You know what’s really dispectful to the American flag?  A Confederate flag. #TakeAKnee

They may be old but not old fashioned. Love what Margaret and Helen blog. Frump is just doing another redirect to take the public’s eye off the investigations.

Margaret and Helen

Margaret, last week six football players knelt during the national anthem. This week it was 200. And just like Colin Kaepernick, they weren’t making a statement about the flag. I swear this president is so stupid, he couldn’t find his ass if both hands were in his back pockets.

Lord help me, but I’ve taken a knee and I don’t want to get up. Maybe I can’t get up. I’m not sure which. Three and a half million American citizens are in crisis in Puerto Rico, North Korea is threatening Armageddon, Russia used Facebook to influence our elections, Nazis are running over young women, Congress wants to take healthcare away from poor people… and our president has nothing better to do except name calling to get a cheer at his Klan rally.

As the widow of a veteran, I have no issue with any player taking a knee to protest…

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Ah, we still have pictures and places in our minds. Even if they no longer exist, we will not let go for some reason.

The Mexile

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury. Scene of the famous Hovis advert from the early 1970s. An advert so famous it’s still remembered well enough to re-use, sort of, in more modern ads. Apparently, I’ve been here before. Many years ago, when my age was still numbered in single digits. I don’t remember it, which surprises me. There’s no chance I wouldn’t have run down the hill. I’d have had to come back up again. Surely I’d remember that?

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The Big One

The Big One

Can’t go home again. Gary lived in Mexico City for many years. He did not want to leave it but circumstances dictated he go back home to Britain. He often thinks about his other home in Mexico and years to return some time in the future. I hope that he makes it back under better circumstances.

The Mexile

Earthquakes are part and parcel of Mexico City’s past, present and future. Some parts of the world wait for ‘the big one’. CDMX simply waits for another big one. The wait is never long. We did not have to worry much about relatives. The first we heard of the quake was just a couple of minutes after the event when Mrs P’s dad called to say he was ok. We had no reason till then to think he might not be. The remaining friends and

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Revisiting an introduction to George Orwell’s 1984

Revisiting an introduction to George Orwell’s 1984.
Revisiting an introduction to George Orwell’s 1984. It is less than a year since Donald Trump took office. It is clear that his actions are leading to the subversion of American institutions. Government agencies exist for the sole purpose of restructuring themselves. The Department of Justice is still far from embracing the notion of justice for all. The Supreme Court is defending the federal government, not the people. The Civil Rights Movement has been set back, and minority rights are being trampled upon! Has Orwell’s 1984 been updated for our generations? Are the being revised for his campaign, his subsequent election. His follow through, has many people re-reading this science fiction novel. This has much to do with his flipping the purpose of American institutions. Institutions such as the EPA and the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is now under Jeff Sessions. You may recall that he fought against the Civil Rights movement. The Environmental Protection Agency is deregulating controls on the protection of the environment. Looking at an introduction to 1984 might be useful in evaluating the present situation.
Ricardo Montoya Ochoa
George Orwell‘s 1984, like many works of literature, unmistakably carries with it literary traditions reaching back to the earliest of storytellers. Among the literary traditions that Orwell uses is the concept of utopia, which he distorts effectively for his own purposes. Utopia, or Nowhere Land, is an ideal place or society in which human beings realize a perfect existence, a place without suffering or human malady. Orwell did not originate this genre. In fact, the word utopia is taken from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, written in 1516. The word is now used to describe any place considered to be perfect.
In 1984, Orwell creates a technologically advanced world in which fear is used as a tool for manipulating and controlling individuals who do not conform to the prevailing political orthodoxy. In his attempt to educate the reader about the consequences of certain political philosophies and the defects of human nature, Orwell manipulates and usurps the utopian tradition and creates a dystopia, a fictional setting in which life is extremely bad from deprivation, oppression, or terror. Orwell’s dystopia is a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.
The Setting
The setting of 1984 is Oceania, a giant country comprised of the Americas; the Atlantic Islands, including the British Isles; Australia; and the southern portion of Africa. Oceania’s mainland is called Air Strip One, formerly England. The story itself takes place in London in the year 1984, a terrifying place and time where the human spirit and freedom are all but crushed. In the novel, war is constant. The main character, Winston Smith, born before the World War II, grew up knowing only hunger and political instability, and many of the things that he experiences are hyperboles of real activities in wartime Germany and the Soviet Union.
It is important to remember that Orwell based 1984 on the facts as he knew them; hunger, shortages, and repression actually happened as a result of the extreme governmental policies of these countries. The war hysteria, the destruction of the family unit, the persecution of “free thinkers” or those who were “different” or not easily assimilated into the party doctrine, the changing of history to suit the party’s agenda, were all too real. Orwell’s speculation of the future is actually a creative extension of how the masses were treated under Franco, Hitler, and Stalin.
By setting 1984 in London, Orwell is able to invoke the atmosphere of a real war-torn community, where people live in “wooden dwellings like chicken houses” in bombed-out clearings. His intent clearly was to capitalize on a memory that every reader, especially a British reader, was likely to have. London in 1984, then, becomes not just a make-believe place where bad things happen to unknown people, but a very real geographical spot that still holds some connection for the modern reader.
In 1984, the world is sliced into three political realms — the super states of Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. Orwell drew these lines fairly consistent with the political distribution of the Cold War era beginning after World War II. Each of these three states is run by a totalitarian government that is constantly warring on multiple fronts. By creating an entire world at war, Orwell not only creates a terrifying place, but he also eliminates the possibility of escape for Winston, who is forced to live within his present circumstances, horrible and unremitting as they are.
Oceania’s political structure is divided into three segments: the Inner Party, the ultimate ruling class, consisting of less than 2 percent of the population; the Outer Party, the educated workers, numbering around 18 to 19 percent of the population; and the Proles, or the proletariat, the working class. Although the Party (Inner and Outer) does not see these divisions as true “classes,” it is clear that Orwell wants the reader to see the class distinctions. For a socialist such as Orwell, class distinctions mean the existence of conflict and class struggle. In Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, for example, the few people who comprised the ruling class had a much higher standard of living than the masses, but in these nations, as in 1984, revolt was all but impossible.

