Author Archive | Good German

Mind Your Own Business

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Barbara Ehrenreich writes at the Baffler:

At about the beginning of this decade, mass-market mindfulness rolled out of the Bay Area like a brand new app. Very much like an app, in fact, or a whole swarm of apps. Previous self-improvement trends had been transmitted via books, inspirational speakers, and CDs; now, mindfulness could be carried around on a smartphone. There are hundreds of them, these mindfulness apps, bearing names like Smiling Mind and Buddhify. A typical example features timed stretches of meditation, as brief as one minute, accompanied by soothing voices, soporific music, and images of forests and waterfalls.

This is Buddhism sliced up and commodified, and, in case the connection to the tech industry is unclear, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist blurbed a seminal mindfulness manual by calling it “the instruction manual that should come with our iPhones and BlackBerries.” It’s enough to make you think that the actual Buddha devoted all his time under the Bodhi Tree to product testing.

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Left Liberalism and Social Theory: Jonathan Haidt and The Righteous Mind

41cpg1ESArLJohn Strong writes at Free Liberal:

In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt sets forth an intuitionist theory of morality that encourages us not to take the discursive (or rational argument) dimension of moral narratives at face value. As he writes quite succinctly early in the book:

If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you. But if you think about moral reasoning as a skill we humans evolved to further our social agendas—to justify our own actions and to defend the teams we belong to—then things will make a lot more sense. Keep your eye on the intuitions, and don’t take people’s moral arguments at face value. They’re mostly post hoc constructions made up on the fly, crafted to advance one or more strategic objectives.

So far so good.

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Brutality is Our Society’s Trademark—From the Justice System to Healthcare

Protesters hold a banner that reads, "Health Care is a Human Right." (Photo: Jobs With Justice/cc/flickr)

Protesters hold a banner that reads, “Health Care is a Human Right.” (Photo: Jobs With Justice/cc/flickr)

Donna Smith writes at Common Dreams:

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen so many examples of brutality played out in our cities — and mostly our most impoverished areas — that it isn’t difficult to see why so many people are in the streets.  Many say white people cannot truly understand the deep racial issues that target African American people and their communities, and that is no doubt true.  But that sort of thinking also keeps groups of people apart who might otherwise band together to exert powerful forces on the corruption that manifests itself in so many places in our society.

Since I advocate for transformation of our health care system, I see brutality — economic and physical — exerted on patients all the time.  Yet patients often do not speak up or gather enough support to wage even a small protest. 

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Netanyahu on the Couch

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Uri Avnery writes at CounterPunch:

There are two different opinions about Binyamin Netanyahu. It is difficult to believe that they concern the same person.

One is that Netanyahu is a shallow politician, devoid of ideas and convictions, who is led solely by his obsession to remain in power. This Netanyahu has a good voice and a talent for making shallow speeches on television, speeches devoid of any intellectual content – and that’s all.

This Netanyahu is highly “pressurable” (a Hebrew word invented almost solely for him), a man who will change his views according to political expediency, disclaiming in the evening what he has said in the morning. None of his words should be trusted. He will lie and cheat anytime to assure his survival.

The other Netanyahu is almost the exact opposite. A principled patriot, a serious thinker, a statesman who sees danger beyond the horizon. This Netanyahu is a gifted orator, able to move the US Congress and the UN plenum, admired by the great mass of Israelis.

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Freddie Gray Had Pre-Existing Conditions, Just Not Ones You’ve Heard

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Via People’s Pundit Daily:

Reports have been circulating on the Internet suggesting Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died last week from a spinal cord injury suffered either before or while in police custody, had a pre-existing injury. The initial report from the New Republic — which PPD found serious discrepancies with — cites Howard County court records as proof that a pre-existing injury “may have possibly” led to his death in April 19.

The Baltimore Sun first pushed back on the report citing court records examined Wednesday, showing the case had nothing to do with a car accident or a spine injury.

“Instead, they are connected to a lawsuit alleging that Gray and his sister were injured by exposure lead paint,” The BS report said (yes, pun intended).

However, according to a PPD investigation into the claims made in both reports, there are a number of relevant questions still unanswered.

