Thursday, June 30, 2016

Independence Day - from GUNS!

How we might declare #IndependenceDay from #guns?
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For several years running, I've used the occasion of Independence Day to invite people to think about what we really want to get free of -- today, in the 21st century -- as we celebrate July 4th.

This year, it seems obvious that what's on everyone's minds is guns. (See ORLANDO SHOOTINGS: Start with the obvious (guns))

The Fourth of July is a good opportunity to consider: when so much of our national mythology is about armed conflict, how is it possible to talk seriously about nonviolence and peace?

So here's something to think about this year as we ooh and ahh over the fireworks: how would we celebrate if we really valued something other than the sound of gunfire?

(Here's a little background music as you think about that -- "Lay Down Your Guns" performed by Queen Makedah:

Related posts

All the good intentions in the world won't get the job done unless we are organized. To reach our gun safety and gun control goals, we need skilled coordination to help us.

(See Stopping Gun Violence: Time to get effective .... )

Joe Scarry: @SenRandPaul How about a bill to protect lives of non-Americans from the government's unwarranted murder by drones?

(See Tuesday July 3: Independence from Drones )

The patriotic thing to do on Independence Day is to start a conversation about something really important to our country (and the world), like stopping war and militarism.

(See Independence Day - from WAR and VIOLENCE! )

Thursday, June 23, 2016

SDG 15 and Peace: "We are but one thread ... "

The connection of peace/war and SDG 15 (Life on Land)? Think US history -- especially the decimation of the buffalo and the Native American genocide.

The UN International Day for Peace 2016 has been tied to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Life on Land is goal #15.

You can certainly see the truth about a country's attitude toward people by watching how it treats other forms of life on the land.

National mammal

Just weeks ago, the American Bison was named the US "national mammal" -- a reminder of the inexplicable slaughter of that animal in the American West at the end of the 19th century, and of that slaughter to genocide carried out on Native Americans.  It took me less than a minute to reference this quote from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown:

Of the 3,700,000 buffalo destroyed from 1872 through 1874, only 150,000 were killed by Indians. When a group of concerned Texans asked General Sheridan  if something should not be done to stop the white hunters' wholesale slaughter, he replied: "Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance." (p, 254, in Chapter 11, "The War to Save the Buffalo")

The decimation of the buffalo, like the decimation of the native people, was a decades-long process. More information is in the Wikipedia article on bison hunting.

"Slaughtered for a Pastime"
"Shall the Buffalo Go? Reminiscences of an Old Buffalo Hunter"
Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Vol. XV, May 1883, New York,
Original vintage wood engraving, 1883. 11.1 x 15.9 cm
(Source: )

I have always carried with me the memory of a painting of the hunters shooting buffalo from a passing train. Searching for it led me to the image above. Please take a moment to look at the many beautiful images of buffalo on the website of )

If looks could kill . . . 

When I was a teenager, back in the 1970s, I was a huge Beatles fan and would spend hours at the piano and guitar playing through all of their songs -- often just starting at the front of the book ("Act Naturally") and going straight through to the end ("You've Really Got a Hold on Me"). So, of course, when I got to the C's I would play "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill." Even as I was playing, I would be thinking, "What kind of a song is this? It's not a love song . . . it's not a rock 'n' roll song . . . it's not psychedelic . . . I think it's a satire but . . . what's the point?"

The children asked him if to kill was not a sin
"Not when he looked so fierce", his mummy butted in
If looks could kill it would have been us instead of him
All the children sing . . .

I didn't quite know what it was saying at the time, but it has stayed with me.

Over the years I've realized that the most perceptive observers of a culture tend to be outsiders, and sometimes the only way insiders can hear the truth is to sit with it for a few years -- or decades. The Beatles were perfectly positioned to help with that. "If looks could kill it would have been us instead of him" is sort of the US explanation for everything it does in the world.

The last word . . .

"Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it . . . . "
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More and more, people are looking to the wisdom of indigenous people to give us strength as we confront the climate crisis and other problems. Apt words come from Chief Seattle:

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

I guess this is another of those truths that is hard to hear, and takes years to sink in.

Where else in the world do we see this connection between the presence or lack of respect for other forms of life in the land, and justice and peace for people?

Related posts

It will benefit us antiwar activists in the US to attend to and reflect upon the importance of these Sustainable Development Goals to achieving the goal of ending war.

(See PEACE DAY 2016: What comes first? Demilitarization? or Development?)

