Saturday, December 31, 2016

Approaching this New Year and potential Darkness...

Approaching New Year's I always think of this poem.  But this year it seems to have a special verve.

 I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.”

~ 1908, by Minnie Louise Haskins, who taught at the London School of Economics

Friday, December 30, 2016


Thursday, December 29, 2016

R.I.P Debbie Reynolds


Waiting for my Bean Boots...

One of my Christmas gifts was being able to get new boots. I need them very much. 
So, I ordered them online on Christmas Day, and they were slated to arrive on Thursday the 29th. We are getting a Nor'easter, tomorrow and Friday, that is expected to bring 6-12" of snow. 
Now I've been pretty excited about them arriving (and hoping like crazy that they fit well).  
So, it's a little disconcerting to learn today that they aren't coming until Friday, after all. But! At least they're not back ordered!  I love the look; and my gloves are red, my hat is red with a touch of black and white, and my coat is teal green. Best of all, the boots will look great with my red Mini Cooper 
which has racing flag ("soccer ball") mirror caps!  😄 ~ listener

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing Day

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Vigil: Awaiting the coming of the Christ Child

Salesian Reflection

Vigil of Christmas
This evening is the vigil of Christmas and we ponder on the mystery of the birth of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. St. Francis de Sales offer us some thoughts on the nativity:
If someone intends to build a house or a palace, he must first consider for whom the dwelling is intended. He will obviously use different plans depending upon the social status of the person. So it was with the Divine Builder. God built the world for the Incarnation of the Son. Divine wisdom foresaw from all eternity that the Word would assume our nature in coming to earth. To accomplish this task, God chose a woman, the most holy Virgin Mary, who brought forth Our Savior.
In the Incarnation, God made us see what the human mind could hardly have imagined or understood. So great was God’s love for humanity that in becoming human, God desired to fill us with divinity. God wished to crown us with divine goodness and dignity. God wanted us to be children of God, for we are formed in God’s image.
Our Savior came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance of God. Oh, how earnestly we ought to summon up our courage to live according to what we are. Our Savior came so that we may have life to the fullest. He was wholly filled with mercy and kindness for the human family.
Often when the most hardened souls have reached the point of living as if there were no God, Our Savior allows them to find His Heart full of pity and kind mercy toward them. All, who know this, experience some feeling of gratitude for it. Let us let go of all that is not of God in our house. When we open our hearts to God’s love, we bring to birth the Christ Child in our hearts so as to establish God’s kingdom on earth.
(Adapted from the writings of
St. Francis de Sales)

Ho! Ho! Ho! When Christmas Eve falls on Saturday, it's Kitty Day!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How To Fight Fascism – Dear Design Student

Mike Monteiro

November 30, 2016

Q: I am freaking the fuck out that America just elected a fascist. I’m bouncing between wanting to fight and hiding under my bed. I’m just a designer, what can I do?

Hi. Take a deep breath. I’ve been breathing into a paper bag for three weeks myself. Let’s not white-wash (ha!) this. We are truly fucked. We’re standing at the very edge of the American experiment. I can’t blame you for not wanting to take that next step.

So let’s take stock: barring any last-minute Hail Marys such as vote audits, appealing to faithless electors, or praying that Congress actually gives a shit about conflicts of interest, Donald Trump is set to become the President of the United States. We should behave as if he’s going to do the things he’s said he’s going to do. There’s no secret liberal inside the orange jumpsuit. And while he may not be a fascist himself, he’s a needy narcissistic Zelig-like sociopath who needs to be loved and admired by those closest to him. And he’s chosen to surround himself with fascists.

In the next four years, civil rights in America will be under constant massive attack. As designers, we don’t get to opt out. And since you’ve all been screaming about changing the world, now’s the time you realize it’s not done by disrupting viral video consumption delivery systems, but by actually getting involved in some of that civil shit. This is not a healthy human being.

Get healthy
First off — and I cannot stress this enough — get your shit together. Your mental health is important. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re in no position to take care of others. And right now, not taking care of yourself the most selfish act possible because we need you. So go to your therapist, get back on your meds, do some physical activity to get those endorphins going because we need you strong and we need you healthy.

And look, if you’re seriously freaking out, know that I totally understand why you would be, because this all sucks. Then know I love you. Then call this number: 1–800–273–8255. They will take care of you. If you need some help figuring all this out, but can wait a few days, you can find someone to talk to here. Please take this seriously.

Once you’re healthy, we can get to work.

Be a citizen first
Before we need you as a designer, we will need you as a citizen. As a citizen there are three things you can give: time, money, and haven. Give what you can of each.

The most important thing you can do is make phone calls. Call your representatives. Call your senators. Do not tell them about your feelings. They don’t care about your feelings. They care about your next vote. Tell them what they need to do to get it. Be relentless. Be the person who calls every day. You can make 5 calls a day and you’ll be in and out in under 15 minutes. And yes, I mean phone calls. That’s how these people work. A call is ten times more valuable than an email, or a petition. You all have phones. You’re probably reading this on one.

Look for the helpers
There are organizations out there busting their ass to keep the flame of democracy alive. Find them. They need your money to keep doing this. Give to the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the Anti-Defamation League, the Trevor Project. There are so many more.

