Sing Along

This is a repeat from August, 2008.

What is it that makes writing jump off of the page and into your imagination? We can all learn a lot by studying what the masters have done. What I have been trying to understand is the total outlook on life held by people who I have seen write very well. By doing this, a strange theory came to mind.

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Disaster

The worst natural disaster in American history is unfolding right now, and will continue to for days. The coast of Texas, particularly Houston, is being slowly drowned in what may wind up being 48 inches (120cm) of rain. It will continue for days more and will not recede completely for weeks.

The only thing most of us can do is pray. There will be opportunities to donate and volunteer and I urge everyone to do so. This is going to cause a lot of suffering for a long time. But even through the pain there is something valuable which I hope we can learn – we are indeed all in this together and our world is, defiantly, what we make of it together.

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Elaborate Hobbies

This is a summer repeat from 2011.

The most innocent remarks often hide profound truths.  One of the regular commenters of Barataria recently confessed that trying to make sense of the world was a “major hobby” – a statement similar to what many of you have said over the years. Barataria itself is a hobby dedicated to the same basic principle – the world we live in takes some effort to make sense of.  Unsaid is the implication that the professionals that are supposed to be helping us in the process aren’t all that helpful.

As hobbies go, it might seem a bit strange.  Yet it’s easy to argue the flip side, namely that this should be the duty of every citizen of a Democratic Republic.  Certainly, there was a time not all that long ago when everyone who hoped to be called a Gentleman spent a lot of time connecting with people and connecting the dots of their world.

What is the role of hobbyists in an integrated world once defined by experts who may be falling down horribly?  The new world beyond this Depression might well be defined by hobbyists like us.  That’s where it gets interesting.

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Women’s Equality Day

The long list of calls settled itself into the monotone of routine.  “Hi, my name is Erik, and I’m calling for Jim Scheibel, your DFL candidate for Mayor of Saint Paul.”  The 1989 election was going to be close, so Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calling to loyal Democrats was important.  But just as I let the script propel my calls with their own momentum the soft gravely tone on the other end split the evening open.

“Oh, dear, you don’t have to remind me to vote.  I’ve been voting ever since they let us.”

We’ve been “letting” women vote for 97 years, ever since Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920 by just one vote.  The anniversary of this landmark event, “Women’s Equality Day”, is a good time to reflect on how young and precarious this precious foundation of democracy is for half the population.
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Fighting Words

Is the appearance of the swastika and the chanting of a Nazi slogan so far over the line that the normal rules do not apply?

Generally, I believe so. But it begs the question as to what is “normal” and what are the “rules”. Citizen activism is a critical part of the processes of our democratic republic. In an age where nearly everything can be weaponized, from the deadly use of a car on a crowd to any statement twisted for use against anyone a clear understanding of the lines is more critical than ever.

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Beyond. Good and Evil?

What do you do when everything becomes batshit crazy? The first thing is always to deny the crazy. Sit down, apart, and find a moment of peace. Read a book and live in a different world until this one calms down. Crazy is one of those magical things that would go away if everyone simply stopped believing in it.

But how do you preach the practice, how do you increase the peace? That takes a little more effort. As we all know, telling someone who is hysterical to calm down will probably only make them more defensive, feeding the fear which got them there.

As I work my way through writing People’s Economics, the first step is to unlearn that which makes no sense and return to the roots. Get to a place connecting guts and heart and brain all right up to the eternal. So let’s go back to the basics of Barataria for a moment.

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