Shopping in Morelia

Lin and I took a quick shopping trip to Morelia to get our medicine, get groceries and do other shopping. Morelia is about an hour’s driving time from our home in Patzcuaro. The day started out a bit overcast, cool, with a little bit of rain.

Here are pictures taken a stop to get gasoline for our car. You can see how the weather was early in the day.

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By the time we got to Costco, the sun had come out and it got warmer. We got our med and did some looking around to see what was new. Turns out that they had moved many things around. So we are going to have to orient ourselves again. Lots of stuff to see. Christmas season is upon us, or will soon be as seen by the displays of Christmas trees and decorations. One time caught my fancy. Don’t know if you can tell that the Carousel was in motion turning.

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I noticed at the Costco pharmacy a sign saying that for every peso contributed by it’s customers to the disaster relief fund for the earthquake and hurricane areas, that they would match the contribution by the same amount. Glad we found a place to do this. There were many places in both Patzcuaro and Morelia where on could take food, clothing and other items. But what really helps is cash.

Onward to Walmart Super-center. We need a few more things that we could only find at Walmart. They have the best produce, and many goods imported from the US. So we got those and head toward the exit a bit tired by now. Walmart anywhere in the world it seems, does things ass backwards! Line were long even with many cashiers open. There were to stations that were supposed to be specially for seniors and customers with their own ecology approved shopping bags. Both were closed. I went to customer service to complain. They said that they would send someone over but they never did! Finally got out of there even more tired. But we still were trying to find a couple of items lacking from our list. So off to McDonald’s for a burger and just a bit of relaxation before continuing. But that was not to be!

I felt this as good photo op to illustrate Fall season in our area. This is from the produce section at Walmart.

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McDonald’s was so noisy that the server could not hear our order. Kid were screaming, our minds were echoing those tiny screechy voices. But we did get food and drink, enough to continue to our next destination, Chedraui. This is a really cool supermarket that often has American and foreign staples not found elsewhere. We did find most of those things remaining on our shopping list. Only thing is that it was taking forever for the cashier to keep the line moving and then it stopped! Was this a curse that was going to follow us from store to store? Cashiers were tallying long lists. I did not get it why they had stopped doing their normal work. Got a good answer. Shoppers were donating item to disaster relief. The store would be moving those goods to those in need. So that needed to have an accurate accounting of the items. So I have little to complain about in that regard.

America’s Crisis Of Disconnection Runs Deeper Than Politics

Fast Company

Brené Brown: America’s Crisis Of Disconnection Runs Deeper Than Politics

By Brené Brown/Sep 12, 2017

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Our national self-sorting into liberal and conservative enclaves is tracking with rising rates of loneliness. Why, and at what cost?

