Friday, December 20, 2013

Years End Feelings

It has been a long time since I posted to Lindsborger News. We've come to the end of the fall term and time to write the annual Christmas letter. I've delayed the task because I don't know what to write.

It's been a tough year - with some victories in between. So should I write about the toughness or the victories? Same is true with the town. It's been a tough year with some victories for the town. Which do you write about when thinking about the year?

My impulse is to write about the tough. I am, after all, a Northern European American. Not optimistic by nature.

What are others feeling at this time of year?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Too Soon Too Much Too Little

Tomorrow, August 12, we begin our fall term. It is coming WAY too soon.

I have at least 5 jobs at home that have barely been touched. These include home repair jobs and machinery jobs. I've just gotten a new laptop with Windows 8 and I'm not at all sure I'm ready to operate in a Windows 8 environment. I need another summer to catch up from all the things I didn't get done this summer because I was busy getting things done for the college.

But it's also coming on Too Much. My calendar for this week looks like a total disaster and I don't even have a chemo infusion. Blood draw, coffee, meeting, meeting, meeting. And if I have to have platelets (which I undoubtedly will) I'll be having to sandwich that into the endless round of stuff that has to get done before a week from Thursday. The Provost is determined to get a full week's work out of each of us.

Too little calm. That's the other side of looking at a calendar that scares me. I have too little of a residual supply of calm to carry me into the weeks ahead.

But - as always - ready or not, here we come.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keeping Up With My Medicine

Doctors only see in part. Just like the rest ofus. Why did I think it any different?

My experience with physicians has been broadening these past three years. In that time I've been to see
one general practice physician, two Physicians Assistants, four oncologists, one radiation oncologist, two orthopedic specialists
and three surgeons. That's not all the medical professionals I've encountered, but they are the people most likely to
prescribe drugs for me, and that's the point of this post.

At least in part.

I'm dealing with slight pain today - a little more than usual. When the Wee One trends on my right shoulder that slight pain
becomes a sharp pain.

Before I left the hospital the surgeon's nurse assured me that if I needed additional pain medication I should call his office.
Two weeks ago, when last I saw the orthopedic surgeon, he urged me to stop using Lortab as soon as possible. When I last saw
Kelsey Swisher she talked to me about the Insurance company's demand that we check on my Lortab use regularly - no refills without
calling the office. And then there's my oncologist who shrugs his shoulders and says of pain meds - not my job man.

This isn't an attempt to get more pain medication, or to justify my Lortab use. It is to say that I need to remember that
my doctors are each only seeing a part of the totality of my illnesses and treatments. So I have to keep on top of the total picture
including managing my pain. The one who doesn't understand that?

My insurance provider.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Epistemological Politics

The South Carolina AG announced, some time ago, that he absolutely, positively and without a shred of doubt KNEW that there were hundreds of people who voted dead in South Carolina. The Columbia Free Times reported:

S.C. GOP Attorney General Alan Wilson saying things like, “We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.” - See more at:

The appropriate SC office - with the great name SLED - investigated. Did not find zombie voters.

My question is, in this case, what does it mean to "know" in a case like this. Can you "know" something that isn't the case? Is all knowledge subjective? If the objective "facts" turn out to not be the case that you asserted you "knew," did you not know what you said you knew? Does KNOWING require that you do something more than assert what you believe to be the case.

And if what you insisted you "knew" changes - i.e., you "knew" the mechanics of an evolutionary process and then someone else discovered that what you knew, what everyone knew, was not what was the case.

What does it mean to "know" something. And how do you come to know anything?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Follow up on the Magic Staircase

I was totally punked on this one. I shouldn't have been. I've been watching Brain Games enough that I should have smelt that something was up - but I took the video producers at their word. Mike Rodriquez had the goods and sent them along. Here's how the magic staircase works - actually it doesn't.

One of the things I should learn from this is to never let the skeptigard down. I won't, however. It's fun to be fooled every once in a while. Here the fooling came because the students sold the idea so well and I believed what I saw. I believed it because I wanted to believe that there was someone this clever at one of the institutes of technology dotting the U.S.

Bad on me. But good on Mike!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Magic Stairwell

I do not know how this works. It is a total mystery to me - but this is the coolest stairway I've ever seen.

The Magic Stairwell

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Will the World Say?

Last night I was watching RT television, the Russian station for English speakers. I saw a story that shocked and amazed me.

We haven't closed Guantanamo Bay. I knew that. I knew that the President had signed an executive order, but Congress refused to expend funds to transfer prisoners. I knew that there was a high security prison sitting empty that could receive any dangerous prisoners, but paranoid conservatism has used the boogie man of terrorists as a way of stopping progress.

Here's what I didn't know:

Half the prisoners at Gitmo have been cleared for release, but for some reason have not been released.

The prisoners at Gitmo have been at that prison for eleven years many without charges.

Amy Goodman's column in the Guardian details the potential stain to the Obama Presidency represented by the deterioration of conditions at Gitmo. What Goodman doesn't mention is that there have been suicides related to this indefinite detention. What Goodman doesn't mention is how this is playing in the world press.

