and compare them to the original 1912 photo above.

The Native Americans above were exploring an area. Dressed in the garb and Below, my buddies with their arms open, were the modern equalivent. Seeking a refuge from the modern world, attempting to find a new connection with the world around them.























East side of Glacier National Park. This Google Earth photo shows the easy access to Grinnell Point from the Plains. Lake Sherburne can be seen between Babb and Swiftcurrent Lake.
Grinnell Point from Google Earth, coordinates are listed below.




Latitude and Longitude coordinates. Plug into Google Earth and look Southwest.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bar Etiquette.

Rules to remember the next time you order a drink.

#1: My name is not "Hey" or "Barbitch" If you chose to use those words to get my attention, I will ignore you the rest of the night.
#2: If you rack up a tab, and/or extremely needy and you leave NO TIP, we will remember you. 
#3 On the other hand, if you are polite, tip generously, we will remember you and we will be more generous in pouring your next drink. Just be nice.
#4 When you pay with a credit card, you won't get cash back. 
#5 I can't give FREE drinks. Don't ask. 
#6 I can remember more than one drink. Please don't make me go back and forth to get your five drink order. 
#7 Last call. You can only get ONE drink. Casino Policy.
#8 Don't cut in line to get water, soda, or coffee. I will ignore you. 
#9: Know what you want, or at least have a basic request. Such as-'I'd like a dark beer', or 'I would like something fruity' Don't tell me to give you something "good". Give me something to work with when you ask me to 'surprise you'. 
#10: Don't fight, don't yell, don't be 'that guy' 

More to come...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quote from the Cigarette Century

To the Princess, it was an enigma why anyone would smoke, yet the answer seems simple enough when we station ourselves at that profound interface of nature and culture formed when people take something the natural world and incorporate it into their bodies. Three of the four elements are shared by all creatures, but fire was a gift to humans alone. Smoking cigarettes is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to fee on the marrow of the volcano. It's not the tobacco we're after, but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lighting. Does that mean that chain smokers are religious fanatics? You must admit there's a similarity. The lung of a smoker is a naked virgin thrown as a sacrifice into the godfire.

Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker.
Quote pulled from the Cigarette Century

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Perspective

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep. You are richer than 75% of the world. 

If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive an suffering.

If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.


Source: Can't remember.