[Photo: Flickr user Molly Adams]

For 20 years, I’ve taught at the University of Houston, the most racially and ethnically diverse research university in the United States. I recently asked my class of 60 graduate students whether their political, social, and cultural beliefs aligned with their grandparents’. About 15% of the students said yes or pretty close, while the remainder described everything from mild embarrassment to mortification when it came to their family members’ politics.

One African-American student said he saw eye to eye with his grandparents on just about every issue except the one that mattered most to him: He couldn’t come out to his grandfather even though the rest of his family knew he was gay. A retired pastor, his grandfather was “dug in” around homosexuality. A white student talked about her father’s habit of addressing waiters in Mexican restaurants with “hola, Pancho!” She had a Latino boyfriend and said it was humiliating. But when I asked these students whether they resented their grandparents or were willing to sever bonds with family members over political and social divides, the answer was no across the board.

You might think that the exhaustively documented polarization of American society would lead to more social interaction; if we’ve hunkered down, ideologically and geographically, with those we perceive to be just like us, doesn’t that mean we’ve surrounded ourselves with friends and people with whom we feel deeply connected? Shouldn’t “you’re either with us or against us” have led to closer ties among the like-minded?

In fact, the opposite is happening. At the same time that cultural and political sorting is on the rise, so is loneliness.


In his 2009 book The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, the journalist Bill Bishop observed that in 1976, fewer than 25% of Americans lived in places where the presidential election was a landslide. In other words, we lived next door to, and attended school and worshiped with, people who held different beliefs than ours. We were ideologically diverse. In contrast, in 2016, 80% of U.S. counties gave either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton a landslide victory. Most of us no longer even live near people who are all that different from us in terms of political and social beliefs.

This shift has tracked closely with another pattern over a similar time period. In 1980, approximately 20% of Americans reported feeling lonely. By 2010, according to AARP researchers, that figure had more than doubled. University of Chicago neuroscientist John Cacioppo defines the phenomenon as “perceived social isolation,” which basically means that we experience loneliness when we feel disconnected. Maybe we’ve been pushed to the outside of a group that we value, or we lack a sense of true belonging. At the heart of loneliness, Cacioppo believes, is an absence of meaningful social interaction–an intimate relationship, friendships, family gatherings, or even community or work group connections.

As members of a social species, we derive strength not from our rugged individualism but from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together. Our neural, hormonal, and genetic makeup support interdependence over independence. As Cacioppo explained in a 2013 TEDx Talk, the key to reaching adulthood “is not to become autonomous and solitary, it’s to become the one on whom others can depend. Whether we know it or not, our brain and biology have been shaped to favor this outcome.”

Cacioppo points out that biological machinery of our brains warns us when our ability to thrive and prosper is threatened. Hunger is a warning that our blood sugar is low and we need to eat. Thirst warns us that we need to drink to avoid dehydration. Pain alerts us to potential tissue damage. And loneliness tells us that we need social connection. He explains, “Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger.”

Yet we do deny our loneliness. We feel shame around being lonely (as if feeling lonely means there’s something wrong with us), even when it’s caused by grief, loss, or heartbreak. This isn’t just sad–it’s actually dangerous. We’ve evolved to react to the feeling of being pushed to the social perimeter by going into self-preservation mode: when we feel isolated, disconnected, and lonely, we try to protect ourselves. That means less empathy, more defensiveness, more numbing, and less sleeping. In this state, the brain ramps up the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening–narratives that often aren’t true and exaggerate our worst fears and insecurities.


To combat loneliness, we must first learn how to identify it and to see that experience as a warning sign. Our response to that warning sign should be to find connection. That doesn’t necessarily mean joining a bunch of groups or checking in with dozens of friends. Numerous studies confirm that it’s not the quantity of friends but the quality of a few relationships that actually matter.

But if you’re anything like me, and you find yourself questioning the idea that starvation and loneliness are equally life-threatening, consider this 2015 meta-analysis of studies on loneliness, in which researchers found the following: Living with air pollution increases your odds of dying early by 5%. Living with obesity, 20%. Excessive drinking, 30%. And living with loneliness? It increases our odds of dying early by 45%.

No, there’s no evidence that sorting ourselves into politically distinct enclaves has made us lonelier; it’s not that simple. But one core variable driving that society-wide compulsion also happens to compound loneliness, and make it so life-threatening: Fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up.

I started my research six months before 9/11, and I’ve watched fear change our families, organizations, and communities. Our national conversation is centered on, “What should we fear?” and, “Who should we blame?” I’m not an expert on terrorism, but after studying fear for 15 years, here’s what I can tell you: Terrorism is time-released fear. Its ultimate goal is to embed fear so deeply in the heart of a community that fear becomes a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another. Terrorism is most effective when we allow fear to take root in our culture. Then it’s only a matter of time before we become fractured, isolated, and driven by our perceptions of scarcity.

