A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than three quarters of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:
markmarv2004@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HINTS OF A WEB OR CHAIN OF BEING

This story struck me as another indicator that "Being" in this universe is interconnected an interconnected web-- an expansion and elaboration of John Donne's concept of "No man is an island…."

Note the distance in miles between the animal lover's home and funeral.

I love this story. It reminds me that I must focus on trying to treat everything as Everything--and to treat each sentient individual as a noble, worthy, irreplaceable,  and integral part of the  Whole.

Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral

Good Morning America
Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral
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Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral (ABC News)
A woman who spent her life caring for stray dogs received an unexpected -- and surprising -- tribute from the animals when she died.
At the funeral for Margarita Suárez in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico, there was a pack of stray dogs who came inside the funeral home to stand guard.
Suárez's daughter Patricia Urrutia told ABC News that they were shocked, but delighted by the appearance of the canine celebrants.
Adding to the other-worldliness of the situation was the fact that these stray dogs were not even the same ones that her 71-year-old mother had helped during her lifetime. Suárez lived in Merida Yucatan, but her funeral service was in a town more than 830 miles away, her daughter said.
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Patricia Urrutia
Patricia Urrutia
"They stayed with my mother all day, and then at night they all stayed- but In the morning all the dogs vanished but one, but one hour before we brought my mom to be cremated the dogs came back and grouped around as if to say goodbye," Urrutia told ABC News. "I swear by God that it was beautiful, marvelous."
She said that the dogs do not normally hang around the funeral home, and that workers there had never seen anything like it before.
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Patricia Urrutia
Patricia Urrutia
"My mom has always been good with all animals and people," Urrutia said. "Always fed the dogs on her block and the 20 stray cats that lived there."
Urrutia posted photos of the scene on her Facebook profile on March 15 and the moving images have been shared across the Internet. As of this morning, the post has been shared more than 50,000 times on Facebook and has received more than 192,100 likes.
Urrutia said that the dogs' presence helped her through the difficult day, and it was an unexpected message that she will always remember.
"When I was in a moment of so much pain these dogs that came, they showed me that everything was going to be okay," Urrutia told ABC.
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An undated family photo shows Margarita Suarez with her daughter, Patricia Urrutia.
An undated family photo shows Margarita Suarez with her daughter, Patricia Urrutia.
The dogs were not the only animal friends to pay their respects to Suárez, as Urrutia also spotted a bird come through the window at 3:00 a.m., glance down at her mother's coffin, and then fly off while singing.
"Because of them we were happy," Urrutia added. "They made a sad situation an incredible one."



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

JUST A MILLION DOLLARS__FOR NOW

Here goes what's left of American democracy; welcome American plutocracy. Never mind which political party.  We're talking  major "system failure," engendered by the triumph of the new contribution guidelines established by the Citizens United ruling. No surprise, really, just profound sadness that a noble experiment in the "peoples' rule" is losing ground--and maybe the battle--to the self-interest of ultra-rich. And we write and talk about a million dollars as if it were nothing.

As I write this, I am watching three Hispanic men, heavily clad to protect themselves against the 9 degree, snow, cold and wind, pushing snow shovels to clear the walks of a strip mall across the way--for probably minimum  Colorado wage of $8.23 an hour, or $66 a day, or (for a 6 day work week) less than $400 a week, or $1600 a month. At the same time, I know that there are a minimum of 5000 homeless men, women, and children trying to survive the winter blasts--just in Denver.

By the way, it would take one of my snow-shoveling workers 625 months--or 52 years--to earn a $1,000,000.

Please limit your contribution to $1 million--at least for now.