Help those still willing to speak truth to power. The media failed us in a big way, but there are enough thinkpieces about that already, and this is not that. But donate generously to the ones still standing proudly: Mother Jones — still fierce after so many years and stronger than ever, ProPublica — going deep into the data to expose corruption, The Washington Post — still standing tall. And, oh how I love adding Teen Vogue to this list. Because they’re kicking a lot of ass, and they’re talking directly to the next generation. The New York Times has already fallen.

Mostly, though, as a citizen, look out for each other. And especially look out for people most likely to be the target of roving jackbooted deplorable thugs. There is more safety in numbers. We’re past the point of pretending not to see that hate crime happening on the bus. It’s happening. And it will keep happening until the people on the bus, or on a plane, or in the street, stand up to the haters.

Here are four simple steps to stop all types of harassment. Is this putting your safety at risk? Yes. Is it increasing the overall safety? Yes. If we’re going down, we’re going down as a community.

They’re not smart. And there are more of us than there are of them.

There’s no wrong way to help
Some of us are fighters. Some of us are check writers. Some of us like to protest. Some of us are focused on vote audits. Some of us are preparing for four years of absolute terror. This is all good. And this is all necessary. Don’t tell someone they’re helping wrong just because they’re doing something you don’t agree with. (Unless you think it actually runs contrary to their goals. That’s called critique.)

If it gives people hope it’s worth doing. Hope is gonna be in some short supply in the next four years so let people generate it where they can. If you’re organizing a protest, but your friend Bob would rather sit at his desk and make phone calls, that’s cool. He’s doing his thing and you’re doing yours.

The amount of time we spend arguing with each other only subtracts from the amount of time we spend fighting fascists.

Go local
Fix yourself. Fix your house. Fix your street. Fix your neighborhood. Fix your city. Fix your state. Fix your country. That’s the order to work in. Start small and work up. This election was lost at the local level. We won it at the national level!

Get a grip on what’s going on in your local community and find out where you can help. Maybe it’s keeping your street free of swastika graffiti. Maybe it’s making sure the two Muslim kids down the street have a clear path to school and back every day. If you own a business, make sure everyone knows they’re welcome there. Put up signs. Make them visible. Make sure that any fascist walking into your place of business feels unwelcome.

Who are your local elected officials? Where do they stand on things? When are their terms up? Local officials turn into state officials. State officials turn into national officials. (Unless of course, we keep electing idiots who run golf courses. Badly.) Weed the bad apples out locally so we never have to deal with them nationally.

And I can’t emphasize this enough. The shit on the ballot that actually affects you is that long winded badly worded local shit. (It’s designed that way on purpose, by the way.) That shit has an almost immediate effect on your community. And as a local voter in a smaller voting base your vote has a higher percentage of mattering. So read it, try to understand it. Someday you’ll be so far up in it you’ll be able to influence it.

Don’t work with fascists
We do not work with fascists. There is no reason to reach out to fascists. We don’t build bridges to fascism. We burn down the bridges that link them to us. These are people who think those who don’t look like them as subhumans. I have no desire to reach across the aisle to that deplorable vomitous shit.

If you help them you are advancing their agenda, and become no better than them.

Work ethically, now more than ever
More than ever we need to look at how we’re designing the world. We also need to look at who is designing it. Don’t look for much resistance from Silicon Valley, which is run by rich white boys, towards a government run by the rich white men they aspire to become. Take stock in who you’re working for, what they’re making, and who they’re hiring to make it.

We have serious problems to solve. Make sure you’re working at places that are interested in solving them. And if you’re working at large companies, especially companies in the social space, keep an eye out for how your products effect the marginalized. Work on ways to empower those who need empowering. And if you’re in the “news” business, maybe take a look at what kind of lies you’re spreading. (Yes, I’m talking about you Facebook.) Take a look at the words you’re using. Stop sugar-coating shit. Don’t say alt-right when you’re talking about Nazis, dammit. (Yes, I’m talking about you, New York Times.)

As designers, we need to fulfill our missions of being gatekeepers. Your job is to improve the world for everyone, not just those in power. When you are asked to work on something that can marginalize people, you must stop. When you are asked to come up with solutions that tighten the grip of fascism on your community, you must stop. And not just move over so that someone else can take the oar, it is your responsibility as a designer to make sure that work never sees that light of day. Even if that means throwing your body across the gears of fascism. This is the job. This is what you signed up for.

And the company that signs on to build the Muslim database can go fuck themselves.

The world is watching.

Prepare for a better future
We’re in this situation because we designed the world to work this way. The rescinding of the Voting Rights Act, the gerrymandering of congressional districts, the existence of the electoral college, the underfunding of schools to create an undereducated electorate. We did all that. And we’ll have to undo it. This will take a fuckton of time, which honestly I’m not sure we have. But we have to try.

Right now, as we speak my friend Dana Chisnell is working on how to improve our election process at the Center for Civic Design. Part of me thinks she is insane because we’re never going to have another election. But I’m trying to listen to the part of me that wants to ensure she has a chance to get there.

So we fight. We fight because we can’t not fight. We fight because maybe this is the cliché darkest before the dawn. We fight because if we don’t people get beat up, rounded up, stripped of their dignity, and killed. And while this may or may not happen in a large government-sanctioned way, it’s definitely going to happen in small pockets of deplorable misery throughout the country. And there are things we can do to prevent it. We have to try.

