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Knowing What is What


I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind

I drifted out in my kayak

And thought I was in danger.

My fears

Those small ones that seemed so big.

For all the vital things

I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing –

The only thing.

To live to see

In huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns

And the light that fills the world.

                                  –   Inuit song, from the Kitlinuharmiut
                                                                            (Copper Eskimo)


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The writer of this Inuit song is someone who had the good fortune to grow old.


I (myself) am similar.  [I have not written many blogs lately; and my (best) excuse is that (nearly) eight weeks ago I underwent open heart surgery.  But I am recovering satisfactorily (and have a “new” mitral valve in my heart).  I am grateful … and hope to resume my writing duties.]    Anyway, I am 74.  And I can affirm that one of the advantages of growing older … is that we may see things more clearly than we did before.  This improved vision does not, of course, belong exclusively to the aging … but I have to admit – that (as I grow older) I have noticed it.  (And I’m grateful for that too.)


Now, I do not wish to support the notion that we shouldn’t deal with our difficulties … the REAL ones.  But sometimes we get ourselves (emotionally) worked up about something which (in reality) is of little consequence.  

The author of the Inuit song acknowledges this : (“My fears: those small ones that seemed so big – for all the vital things I had to get and to reach”)


And there is an account (recorded in the Urantia Book, [p. 1610]) which I wish to share with you –


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    1.               Diversion and Relaxation

143:3.1 (1610.4) About this time a state of great nervous and emotional tension developed among the apostles and their immediate disciple associates. They had hardly become accustomed to living and working together. They were experiencing increasing difficulties in maintaining harmonious relations with John’s disciples. The contact with the gentiles and the Samaritans was a great trial to these Jews. And besides all this, the recent utterances of Jesus had augmented their disturbed state of mind. Andrew was almost beside himself; he did not know what next to do, and so he went to the Master with his problems and perplexities. When Jesus had listened to the apostolic chief relate his troubles, he said: “Andrew, you cannot talk men out of their perplexities when they reach such a stage of involvement, and when so many persons with strong feelings are concerned. I cannot do what you ask of me—I will not participate in these personal social difficulties—but I will join you in the enjoyment of a three-day period of rest and relaxation. Go to your brethren and announce that all of you are to go with me up on Mount Sartaba, where I desire to rest for a day or two.

143:3.2 (1610.5) “Now you should go to each of your eleven brethren and talk with him privately, saying: ‘The Master desires that we go apart with him for a season to rest and relax. Since we all have recently experienced much vexation of spirit and stress of mind, I suggest that no mention be made of our trials and troubles while on this holiday. Can I depend upon you to co-operate with me in this matter?’ In this way privately and personally approach each of your brethren.” And Andrew did as the Master had instructed him.

143:3.3 (1611.1) This was a marvelous occasion in the experience of each of them; they never forgot the day going up the mountain. Throughout the entire trip hardly a word was said about their troubles. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Jesus seated them about him while he said: “My brethren, you must all learn the value of rest and the efficacy of relaxation. You must realize that the best method of solving some entangled problems is to forsake them for a time. Then when you go back fresh from your rest or worship, you are able to attack your troubles with a clearer head and a steadier hand, not to mention a more resolute heart. Again, many times your problem is found to have shrunk in size and proportions while you have been resting your mind and body.”

143:3.4 (1611.2) The next day Jesus assigned to each of the twelve a topic for discussion. The whole day was devoted to reminiscences and to talking over matters not related to their religious work. They were momentarily shocked when Jesus even neglected to give thanks—verbally—when he broke bread for their noontide lunch. This was the first time they had ever observed him to neglect such formalities.

143:3.5 (1611.3) When they went up the mountain, Andrew’s head was full of problems. John was inordinately perplexed in his heart. James was grievously troubled in his soul. Matthew was hard pressed for funds inasmuch as they had been sojourning among the gentiles. Peter was overwrought and had recently been more temperamental than usual. Judas was suffering from a periodic attack of sensitiveness and selfishness. Simon was unusually upset in his efforts to reconcile his patriotism with the love of the brotherhood of man. Philip was more and more nonplused by the way things were going. Nathaniel had been less humorous since they had come in contact with the gentile populations, and Thomas was in the midst of a severe season of depression. Only the twins were normal and unperturbed. All of them were exceedingly perplexed about how to get along peaceably with John’s disciples.

143:3.6 (1611.4) The third day when they started down the mountain and back to their camp, a great change had come over them. They had made the important discovery that many human perplexities are in reality nonexistent, that many pressing troubles are the creations of exaggerated fear and the offspring of augmented apprehension. They had learned that all such perplexities are best handled by being forsaken; by going off they had left such problems to solve themselves.

143:3.7 (1611.5) Their return from this holiday marked the beginning of a period of greatly improved relations with the followers of John. Many of the twelve really gave way to mirth when they noted the changed state of everybody’s mind and observed the freedom from nervous irritability which had come to them as a result of their three days’ vacation from the routine duties of life. There is always danger that monotony of human contact will greatly multiply perplexities and magnify difficulties.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Carl Jung says that people spend the first half of life getting “into the world” … and the 2nd half of life getting out of it.


This generalization he arrived at through having seen many many people as clients, as he worked as a psychotherapist.


I have great respect for Carl Jung; and I trust him.       And I make sense of his generalization mainly in this way:


We are multidimensional beings [we have a material aspect … AND we have a spiritual aspect] yet – we are forced to live in a (devoutly) Materialistic Society.  Our culture believes that there is a Big Equals Sign    between   REALITY    and   Materiality.  We believe that Materiality IS  Reality … that   Reality = Materiality    (which is NOT true).


By the time our (Inuit) author (of the epigram) wrote his song … he had largely transcended his (own and his culture’s) Materiality … Mmm?


As Maharishi says – “Enlightenment means – knowing what is What.”


It’s something to hope for.  

Maybe even strive for.



The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.


The Inuit people live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: in the territory of Nunavut (“our land”); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik (“place to live”); the coastal region of Labrador, in an area called Nunatsiavut (“our beautiful land”); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat. In the US, Alaskan Inupiat live on the North Slope of Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. Greenland’s Kalaallit are citizens of Denmark. The Yupik live in both Alaska and the Russian Far East.


In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (which technically is Inuit). No universal replacement term for Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, is accepted across the geographical area inhabited by the Inuit and Yupik peoples. In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favour, as it is considered pejorative by the natives and has been replaced by the term Inuit. In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25 and 35 recognised the Inuit as a distinctive group of Canadian aboriginals, who are neither First Nations nor Métis.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Urantia Book excerpt –

(Scroll down to get to Section 3)

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Gender Balance & the Earth


According to NPR  –  in this world


  do 2/3 of the work

    bring home 10% of the pay

      and own 1% of the property !