"We need to first acknowledge the genocidal origins of OUR nation’s history of ethnic cleansing and occupation."

(See Native American Rights: Acknowledge the Occupation)

In much of the 20th century, conflict and war centered on oil resources and the Middle East. Will the 21st century see conflict and war center on fisheries, particularly in the Pacific?

(See Pacific Fisheries' Futile Conflict: How about sharing?)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Brexit"? How about "Nitchit"? (NATO: Ditch it!)

The vote on UK quitting the European Union (EU) -- "Brexit" -- proves one thing: in 2016, people can get their minds around quitting NATO, too . . . if we help them!

NATO: Soooooo 1949!! (Isn't it time to ditch it?)
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What I learned during the NATO protests in Chicago in 2012 is that the vast majority of people don't understand what NATO is, much less why it poses a problem.

We need a visual message -- provocative, memorable, smart -- that members of the general public will carry with them. It needs to be something that people don't want to simply forget. It needs to leave a nagging question percolating in their brains.

One thing we have going for us is that, more and more, people are realizing that the East-West confrontation of the US (and its allies) vs. Russia is passé. (Hence the B/W image above.) With each day that goes by, NATO-style scaremongering carries less and less weight with the average person.

What more and more people are scared about is the huge number of US and Russian nuclear weapons, sitting ready to be used.  As an affirmative message, people really understand that the there is a need for leaders to quit making and excuses and get together and solve this problem:

Putin and Obama: #talk

The best way to stop wasting time and start moving toward real security?

(NATO: Ditch it!)

Related posts

Today, we may not be seeing kinetic (currently unleashed) violence on anything like the scale that consumed Europe and other parts of the world and resulted in 60 million deaths. Instead, thanks to technology, we have potential (waiting to be unleashed) violence -- nuclear devastation just the push of a button away.

(See Obama's (and Putin's) Missed Opportunity at Hiroshima)

It seems like an appropriate time to remember the protests against NATO in Chicago in the spring of 2012. (What do YOU remember about the NATO protests?)

(See Flashback: Protesting NATO in Chicago - May, 2012 )

Three factors have played a big part in Germany's decision to go 100% "zero nuclear" by 2022 has relied on : the threat posed by the big powers, soul-searching within a very "bourgeoise" society, and organizing.

(See GERMANY TURNS OFF NUCLEAR: The long road to freedom . . . . )

Conveniently, a large military alliance -- NATO -- bristling with weapons, has announced itself ready to step in and contest annexations of territories by Russia. For NATO, the measure of resolvability of conflict is firepower.

(See Crimean War? Crimean Showdown? or Crimean Mediation? It's Time for Americans to Get Some New Vocabulary )

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

To Grab the Win, Might Trump or Hillary Surprise Us?

Election 2016: hijinks at the Democratic and Republican conventions notwithstanding, it's gonna be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton . . . and it's still about ISIS and Black Lives Matter.

It's time to ask again: where are you on #war and #BlackLivesMatter?
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A year ago, I suggested that election 2016 will come down to how the candidates proposed to deal with ISIS, and whether they could respond to the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Well, if what I meant was that by this time, we would have heard substantive, coherent, memorable proposals from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, then I was wrong. But I still stand by my prediction that these are the two issues that will matter.

Trump and Hillary on Foreign Policy

ISIS control areas and US-led coalition air strikes
(Through Feb 2016, BBC graphic)
The question for Donald Trump is whether he can say anything on foreign policy that will lead the Republican establishment to support him. He's in a terrible position right now because (a) he's let on that he's starting from zero on foreign affairs; and (b) his opponent sounds like a Republican on foreign affairs.

Furthermore, Hillary Clinton has been handed a present by the State Department, where a group of career foreign affairs staffers, using the "dissent" channel, have filed a memo basically saying that the Syria situation is being mishandled and there should be more military force used -- against the Assad government mind you, not against ISIS. It sounds like a situation that only a real expert -- someone who has served as Secretary of State, perhaps? -- can sort out.

But there is an out for Donald Trump. All he has to do is say, "This comes down to a question of war and peace. Under the US Constitution, it falls to the Congress to decide if war is to be declared. So the first thing that will have to happen is Congress will have to do its job. After that, my role would be as commander-in-chief, and I would be well advised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the military conduct of any war."

