Harvey – The Washington Post

There are so many Post journalists reporting from Texas and Louisiana right now, wading through floodwaters and even buying boats to bring you stories of desperation and heroism amid the storm. Here’s a staggering presentation of video and photos from the flood, a sobering analysis of how Houston’s rapid development may have made it more vulnerable to floods and the heartening story about volunteers in Louisiana’s “Cajun Navy,”who, having survived Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago, struck out for Texas this week to offer aid. You can find a comprehensive guide to all the Post’s coverage here, and here is an ever-growing list of ways you can help.

Thank You!

I want to thank the over 440 followers who stop by to read the posts of the loyal authors that contribute to the Blog. And to those who connect through the Facebook page. Once again I invite you to comment here or at the Fb page.

And a big Thanks to the authors:

  • Jess, who writes the monthly “Letter from Japan”: e.g., Here, or here, or even here.
  • Laura, who writes the monthly “Letter from South America”: e.g., Here, or here, or even here.
  • Robert Earlywine, who wrties occasionally from the USA: e.g., Here, or here.
  • Paul, who writes occasionally from Sayward, BC: e.g., Here, or here.
  • Jean, who writes occasionally from Montreal: e.g., Here, or here.

If you want to discover more of their work here, then use the search function in the side bar! And the Blogroll has links to many sites: e.g., “Beyond Pessimism“.

Thank you all!




“Omaha,” “Red 32,” “Set”


College football season is here! Enthusiastic fans abound!!

In his 1908 Harvard Illustrated essay “Football and Ideals,” the philosopher Josiah Royce demanded of fans, “What does this enthusiasm make you do?” Although Royce’s contemporaries extolled the values that football supposedly taught, the way fans behaved once they left the stadium made him deeply suspicious of such claims. “These players are setting you the example of loyalty. They risk their bodies, they devote their toil, they suffer and endure — for their cause,” Royce wrote. “But on the whole [football’s] prevailing influence will have been to enervate you, the spectator, to make you less, not more loyal, for all your cheering. For you have gloated over the sacrifice of others, and yourself have sacrificed, and intend to sacrifice — nothing.”

Where I grew up football was everything. I dropped a pass in one game that could have led to a win. I feared for my life.

Interesting piece from “The Stone” here.

The Internet

A paper out of MIT’s Media Lab looks at the consequences of the consolidation of the internet into a few large companies, and at possible efforts to decentralize the Web. Very few people have power over what information is spread online, Chelsea Barabas, Neha Narula, and Ethan Zuckerman write. This creates a risk for censorship online, either via intentional bias or content curation (which may hide information, even if it is technically available). The authors acknowledge it will be difficult to turn the tide, but profile a number of attempts to distribute content without a third-party intermediary such as Facebook.

SS: On Compassion – Letter from Sayward

Hello all,
I have been remiss in contributing to our community and thought forum. I have been writing this summer, but I am also at one of those chapters in my life when one issue after another takes my time and energy. I am trying to navigate through this period ‘doing the right things’. As I write this, as I think back on this chaotic period, I am pleased enough to see that my actions have been value-based. I have assesed my behaviour and feel okay about what I have done, am currently doing, and plan to go forward in a similar fashion as my energy allows.

My wife has been a type 1 diabetic for almost 50 years. She is in one of those phenomenal outlier groups of good prospects and normal possibilities. (Are any of our lives normal?) However, as an avid gardener approaching age 60, she has yet to understand her physical limits. She works too hard, and this spring she tore some muscles in her right leg and now has nerve damage. The ‘nerve entrapment’ can best be described as having a hive of bees in her right calf in addition to the extreme pain of the original injury. She can no longer drive beyond 5 minutes duration. The result is that I have become the facilitator and driver to her medical appointments. The fact that we live 50 miles west of town means that it takes up most of the day. Plus, as we are the main caretakers of her 86-year-old Dad with a bad ticker, I get to take over those duties as well. Next week I am slated for three town days, and this takes me away from my own life.