“The world is a ghetto”

                    –  the rock group, ‘War





If Mama ain’t happy

ain’t nobody happy.





Our relationship with the Earth is (clearly) reflected   in how we treat women.


I want to share with you here a recent Truthout article … by Marla Dolan.

I want to (fully) acknowledge her and thank her for her work.



Hawaii Considers an Explicitly Feminist Plan for COVID-Era Economic Recovery


  • “The road to economic recovery should not be across women’s backs,” reads the first sentence of Hawaii’s Feminist Economic Recovery Plan.

    As states put forth dozens of recovery plans that all aim to redress the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii’s remains the first and only that is explicitly “feminist.”

    The plan — which was released on April 14 by the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ State Commission on the Status of Women — does not seek to reinstate a status quo riddled with inequality. Instead it recognizes the current crisis as the “moment to build a system that is capable of delivering gender equality.”

    It calls for a universal basic income, countering the systemic wage and wealth gender gap. It calls for free, publicly provided child care for essential workers, a nearly $25/hour minimum wage for single mothers, and the creation of public emergency funds available for high-risk groups, like undocumented women who are ineligible for the federal cash refund, domestic workers who are experiencing financial hardship, and people classified as “sex trafficking survivors who have recently exited the commercial sex industry.”

    The plan calls for a reinvestment in midwifery services to provide maternal health care as hospitals become strained with pandemic response. It calls for a 20 percent pro-rata share of the state’s COVID-19-response funds to go immediately, no strings attached, to Native Hawaiian communities. The 23-page document is a vision for a new kind of economy while also conveying concrete policy recommendations, delivered directly to Hawaii legislators as they begin to apportion state funds toward recovery.

    Khara Jabola-Carolus saw the writing on the wall early. Jabola-Carolus works as the executive director of the State Commission on the Status of Women, and by early March, had seen enough to know that this would be a severely gendered crisis. Women, burdened with the vast amount of unpaid care work, were most impacted by stay-at-home orders, child care and school closures. Women quarantined in abusive homes with their perpetrators had little to no access to financial and social support systems. Women were performing the majority of essential, high-risk health care positions and other essential care work positions like teaching, but weren’t even receiving enough protective equipment or livable wages. Any policy response that ignored these gendered realities would only reinforce them.

    Jabola-Carolus recalls the exact moment she knew she needed to push for a feminist response. As the head of the Commission on the Status of Women, she was asked by legislators working on the state budget to provide a pro-woman plan to restructure and stimulate the economy — in less than half a day. “I was given only a few hours to answer these enormous questions and it made me damn angry. How could executives and bureaucrats, so far removed from the edge and illiterate in the struggles of women, define their future in a few hours?”

    She wanted to draft the recommendations in a very different way, one that modeled a community-based consultative process that prioritized Native, immigrant and working-class women and LGBTQIA+ peoples. “We were careful to go beyond the elite, white-dominated ‘advocates’ circles,” she told Truthout. The contributors in this circle were organizers, academics, activists, midwives and mothers, representing grassroots organizations, large nonprofits, unions and government agencies.

    “This is how we should be doing all of our policy making and planning,” said Kathleen Algire, director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, who was a member of the task force. “We can no longer say that ‘we can’t wait for the time community collaboration takes.’ We did it fast and we didn’t sacrifice the community to get it done.”

    Mykie Ozoa, an organizer with AF3IRM Hawaii, the state’s largest grassroots feminist network, saw this collaboration as key to producing pragmatic recommendations. “The Commission was adamant that the voices of women organizing to address issues on the ground in our communities were included, and I believe it is one reason this plan is so unique and offers urgent but easily attainable recommendations.”

    Within the plan itself, the attention given to care work, such as child care and elder care, is substantial. “You cannot separate women from caregiving, unpaid or paid,” said Algire, who helped draft the child care recommendations. They include universal free child care for all emergency and essential workers, paid family and sick leave, and mandated pay parity for child care workers to educators and nurses. “What we keep repeating is ‘there is no economic recovery without child care.’ For parents to go back to work, their children need to be cared for.”

    Algire pointed out the stark shortage of child care spaces available in Hawaii, even before the pandemic, with space for only 1 in 37 toddlers in the state. For many, child care costs are already their second-highest expense, after rent. “When families don’t have access to safe, affordable, quality child care, they are put in an impossible situation,” Algire told Truthout. “If it’s a two-parent household, one parent will likely leave the workforce. Because women are paid less, they are typically who we see staying home.”

    This often cost two-parent households a second income and many single mothers their only income, and it also impacts the employment side of the child care industry, too, where the workforce is mostly women. “Like many other professions, you may see men owning or serving as directors of large centers, but the primary workforce is women,” Algire said. “Child care is a low-paying job and [that fact] is a disgrace. These are the people we are entrusting our children’s lives to and they should be paid more than minimum wage.”

    The plan emphasizes that the industry cannot return to this unsustainable “normal” — state economic policies must help it change. “If a community, state or country wants to see workforce participation like we had [pre-pandemic], child care as an industry will need support. It will need to be subsidized,” Algire said. “The folks that are supporting, teaching, guiding, caring and loving our kids deserve better. Caring for children is hard, draining work. It is undervalued because it is seen as ‘women’s work.’ We’ve got to change that.”

    Health care for women and LGBTQIA+ people is also centered in the plan, with significant attention paid to supporting maternal health services in the state. Tanya Smith-Johnson, who worked at an organization called The Big Push for Midwives, told Truthout that maternal care policy must include deep and consistent consultation with pregnant and birthing people in order to fully address their needs, especially Black and Native people, who face additional marginalization within the maternal health care system.

    In fact, one of the five key recommendations made in diversifying and reshaping the economy is “to harness the role of midwifery to improve deficits in maternal and neonatal health care in Hawaii, especially in rural areas.” The plan’s recommendations include ensuring that insurance companies and Medicaid cover midwifery services fully, and matching hospital-based midwives with community midwives to meet the increasing demand for out-of-hospital birth options, as many who are pregnant wish to give birth out of hospitals to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.

    The writers of the plan wanted the word “feminism” front and center — in the report itself and in the conversations it will spur. “If the plan isn’t feminist, it’s patriarchal and will fail to deliver a resilient, strong economy,” Jabola-Carolus said, and urged that the individual policy recommendations put forth cannot be removed from the systemic critique that “feminism” actually articulates. “Feminism, in terms of policy, is mostly stuff that has broad public support, but we need to say ‘feminist’ in order to actually talk about the culture surrounding those policies. It has to be about root causes,” Jabola-Carolus said.

