Tag Archives: politics

I didn’t know who to go to for help – hunger in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles the lives of families going hungry in Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, home of a few of my old neighborhoods, Kensington, Fishtown, Frankford in Philadelphia: “A Portrait of Hunger”.

There is no excuse for letting anyone go hungry in the richest country in the world. None. The article points to three main culprits: a lack of paying work, a lack of guidance to services that can help, and the bureaucratic complexity of applying for those services as root causes.

It was the same for us when I was growing up and when I was out on the streets, sleeping on trains, I didn’t know who to go to for help, or how.

The comments posted on the article really go far in showing how low our culture has become in kicking people when they are down and blaming them entirely for their circumstances.

We’re all in this together. For some great commentary on this, check out Susie Madrak’s latest post. Like her I can still remember when my family needed help. I can remember being in line for a block of cheese at Bridge and Pratt. I remember all too well the chuckles of some at school due to the quality of my Salvation Army and Goodwill bought clothes. I remember the Salvation Army Santa Claus visiting the family to drop off some toys to make our Christmas brighter.

None of us are 100% self made and choosing to belabor that some people need help, instead of offering TO help, does no one any good. Please, if you are able, find some way, any way, to lend a hand.

Resources:

Philabundance

Cradles to Crayons

United Way

Project H.O.M.E.

Salvation Army

Bruce Sterling – “Today’s bleeding-edge technology is tomorrow’s broken legacy system.”

I started to pull together some choice quotes from Bruce Sterling, answering questions about the “State of the World 2010″ at the WELL, but realized I’d be quoting far too much. You are better off reading the whole thing yourself. Enjoy.

Okay, one quote! In this he is discussing network-culture:

It’s not that print’s a medium, and the web’s a medium, and you get to migrate between media. The Web is a metamedium that turns everything it grips into network-culture.

*So it’s easy to see that mags are in for it. What’s a little harder is looking at the hollow shell of your once-favorite antique shop and realizing that’s all about eBay. “Gee, I’m on the web all the time now… time for a stroll, it’s a sunny day… Gosh, my neighborhood’s full of spooky holes.” Gothic High-Tech.

Update: Wired: Katie Hafner The Epic Saga of The Well

Using Our Powers For Good

I recently re-read Rebecca Blood’s 2003 BlogTalk presentation: “waging peace: using our powers for good”. It is worth revisiting by anyone who is a blog evangelist or critic. Taking a look at the daily lack of cross linkage on memeorandum.com, unfortunately, it seems almost prophetic.

…People agree most readily with the things they already believe, and everyone has only 24 hours in a day. Because of these two factors, weblogs are too often enclosed in echo-chambers of their own making.

In the book ‘Data Smog’, David Shenk says: ‘Birds of a feather flock virtually together’ and this is certainly true of weblogs. He goes on to say: ‘The problem… is that people are tuning in and becoming informed–but they’re tuning into niche media and they’re acquiring specialized knowledge. As our information supply increases, our common discourse and shared understanding decrease. Technically, we possess an unprecedented amount of information; however, what is commonly known has dwindled to a smaller and smaller percentage every year. This should be a sobering realization for a democratic nation, a society that must share information in order to remain a union.’

Let me add that it’s not just specialized knowledge that we are accessing. It’s news and opinion about current events. The Web has given us the ability to retrieve news accounts from around the world. It used to be that most people got their news from just a few sources. This limited access meant that most of us were evaluating events from a common pool of information about the world, or at least a pool that was common to the people around us. But Web users can choose to get their news from wherever they like. And factual accounts of the same events quite often differ substantially in their wording, emphasis, and in the conclusions they draw. We now have the ability to choose from among news accounts until we find one that we feel gets it right.

Now, I don’t advocate returning to the pre-Web world of local newspapers. But there are consequences to the wide access we have gained.

Democracy depends on groups of people coming to terms with one another, and devising solutions that will address the needs of most, if not all, of its citizens. Even a system like mine, in the United States, where majority rules, cannot afford to completely ignore the needs of anyone not in the winning party. Democracies simply cannot function unless citizens and policy-makers can talk to one another and achieve some sort of common ground in addressing the issues of the day.

However, when people can choose their news and information from an unlimited variety of sources, they usually will choose sources that confirm their pre-existing biases. According to theFolklorist.com, confirmation bias is ‘a tendency on the part of human beings to seek support or confirmation for their beliefs.’ It makes sense, if you think about it. The only basis we have in evaluating any source of information is the set of information–including opinions–that we have already decided is true. Very few people will be inclined to choose primary sources of information that consistently put forth ideas that just seem wrong.

This isn’t deliberate malice. It’s a simple matter of choosing, from the available sources, those that seem most accurate, and those that seem most accurate will always be those that most closely reflect one’s own view of the world. So while the Web, in theory, makes it possible to explore many more points of view than ever before, in practice, few people actually do this to the extent that they can.

Read the whole piece.

One Party Rule and Where It Gets You

When you hear pundits and politicians berating the ‘other side’ as the cause of all this country’s problems, consider that we’ve had one party rule of the three branches of our government for some time now.

Ask yourself, where has it gotten us? One party in power. The other with no capacity to contribute but scream from the peanut gallery. There’s no accountability, no oversight.

Our governmental system works best with checks and balances.

One party rule, for as long as we’ve had it, has left us in a state that serves only to re-elect those already in office, and for them to gather more power as a matter of course.

There’s no question that this is the most corrupt Congress ever. It serves only to rubber stamp anything the Administration puts its way.

That’s not the way the founders of this country intended it. And it needs to stop now.

I’m voting straight Democrat on Tuesday. That’s not something I typically would endorse. But we live in a time where our government no longer answers to its people. That has to change.

While I’m not one to throw around conspiracy theories, there’s a good deal of early evidence that would lead one to expect plenty of voting problems on Tuesday. It’s going to be up to all of us to keep an eye out and and spread word when or if that happens.

Queensryche: “Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale”

This feels strangely relevant today….

Revolution Calling
Operation Mindcrime – 1988


1. For a price I’d do about anything
Except pull the trigger
For that I’d need a pretty good cause
Then I heard of Dr. X
The man with the cure
Just watch the television
Yeah, you’ll see there’s something going on

2. Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It’s just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There’s a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

3. I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?

chorus. Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
(There’s a) Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

4. I’m tired of all this bullshit
They keep selling me on T.V.
About the communist plan
And all the shady preachers
Begging for my cash
Swiss bank accounts while giving their
Secretaries the slam

5. They’re all in Penthouse now
Or Playboy magazine, million dollar stories to tell
I guess Warhol wasn’t wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale

6. I used to think
That only America’s way, way was right
But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million doesn’t matter who dies

chorus. Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
(There’s a) Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

chorus. I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?

chorus. Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
(There’s a) Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through