Now, it may seem impossible to believe that Donald Trump might be able to say those words. Nonetheless, it must be admitted that if he were to adopt this position, it would be difficult for Republicans to ignore him. After all, the Republican Party is the one that has the utmost respect for the fundamentals of the Constitution, and for the military, right?

The only thing that could possibly trip up Trump? If Hillary says it first . . . .

[Related story: May 31, 2016, "U.S. House rejects Rep. Barbara Lee's push to end war authorization" ]

Trump and Hillary on Domestic Policy

Challenge in Chicago: clean up racist police force
The question for Hillary Clinton is whether she wants to be President enough to swallow her pride and acknowledge the position of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Of course, Trump has no hope of getting black votes. It is simply a question of whether black voters will turn out for Hillary.

Take a look at how Hillary comes off to people of color: the "super predators" speech and subsequent interactions, and Bill Clinton's response. She has saddled herself with an aura of "I'm blameless." I don't think that passes muster. Certainly not coming from a leader of the power establishment in a country with interlocking systems of institutional racism.

But there is an out for Hillary Clinton. All she has to do is say, "I've heard the Black Lives Matter movement. We need to make sure nobody is subject to racism at the hands of the police. The Justice Department is currently investigating the Chicago Police Department -- a department characterized as racist by the city's own review a few months ago. My first act as President will be to support the Justice Department investigation of racist policing in Chicago, and expand the investigation to other racist police forces nationwide."

It's a layup. No one can disagree with the proposition that racist police forces should be investigated. And no one can demand that Hillary Clinton have all the answers today about which ones are the biggest problems. What's important is that she will have the entire Justice Department at her disposal once she's elected.

The only thing that could possibly trip up Hillary? If Trump says it first . . . .

[Related story: March 31, 2016, "Hillary Clinton’s Support Among Nonwhite Voters Has Collapsed" ]

To be continued . . . .

Related posts

US Army Capt. Nathan Michael Smith has sued the commander-in-chief, President Obama, for ordering war in violation of the US Constitution. Therein lie 5 lessons . . . .

(See Confronting Permawar: 5 Lessons from Captain Smith)

We can't imagine that anti-racism work is just about specific police officers or even specific departments. Entire institutions of racist law enforcement need to be brought to heel in real time. It's a task worthy of a society-wide, national, federal effort. And it's top priority. No leader can ignore this reality . . . .

(See "If elected . . . ." (The Election 2016 and #BlackLivesMatter Nexus) )

Monday, June 20, 2016

CHICAGO: Accountability ... Police AND City Council

MISSING: Chicago City Council
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Chicago aldermen who yield to Rahm Emanuel on police accountability are sending a message to the electorate that they don't what the responsibility that comes with the job. Tell them they'll be voted out in 2019.

It is important to recognize that Rahm Emanuel's pitch on June 22 will count on the desire of members of Chicago City Council to sidestep the issue of police accountability and glide past the 2019 aldermanic elections.

On June 22, the Mayor will swear up and down that he's going to make this solution work; City Council will be glad that he's putting his name on it (instead of theirs). To their way of thinking, the worst that can happen is that down the road it's found unsatisfactory, in which case the Mayor will take the fall for it. And anyway, that will be after the 2019 elections, more likely than not.

But there's another possibility.

If (and only if) large numbers of constituents tell their aldermen (a) we're holding you responsible; and (b) we want to elect that police review board, then City Council will understand they can't take a back seat.

To repeat: aldermen have a very strong incentive to yield to the Mayor on this. They don't want to be accountable unless they're forced to.

Which is precisely why citizens need to pick up the phone and call their aldermen. Yes, it's about control of the police. And, yes, it's also about making aldermen accountable to their constituents.

By the way, I can understand if there are aldermen who say, "Hell, if I"m gonna hafta be accountable, let someone else have the job! It's too much work!" If that's how they feel, we should know it now, so folks who do want the job can step forward for 2019.

In fact, why don't we say this? "Any alderman who yields to Emanuel on June 22 is, in ffect, announcing that their seat is open for someone else to take in 2019."

Then, once the ones who plan to stay on have taken control of the issue, they can get to work with a real plan for citizen-controlled police accountability . . . and measures to start genuinely governing the city.

Related posts

Will Chicago Televise Hearings on Civilian Police Accountability Agency?

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Impose Civilian Control on CPD

Does a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) need to be part of a "new plan of Chicago"?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Native American Rights: Acknowledge the Occupation

Emblem of Ohlone Costanoan-Rumsen-Carmel tribe native
to the land that is now the Monterey/Carmel area of California.