    Take paid family leave, for example. It’s an incredibly popular policy, and would decrease one form of gender inequality in the workplace, where women are often forced out of careers in order to perform unpaid care work for family members. But if paid family leave is not introduced as an explicitly feminist policy, it can erase the broader structures of inequality that allow other forms of workplace discrimination to persist. It just seems like one problem with one policy fix, and not part of anything systemic. For Jabola-Carolus, “this was a call to the left to be explicitly feminist in the same way that it’s finally, explicitly naming systemic racism.” She says naming feminism is critical for progressive movements’ policy platforms to adequately address institutionalized oppression.

    The word “feminism” might be used in popular culture more than ever before, but this is not reflected in policy. Only one federal bill has ever been proposed that uses it: a 2017 piece of legislation to commemorate women’s rights leader Bella Abzug for her “feminist presence” in Congress.

    Jabola-Carolus said she wasn’t aware of any other state-level economic plan that put feminism in its title. All of the advocates Truthout spoke to also viewed this first-time inclusion of “feminist” as hugely significant. Sarah Michal Hamid, a youth organizer who also sat on the committee, said it was “groundbreaking,” as “it means that finally a government agency is recognizing that women and non-men are unevenly burdened under our current economy, and that this needs to change.”

    But the goal is for its usage in policy to be eventually commonplace, a consequence of serious gender consideration in all planning. “It shouldn’t be unique that a state plan centers women and girls. When the most marginalized are centered, everyone else’s needs will also be met,” Ozoa said. “I hope that other states use this opportunity to take stock and reprioritize.”

    The women who put together the Hawaii plan do believe that their work can provide a pathway for feminists’ engagement in other states.

    “I hope other states adapt it to their needs, keeping the essence of the document, because it really is a plan that is universal and necessary,” Smith-Johnson told Truthout. This might look different based on each state’s demographic, employment and industry needs, but could share common commitments to tackling economic realities that marginalize women.

    For other states embarking on their own drafting processes, Hawaii’s advocates are the first to admit that there is room for these recommendations to grow. In future iterations, both Jabola-Carolus and Ozoa noted they would like to see a stronger integration of transformative justice frameworks that pursue gender-based violence prevention without relying on mass incarceration. Smith-Johnson would like to see how these recommendations could influence federal-level feminist economic policy: “Can you imagine the impact that would have?”

    For now, the report lives in the halls of Hawaii’s House and Senate, as legislators review proposals and apportion COVID-19 recovery funds in the weeks that follow. “I know this plan will have a ripple effect on how we move forward,” said Algire. “Unlike other plans that will sit on a shelf and be forgotten, this will be a guiding document for years to come.”

    Hamid said she hopes that the questions raised in this report reverberate all around the country. “As other governments begin this ‘road to recovery,’ they should carefully consider who is allowed on that road, and whose backs it is being built on.”

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More: Chemistry & Mineralogy / Home Schooling



MOST of the Elements in the Periodic Table … are METALS … and they live on the left side of the table.


There are Seventeen NON-METALS.

Hydrogen (one of the Non-Metals and the simplest of the elements) has carved out a home on the table’s Upper-Left corner; but except for Hydrogen – ALL  the Non-Metals are grouped in the Table’s Upper-Right corner.

FOUR of these (Carbon, Phosphorus, Selenium,  and Sulfur) are (normally) solids; but (except for these) the Non-Metals are GASSES.


In Between the Metals and the Non-Metals … are the Metalloids.  These are elements which have Some of the properties of Metals … but also – some of the properties of Non-Metals.  There are seven of these.


The most important of these (for OUR purposes, since our focus is Mineralogy) – is Silicon.  


[Quartz = Silicon Dioxide.  And I will commend to you – the book:  “Quartz Family Minerals”.

The basic recipe for Granite – is Quartz, Feldspar, Hornblende, and Mica; ALL are Quartz Minerals.

Our Continents – are big blobs of granite … floating in a sea of Basalt; and basalt is a quartz Rock.]


The following video does quite a good job showing the Three categories of elements in the periodic table (just discussed above).



At this (early) stage, I do not consider it important – that you spend much time familiarizing yourself with the majority of the Elements (of the periodic table); however, you SHOULD familiarize yourself with about the first thirty:















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Home Schooling / Chemistry & Mineralogy



My first submission to the SpykerFarm (and as an Open Letter) – of suggestions for home schooling was last week’s; it was on Poetry … and included assignments (for each person) to learn a particular poem and share it with the family.


This second one is on Chemistry & Mineralogy.  (Of course – Owen got a rock tumbler for Christmas; and the last time I was there, his batch of rocks was nearing completion). 

I will admit – (as with ANY discipline) – that Love (appreciation  /  a heart connection with whatever you’re studying) – is the most important component … then on this basis, knowledge and understanding (as it is acquired) enhances and enriches that Love.


We study Chemistry along with Mineralogy because it’s not really possible to understand rocks and minerals without some knowledge of chemistry.


Let’s do a quick review of what we’ve already learned –


All matter is made up of only about a hundred basic Elements.  And these elements intercombine into a multitude of compounds.  (Water, for example, is a compound of  the elements : hydrogen and oxygen.)  Dan got copies of the Periodic Table of Elements to each of the kids.


This Periodic Table is not just a mere list (of all the elements).  It is called ‘Periodic’ because the elements within the table each occupy a place in the table according to the (naturally occurring) pattern, according to which – the elements interact (chemically) with each other.


[The Periodic Table will never get old … it will only get better, as we come to understand it better.]



  (periodic table with actual PHYSICAL SAMPLES  of each element)  [For many years I have thought that this sort of Periodic Table (with actual physical samples) – was just what we needed]










(the chemical elements in order)















We all ate a salty cracker … SLOWLY.  (We chewed it but did not swallow it … until we noticed that the cracker changed its taste to: SWEET!)   From this experience we learned – that our TONGUE KNOWS CHEMISTRY !        [Ptyalin is an enzyme, a protein found in saliva that breaks down the insoluble starch found in foods into smaller, soluble sugar fragments.  This is a chemical change.]


We found that salt (or sugar) will dissolve in water.  This is NOT a chemical change; but it’s still important.  Minerals can dissolve (go into solution) … and they can come out.  