Fight fascism.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice ~ the Light begins to return

Solstice begins at 5:44am EST

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Letter to my Father, The Man Who Chose Donald Trump Over Every Woman in His Life

This young woman writes powerfully, albeit no doubt futilly. She speaks for me.

Kamira Riis

Dear Dad,

On November 1st of this year, I will turn 30. I remember the first puppy you bought me, a sweet Dalmatian named Cookie with spots covering both of her eyes. I remember being five, putting make up on your face and curlers in what was left of your hair because you would suffer any fate to make us smile. I remember bringing home my first boyfriend, your jokes about buying a shotgun to ward the other boys off. I remember when you told me after every episode of American Idol that I should audition. That it would be our claim to fame. I also remember barely making the deadline to vote in the Bush / Kerry election.

At 18 I was still full of angst and registered independent, something I have not changed on my voter’s registration to this day to many of my die-hard Democrat friends’ disdain when primaries roll around. Maybe I was a touch absent minded, forgetting every year to take care of it so I could cast an early vote. Maybe I was holding on to what I saw as rebellious in my first year as an adult. I didn’t know much about your political views or my own at the time, but I knew I was different. I thought I was everyone with a less represented voice. “I am Latina and I am an independent woman,” is what I thought. “Don’t label me as a Democrat; I will label myself as an Independent.” I remember walking to my car having taken the day off from school to vote. I rolled the windows down and ran the A.C. before getting into the driver’s seat to replace the insufferable heat with coolant saturated air. The Florida sun is unforgiving. You stuck your head out of the front door and looked at me for a bit longer than you normally would and said, “If you vote for Kerry, do not bother coming home.” I desperately searched for a smirk, a smile in your eyes that was telling of a light hearted joke, a flash of a dad teasing his daughter.

But there was no light in your eye, no subtle raise of the corner of your mouth. It was then that I realized that there was always going to be a divide between us, an impossible to cross chasm of political difference and disproportionately prioritized values. I voted for Kerry. I still went home. And we never spoke of it again.

As of 2016 we have survived two more elections. We have no battle scars to show from your small jabs about Obama’s birth certificate in 2008 or my backhanded comments about George Bush’s idiocy being a virus that spread to his supporters. I cringed but did not engage you when you called Obama a communist and likened him to Hugo Chavez who had turned Venezuela, your beautiful home, inside out. In 2008 I had already fled the nest for what I believed at the time to be the most liberal and liberating city in America. I voted for Obama and despite his win tumbling you into a fleeting bout of depression, you came for Christmas with mom and sister, the same smile you had in 2006 when Bush was still in office. We broke bread, exchanged gifts and said I love yous, appreciating the cool, calm breeze that shifts the air after a torrential downpour.

The 2012 election was truly Deja Vu. We were both bumbling Bill Murrays trying to do something differently and essentially suffering the same fates. During a year long Groundhog’s Day we made the same jabs, texted each other the same insulting propaganda videos, you suffered the same fleeting depression and in December, you came for Christmas and we said the same I love yous. We broke bread.

Dearest Dad, I am not writing you this letter to change your mind about your vote in 2016. I am not writing this to sway you, to convince you that Hillary Clinton is the better choice. That is not my goal, because I know that is impossible, just as impossible as an attempt from your end to get me to vote for Donald Trump. I am writing you this letter to tell you how heart broken I am that you have made this choice. Not because I am a broke student pursuing a PhD in a field that is not exactly lucrative. Not because I rent an overpriced apartment in the Upper East Side that I struggle to afford. Not because I fear I will never be the one percenter that you have “pulled yourself up by your boot straps” to become, an immigrant Latino with no college education who built a multi-million dollar corporation from the ground up with his bare hands. Before I continue this letter to you, I must tell you that I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you for hiring the sort of men that deserve a second chance, that no one else would ever employ. My heart swells when I think of the blood you shed to put food on our table, to put a roof over our heads.

But all of that seems to lose its spark in the shadow of your support for Donald Trump.

You see Dad, it seems you have forgotten that you have two daughters and a wife. And it seems you have closed your eyes to Donald Trump’s violent misogyny. Donald Trump is a man who calls women he does not like ‘fat pigs’, ‘slobs’, ‘dogs’ and ‘disgusting animals’ because he doesn’t “have the time for total political correctness.” Donald Trump is a man who said via twitter in April of last year that sexual harassment in the military is totally expected, because “What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?” Why would anyone expect women in the military to feel safe, right? As a Trump supporter who honored his country and served his time in the U.S. Navy, I’m sure you agree, right dad? Because if I had chosen to follow in your footsteps and serve my country too, well sexual harassment is just part of the package. And according to Trump, what am I but an aesthetically pleasing object? Where would I be without my sex appeal? Assuming I have any at all?

According to Donald Trump, I would be nowhere. Trump, were he to see my tattoos, my average curves, my collection of mumus and my facebook chat history full of Hillary praise, would see me on the same level as all of the other women he hates. Would I be a Bette Midler? Would he find my “ugly face and body” offensive the way he finds hers? It is possible you would read all of this and assume your eldest daughter is too sensitive. Too soft. That she should let body shaming roll off her back. That this is the change Mr. Trump is making. Donald Trump, you may argue to me, is making women strong again by forcing them to suffer insult after insult and grin and bear it. You may think, Dad, that the reason both of your daughters spent time in the hospital with eating disorders 15 years apart has nothing at all to do with insecurity or issues with lack of control in our lives because of our gender and the amount of pressure placed on a young woman from birth until the very end. No. That isn’t why. That isn’t why Alicia Machado, the Venezuelan Beauty Queen, ended up with an eating disorder either, is it? It wasn’t because Donald Trump told her, and told the media, that she was fat, a “Miss Piggy”. She was a person who “really really liked to eat.” According to Trump, an eating machine! No. It couldn’t be anything external. It is internal. We are just much too sensitive, aren’t we Dad?