A growing trend is that people in the US who work for the rights of occupied people elsewhere in the world first acknowledge the American occupation.

As we work to #decolonizelutheranism, we need to be explicit about how concrete the colonialism is.

Maybe the "kairos moment" lies in recognizing that we took this land at the point of a gun . . . and nothing will change until we meaningfully repent of that original sin.

Map of Native American tribes in what is now California.
(Source: Costanoan Rumsen Carmel tribe website)
This sank in recently when I attended the Friends of Sabeel NA (FOSNA) conference on the occupation of Palestine, held in Santa Cruz. The proceedings began with a statement recognizing that the very spot we were sitting in had been taken by force from Native American people:

While we are gathered here today to raise awareness about the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, we need to first acknowledge the genocidal origins of OUR nation’s history of ethnic cleansing and occupation. The very ground that we are now standing on was once the homeland of the Awaswas and Ohlone people, which was ripped away from them by the Spanish conquistadors and used for building missions and settlements. Our nation as a whole however, took part in and was founded upon the ethnic cleansing of countless Native American peoples. To focus solely on Israel as a war criminal complicit in ethnic cleansing would be hypocritical, as we continue to reap material benefits from the slaughter and marginalization of the Awaswas and Ohlone.

This land was not left to us peacefully. It was stolen. It was expropriated. As we are clearly not the rightful inhabitants of this land, it would do us well to shed our sense of entitlement. We need to realize that we are an intrinsic part of this process of genocide and until we act to concretely and directly abolish it here, our actions to bring justice in occupied Palestine are hypocritical and reflective of our underlying white supremacist attitudes.

This wasn't the first time I had attended an event that began with this recognition -- for instance, I remember similar statements at an anti-drones conference, a conference on police crimes, and the installation of a UCC leader -- but perhaps because I am new to this place, I paid close attention.

I would encourage everyone who welcomes this recognition to go the next step: take a minute now to go online and learn about the people who lived in the place you now occupy, back before someone came and took over. Do you know the names of the original occupants of the land you now claim as "your" home?

Related posts

How do you observe Indigenous Peoples Day?

(See Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day 2015)

"Missa dos Quilombos" asked for forgiveness and sought healing for the legacy of slavery in Brazil. Dom Helder celebrated the Quilombo Mass. He said: "Mariama [Mother Mary], we aren't here to ask that today's slaves be tomorrow's slave masters. Enough of slaves! Enough of masters! We want liberty!" The beating of the drums was overpowering, they exploded like the screams of our souls!

(See Hélder Câmara and Liberation Theology 101: Where? When? Why? Who? )

Sun Raid is a searing reminder that people in the US have always been happy to welcome immigrants to help make their businesses profitable and make sure they had cheap stuff and cheap labor . . . . but how dare they expect to be treated like people!

(See WELCOME MAT USA: Come in! Come in! (Get out! Get out!))

Can there be any more clear illustration than the one at left to remind us that the work of the Church is liberation?

(See Christian "Church"? How about Christian "Liberation Organization"? )

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Education for Peace"? or "Education IS Peace"?

Education is peace when we value methods, humanism, formal literacy, listening, experimentation, and meta-analysis.

The UN International Day for Peace 2016 has been tied to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Quality Education is goal #4.

People working for peace are intensely attuned to the way education impacts peace efforts -- and also war efforts.

Hence, a major section of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War is "Spreading and Funding Peace Education and Peace Research," and education about peace is viewed as central to "Creating a Culture of Peace."

A problem is that individuals, groups, and states recognize the power of education and often co-opt it, hoping to be able to treat humans as instruments of their power.  For instance, schools become pipelines for the military. In many locations, peace groups have begun to push back against the militarization of schools. (See, for instance, the Chicago Veterans for Peace "Education not Militarization" project.)

Denial of education is another (and, thankfully, vanishing) form of the co-opting education by individuals, groups, and states. Thinking about common factors in successful education for peace requires us to consider the ways in which (a) denial of education; (b) hindering of education; (c) slanting of education; and (d) wholesale co-opting of education are all part of the overall threat to peace.

Let's face up to the impossibility of peace without education -- in fact, to the virtual congruence of peace and education! -- and expand our commitment to making education the real thing.