Many minerals form in just this way.  They dissolve (go into solution) in the ground water … then come out of solution again, when the conditions allow this to happen.  

This is how an agate (or a geode) forms.  Or quartz crystals.  (NOT the ones in granite; these form in a different way: from the slow cooling of a hot molten mass of material (magma).)


I sent you links to videos – on how to make ‘rock candy’ – (crystals – from a water solution), but I’m not sure you watched them (or did the experiments)


    (make rock candy in 7 days)




   (make rock candy in 4 hours)




I know you DID see some of the videos – which are designed to help us comprehend HOW BIG  and   HOW SMALL our universe is  (though honestly – it’s really BEYOND our comprehension.  We should still TRY though.)


    (Cosmic Voyage Zoom-in:     1 minute)



   (Powers of 10 –  with  Morgan Freeman)









At my request, Dan acquired (for the farm’s Home School)  a copy of “Rocks and Minerals” (from the Smithsonian Handbooks series).  It contains nice photos AND it shows the chemical formula of each mineral listed (which connects us to the Elements on the periodic table) !


Now I want to suggest that you (also) have another book available to you: “Discover Rocks & Minerals” (from Publications International, Ltd.    ISBN:  1-56173-854-9)   This book also has lots of good photos; and it’s geared toward young people.


We talked some – about oxidation … which, we have observed, may happen fast (as with a bonfire) … or slow (as when a piece of steel, which has been left lying around the farm (maybe even buried in the dirt) for a long time –  gets rusty.  (The rust itself is iron oxide.  When the rust is yellow, it’s the same as ‘Limonite’; when it’s dark red or black, it’s similar to (naturally occurring) ‘Hematite’.

And, of course Quartz is also an oxide … only it’s an oxide of silicon – silicon dioxide)


We also had a look at how (even THICK) steel may be cut with an oxygen-acetylene torch.  And the reason this process is called “burning” is because: once the cutting is in progress, the steel becomes the FUEL.  Rapid oxidation.  Just like how wood is the fuel in a bonfire.  (And, by the way, even most GROWNUPS do not know this.)


  (‘Burning’ steel with an oxygen-acetylene torch)


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


(to be continued)

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Home Schooling / Poetry

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.