And what about the rest of it? What about Trump’s slip up inference to engaging in sexual relations with his own daughter? I raise the question of how you would feel if at Christmas dinner your own brother stood up and said of my sister, “If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her uncle…If I weren’t married I’d perhaps be dating her.” If your own flesh said this of your daughter deep down in the pit of your stomach I know it would make you ill. I know you dad, and you would go to the ends of the earth to protect the dignity of your youngest daughter because you are a good man. This is why I still cannot understand how you feel so confident in your support for Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a man who would strip women, your wife and your two girls, of our rights to affordable healthcare. Just because you can provide healthcare to Mom and my sister, just because Mom no longer needs birth control and you would forever deny the fact that my sister could probably put it to good use in her first semester of college, that doesn’t cover everyone in your familial vicinity. There is still me who, at 30, takes care of myself. My life has been an uphill battle, ever independent and always doing whatever I could to survive on my own. And here I am, my back bent by the weight of the patriarchy; I have made it as far as a woman can make it on 73% of a white man’s income, working the same backbreaking hours, having the same education. So why not bring a man into office who will roll me back down the hill I have suffered to climb my entire life? After all, rolling downhill seems so much easier than crawling up it.

But it is not just us you are neglecting, dad. It is not just us you are throwing into a fire fueled by sexism and inequality. You have also forgotten your mother who is on Medicare. When Donald Trump rolled onto the scene he promised no cuts for medicare and medicaid. But just a few months ago he endorsed house speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to gut both. Did you know that I have Obamacare, dad? And that everyday I take a life saving medication I would not be able to afford without it? And abuela, your mother, what will she do when Medicare is no longer an option for her? What will she do when the monster that is Donald Trump takes it away? Because isn’t she just another immigrant abusing the system, stealing what is ours, naturalised or not? But wait. According to Donald Trump, none of this, any of it, belongs to you.

I have to ask you, Dad, will you care for us all? Will you feed us, clothe us, pay for the things we need to live that Donald Trump has taken from us? Or will you forget us the way Donald Trump has forgotten us, watching us flounder in his wake.

My biggest fear, Dad, is that by supporting a man who so nonchalantly insults women, a man who believes us below men, believes us to be bottom feeders, I fear that in time you will come to share his sentiment. Because when Donald Trump strips us of our rights, when a Trump presidency pushes me to a place where I am forced to need you, am I not just the “gold digger” all women are in Mr. Trump’s eyes? But why suffer to the point of needing your help. I don’t really need healthcare, I don’t really need medication, right? Because what am I worth anyway?

As a note, I hope you did not give mom access to any financial assets because, as Donald Trump suggests, you can’t even trust your own wife. And what a wonderful thing that you and mom were never able to have a second child because, according to Donald Trump, pregnancy is an “inconvenience for employers”, and mom was employed by the Miami Dade Police Department at the time. What would we have done when her pregnancy inconvenienced the entire department? It doesn’t matter, does it, because like Donald Trump you seem to easily forget the things you have done when someone moves to contest them.

According to Trump, you cannot trust your immigrant friends either. How does it make you feel when Donald Trump insults immigrants? When he insults the Hispanic community? When he infers that Mexicans are rapists and that because you live in a hispanic community in not-the-safest part of Florida, that you live in “hell?” Do you take a hit to your own pride because you are proud to be a mix of Venezuelan and Cuban? And did your heart break for the African American men you employ when Donald Trump relayed that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization? I mean, you can just replace your ethnic employees with white men, right? Because they will most definitely respect you the way Donald Trump respects you and your fellow immigrants, won’t they? I am saddened that your priorities don’t include much more than the money your company is worth, your salary that has placed you well into the category of 1%. But Donald Trump is notorious for scamming small businesses, whether you choose to accept this or not. But I guess that doesn’t matter to you now that you are worth millions of dollars. Isn’t it nice to look back at where you came from, struggling through so many failed business ventures, and choosing to forget how hard that was? For you and for us? Yes. Forgetting must be so nice. You made it! Forget those following in your footsteps! And somehow still sleep well at night.

Another question I have to ask you, Dad (and would you like me to apologize for my excess of inquiries, as women should not inquire so much, should they?). What about my Iranian in-laws? I can only assume you think them terrorists. I can only assume you fear them the way Donald Trump does, the way he implores us to fear them. Do you secretly hope that when they fly home to Tehran to visit their family that they won’t be able to get back into the country? I mean, what if they are the few bad Skittles in the bowl that Trump, Jr. warned us about? I guess they are not worth the risk.

My dearest Dad, over the last three decades we have had our ups and downs. I like to think the good times have always overshadowed the bad times. I can’t help but feel I am somehow indebted to you for everything you have given us, for helping to shape me into the strong woman I am, even if it is because I spent so much of our time together deflecting the hurtful and unnecessary verbal punches you threw at me when we didn’t agree. Not unlike Donald Trump.