Awash in cash, Bush asks donors not to give more than $1 million – for now

 March 4 at 9:32 AM  
An unusual request has gone out to wealthy donors writing large checks to support former Florida governor Jeb Bush: Please don’t give more than $1 million right away.
The requested limit, confirmed by multiple people familiar with the amount, may mark the first time that a presidential hopeful has sought to hold off supporters from contributing too much money.
The move reflects concerns among Bush advisers that accepting massive sums from a handful of uber-rich supporters could fuel a perception that the former governor is in their debt. The effort is also driven by a desire to build as broad a pool of donors as possible among wealthier contributors.
So even as Bush is headlining a series of high-dollar events for a super PAC backing his bid, fundraisers have been instructed not to ask donors to give more than $1 million per person this quarter.
“This campaign is about much more than money,” said Howard Leach, a veteran Republican fundraiser who recently co-hosted a finance event for Bush in Palm Beach, Fla., and confirmed the limit. “They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to comment.
The perceived need to put limits in place for contributions, even if only for a few months, underscores the extraordinary role that elite financiers play in political fundraising, which increasingly centers on super PACs able to collect unlimited sums from individuals and corporations. The move reflects the sensitive challenge facing candidates who want to tap into those resources­ without relinquishing their claims of independence.
Bush has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but he is already on track to raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of this month for two political action committees, both named Right to Rise, that were set up in January. His potential rivals have acknowledged that they have little hope of matching his current pace.
Pro-Bush fundraisers have been encouraged to stick to the $1 million per donor limit for the first 100 days. Of course, many donors who give large amounts now are likely to be repeat givers — and write even larger checks — once the campaign starts in earnest.
Bush is entering his third month of an intensive, cross-country fundraising tour that has included stops at lavish Manhattan apartments, premier Washington lobbying shops and luxury hotels in Florida.
During a stop in Las Vegas this week, Bush had a private meeting with casino mogul Steve Wynn. On Tuesday, he was slated to headline an evening reception for the Right to Rise super PAC at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, just outside Scottsdale, Ariz. Among the fundraiser’s co-hosts is former vice president Dan Quayle.
Amid the nonstop drive for money, Bush advisers are cautioning fundraisers in conference calls and in-person discussions not to allow a few mega-donors to overwhelm the effort.
“It shows they are disciplined and appreciate that the dominance of a few key people early on is not a productive thing for the campaign or for Jeb Bush,” said Rick Hohlt, a longtime Republican fundraiser in Washington who is familiar with the guidance.
Such a dynamic dogged the 2012 campaign of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, whose bid for the Republican nomination was lifted by a super PAC financed with $15 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his family. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s super PAC benefactor was investor Foster Friess.
Bush is tapping into a much wider pool of wealthy donors. Dozens of backers have given $100,000 a piece to get into high-end super PAC fundraisers, such as one last month at the Park Avenue home of private-equity titan Henry Kravis.
And some are offering substantially more than that.
Leach — who served as ambassador to France during the administration of Bush’s brother, George W. Bush — said he knows of “numerous” people around the country who have already given $1 million.
“They didn’t need to be persuaded,” he said. “The reason people are willing to write checks like that is because they feel this election is so important to the future of this country.”
Among those donating large amounts, Leach said, are Democrats disenchanted with former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is nearing her own bid for the 2016 presidential race.
The eagerness among political financiers to support Bush is evident in the high goals his team has laid out for donors and fundraisers to reach by March 31, with tiers set at $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000, according to people involved in collecting checks.
Bush’s rapid fundraising clip puts his super PAC on pace to far outstrip Restore Our Future, a super PAC that backed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and raised $12 million in its first six months.
In the coming weeks, Bush is scheduled to headline additional fundraisers in Denver; Sea Island, Ga.; Boca Raton, Fla.; and Atlanta. There, the cost of co-hosting a one-hour breakfast at the city’s elite Capital City Club has been set at $25,000 a person.
Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

IMAGINE SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Read more to find out how the 80 richest individual people in the world ( a number that could easily fit onto two busses [not one as claimed]) control more wealth than 3.5 billion of their fellow humansand what this means. Why is this so? Does it help to know that this year, more than half of the people in our Congress are millionaires? Hmmm.