In a hardwired way, the initial trauma and devastation of violence unites human beings for a relatively short period of time. If during that initial period of unity we’re allowed to talk openly about our collective grief and fear–if we turn to one another in a vulnerable and loving way, while at the same time seeking justice and accountability–it can be the start to a very long healing process. If, however, what unites us is a combination of shared hatred and stifled fear that’s eventually expressed as blame, we’re in trouble.

If leaders race to serve up an ideological enemy to rally against, rather than methodically identifying the actual perpetrator, we’ll be emotionally distracted from the unraveling that’s really taking place in our homes and communities. When this happens, what feels like a rallying movement is really a cover for fear, which can then start spreading over the landscape. As fear hardens, it expands–becoming less of a protective barrier and more of a solidifying division. It forces its way down in the gaps and tears apart our social foundation, already weakened with those delicate cracks.


In the U.S., our three greatest fault lines–cracks that have grown and deepened due to willful neglect and a collective lack of courage–are race, gender, and class. These are conversations that need to happen; this is discomfort that must be felt. Still, as much as it’s time to confront these and other issues, we have to acknowledge that our lack of tolerance for vulnerable, tough conversations is driving our self-sorting and disconnection.

Can we find our way back to ourselves and to each other, and still keep fighting for what we believe in? No and yes. No, not everyone will be able to do both, simply because some people will continue to believe that fighting for what they need means denying the humanity of others. That makes connecting outside our bunkers impossible.

I do believe, however, that most of us can build connection across difference and fight for our beliefs if we’re willing to listen and be vulnerable. But if we’re not even willing to try, the value of what we’re fighting for will be profoundly diminished. True belonging has no bunkers. We have to step out from behind the barricades of self-preservation and brave the wild. When we race to our customary defenses–of political belief, race, religion, you name it–we don’t have to worry about being vulnerable or brave or trusting. We just have to toe the party line.

Except doing that is not working. Ideological bunkers protect us from everything except loneliness and disconnection. Huddled behind them, we’re left unprotected from the worst heartbreaks of all.

This article is adapted with permission from Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown. Published by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Copyright © 2017 by Brené Brown. All rights reserved.

From the New Yorker Cartoon Chronicle

I am not what one would call “a whiz” or even “adept” when it comes to new technologies. You tell me the Internet travels through tubes and I’m going to smile vaguely, nod, and not ask any follow-up questions. When I first got an iPhone, I mainly used it to stream radio broadcasts of baseball games.

But I am grateful that there’s a cloud somewhere filled with all the photos I’ve ever taken of other people’s dogs and babies and that I can now casually dial Timbuktu on my way to Trader Joe’s, as presciently depicted by Gahan Wilson, in 1993:

Little did Gahan know the cell-phone strut would soon be hands-free, or that we mostly wouldn’t be talking, just staring blankly at a screen.

So back to the handheld-computer pros list: I can Google images of different bug bites rather than having to pay to disrobe in front of a medical professional, even if Kamraan Hafeez advises against it:

And cons: I’m disheartened that the latest iterations of the iPhone, announced this week, didn’t even incorporate some of these apps and services devised by Roz Chast:

To be honest, the new iPhone X Face I.D. feature gives meet the heebie-jeebies. The spooky promise by Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing that “the team has worked hard to protect your face data” apparently didn’t sit easy with Farley Katz, either:

Indeed, in this case, follow-up questions abound: Can identical twins unlock each others’ phones? What are those thousand infrared dots doing to my pores? I’ll await your answers, Tim Cook. In the meantime, allow me to propose an alternative unlocking technology, thought up by Paul Noth:

—Emma Allen

It was immediately upon the announcement of the new iPhone that I took an elevator to the top floor of One World Trade Center, broke through numerous secured doors, and climbed the spire at the top of the building. Why did I do this clearly illegal, but very cool-sounding activity, you ask? I wanted to fling my old iPhone like a Frisbee and break it in a dramatic fashion, because a newer, more expensive iPhone now exists. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it’s only on pre-order, and so now I will not have a phone for some time. Until my new phone arrives, I will spend my time reading this Daily Shouts piece from last year about new iPhone features that I wrote with Jason Adam Katzenstein. I will also spend a lot of time in court for the criminal charges I incurred by climbing to the top of the building and slinging an iPhone off of it.

—Colin Stokes