Between your love and Mom’s I have become a person I feel I can be proud of, an accomplished and educated minority destined to be a force in my field. But if Donald Trump wins the election in November of 2016, it is not him who takes away everything I have fought so hard to attain. It is you. You are the cold blooded killer of the rights women have fought for for as long as we can remember. It is you who will rob millions of young women of the respect they deserve, the future they deserve, and the feeling of safety we are barely clinging to now. It is you and only you who will give your daughters the gift of an impossible uphill climb, a bleak future stuck to the bottom of some man’s shoe. And you will cut the chord that has connected us for so very long. I must pose this question to you Dad, because it is really and truly the only thing I want an answer to: Do you really care about someone who is nakedly contemptuous of you and what you have accomplished more than you care about your own daughters?

When I was 14 years old, there was a moment when I made you so angry you told me that you hated me. In the whirlwind of my teenage years I may or may not have been insufferable. I never once considered that you might have meant it because the apologetic hug you gave me in what I’m sure was a wave of guilt cancelled out the pain. That moment has always lived in the very back of my mind, deafening in its quietness. Knowing that you are voting for Trump, I can only assume that what you said half a lifetime ago was true.

It is possible you don’t entirely hate me, maybe it isn’t personal. Maybe you just have a complete disregard for women. This idea has crossed my mind when I am grasping at straws, when I am desperate and pained. But your current actions speak louder than 16 year old apologetic hugs, and I am so heartbroken you have chosen a racist, sexist monster over every woman in your life. If Donald Trump wins this election, then what you said to me so many years ago, when you looked me in my eyes and told me you hated me, maybe it is true. And I will just have to grin and bear it, won’t I dad? I thank you for the gift of life, but reject your gift to me, to women everywhere, of the most sexist candidate the free world has ever seen.

Maybe this election year, Dad, this potentially devastating Christmas, when we break bread, it will be in silence.


Your eldest and seemingly forgotten daughter

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today’s Gospel reminds us that like St. Joseph, we must have confidence in God’s plan for us. God has a plan for us that is greater than our own. St. Francis de Sales notes:

In today’s Gospel, Joseph sees that Mary is with child. Knowing that it was not his child, he was ready to divorce her. But the angel revealed to Joseph that the Holy Child was to be Our Savior. With great peace and serenity of mind, Joseph accepted the unexpected event that befell him. Our confidence in God ought to be like St. Joseph’s.

The foundation of our trust is not in our own self, but in God. While we may change, God remains always gentle and merciful when we are weak and imperfect, as well as when we are strong and perfect. When we have absolute trust in Our Lord, we are like an infant on the breast of its mother. The child just lets itself be carried and led wherever the mother wants to take it. Similarly, we ought to have such confidence in letting ourselves be carried when we love God’s will in all that happens to us.

Holy confidence in the goodness of God is the life of the human spirit. As we grow in love with God, we may experience the contractions and pangs of spiritual childbirth. Yet, in the midst of our troubles, Our Savior will guide us on our way no matter how difficult it may be. Let us think of the words of our gentle Savior: “When a woman gives birth she is in great distress, but after the birth she forgets the suffering of the past because a child is born to her.” Our souls ought to give birth to the dearest Child that one could wish for. It is Jesus whom we must form and bring to birth in ourselves. The Child is well worth whatever we endure. How happy we would be if we devoted all our efforts to accomplishing God’s will for us. We would obtain from God’s goodness all that we could possibly desire and need, a new invigorating life. A holy rebirth in Christ!

(Adapted from the writings of
St. Francis de Sales)

This letting go and submission to God's Will is the hardest part of the Christian project for many since it seems to imply passivity, as in the image of the infant being carried by its mother. Yet the true life of the Christian, and more broadly of the Progressive, is active cooperation with and participation in the Will of God, that is to say Good, Peace, etc. As the saying is, we are - or must be - the good and peace we seek.

So as we prepare in this last week of Advent to welcome the Christ Child, let us reflect on what He brings and what He demands of us. We need not be Christians to find these things in our hearts or to see the desperate need for them in our world.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

This is the way to spend Saturday afternoon!

Photos by Vicky Bordoni

At the Springfield Jewish Community Center. Left, in the whirlpool bath. Right, in the sauna with my towel.

Decadent! And absolutely wonderful!

Saturday is Kitty Day

Visit The Daily Kitten to find out about Cupcake.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Help Aleppo

Many people all over the world have been horrified by the carnage in East Aleppo over the past days, weeks and months. Your blogmaster has been trying to witness, posting as much as possible to Facebook from the BBC's coverage. It's so little and I feel so helpless. Apparently, a great many other folks also feel helpless, but there are things to do:

Happy Friday

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Putin didn't win this election for Trump. Hillary Clinton did

Doug Henwood

The US political and media establishment is in a state of mounting frenzy over alleged Russian interference in the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The source of what has been called a “swell” of “circumstantial evidence” is the CIA, an agency which has been known to interfere with an election or two itself, and isn’t really a paragon of honesty.

And what exactly are the claims made by these Putin-did-it stories? That were it not for Russian chicanery, Hillary Clinton would have won the popular vote by five million and not almost three million? That displaced machinists on the banks of Lake Erie were so incensed by the Podesta emails that they voted for Trump instead of Clinton? That Putin was pulling FBI director James Comey’s strings in his investigation of the Clinton emails? That those scheming Russians were clever enough to hack into voting machines but not clever enough to cover their tracks?