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Mother Publicly Beats Her Son, Mainstream Media Calls Her a “Hero”

Stacey Patton, writing at the Washington Post:

It’s not surprising that a black mother in Baltimore who chased down, cursed and beat her 16-year-old son in the middle of a riot has been called a hero. In this country, when black mothers fulfill stereotypes of mammies, angry and thwarting resistance to a system designed to kill their children, they get praised.

“He gave me eye contact,” Toya Graham told CBS News. “And at that point, you know, not even thinking about cameras or anything like that — that’s my only son and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. Is he the perfect boy? No he’s not, but he’s mine.”

In other words, Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist white supremacy so he can live.

The kind of violent discipline Graham unleashed on her son did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child, or with the legions of black parents who equate pain with protection and love.

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May Day Occupation at Guggenheim Closes Museum #GuggOccupied

Photo from Twitter.

Photo from Twitter.

Benjamin Sutton writes at Hyperallergic:

At noon today, a group of artists and activists including members of the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (known as G.U.L.F.) unfurled a large parachute in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum, demanding to meet with a member of the institution’s board of trustees to discuss the labor conditions at its Abu Dhabi site. At the appointed time, members of the collective threw leaflets inspired by the current On Kawara exhibition from the museum’s upper levels and the protesters articulated their demands through a human microphone chant.

“It’s the most beautiful piece in the show,” remarked a French tourist watching from the top of the museum’s rotunda.

Though the protesters’ banner was swiftly destroyed by a guard wielding scissors, the group was allowed to remain seated in the museum atrium. As many as six NYPD officers arrived on the scene but, an hour after the protest began, they were called off by the museum administration.

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What the Frack Is Happening Under Long Beach?

Bosc d'Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Bosc d’Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Joshua Frank writes at OC Weekly:

Perhaps you’ve driven past them at night: several towering panels lit up like a psychedelic art installation, with a 45-foot waterfall gushing down the side and onto the boulder-strewn, pedestal-shaped, very-much-manmade island. The brightly painted structures seem harmless enough–if a bit out of place several hundred feet offshore from Long Beach’s affluent Bluff Park neighborhood–but what goes on behind the palm-lined façade is profoundly controversial and potentially very dangerous.

Built in 1965, the four THUMS islands–so named for the companies that first developed the sites: Texaco, Humble, Unocal, Mobil and Shell–were designed by esteemed landscape architect Joseph Linesch, who had a knack for turning blight into eye candy. While Long Beach’s Gas & Oil Department (LBGO) operates the islands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum (known as Occidental Long Beach Inc.) is contracted to perform the work of extracting fossil fuels from beneath the ocean floor.

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Ten Shocking Facts About Baltimore

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

Bill Quigley writes at CounterPunch:

Were you shocked at the disruption in Baltimore?  What is more shocking is daily life in Baltimore, a city of 622,000 which is 63 percent African American.  Here are ten numbers that tell some of the story.

1:  Blacks in Baltimore are more than 5.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites even though marijuana use among the races is similar.   In fact, Baltimore county has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possessions in the USA.

2: Over $5.7 million has been paid out by Baltimore since 2011 in over 100 police brutality lawsuits.   Victims of severe police brutality were mostly people of color and included a pregnant woman, a 65 year old church deacon, children, and an 87 year old grandmother.

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Disdaining ‘the Search for Truth’

Paul R. Pillar writes at Consortiumnews:

It is unusual for a political leader to disavow truth-seeking as explicitly as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin did when he tried to expunge from the longstanding mission statement of the University of Wisconsin a reference to “the search for truth” being a core purpose of the university.

Walker backed off, but only after public outrage and only with a retraction of his previous retraction that blamed the proposed change on a “drafting error.” The change in the mission statement was one part of a larger proposal by Walker that would slash much of the state’s subsidy of the university system.

The prevailing interpretation about Walker’s moves is that striking blows against the elite intellectuals one finds on the campus of a leading university — and suggesting, as Walker did, that the university could adjust to budget cuts by increasing professors’ work loads — pleases a sector of the Republican primary electorate to which Walker is appealing in seeking a presidential nomination in 2016.

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