RT did a story on it. Aljazeera has a story on Gitmo's shame. Interpress. Foreign Policy. World wide stories about the problems and the administration's denial that we are detaining indefinitely, when, in fact we are. The 89 who should be released and haven't been - what is that about?

What will it take before we stop this? Will the hunger strikers have to die, or will we strap them to hospital gurneys and shove hoses up their noses and force feed them, as we are doing with Tariq Ba Odah. Daily we tie him down and force feed him, and we've been doing this for six years. If shamed before the world will we close the camp or will we, as we have on so many other things, noisily and angrily deny that there is any problem?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Need a New Newspaper?

LNR's Facebook Presence
Lindsborg News Record is circling the bowl.

Years of poor reportage, ignoring both interesting and important stories in favor of running press releases - policies that aren't explained to readers and advertizers, nor enforced evenly (the big one is "Buy an ad get coverage of your event") - and a generally aging readership of American newspapers mean that the Lindsborg News Record has a limited future in the best of circumstances. With the current owner alienating readership, the demise is being hastened.

The problem for Lindsborg is that it has no other news outlet.

I don't have the capital, but replacing the LNR with a mildly progressive and genuinely multi-media news outlet for Lindsborg could be a retirement project for me, just as Hemslojd was for Ken Sjogren. I'd envision it as primarily a web based product - with video, and maybe web radio connected.

How would we pay for it? Who would report? Who'd advertise and how would we establish rates?

I don't know. I just know that Lindsborg News Record is circling the bowl and the town needs something else in place before the vortex sends our poor little paper to the treatment plant.

Why China is Going to Lead

China on Ice, photo by Jonathan Isaacson
Despite American xenophobic insistence that we are the greatest nation in the world, we are about to be overrun by China in great nation status. Not just over taken, but overrun.
It isn’t the conservative meme of China owning American debt that will mean that China will own our lunch. The Chinese ownership of our debt at the low interest rate is actually a good thing. China will need us and our money for a long time to come, and the debt is at such a low interest rate that it is like refinancing a home – it makes sense to own money at 2% if you can make money at 6%.
No, what will allow the Chinese to overrun us is their willingness to do what needs to be done, and their strategic relationships with nations we are either treating as victims – or as enemies.
China is developing Maglev trains. Super fast public transportation is starting to be a norm in China, while in America we can’t even talk about public transportation as part of the solution to urban crowding, dependence upon foreign oil, and long distance travel. China has terrible environmental standards – but they are working on them. We’re not even willing to admit there is a problem.
China treats African nations as potential trading partners, worthy of their own news programs, worthy of attention as both consumers and producers. We treat the whole of Africa as a problem. North Africa is full of Muslim terrorists and sub-Saharan Africa is poverty who should get our free tee-shirts dumped on them for their own good. Pakistanis are now learning Mandarin as part of their elementary and secondary school program. The Pakistani middle class is preparing to go to University in China. They see China as a friend. We look at Pakistan as harborer of terrorists and Muslim radicals.
For all these reasons and so many more the second largest world economy will surpass us. Probably soon. And the young adults who I teach won’t even notice until Chinese owners show up in the boxes at NBA games.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

i Phone U

It struck me yesterday that the world is passing the younger generation by, and they think they’re fully connected. I was at the town talent show, serving as house manager. That meant I didn’t get to see the whole of the show, but stayed outside to keep the door from slamming and keep the folks who needed to get in and out in and out safely. I was blown away by the fact that so many people couldn’t stay for the whole show. Some left as sourpusses – I came to see my kid, so why should I donate anything to the program? A few left in great hurry. One woman dashed out of the auditorium and off to the gym. One child in one program and another in a second? I don’t know and couldn’t say.

Late in the program Denise Peterson came out to check on the cash. She was followed by her daughter who came out of the live performance and into the hallway to plug in her iPhone. Couldn’t wait until she got home, had to charge before so that she could, I guess, text – facebook – foursquare – instagram or whatever during the ten minutes from the Middle School to home.

Then two of the High School performers, hanging in the hallway with one other high school girls, was encouraged to go backstage to take a final bow. It was difficult to get them to go, but they finally did agree to go. My assignment was to capture and hold a particular boy of interest to the three girls. He was a ginger, they told me – so that made him easy to spot – and he had promised to be here in just a few minutes. The girls were interested in this boy. Did I mention that? I don’t know what the interest was, but they were interested in him in the way that High School girls can be interested in High School Boys.

He arrived. I had him sit and wait. Two of the three girls arrived and gushed.

And then they checked messages on the phone. They checked messages on the phone!

I get this in class. I joke about it with class members. “You’re the best connected generation with the least to say,” I regularly tell my introductory classes. But this was different and maybe that’s what struck me. The texting and facebooking and whatever was going on at every moment when a child or young adult might have to either be bored or engage in thought, reflection or day dreaming.

I wonder if we’re about to have a generation that will know nature as a digital photograph and vacation as a video file, and human relations as interchanges on an iPhone.