                                                              –    Billy Collins

                (from his ‘Introduction to Poetry‘)
My brother Dan and his wife Alexandra raised three daughters … in such a way – that (now that the kids are grown and have their own families) these ‘kids’  live at the Spyker farm … by choice.
Personally, I regard this as No Small Achievement.
(Actually, the oldest daughter does NOT live at the farm.  She lives in San Francisco, where she is a [paid] member of the Choir of the Symphony Orchestra … and has other work which she would have to give up if she were to live at the farm.  She visits when she can.)
I do too.
~~~~~~~~~~~     [Spyker farm letter / assignments       used here ~ with permission]

As it’s taking me too long to get all my home-schooling ideas organized, I thought I should change my approach and send you my suggestions in installments.

This first one is a proposal – that everybody at the farm learn a poem … and share it at a Family Gathering.  (Of course, this may be done all at one time, or more spread-out; and it could be done at an actual physical gathering, or electronically, by shared video recordings or live video chat.)

When I was in the hospital (in Bend) three weeks ago, I roughed out a list of suggested poems, matched to the people at the farm.

It is, of course, of some importance that people actually WANT to do this … and wanting to will certainly include liking the poem you’re learning and intend to share with the Family.

In any case – here are your assignments (if you should decide to accept them).  I have tried to offer options, in an attempt to find each person an agreeable poem.  I am, of course, open to your criticisms and suggestions.

When Dan & I were little, our mom (Alice) would sometimes (fairly often, I would say) tell us “The Bear Story” (by James Whitcomb Riley) which she had learned.  This was a treat for us; and it would (of course) be difficult to say how her doing this enriched our lives, but there is no doubt that it DID.  When I was more grown up, I would sometimes SEE – how she liked to hold a young child … rock them and sing to them.  And I know that Dan (& Jack) and I received this same blessing. It is (I would say) – something that she did Very Well.

[I’ll include the ‘Bear Story’, though I do not intend to assign it … at least, not now.].

I will also mention – (and this pertains to Zoey & Ezry’s assignment in particular, but it’s also pertinent to each person’s assignment)  – that before the film “Good Will Hunting” was produced, both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck learned both their parts, their lines … such that both of them were ready to step into and play either of those roles.

And – I think this brings me to a quote by William Cory –

You go to a great school not for knowledge so much as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment’s notice a new intellectual posture, for the art of entering quickly into other person’s thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of working out what is possible within a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage and mental soberness.  Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.

So (just so we’re clear) – WHY would we be willing to settle for Education which is mediocre, or even “Good” …  if we could provide Education that is Great?

Sometime you should (all … grown-ups first)  watch the movie – “Captain Fantastic” (2016), in which Viggo Mortensen plays a dad who works hard to give his (6) kids a rigorous physical and intellectual (home-schooled) education.

It is my understanding that (once a child WANTS to learn) – he or she can learn an entire year’s worth of knowledge … in about six weeks.  (This has to do with the variable which is sometimes referred to as ‘engagement’.)

I invite you (all) to have a look at the video (which, by the way, your neighbor, Leonard Johnson recorded for me, in June of 2013, when I was myself living at the farm).  It contains several poems, including Benet’s “The Mountain Whippoorwill”. [See attachments for link/use info]




~ ~ ~


Dan:  Davy Crockett’s ‘Love Cure’  (or) “The Family Is All There Is” (or)  “Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland”  (or) “Embroidery” by Denise Levertov (or)  “Meaning of the Shovel”




Thar war a feller in Washington that put the thunder and litening into glass bottles, and when a feller had the roomatiz, or the Saint Vitals dance, he would put the axletressity into his corpse jist like pouring whiskey into a powder horn, and it cured him as clean as a barked tree. So I seed how ’twas done and intarmined whenever ennything aled me to try it, only I didn’t keer about the bottles, for I thort I could jist as well take the litening in the raw state as it cum from the clouds. I had been used to drink out of the Massissippy without a cup, and so I could take the litening without the bottles and whirligigs that belongs to an axletressityfying macheen.  

It fell out that sum two yeers arter I had ben to see this axletrissity, I got a leetle in love with a pesky smart gal in our cleering, and I knowed it war not rite, seeing I war a married man. So I combobbolated on the subject and at last I resisted that I would explunctificate my passions by axletrissity, so it must be done by bringing it rite on the hart and driving the love out of it. 

So I went out into the forrest one arternoon when thar war a pestiferous thunder gust, and I opened my mouth so that the axletressity might run down and hit my hart, to cure it of love. I stood so for an hour, and then I seed a thunderbolt a cummin, and I dodged my mouth rite under it, and plump it went into my throte.  

My eyes! It war as if seven buffaloes war kicking in my bowels. My hart spun round amongst my insides like a grind stone going by steem, but the litening went clean through me and tore the trowsers cleen off as it cum out. I had a sore gizzard for two weeks afterward, and my inwards war so hot that I use to eat raw vittals for a month afterward and it would be cooked befour it got farely down my throte.  

I have never felt love since. 

                                                                 –    Davy Crockett


 The Family Is All There Is

Think of those old, enduring connections

found in all flesh–the channeling

wires and threads, vacuoles, granules,

plasma and pods, purple veins, ascending

boles and coral sapwood (sugar-

and light-filled), those common ligaments,

filaments, fibers and canals.

Seminal to all kin also is the open

mouth–in heart urchin and octopus belly,

in catfish, moonfish, forest lily,

and rugosa rose, in thirsty magpie,

wailing cat cub, barker, yodeler,

yawning coati.

And there is a pervasive clasping

common to the clan–the hard nails

of lichen and ivy sucker

on the church wall, the bean tendril

and the taproot, the bolted coupling

of crane flies, the hold of the shearwater

on its morning squid, guanine

to cytosine, adenine to thymine,

fingers around fingers, the grip

of the voice on presence, the grasp

of the self on place.

Remember the same hair on pygmy

dormouse and yellow-necked caterpillar,

covering red baboon, thistle seed

and willow herb? Remember the similar

snorts of warthog, walrus, male moose

and sumo wrestler? Remember the familiar

whinny and shimmer found in river birches,

bay mares and bullfrog tadpoles,

in children playing at shoulder tag

on a summer lawn?

The family–weavers, reachers, winders

and connivers, pumpers, runners, air

and bubble riders, rock-sitters, wave-gliders,

wire-wobblers, soothers, flagellators–all

brothers, sisters, all there is.

Name something else.                   

–   Pattiann Rogers                              


Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland

The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen Strand,

Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;

Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,

But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The wind has bundled up the clouds high over Knock- narea,

And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.

Angers that are like noisy clouds have set our hearts abeat;

But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The yellow pool has overflowed high up on Clooth-na-Bare,

For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;

Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood;

But purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood

Is Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

                                               –  William Butler Yeats

An Embroidery

Rose Red’s hair is brown as fur

and shines in firelight as she prepares

supper of honey and apples, curds and whey,

for the bear, and leaves it ready

on the hearth-stone.

Rose White’s grey eyes

look into the dark forest.

Rose Red’s cheeks are burning,

sign of her ardent, joyful

compassionate heart.

Rose White is pale,

turning away when she hears

the bear’s paw on the latch.

When he enters, there is

frost on his fur,

he draws near to the fire

giving off sparks.

Rose Red catches the scent of the forest,

of mushrooms, of rosin.

Together Rose Red and Rose White

sing to the bear;

it is a cradle song, a loom song,

a song about marriage, about

a pilgrimage to the mountains

long ago.

Raised on an elbow,

the bear stretched on the hearth

nods and hums; soon he sighs

and puts down his head.

He sleeps; the Roses

bank the fire.

Sunk in the clouds of their feather bed

they prepare to dream.

Rose Red in a cave that smells of honey

dreams she is combing the fur of her cubs

with a golden comb.

Rose White is lying awake.

Rose White shall marry the bear’s brother.

Shall he too

when the time is ripe,

step from the bear’s hide?

Is that other, her bridegroom,

here in the room?

                                     –   Denise Levertov


The Meaning of the Shovel

This was the dictator’s land

before the revolution.

Now the dictator is exiled to necropolis,

his army brooding in camps on the border,

and the congregation of the landless

stipples the earth with a thousand shacks,

every weatherbeaten carpenter

planting a fistful of nails.

Here I dig latrines. I dig because last week

I saw a funeral in the streets of Managua,

the coffin swaddled in a red and black flag,

hoisted by a procession so silent

that even their feet seemed

to leave no sound on the gravel.