Imagine Something Different

Posted on Jan 21, 2015
By Amy Goodman
“Imagine if we did something different.”
Those were just seven words out of close to 7,000 that President Barack Obama spoke during his State of the Union address. He was addressing both houses of Congress, which are controlled by his bitter foes. Most importantly, though, he was addressing the country. Obama employed characteristically soaring rhetoric to deliver his message of bipartisanship. “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong,” he assured us.
From whose lives has the shadow of crisis passed? And for whom is this Union strong?
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?” Obama asked. “Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”
Oxfam, the international anti-poverty organization, weighed in on the question, releasing a report the day before the speech called “Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More.” Oxfam analyzed data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2014 and the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires to determine some shocking facts about global inequality.
First, it found that, as of 2014, the 80 richest individuals in the world are wealthier than the bottom 50 percent of the world’s population. This bears repeating: The 80 wealthiest people, a group that could fit on a bus, control more wealth than 3.5 billion people. The wealthy are not only accumulating more wealth, but they are getting it faster. Between 2009 and 2014, Oxfam reports, the wealth of those 80 richest people in the world doubled. This, while the rest of the world was mired in the Great Recession, with rampant unemployment and people’s life savings wiped out. If current trends continue, Oxfam notes, by 2016 the richest 1 percent of the world’s population will control more wealth than the bottom 99 percent.
One way the wealthy manage to increase their wealth, Oxfam reports, is through lobbying. The report identifies two industries, finance/insurance and pharmaceutical/health care, as major sources of wealth for the richest, and as principal founts of political contributions. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by these industries annually to shape public policy and safeguard profits.
“For far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight,” President Obama said in his State of the Union. “They’ve riddled it with giveaways the super-rich don’t need, denying a break to middle-class families who do.”
Obama has proposed increasing taxes on the very rich: “Let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top 1 percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston is an expert on taxes. We spoke to him on the “Democracy Now!” news hour soon after the State of the Union. “The idea that we shouldn’t adjust the tax rates for people at the top and doing so is somehow class warfare is absurd,” he said. “The president is proposing that for those people in the top one-half of 1 percent—and almost all the money would be paid by the top tenth of 1 percent, people who make over $2 million—that their capital-gains tax rate be at the Ronald Reagan rate of 28 percent,” Johnston summarized. “And Republicans are saying that that’s outrageous. Well, I’m sorry, they’re always telling us Ronald Reagan is a saint.”
What would these taxes pay for? Among other things, Obama pledged to make child care more affordable. He promised free community-college education. These are genuine, good ideas. After his address, Republicans repeatedly said he was for the “redistribution of wealth,” code for socialism. But wealth IS being redistributed by the government—upward, from the poor to the rich—through policies promoted by both major parties, from tax loopholes to “free trade” deals that protect corporate profits over workers’ rights.
And who is promulgating these laws?  The Center for Responsive Politics, a political contribution watchdog group, reports that, for the first time ever, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires. The group states that this “represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code.”
As President Obama said in his State of the Union, “To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.”
Growing economic inequality not only hurts the poor, and the working and middle class, but destabilizes society overall.  Yes, we must “imagine if we did something different.” Everyone must have a stake in the state of the union.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.
© 2015 Amy Goodman

DADDY, IS THAT SUNSET REAL?




This is an issue worth thinking about.  If you follow some of the links in the article, you'll learn (among other things) that the "Doomsday Clock" has been moved closer to midnight as of today.  As I look at the world, I can certainly see why that decision was made.

People are so involved in their own "Stuff" that they can't see what's really going on in the world--the hunger, poverty, disparity between ultra rich and the indigent. the racism, ecological damage (some irreversible), etc.  ad nauseam.  Reminds me of the passangers who played tunes and danced on the deck of the Titanic as that "great ship went down to the bottom of the ocean."

I grieve that all I can do at my age is to observe and comment…while leaving corrective and restorative action to the next generations which may be so busy texting, gaming, scoring drugs, and making money that they won't even notice.


The Slice
stories that cut to the quick
You're a Luddite? Don't Worry, It's Human Nature