Some food for thought:

(1) Methods that work - The US is experiencing a crisis in education; in my opinion, it's because we have made every teacher a free agent, responsible for rising or falling by their own test results. If we were as serious about our education as we are about our business and industry, we would recognize a responsibility to equip teachers with methods that are proven to work. Not just a list of what is to be taught, but the actual methods that have been proven (see (6) below) to be successful. (Yes, I recognize this represents a wholesale change in the way the job of teaching is currently structured in the US .... )  An important value in a quality education is equipping teachers with methods that work.

(2) People, not machines - That said, our analytic and mechanistic outlook can lead us to view people as little more than another set of tools ... instruments ... input-output boxes. This is especially true now that people everywhere are connected 24/7 to the Internet. Jaron Lanier has delved into this problem in You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. An important value in a quality education is recognizing the whole person.

(3) Literacy - Often what we think of when we think of "education" is literacy - being able to read, being able to write, being able to speak, and basic math skills. Unquestionably, an important value in a quality education is literacy -- literacy opens all doors. At the same time, it is essential to recognize that even the barest literacy is developed within a context, and that context can have just as much importance to the outcome as the formal literacy itself. Hence the succeeding points . . . .

(4) Listening - I spent 17 years in classrooms listening to teachers, but it has only been late in life that I have begun to listen to people -- particularly in that "people, not instruments" sense of point (2) above. Could there be any more important skill in learning to live in peace? How do we see this skill being taught in our schools? In addition to literacy, an equally important value in a quality education is developing the ability to listen to people.

(5) Experiments - The ultimate education is one which encourages people to be successful experimenters. As the world becomes more and more sophisticated, there is more and more temptation to believe that there is no real need to discover truth, that truth is just sitting around, ready to be consumed. In my opinion, the single greatest value in a quality education is that of conducting experiments in the hope of discovering truth.

(6) Meta - Now more than ever, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Yes, we need to be able to go to the source and discover our own truth . . . and, yes, we need to be able to scoop up the abundance of knowledge and experience that others have put at our disposal and make the most of it.(This is, itself, a sort of experiment. It requires choices about what learnings to look to, and how many are needed to find a common truth. This is quite a bit different than simply absorbing a pre-packaged tutelage that is shoveled at you.) An important value in a quality education is being able to learn from what others have learned.

(To be continued . . . . )

Related posts

It will benefit us antiwar activists in the US to attend to and reflect upon the importance of these Sustainable Development Goals to achieving the goal of ending war.

(See PEACE DAY 2016: What comes first? Demilitarization? or Development?)

I wondered at how we could have covered all that in just a minute or two -- the time it takes to go a few stops.  After all, when I walked onto that bus we were strangers.

(See Listening for Community (A Chicago Encounter))

"You may not understand every word, you may feel uncomfortable, you may have to spend time later trying to figure it out or to humble yourself now and ask for help; you may have to work at it. But in the long run . . . a Spanish speaker is what you are . . . because that's the community you're a part of!"

(See Don't speak Spanish? "Sure you do . . . .")

I wonder if, years from now, we will be thinking back to today and feeling surprise at how little we thought about some of the developments in our world, and in our country, and how we talked about them even less. Someday will I have to explain to my kids, or to my kids' kids, why it was that "people just weren't talking about it" . . . ?

(See Why Weren't People Talking About It? )

"To see the atom bomb museum," I said. And again I wondered, what can a child in Nagasaki think when they see a person from the US who has come here to see the atom bomb museum?

(See Encounter in Nagasaki )

I don't think Alanna and I ever talked about what it must be like to be trying to escape a shower of sparks and hot ash. But she seemed to know that the sparks and hot ash are too important a part of the picture to be left out.

(See The Children Are Waiting )

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Taiwan here we come ! ! !

People like me who have lived in Taiwan and studied Chinese tend to have our own favorite places to visit in Taipei and Taiwan as tourists . . . .

Taiwan was called "Formosa" ("beautiful") by the Portugese, and this 1640
Dutch map wonderfully conveys the beautiful topography of the island. The
map orientation is north-south from left to right. Today's Taipei would sit
nestled in the mountains at the left (north) The map clearly shows the
mountainous spine, the narrow margin of coast on the east (top), and the
broad, fertile plain in the west (bottom).  (Image source: Wikipedia)

We're on! . . . for a trip to Taiwan sometime in the next year or so.

I haven't been back in 20 years, and haven't really had time to explore at my leisure since I was a student in 1979, so half the fun is thinking through all the possibilities.