And what else am I doing these days? Why, building a small house, of course! By myself. Yesterday, I ‘got the roof on’ so I am feeling pretty liberated and plan to see my group friends this afternoon!! I start my days around 5:00am, and am usually onsite by 7:00….on our property. In the last 4 weeks I managed to get the septic system installed, my foundation in, the house framed (rafter…post and beam) the roof on, and the rest of my materials moved in and on to the sub-floor and under cover; protected from the coming rains. (And they will come, all 8′ as per usual winter). I am 62 and have discovered the help of Tylenol arthritis in the extra large bottle. The house is quite modest at 640 sq feet, with just one bedroom and an ‘open configuration’. It will have a vaulted 10′ ceiling with t&g pine. If it was in town it would be expensive. In the country, it will be a small cottage for my friend whose rent will just cover the taxes. Did I mention I am definitely not a businessman or property tycoon?

My friend is 77 and has to move out of his caretaking house. He has very little money and a modest pension. He has nowhere to go, and cannot afford current rents. He is also in tough shape from a lifetime of falling trees on the west coast and from too many years eating wrong and drinking too much. He is also the kind of man who will do anything for you, me, everyone. He epitomises a selfless form of compassion….towards animals, other people, even to those who have wronged him throughout his life. I have learned a great deal from him over the years, and while I don’t always listen to what he is telling me, well have no fear….it will be repeated tomorrow, and maybe off and on for a month or two until another event or theme arises. Aging, what more can I say?
I am building my friend a small house so he can stay in the same neighbourhood he has lived in since 1950. He used to live in a small shack where my driveway is. He told me they could see daylight through the walls, and they got water out of the river in an old oil drum. The windows in the new house are used from the Habitat restore, but everything else is new. He is worried it will be too fancy for him so I have compromised on the flooring. It will stay painted plywood sub-floor so he can leave his shoes on. He is concerned because my wife will install curtains with real curtain rods instead of the his blankets hung up over electrical conduit. He didn’t want a bathtub/shower, but I had to lay down the law and say, “Listen, you’re pushing 80. You will be one day be moving on my friend….maybe feet first, and then I will rent the place to someone else who might want to have a bath”. I have framed in the ‘cat door’. My little dog will be able to fit through it and visit him. He is happy. I am happy, because I love and live to build.


“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

That has been my summer and why I have been silent. I am in building mode. I am building a house for my good friend. I have been looking after my family because I am still healthy and able to do so. And most of all, I am enjoying almost every moment of every day and trying to do the best that I can….like all of us.



WTF? (wtf = why the following?)

Reverence for Stalin rising in Russia

Joseph Stalin is among history’s most treacherous tyrants. And yet, he’s never been more popular.

When Stalin took power, millions of Soviet citizens were executed, worked to death and starved into submission. His regime murdered opponents, stamped out dissent and revised history books. But according to research by Moscow’s independent, non-governmental Levada Center, Russians today see him as the country’s most important political leader, writes Chris Brown.

When the group started polling Russians in 1989 on the country’s most important people, Stalin came in dead last. But by April 2017 he’d risen to the top spot, with an approval rating of 38 per cent. And in Moscow, there’s a brisk business in everything from Stalin T-shirts to selfies with Stalin look-alikes in Red Square. Source: CBC

English: Soviet Politburo passes resolution to...

English: Soviet Politburo passes resolution to execute 346 “enemies of the CPSU and the Soviet Power” who led “counter-revolutionary, right-trotskyite, plotting and spying activities”. Signed by secretary: I. Stalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Feelings


Feelings: What Are They and How Does the Brain Make Them?


The human mind has two fundamental psychological motifs. Descartes’s proclamation, “I think, therefore I am,”1 illustrates one, while Melville’s statement, “Ahab never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels,” exemplifies the other. Our Rationalist inclinations make us want certainty (objective truth), while the Romantic in us basks in emotional subjectivity. Psychology and neuroscience recognize this distinction: cognition and emotion are the two major categories of mind that researchers study. But things were not always quite like this.

From Nautilus


Science Based Medicine    More

The James Randi Educational Foundation has produced a superb 10-part video lecture series in which Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The topics include: What is CAM?; acupuncture; chiropractic; energy medicine; homeopathy; miscellaneous “alternatives”; naturopathy and herbal medicines; pitfalls in research; science based medicine vs. evidence-based medicine; science-based medicine in the media and politics. The lectures range from 32 to 45 minutes. A companion course guide is also available. Listen to the audio advertisement for the course.

Watch the 10-part video series