It’s strangely reminiscent of the days of the Red scare, minus the Reds.

Each of those questions opens up an interesting line of inquiry. Though it’s not gone unremarked upon, the fact that the loser of the popular vote has won the election for the second time in 16 years is an entirely home-grown disgrace. It would be nice if we spent at least as much time talking about how the electoral college, a bizarre institution originally designed to protect the power of slaveholders, perverts democracy. But it is widely considered an immutable feature of our political system.

Julian Assange denies that the Russian government was the source of the hacked emails to and from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta that WikiLeaks published. Of course, there’s no way of knowing if he’s telling the truth – but regardless of their source, how much influence did they have on the election outcome?

We can never know, but it sure seems like only a handful of connoisseurs read through them. And those who did discovered precisely how cynical and empty the Clinton operation was, like the moment where campaign manager Robby Mook asks Podesta and several other senior operatives “where we landed exactly on trade. Is she going to say she supports it?” (“it” presumably being the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton supported as secretary of state but came to oppose for electoral reasons).

The displaced machinists in the industrial midwest, whose votes helped put Trump in the White House, believe that free trade deals are responsible for their economic woes and they never trusted Clinton’s turn against the TPP. But that was Clinton’s campaign for you, bereft of principle and pathologically concerned with “optics” at the expense of substance.

They were so confident of their inevitable victory that they wrote off the old industrial states in favor of luring upscale suburbanites who normally vote Republican. They hoped they would be so revolted by Trump that they would vote for her, but they didn’t.

The president-elect claims he will be leaving his business interests ‘in total’, but the Trump Organization still stands to cross paths with the US government on multiple fronts

It’s easy to blame the FBI for the trouble that the private email server scandal caused the Clinton campaign, but the decision to set that up was hers and no one else’s. It was entirely consistent with her long history of secrecy, of trying to evade public scrutiny for her actions, one of the reasons that so many people dislike her.

Of course there are questions about our voting machines. The American balloting system is a chaotic mess, with an array of state and local authorities conducting elections under a vast variety of rules using technologies ranging from old-fashioned paper ballots to sleek touch-screen devices.

The former take forever to count, and the latter are unauditable – we can have no idea whether the counts are accurate. The whole system is a perfect example of a quote attributed (probably falsely) to Joseph Stalin: “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” It’s not a system that inspires trust, but we barely discuss that.

It’s probably a near-universal feature of human psychology that it’s easier to blame others for our problems than look inward for their origins. Democrats would rather point to shady foreign operators than think about why Clinton will not be the one taking the oath on 20 January.

The establishment Republicans who’ve joined the bandwagon demanding inquiries into Russian interference apparently prefer that, too. It’s better than figuring out how their party nominated a volatile loose cannon who will become president in a little more than a month.

And Americans across the political spectrum are happy to use Putin to distract them from reflecting on how baseless our self-image as the world’s greatest democracy is. But as with many psychological defenses, these sorts of evasions are very damaging to long-term health..

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Control Gun Violence By Controling Guns

On this date in 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in Connecticut. Twenty-eight people, including the gunman, were killed.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports: "Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, six states have taken action to enact strong, common sense laws. Today eight states have expanded Brady background checks to cover all gun sales." But, as these figures suggest, gun laws differ wildly from state to state. As with most such legal patchworks, the vulnerable suffer,. " is a fact that those with weaker gun laws on average lead to more gun deaths."

Fire arms laws and regulations need to be uniform across the country and gun safety must be the top priority for those who own them. The Brady Campaign has had noteable successes since its inception in 1981; Yet by its reckoning,some 32,000 people are killed by fire arms every year in this country, an average of 31 every day. That is unacceptable., not to say unsustainable.. Pro-life (sik) campaigners use the term "culture of death." The gun culture is the true culture of death. It must be changed or we won't have to worry about neuclear bombs - we'll all shoot each other instead.


Anniversary Of Sandy Hook Shooting Falls On School Day For First Time

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Saint Lucy's Day

Saint Lucy's Prayer:
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation -- every corner of our day. Amen

Tradition tells us that St. Lucy often wore a crown of candles in order to have her hands free as she worked to succor and assist Christians in the Catacombs. As she carried her light with love, balance and grace dispelling the darkness of oppression and despair, let us as Progressives bring our light into the coming year with love and nonviolence but also with rock-solid conviction and set it against the gathering darkness of bigotry, hatred and self-serving greed.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Prepare now to protest the inauguration with Code Pink

Visit Code Pink to learn about the Peace Ball and other activities planned for January 19, 20 and 21, 2017 to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Love, Rise, Resist!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday Is Kitty Day

Visit The Daily Kitten to learn about Leo DiCatrio.

Godspeed, John Glenn

John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016)

Our condolences go to Sen. Glenn's wife of seventy-three years, Annie, and to their children and family. He was a true hero and a truly great American. May he rest in peace.


John Glenn - Wikipedia
Profile of John Glenn - NASA
John Glenn, American hero, aviation icon and former U.S. senator, dies at 95 - Columbus Dispatch
John Glenn, first American to orbit Earth, dies aged 95 - BBC
When A U.S. Man Orbited Earth For First time - BBC (includes video)

Friday, December 09, 2016

Happy Friday

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Peace and Love

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Memorial of St. Nicholas

Known as 'the Wonder Worker,' St. Nicholas is the patron of children as well as sailors and travelers, among others. He may be of interest to Progressives for his wellll-known practice of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, the latter of which at least lie at the heart of the Progressive enterprise.