We have been a little surprised that there is not a travel guide to Taiwan in our local bookstores, so I decided to assemble notes and links in a blog post.

Partly, I was inspired by a list I found that indicates the visitor traffic at the top attractions in Taiwan. (That's the source of the notations below: XX visitors per hour.)

By the way -- there are additional links to some of my favorite Taiwan topics on the Taipei c. 1979 page.

National Palace Museum in Taiwan

For those who can't go . . . . 

As soon as I started to put this list together, I noticed that some of my "musts" for a trip to Taiwan are actually things that people can experience right here in the US!

Palace Museum (102 visitors per hour) - This is number one on my list. In fact, an unprecedented exhibition of works from the Palace Museum begins in San Francisco this week!  (Look for a follow-up post on this topic . . . !)

Rice by Cloud Gate Dance Theater
Cloud Gate Dance Theater - As discussed in a previous post, Cloud Gate has been one of the anchors of my experience of Taiwan. We were fortunate to see Cloud Gate perform here at Berkeley a few months ago. (You can see a trailer of Rice on Youtube.) And I even got to meet Lin Hwai-min at a seminar and talk to him about my time as a student at the Cloud Gate dance studio in 1979-80!

East Gate Dumpling Restaurant (Dongmen Jiaozi Guan) - Back when we were students, this was the place to go for dumplings. Just last week, we discovered a phenomenon that (apparently) many others learned about a long time ago: the Din Tai Fung chain of dumpling restaurants from Taiwan. The first Bay Area branch of Din Tai Fung just opened, in Santa Clara, and we made sure to be among the first customers.

Jiufen (96 visitors per hour) - This wasn't a "thing" back when I lived in Taiwan, at least I don't think it was. But now Jiufen's become a big tourist destination. Those who can't go to Taiwan can experience it via the Hou Hsiao-hsien film City of Sadness and in the imagined town in the film Spirited Away.

Must see (for me)

There are some parts of the Taiwan experience that are particular to me and my time there . . .

Taida Campus (National Taiwan University) - I attended the Stanford Center (Inter-University Center for Chinese Studies) in Taiwan, so the old building on the Taida Campus, and the surrounding area, are musts for any visit. (I even have the map of the area as the background image on my laptop!) With any luck, the azaleas will be in bloom when we're there!

Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple - Okay, I'm not the only person who things Longshan Temple (and adjacent Snake Alley and nearby Ximending entertainment district, 255 visitors per hour)) are cool. But it's a place epitomizes Taiwan for me.

Grand Hotel - There are tons of hotels in Taipei, and almost every one is more convenient than the Grand Hotel.  Some might find the exterior, er, a bit overstated. But I stayed there in the '90s, and I found the rooms beautiful, and the place has the feeling of being a bit of an oasis away from the center of the city.

Some other possibilities . . . 

Taiwan attractions
For those who want to get out of Taipei . . . .

Alishan (111 visitors per hour)

Sun Moon Lake (211 visitors per hour)

Taroko Gorge (113 visitors per hour)

Kenting (215 visitors per hour) - Snorkeling in Taiwan! (Who knew?)

For a future trip

Beigang Mazu Festival - This will need to be a trip unto itself!  (To be continued .... )

Related posts

What I am wondering -- now that I've discovered the way Wang Wen-hsing holds up a mirror to me as much or more than he documents life in Taiwan -- is whether I am ready to bring more of these things about myself up to the surface.

(See Wang Wen-hsing and the Unspeakable: Changes in the Family )

Each story in Taipei People is about a person who ended up in Taiwan after the war. More than anything, the story "Glory's by Blossom Bridge" is about the destiny of so many men who came from the mainland to Taiwan: ending up old and alone.

(See Taipei People: Thinking of Home )

In Taiwan, HHH is to film as Huang Chunming is to literature.  Take, for instance, the story, set in a fishing town on the east coast of Taiwan, about a prostitute who determines to have a baby, and so selects as the father a likely candidate from among her customers (most of whom are workers in the local fishing fleet), gets pregnant, and heads back to the tiny town in which she was born, in order to have the baby.

(See Days for Looking at the Sea )

Monday, June 13, 2016

ORLANDO SHOOTINGS: Start with the obvious (guns)

People will engage in non-stop probing of the ideology and prejudice involved in the Orlando shootings. But the place to start is harm reduction: control the guns!