He was eighteen, with the border patrol,

when a sharpshooter from the dictator’s army

took aim at the back of his head.

I dig because yesterday

I saw four walls of photographs:

the faces of volunteers

in high school uniforms

who taught campesinos to read,

bringing an alphabet

sandwiched in notebooks

to places where the mist never rises

from the trees. All dead,

by malaria or the greedy river

or the dictator’s army

swarming the illiterate villages

like a sky full of corn-plundering birds.

I dig because today, in this barrio

without plumbing, I saw a woman

wearing a yellow dress

climb into a barrel of water

to wash herself and the dress

at the same time,

her cupped hands spilling.

I dig because today I stopped digging

to drink an orange soda. In a country

with no glass, the boy kept the treasured bottle

and poured the liquid into a plastic bag

full of ice, then poked a hole with a straw.

I dig because today my shovel

struck a clay bowl centuries old,

the art of ancient fingers

moist with this same earth,

perfect but for one crack in the lip.

I dig because I have hauled garbage

and pumped gas and cut paper

and sold encyclopedias door to door.

I dig, digging until the passport

in my back pocket saturates with dirt,

because here I work for nothing

and for everything.



Alexandra:  Hilaire Belloc’s  “Tarantella” (or)  Stephens’ “The Fifteen Acres”  (or) Rilke’s “The Man Watching”


Do you remember an Inn,


Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the spreading

Of the straw for a bedding,

And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,

And the wine that tasted of tar?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,

Do you remember an Inn?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

Who hadn’t got a penny,

And who weren’t paying any,

And the hammer at the doors and the din?

And the hip! hop! hap!

Of the clap

Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl

Of the girl gone chancing,



Backing and advancing,

Snapping of the clapper to the spin

Out and in–

And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!

Do you remember an Inn,


Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;


Never more.

Only the high peaks hoar;

And Aragon a torrent at the door.

No sound

In the walls of the halls where falls

The tread

Of the feet of the dead to the ground,

No sound:

But the boom

Of the far waterfall like doom.

                                  –    Hilaire Belloc




The Fifteen Acres


I cling and swing

On a branch, or sing

Through the cool, clear hush of Morning, O!

Or fling my wing

On the air, and bring

To sleepier birds a warning, O!

That the night’s in flight,

And the sun’s in sight,

And the dew is the grass adorning, O!

And the green leaves swing

As I sing, sing, sing,

Up by the river,

Down the dell,

To the little wee nest,

Where the big tree fell,

So early in the morning, O!


I flit and twit

In the sun for a bit

When his light so bright is shining, O!

Or sit and fit

My plumes, or knit

Straw plaits for the nest’s nice lining, O!

And she with glee

Shows unto me

Underneath her wings reclining, O!

And I sing that Peg

Has an egg, egg, egg,

Up by the oat-field,

Round by the mill,

Past the meadow,

Down the hill,

So early in the morning, O! 


I stoop and swoop

On the air, or loop

Through the trees, and then go soaring, O!

To group with a troop

On the gusty poop

While the wind behind is roaring, O!

I skim and swim

By a cloud’s red rim

And up the the azure flooring, O!

And my wide wings drip

As I slip, slip, slip,

Down through the raindrops,

Back where Peg

Broods in the nest

On the little white egg,

So early in the morning, O!

                              –  James Stephens



The Man Watching 

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after

so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes

that a storm is coming,

and I hear the far-off fields say things

I can’t bear without a friend,

I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on 

across the woods and across time,

and the world looks as if it had no age:

the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, 

is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 

What fights with us is so great. 

If only we would let ourselves be dominated

as things do by some immense storm, 

we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things, 

and the triumph itself makes us small. 

What is extraordinary and eternal

does not want to be bent by us. 

I mean the Angel who appeared

to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:

when the wrestlers’ sinews 

grew long like metal strings, 

he felt them under his fingers 

like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel 

(who often simply declined the fight) 

went away proud and strengthened

and great from that harsh hand, 

that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 

Winning does not tempt that man. 

This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 

by constantly greater beings.

                                           – Rainer Maria Rilke



Jess:  “Riding Out at Evening”     (or)    “The Race”

Riding Out at Evening  


At dusk, everything blurs and softens..

from here out over the long valley,

the fields and hills roll up

the first slight sheets of evening,

as, over the next hour,

heavier, darker ones will follow.

Quieted roads, predictable deer

browsing in a neighbor’s field, another’s

herd of heifers, the kitchen lights

starting in many windows.  On horseback

I take it in, neither visitor

nor intruder, but kin passing , closer

and closer to night, its cold streams

rising in the sugarbush and  hollow.

Half-aloud, I say to the horse,

or myself, or whoever, let fire not come

to this house, nor that barn,

nor lightning strike that cattle.

Let dogs not gain the gravid doe, let the lights

of the rooms convey what they seem to.

And who is to say it is useless

or foolish to ride out in the falling light

alone, wishing, or praying,

for particular good to particular beings

on one small road in a huge world?

The horse bears me along, like grace,

making me better than what I am,

and what I think or say or see

is whole in these moments, is neither

small nor broken.  For up, out of

the inscrutable earth, have come my body

and the separate body of the mare:

flawed and aching and wronged.  Who then

is better made to say be well, be glad,

or who to long that we, as one,

might course over the entire valley.

over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace

of flight, who presses against her breast,

in grief and tenderness,

the whole weeping body of the world.

                                                          – Linda McCarriston





The Race


When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,

bought a ticket, ten minutes later

they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors

had said my father would not live through the night

and the flight was cancelled. A young man

with a dark brown moustache told me

another airline had a nonstop

leaving in seven minutes. See that 

elevator over there, well go

down to the first floor, make a right, you’ll

see a yellow bus, get off at the

second Pan Am terminal, I 

ran, I who have no sense of direction

raced exactly where he’d told me, a fish

slipping upstream deftly against

the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those

bags I had thrown everything into

in five minutes, and ran, the bags

wagged me from side to side as if 

to prove I was under the claims of the material,

I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,

I who always go to the end of the line, I said

Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said

Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then

run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,

at the top I saw the corridor, 

and then I took a deep breath, I said

goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,

I used my legs and heart as if I would

gladly use them up for this,

to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the 

bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed

in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of

women running, their belongings tied

in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my 

long legs he gave me, my strong

heart I abandoned to its own purpose,

I ran to Gate 17 and they were

just lifting the thick white

lozenge of the door to fit it into

the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not 

too rich, I turned sideways and 

slipped through the needle’s eye, and then

I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet

was full, and people’s hair was shining, they were 

smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a

mist of gold endorphin light, 

I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,

in massive relief. We lifted up

gently from one tip of the continent

and did not stop until we set down lightly on the

other edge, I walked into his room

and watched his chest rise slowly

and sink again, all night

I watched him breathe.

                                                –    Sharon Olds



Zoey & Ezry:  Lorca’s  “Casida of the Rose”  [This is a short poem, but I want you both to learn both the (original) Spanish AND the English … then take turns with the languages.  Sometimes you may want to present the Spanish, then the English …( maybe verse by verse, or maybe line by line).  Experiment. Take your time. Work hard.]

“Casida de la rosa”

La rosa 

no buscaba la aurora: 

Casi eterna en su ramo 

buscaba otra cosa. 

La rosa 

no buscaba ni ciencia ni sombra: 

Confín de carne y sueño 

buscaba otra cosa. 

La rosa 

no buscaba la rosa: 

Inmóvil por el cielo 

¡buscaba otra cosa!

                                    –   Federico García Lorca

~ ~ ~ ~

Casida of the Rose


The rose

was not searching for the sunrise:

almost eternal on its branch,

it was searching for something else.


The rose

was not searching for darkness or science:

borderline of flesh and dream,

it was searching for something else.


The rose

was not searching for the rose.

Motionless in the sky

it was searching for something else.


                     –    Federico Garcia Lorca



Nathan:  “Hank Spink”  (or) E. E. Cummings’  “anyone lived in a pretty how town”   (or)   Rilke’s  ‘Sometimes a man stands up’

“Hank Spink”