Monday, December 05, 2016

Stand with Veterans Standing with Standing Rock

Monday, December 5 at 12:00 PM - 12:02 PM MST (2:00 PM EST, 1:00 PM CST and 11:00 AM PST)

On Monday, December 5th, join thousands of veterans who have travelled from across the country to the North Dakota’s Standing Rock Reservation in taking their stand with the Water Protectors who have been peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

You don't have to come to Standing Rock to show your support.

Veterans Stand For Standing Rock call on all of you, our brother's and sisters to stand with us. Stand in your homes. Stand in your offices. Your schools, stores and sidewalks in communities and towns across this country, across this globe.

Stand with us in silence and stand with us strong; arm in arm as we peacefully say, no more.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

NoDAPL Movements Wins! Army Corps of Engineers Denies Easement

The Army Corps of Engineers has told the Oceti tribe that it will halt work on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in order to conduct an environmental impact study, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe announced. In a statement, the tribe said it “wholeheartedly support[s]” the government’s decision, and thanked President Obama and the Justice Department. “We thank the milions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause,” the statement reads. “We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water.”


Second Sunday in Advent

As we begin the second week of Advent, the light of our anticipation, love and hope grows stronger. We are called to repent and make straight the way of the Lord. In other words, we must make a genuine effort to overcome our self-absorbtion and live the Gospel message to do unto others as you would have them do unto you and that what you do to the least, you do to Christ.

These are not only Catholic or Christian values, they stand at the heart of the Progressive project as I understand it. Our Lord commands us to love one another, an instruction which we, as Progressives of whatever faith or of none, strive to follow at all times. It is especially important now, because of what lies ahead starting in the New Year, that we reaffirm our commitment to our principles, that we shine our lights, however small they may be individually, and show that light does overcome darkness.


Second Sunday of Advent (The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Is Kitty Day!

They say music is a universal language. Apparently, loving and rescuing kitties is too. Even those nasty A-rabs do it.

from The Daily Kitten [Click].

Veterans Stand with Standing Rock

Two thousand veterans from all around the world are assembling to stand between unarmed, nonviolent American citizens exercising their constitutional rights of free assembly and speech and heavily armed Morton Co. ND police.

As one veteran wrote on the organization's FB page:

I'll be leaving early Saturday morning for #StandingRock as part of the 2,000 STRONG deployment of veterans from across the GLOBE. And I don't think I will ever stand taller or prouder than when I stand alongside some of the finest men and women to ever don a uniform and swear an oath-- an oath to protect and serve, against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic.

God bless them!

The National Christmas Tree Has Been Lit

"This is the 94th time Americans have gathered to light our national tree. It’s the eighth and final time for our family. Before we leave tonight, I’d just like to express what an incredible honor it has been for us to serve this nation. And to feel its warmth and to feel its generosity and how our family has been awed by America’s goodness. And most of all, it has been so special to share these eight years with all of you. So on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny—Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy holidays."
—President Obama speaking at his final
National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony
December First, 2016

Friday, December 02, 2016


Thursday, December 01, 2016

...and December begins

Early December Dawn
- Photo by Ron Cohen

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Ends...

Sunset At Standing Rock
Photo by Kevin Gilbertt

My November Guest

Robert Frost

My sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

To Autumn

This poem has been a favorite of mine since childhood.

John Keats

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why Anti Trump Protests Matter

By Sarah Jaffe

Since election night, U.S. cities and towns have rung with protest. Hundreds of thousands of people, from New York City to Los Angeles, from Columbia, South Carolina to Salt Lake City, Utah took to the streets en masse to protest the election of a man who promised, among other things, to force Muslims to register [Click] and to repeal a health care bill that helps some 20 million people [Click] get health insurance, and who has been accused of sexual assault by at least 13 women [Click]. Hand-scrawled signs declared "Not My President," "No To Bigotry," "Trump Puts My Life In Danger," and "Protests Are Patriotic."

High school students have walked out of class in protest across the country, including in Montgomery County [Click], Maryland; Minneapolis [Click], Minnesota; Phoenix [Click], Arizona; and Omaha [click], Nebraska.

Teresa Díaz was one of those protesters, marching in New York on Sunday, November 13th, in a "Here to Stay" rally against Trump's proposed deportations. "As an immigrant mother of two beautiful U.S. citizen daughters, I woke up to my worst nightmare on Wednesday morning," Díaz, a member of community organization Make the Road New Jersey, told Rolling Stone. "But I'm marching today to show that I'm not afraid.”

The speed with which these protests came together and the vehemence of their reaction far outpaced the growth of the Tea Party movement in the wake of the election of Barack Obama in 2008, but there has still been a reaction from some quarters that the protesters are behaving like "sore losers."