You're a Luddite? Don't Worry, It's Human Nature

“What do you mean, honey? It’s the sunset.”
“No, I mean is that fake, like is this something we see on TV, or is it actually happening?”
I thought I’d done a better-than-average job striking a tech balance for my kids—I take them on hikes, craft illegible chalk drawings on the sidewalk, have a no iPhone rule for the beach—but my daughter’s confusion bothered me. Yes, she’s five. Yes, kids that age sometimes confuse what they see on TV and what’s real. You can’t touch a sunset, so I couldn’t explain it to her in the physical way, but I emphasized that we weren’t staring at a screen. That what she saw in front of her eyes was in fact,real life.
I thought about this moment when I read Alison Slater Tate’s Washington Postarticle last week about what it’s like being a parent in the age of iEverything. Tate groans about how challenging it is to get her kids to look up from their phones just to acknowledge nature. “We can try as hard as we want to push back and to carve space into our children’s lives for treehouses and puzzles and Waldorf-style dolls,” she writes, “but in the end, our children will grow up with the whole world at their fingertips, courtesy of a touch screen, and they will have to learn how to find the balance between their cyber and real worlds.”
Tate’s essay is the latest in a wave of modern critiques about how the onslaught of our digital world will be the end of us. This week, Information Age’s headline blared that the digital reborns are taking on the digital natives. This doomsday mapillustrates how humanity keeps discovering brilliant new ways to destroy itself. And ifNewsweek’s threat of Cyberwar doesn’t want to make you escape to a computerless cabin in the woods, I don’t know what will. It’s a point that’s made over and over andover again.
There’s part of me that sympathizes, but something about the panic rubs me the wrong way. This constant commentary isn’t just unsettling, it’s fear-provoking. It’s like we’re living a written history, a techno play-by-play, instead of what Matthew McConaughey would recommend (which, I would never say in a million years…okay fine, maybe once): Just Keep Livin’.

Our awe over technology allows us to tap into an intrinsic part of human history.
Even though our technology is new, our anxiety about it is not. And it’s this same anxiety that connects us to the growth and innovation of every other era of human history.
Each generation has a story to tell about a gadget that seemed modern and crisp and also utterly daunting. When my mother watched Milton Berle on her set in her two-family house in Brooklyn, it was the first television set on her block. I had the first Atari in my neighborhood, which was why my cute neighbor wanted to hang out at my house. All you have to do is watch “Downton Abbey” to see how uncomfortable tech advances have made us in the past 100 years—in a recent episode, Lord Grantham and Mr. Carson melted down when Lord Grantham’s much younger niece asked for a “wireless” (a radio) to listen to a broadcast of the king’s speech. “I find the whole idea kind of a thief of life,” Grantham said. “That people should waste hours huddled around a wooden box, babbling inanities at them from somewhere else.”
Look at big-impact inventions: Technology writer George Dyson credits cement as a crucial first-millennium innovation, telling the Atlantic that “it was the foundation of civilization as we know it—most of which would collapse without it.” But isn’t it possible some Egyptians were all, Hey, what about limestone? Our society will never be the same.
Granted, the changes of the past five years have moved quicker than any time in history. My son, age 11, didn’t have the luxury of playing on an iPhone when he was a toddler, but my daughter, five years younger than he, already knew how to use a few of the early apps by the time she was 18 months old. Tech has had such tremendous breakthroughs since 2010—tablets, motion sensor game consoles, agricultural drones and brain mapping—that the ones screaming “Remember when?” are practically newborn babies.
But even though it’s faster now, our awe over technology allows us to tap into an intrinsic part of human history. In a way, that’s strangely comforting. My son constantly reminds me, You know nothing about life because you grew up in the seventies, but in the very near future, someone is going to dismissively say to him,You’re from the aughts. It’s all different now.
In the end, though, nature still has a magnetic pull. Just the other day, “War Games,” the OG of hacker movies, was on TV. A pivotal scene shows Dr. Stephen Falken, a character based on Stephen Hawking, learning that the computer he created for NORAD—the kind of intelligent computer that can think for itself—is about to launch Global Thermal Nuclear War and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. Just before Falken helps save the world, he lectures Matthew Broderick and his girlfriend about human evolution:

Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent race of animals that dominated the world through age after age. They ran, they swam, and they fought and they flew, until suddenly, quite recently, they disappeared. Nature just gave up and started again. We weren't even apes then. We were just these smart little rodents hiding in the rocks. And when we go, nature will start over. With the bees, probably. Nature knows when to give up.
Until our technologies destroy it, nature will endure. We’ll always be forced to look up from Twitter or stop scrolling through whitewashed Swedish homes on Instagram to catch a sunset or a full moon. Even my daughter’s question seems much more innocent in this context—less spawned from the evils of technology than child-like curiosity. “This is so beautiful,” she seemed to be saying. “How can it be real?”
Hayley Krischer is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The Toast, The Hairpin, Salon, The New York Times and other publications. You can find her on Twitter.