HANK SPINK, he said — or Bob did, his brother —

‘At he hit a man once for somepin or other,

An’ after he di it — I got this from Bob —

He simply went right out an’ give up his job;

Not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Give up his job.


He said ‘at the wind, or the force of his blow,

Er somepin like that, somehow — I don’t know

Just now what it was — I got it from Bob,

But he got a good swat; not Hank or Bob,

By a long shot,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Got a good swat.


He said he’d be blamed, but the didn’t know

How he came to strike such an all-fired blow,

‘Cept he hung with his right an’ threw the whole heft

Of his weight an’ his science, an’ hit with his left;

That lost ‘im his job; not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit,

Lost him his job.


         –    Benjamin Franklin King




anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.


Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain


children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more


when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her


someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream


stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)


one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was


all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.


Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain


                             –   e. e. cummings




Sometimes a man stands up

Sometimes a man stands up during supper

and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,

because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,

stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,

so that his children have to go far out into the world

toward that same church, which he forgot.


                                                                 –   Rainer Maria Rilke





Sheena:  “Picketing Supermarkets”  (or) “The wind one brilliant day” by Jimenez

Picketing  Supermarkets

Because all this food is grown in the store,

do not take the leaflet.

Cabbages, broccoli, and tomatoes

are raised at night in the aisles.

Milk is brewed in the rear storage areas,

beef produced in vats in the basement.

Do not take the leaflet.

Peanut butter and soft drinks

are made fresh each morning by store employees.

Our oranges and grapes

are so fine and round

that when held up to the light they cast no shadow.

Do not take the leaflet.

And should you take one,

do not believe it.

This chain of stores has no connection

with anyone growing food someplace else.

Do not believe it.

The sound here is Muzak, for your enjoyment,

it is not the sound of children crying.

There is a lady offering samples

to mark Canada Cheese Month.

There is no dark-skinned man with black hair

beside her

wanting to show you the inside of a coffin.

You would not have to look if there was.

And there are no Nicaraguan heroes

in any way connected with the bananas.

Pay no attention to these people.

The manager is a citizen.

All this food was grown in the store.

                                                  –     Tom Wayman




The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an odor of jasmine.


‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,

I’d like all the odor of your roses.’


‘I have no roses; all the flowers

in my garden are dead.’


‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals

and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’


the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:

‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’


                                      –    Antonio Machado





Mira:  “Why Mira Can’t Go Back to Her Old House”   (or) Rilke’s “I Live My Life” (or) “Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit”

“Why Mira Can’t Go Back to her Old House”

The colors of the Dark One have penetrated Mira’s body; all the other colors washed out.

Making love with the Dark One and eating little, those are my pearls and my carnelians.

Meditation beads and the forehead streak, those are my scarves and my rings.

That’s enough feminine wiles for me. My teacher taught me this.

Approve me or disapprove me: I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.

I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.

I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone. What will you charge me with?

I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders;

and now you want me to climb on a jackass?

Try to be serious.

                                                                                     –  Mirabai


I Live My Life

I live my life in widening circles

that reach out across the world.

I may not ever complete the last one,

but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, that primordial tower.

I have been circling for thousands of years,

and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,

a storm, or a great song?

                                      –  Rainer Maria Rilke


Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.

                                                                                                                                                                                           –  Joy Harjo




Abby: “A Flower No More than Itself”  (or) “Blessing”

A Flower No More Than Itself

She was there on the mountain

still as the fig tree and the failed wheat.

Only the lizards and a few goats moved.

Everything stunned by heat and silence.

I would get to the top of the terraced starkness

with my ankles cut by thistles and all of me

drained by the effort in the fierce light.

I would put the pomegranate and the anise

and a few daisies on the great rock

where the fountain was long ago.

Too tired to praise. And found each time

tenderness and abundance in the bareness.

Went back down knowing I would sleep clean.

That She would be awake all year with sun

and dirt and rain. Pride Her life.

All nature Her wealth. Sound of owls Her pillow.

                                                –   Linda Gregg


A Blessing

For the graduates of the University of Arizona.


This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness:

the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land,

and all animals and humankind.

We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary

accomplishment of earning doctoral or master’s degrees.

We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children,

family members, and friends who have traveled with them

on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here

this morning: we honor their devotion.


May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.


We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived

on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories,

and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O’odham

in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate

accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.


May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead.

May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.


We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues.

Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories.

May each of us remember to share our stories with one another,

because it is only through stories that we live full lives.


May the words we speak go forth as bright beads

of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration.

We have faith that the graduates will inspire others

to explore and follow their interests.


Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:

Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside.

They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again.

We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration

for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.


Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue

mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us

the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.


Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk.

They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts’aa’,

the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.


The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night’s darkness;

their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that,

though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened

by the prayers of our forebearers.

We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered,

and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys.

We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił,

and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił.

We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains

that help us negotiate our daily lives.


May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.

May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom

and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.


We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.


May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize

that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way

of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that

we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful,

Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.


All is beautiful again.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

                                                 –     Luci Tapahonso


Travis:  “Mia Carlotta”   (or) “Plato told him”  by E. E. Cummings (or)  Roethke’s “The Waking”

Mia Carlotta”


GIUSEPPE, da barber, ees greata for “mash,”   

He gotta da bigga, da blacka mustache,   

Good clo’es an’ good styla an’ playnta good cash.   

W’enevra Giuseppe ees walk on da street,   

Da peopla dey talka, “how nobby! how neat!           

How softa da handa, how smalla da feet.”   

He raisa hees hat an’ he shaka hees curls,   

An’ smila weeth teetha so shiny like pearls;   

O! many da heart of da seelly young girls   

               He gotta.    

       Yes, playnta he gotta—   

               But notta   


Giuseppe, da barber, he maka da eye,   

An’ lika da steam engine puffa an’ sigh,    

For catcha Carlotta w’en she ees go by.   

Carlotta she walka weeth nose in da air,   

An’ look through Giuseppe weeth far-away stare,   

As eef she no see dere ees som’body dere.   

Giuseppe, da barber, he gotta da cash,    