Such a sentiment is a byproduct of the fact that Americans tend to think that the only way one can participate in politics, the only possible way to take political action, is to vote. And yet in recent years – in particular since the 2008 financial crisis – Americans have been rediscovering the power of protest. They have embraced, in increasing numbers, disruption as a tactic for making their voices heard. As they have lost faith in the elites who run the world – as evidenced by still-dropping voter turnout numbers that saw Donald Trump win the electoral college with fewer votes than Mitt Romney got in losing the 2012 election – more and more of them have turned to civil disobedience to attempt to make change. As one popular sign from the anti-Trump protests read, "Not Usually A Sign Guy, But Geez."[click]

The anti-Trump protesters have offered up many different reasons for joining the rallies, vigils, marches and walk-outs. Some, like Díaz and Zuleima Dominguez, a member of Make the Road New York and a recipient of Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, would directly be affected by Trump proposals. "Trump's pledge to revoke DACA in his first 100 days as President would affect me because I would lose my work permit and be forced to live in fear of being separated from my family," Dominguez says. "I would be afraid to leave my home, and it would be hard for me to continue with my education, given that I could no longer apply for scholarships that require a social security number." Others decided to show up to offer solidarity to those frightened of what a Trump presidency might mean. Amy Vandenberg, a University of Southern California student, told the [Click], "There are a lot of marginalized people in this country who are scared, are hurting. If I can protest as a white person to say, 'I see you, I'm with you and I love you,' that's what I'm going to do."

The protests offer people like Vandenberg a way to show support and people like Dominguez a place to find new allies; they create connections in a public space [Click] at a time when more and more people are isolated. For the high school students and undocumented immigrants, in particular, who were prohibited from taking part in this or any election despite being deeply affected by its results, these protests have created a space for them to take part in the democratic process, to have their voices – and their objections – heard.

In particular, civil disobedience allows protesters to "generalize the crisis," as Tobita Chow of Chicago's People's Lobby [Click] told me in 2015 as I was reporting my book, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt [Click]. As people around the country continue to struggle with the wake of the financial crisis and the austerity budgets imposed by state and local politicians, the powerful rarely feel the pain they're inflicting. "The politicians and these rich people who are funding them, they're imposing this crisis on a vast majority of people, but as far as they're concerned there is no crisis, it's not part of their life," Chow said. He also noted that taking part in a protest can have a transformative effect on the people who get involved. "It expands your sense of freedom about what you're willing to do and what you're capable of doing," he said. "It has a really liberating effect on people."

Beyond the participants and the targets, protests also have an effect on those who witness them. Seeing large crowds can on the one hand inspire more people to come out for the first time – as many have done in the wake of this election. On the other hand, the protests will certainly turn off some of the people who see them. Yet in this moment, when many people may have rationalized a vote for Trump by telling themselves that he wouldn't really go through with his promised deportations and registries, street protests force them to confront these people and the lives with which they've gambled. If Trump voters simply shrugged off the harm that his proposals would cause because they don't know any Muslims, any immigrants, any queer or transgender people, street protests in supposedly "red" states like Nebraska and Texas make them look in the eyes of those people and realize that they are human, they are part of the community, that they hurt and fear.

The protests also pressure elected officials on both sides of the aisle to stand up to Trump. As Democrats attempt to regroup and Republicans lick their chops in anticipation of power, the rapid response serves up notice to the GOP that their actions will not go unnoticed, and to Democrats that they are expected to resist or face anger from their own constituents.

The movements of the past few years, as Minnesota organizer Cat Salonek told me, have been like dandelions blown on the wind. They scatter and take root and grow, and each new movement is another dandelion that sprouts. This is true of this week's protests as well: The participants were part of Occupy and they were teachers who struck in Chicago against austerity; they came from Black Lives Matter and from Bernie Sanders's support network and Moral Mondays; and many of them were new to taking action.

The question going forward will be whether they can sustain the energy for the long, ugly fights ahead. As new networks are built in the streets and online, new protests planned for the inauguration and beyond, and terms like "general strike" [Click]are bandied about, experienced organizers and newly-activated people can draw from the lessons of the movements of the past several years – from the Tea Party to the Fight for $15 and beyond – to turn disruption into concrete victories.

Sarah Jaffe is a reporting fellow at The Nation Institute and the author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Sunday of Advent

In medieval England, November First marked the beginning of the Christmas (or at least Christmas preparation) season. Who knew the contemporary U.S. took a leaf from the Middle Age's book in any way? Traditionally, though, the western Christian churches mark the four weeks leading up to December Twenty-fifth as Advent, a time of special reflection and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child

This Advent, we have more than usual reason to search our hearts and do our best to be the good we want to see in the world. Whether we are Christian or not, let's take the coming weeks to reflect and gather our strength to embrace the Light and be ready to spread it, standing in solidarity and love with those all around the world who are fighting evil and darkness with peace and nonviolence.


First Sunday of Advent (The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bruce The Cat: A Heartwarming Story

Visit The Daily Kitten [Click] to read Bruce's story. Hankie recommended.

White House Christmas Tree

The White House Christmas tree was delivered yesterday. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


FLOTUS welcomes the White House Christmas tree

Note: There will be a new post at noon EST

Friday, November 25, 2016

What You Can Do: Twenty Lessons From Twentieth Century History

From Yale History professor Timothy Snyder's Facebook page:

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

  • 1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
  • 2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
  • 3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
  • 4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  • 5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.
  • 6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don't use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps "The Power of the Powerless" by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
  • 7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
  • 8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
  • 9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
  • 10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
  • 11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
  • 12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
  • 13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
  • 14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
  • 15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
  • 16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
  • 17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
  • 18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
  • 19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
  • 20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.