The shootings in Orlando: someone described it to me yesterday as a "perfect storm," combining:

* guns

* ideology and prejudice

* mental illness

Let's break it down.

(1) Mental Illness - Let's be clear: anyone who commits an act like this is mentally ill.

There will always be people suffering from mental illness. That's the X factor in this whole discussion. So as we consider the other factors, and we consider how those factors might be controlled, we need to keep coming back to the question, "Does trying to manage this factor seem like a reasonable approach to trying to head off the possible tragedy involving someone suffering from mental illness?"

(2) Guns - Take the guns out of the picture and what happens?

If you begin from the proposition that the violence in Orlando emanated from a troubled mind, and that, ultimately, we simply can't see into everyone's mind . . . then if you're really interested in effective harm reduction, the solution is a drastic reduction/elimination of the instruments of harm -- the guns.

(3) Ideology/Prejudice - This is the thing people will talk about ad nauseum in the days ahead -- and it also happens to be the thing that is the most complex and intractable, and the least likely to bring us to a changed situation any time soon.

The gunman in Orlando was subjected to the same swirl of ideas and prejudices that all the rest of us are all the time. What's different is that his mental state translated them into this particular atrocity (together with the necessary instrument -- the gun). No one really understands how that particular translation happened.

There will be a lot of focus on his association with ISIS. But to be precise, the diverse ideas and prejudices that need to be accounted for include islamophobia, prejudice against LGBTQ people, racism, the US culture of power and violence, and much more.

Make no mistake: I think we need a solution to ideology and prejudice - a spiritual awakening.

But let's start with harm reduction. Get the guns out off the streets.

Related posts

All the good intentions in the world won't get the job done unless we are organized. To reach our gun safety and gun control goals, we need skilled coordination to help us.

(See Stopping Gun Violence: Time to get effective .... )

A virus is able to be so successful precisely because it (most of the time) doesn't kill its host. I can't help thinking that we simply are not being intelligent about how to respond to violence. How might recognizing the "viral" nature of violence help us to respond to it more intelligently?

(See Violence: Taking Over Like a Virus)

We are allowed to know all about these killings, provided we're prepared to believe the statements of a person we can't confirm exists about a program which is not acknowledged to be happening. We are living in a nightmare that makes Philip K. Dick's dystopias look cozy in comparison.

(See Drones and Zero Accountability Government)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Product of Ghana: #NOwar / Pro Peace Music

It's good to get to know socially conscious musicians and other artists from around the world. One of Ghana's leading celebrities, AK Songstress, has a new song, "No War," to encourage peaceful elections.

AK Songstress: "No War"
Ghana holds national elections in November. The big issues are economic.

Ghana is hugely important to all of us. In 1957, it became the first sub-saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonisation, and its leader at the time, Kwame Nkrumah, was one of the leaders of the world decolonization and liberation movement. Today, as the world becomes more and more attuned to events in West Africa, and particularly to conflicts in Nigeria and other countries, the experience of Ghana with democracy and development is suggestive for the whole region.

I discovered the AK Songstress song via Twitter. AK Songress connects to the antiwar legacy of world music -- "in the era of legends like Bob Marley, he was always advocating for peace, unity, love and tolerance" -- and the song's press release emphasizes,

"The issue about election is of national concern to each and every discerning Ghanaian which must be healthily addressed. Without love, unity, peace, tolerance, harmony and fairness, all of our human efforts in the sight of God and man will be useless. Whether one belongs to party A, party B, party C or party D, we need to tolerate and respect each others view whenever one has a good agenda, after all we are all Ghanaians. Let’s forget about the party colours and put Ghana first."

(See AK Songstress drops peace song #NoWar)

Hmmm . . . not a bad message for everybody . . . #NOwar . . . .  

"No War": give it a listen!

PS - Check out this story about the help AK Songstress to safe sex campaigning in Ghana, too.

Related posts

If you want to hear a really angry antiwar ballad, listen to "Wooden Ships" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash:

If you smile at me, I will understand
'Cause that is something everybody everywhere does
in the same language . . . .

(See What Would It Take for Friendship to Trump War? )

An amazing thing that will be happening -- in fact, has already begun happening -- here in Berkeley is a performance of Britten's War Requiem.
(See WAR: Will you hear? Will you perceive? Will you think?)

Ravi Shankar is a great example of someone bringing a special point of view to pierce the bubble of "normalcy" in which a vast number of people live, and to agitate for tectonic change.

(See Thanks, Ravi)