Category: Silence

Why we SHOULD talk to strangers

| September 4, 2016 | 2 Replies

Kim Stark has made a career of talking to strangers. She made it her task to try to understand why she does that, in this TED talk. She has decided that it is better to use one’s perceptions than to use categories, such as the category of “stranger.” Using this category means that we are not treating others as fully human. There are other benefits. Some studies show that people are more comfortable opening up to strangers than to people they believe they know. We expect that people we know understand us–we expect them to read our minds. Not so with strangers, with whom we start from scratch. Sometimes they do understand us better. Maybe we need strangers, but how should we interact with them, how do we balance both civility and privacy, which are the guiding rules in the U.S. In other countries there are other rules. In Denmark, many folks are extremely adverse to talking to strangers.

Stark offers and exercise that involves smiling, and then “triangulation,” commenting on a third person or a thing. Or engage in “noticing,” such as complimenting the other person on something (and you can most easily talk to a stranger’s dog or baby). Or engage in “disclosure,” sharing a personal experience, and this tends to cause the “stranger” to reciprocate.

Stark’s main message is that we need to stop being so wary of strangers and to make a place for them in our lives.

At The Atlantic, James Hamblin follows up with his own explorations on talking to strangers.

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Guided meditation Video

| October 7, 2014 | Reply

I’ve soured on Sam Harris over the years, but I still find him to be highly articular and engaging.

In recent weeks, some friends have indicated that I look absorbed and even anxious, even though my life is filled with joys and possibilities. I have been told that I have tied myself in knots, and I have heard, “You need to get out of your own way.” For the umpteenth time, it has been suggested that I consider meditation in order to clear my mind.

You can learn about meditation in many places. I’ve read articles and even a book on meditation. Today, I stumbled across this video by Sam Harris, who has long been an advocate of meditation. The fact that he is also well versed in cognitive science caused me to be interested in his approach to meditation. This is a 26 minute guided meditation. I found myself surprisingly able to hang onto the process and to escape some of the things that have been distracting me as I viewed this video. I’m going to come back to this several more times, while I continue to explore personal meditation.

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Why the trial of Bradley Manning is about democracy

| July 21, 2013 | Reply

At the U.K. Guardian, Yochai Benkler writes that the trial of Bradley Manning is about much more than Manning’s freedom. And it’s about much more than Wikileaks.

[T]his case is about national security journalism, not WikiLeaks. At Monday’s argument in preparation for Thursday’s ruling, the judge asked the prosecution to confirm: does it make any difference if it’s WikiLeaks or any other news organization: New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal? The prosecution answered: “No, it would not. It would not potentially make a difference.”

There are a lot of Americans who immediately write off Manning as a criminal because he leaked “secret” information (many of those people have never bothered to watch “Collateral Murder,” a small but vivid and highly disturbing part of Manning’s leak.

How typical is this of the “fight for freedom” that has been waged in our names? We wouldn’t know, because the information that has come from Iraq over the years is carefully filtered by the American military American press. In woeful ignorance, many Americans fail to see that Manning’s trial is about the right of Americans’s to be informed about what goes on in their name, informed enough to engage in meaningful discussion and informed enough to vote intelligently.

Leak-based journalism is not the be-all-and-end-all of journalism. But ever since the Pentagon Papers, it has been a fraught but critical part of our constitutional checks in national defense. Nothing makes this clearer than the emerging bipartisan coalition of legislators seeking a basic reassessment of NSA surveillance and Fisa oversight following Edward Snowden’s leaks. National defense is special in both the need for, and dangers of, secrecy. As Justice Stewart wrote in the Pentagon Papers case, the press is particularly important in national defense because it is there that the executive is most powerful, and the other branches weakest and most deferential:

In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the first amendment. For without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people.

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Unequal access to secret information shows us who is doing real journalism

| June 30, 2013 | Reply

Chris Hayes nails it on MSNBC. The U.S. government and its many cronies in the mass media love to disburse secret information when it bolsters the position of the government. They take the opposite position when information embarrasses the U.S. government.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Love his conclusion: The conduct of the vast and growing surveillance web is “on all of us what the government does in our name.”

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Lee Camp unleashes ridicule toward big banks who censor chalk protester

| June 27, 2013 | Reply

Lee Camp says things that I think, but I also filter them. More and more, I’m feeling that being civil to the forces crushing democracy is not getting us anywhere. Therefore, Camp’s bursts of ridicule toward the rich and abusive are feeling cathartic. This episode takes a look at more abuses by big banks, especially a huge penalty levied toward a man who wrote his bank protests in chalk.

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Silence is a political statement

| June 26, 2013 | Reply

Lee Camp’s latest at Moment of Clarity

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