He gotta da clo’es an’ da bigga mustache,   

He gotta da seely young girls for da “mash,”   

               But notta—   

       You bat my life, notta—   


               I gotta!


                                  –   Thomas A. Daly


“Plato told”




The Waking


I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   

I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   

And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   

To you and me; so take the lively air,   

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   

What falls away is always. And is near.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I learn by going where I have to go.

                               –   Theodore Roethke


Owen:  “The Unwritten”  by W. S. Merwin (or)  “Lizzie Pitofsky” (or) Kabir’s “Then What?”  (or) Rumi’s ‘Love Hawk’ (or) Masefield’s “Cargoes”

“The Unwritten”


Inside this pencil

crouch words that have never been written

never been spoken

never been taught

they’re hiding

they’re awake in there

dark in the dark

hearing us

but they won’t come out

not for love not for time not for fire

even when the dark has worn away they’ll still be there

hiding in the air

multitudes in days to come may walk through them

breathe them

be none the wiser

what script can it be

that they won’t unroll

in what language

would I recognize it

would I be able to follow it

to make out the real names 

of everything

maybe there aren’t 


it could be that there’s only one word

and it’s all we need

it’s here in this pencil

every pencil in the world

is like this

                         – W. S. Merwin



“Lizzie Pitofsky Poem”


I can’t get enoughsky

Of Lizzie Pitofsky

I love her so much that it hurts.

I want her so terrible

I’d give her my gerbil

Plus twenty-two weeks of desserts.


I know that it’s lovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Is turning me into a saint

I smell like a rose

I’ve stopped picking my nose,

And I practically never say ‘Ain’t’.


I don’t push and shovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Likes boys who are gentle and kind.

I’m not throwing rocks

And I’m changing my socks

(And to tell you the truth I don’t mind)


Feed me vinegar juice,

And do other mean, bad, awful stuffsky.

But promise me this:

I won’t die without kiss-

ing my glorious Lizzie Pitofsky.


                                 –     Judith Viorst




Have you heard the music that no fingers enter into?


Far inside the house

Entangled music  –

What is the sense of leaving your house?


Suppose you scrub your ethical skin

Until it shines,

But inside, there is no music,

Then what?


Mohammed’s son pores over words,

And points out this

And that,

But if his chest is not soaked dark with love,

Then what?


The yogi comes along in his famous orange.

But if inside he is colorless, 

Then what?


                                                 –   Kabir





Someone who does not run

toward the allure of love

walks a road where nothing


lives.  But this dove here

senses the love hawk floating

above, and waits, and will not


be driven or scared to safety


                                    –   Rumi







Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.


Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,

With a cargo of diamonds,

Emeralds, amythysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.


Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


                                                          –    John Masefield





Elise:  ‘Inuit Song’   (or) Merwin’s ‘Breath’  (or) Kabir’s “Knowing Nothing”

I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind

I drifted out in my kayak

And thought I was in danger.

My fears

Those small ones that seemed so big.

For all the vital things

I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing –

The only thing:


To live to see

In huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns

And the light that fills the world.


 –   Inuit song, from the Kitlinuharmiut

                                                                            (Copper Eskimo)

[The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.]



I say to my breath once again


little breath 


come from in front of me


go away behind me


row me quietly now


as far as you can 


for I am an abyss


that I am trying to cross.


                       –  W. S. Merwin





Knowing nothing shuts the iron gates;  the new love opens them.


The sound of the gates opening wakes the beautiful woman asleep.


Kabir says:            


                          Fantastic!      Don’t let a chance like this go by !



                                                                                                    –  Kabir





Zach:  [if you want to include him, and if he wishes to be included]:  Rumi’s “Names” (or) “Advice” by Bill Holm (or) Mary Oliver’s  “Wild Geese” (or) “Wide Receiver” (or) “Instead of a Preface”



You should try to hear the name the Holy One  has for things.

There is something in the phrase:  “The Holy One taught him names.”

We name everything according to the number of legs it has;

The holy one names it according to what is inside.

Moses waved his stick; he thought it was a “rod.”

But inside its name was “dragonish snake.”

We thought the name of Umar meant: “agitator against priests”;

But in eternity his name is “the one who believes.”

No one knows our name until our last breath goes out.

                                                                   –  Rumi






Someone dancing inside us

learned only a few steps:

the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,

the “What-Do-You-Expect” waltz.

He hasn’t noticed yet the woman

standing away from the lamp,

the one with black eyes

who knows the rhumba,

and strange steps in jumpy rhythms

from the mountains in Bulgaria.

If they dance together,

something unexpected will happen.

If they don’t, the next world

will be a lot like this one. 


                              – Bill Holm




Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies

and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

                                                       –  Mary Oliver




Wide Receiver


In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”

and at the snap I took off along the right sideline

and then cut across left in a long arc

and I’m sure I was open at several points—

glancing back I saw you pump-fake more than once

but you must not have been satisfied with what you saw downfield

and then I got bumped off course and my hands touched the turf

but I regained my balance and dashed back to the right

I think or maybe first left and then right

and I definitely got open but the throw never came—


maybe you thought I couldn’t hang on to a ball flung so far

or maybe you actually can’t throw so far

but in any case I feel quite open now,

the defenders don’t seem too interested in me

I sense only open air all around me

though the air is getting darker and it would appear


 now we’re well into the fourth quarter

and I strongly doubt we can afford to settle for

dinky little first downs if the score is what I think it is


so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary

with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith

and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic

and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say

in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game

it is not impossible that I will make the catch.


                                                         –    Mark Halliday




“Instead of a Preface”


 In the dreadful years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months standing in line in front of prisons of Leningrad. One day someone “recognized” me. Then, a woman standing behind me with blue lips, who, surely, has never heard my name in her life, came out of the trance that was common to all of us and whispered in my ear (everyone there spoke only in whispers):


Can you describe this?


And I said:


I can.


At that moment, something akin to a smile flashed by across what was once her face.


                                                                                       –   Anna Akhmatova


                                                                                            April 1, 1957



Unassigned poems




(which contains some poems)

For Talk 1 – there is a trailer …

 and 6 segments –

(1.a     through   1.f in alphabetical order).

Sometimes the “next” segment will come up by itself

But not every time.

So just keep track

And when something other than the ‘next segment’ starts to load

Just locate the next one and Click on it.

(as a ‘back-up’ … here are all  the links) :

trailer =

1.a =

1.b =

1.c =

1.d =

1.e =

1.f =      (Sailor’s Prayer)

I want to say something about choosing your poem.  I would counsel AGAINST choosing a short poem because you think it will be easy to learn. Do NOT think that a long poem can not be learned. It definitely CAN.  If you love it, you can learn it.

When I was working in the Shipfitter Shop (on the USS Dixon, AS-37, a submarine tender) I would, every now and then hear PO2 Mike Tanner recite the “First Rule of Management” – that “While authority may be delegated, responsibility may NOT.”

I suggest that what this means FOR US – is that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHOEVER (AND WHATEVER) WE CARE ABOUT.  We just are; and there’s no getting out of it.  And (it seems to me) that one of the most vital things we can do to foster an enlightened and ‘educated’ microculture is to see to it that the best people who have ever lived … are (as it were) always given a ‘place at out table’.  That their ‘presence’ be valued … that they be loved and included in our family –

Yeats, Lorca, Rilke, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Mirabai, Szymborska, Akhmatova, D. H. Lawrence, E. E. Cummings, Masefield, Gibran, Blake, Dylan Thomas, James Stephens, Neruda, W. S. Merwin, Thomas Merton, Solzhenitsyn, Machado, Benet, G. K Chesterton, J. B. S. Haldane, Ursula Le Guin, Annie Dillard, Bronwen Wallace, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry …

WHOEVER YOU LOVE.  Bring them into the Family.


“So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live;

and what we have to do then – is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time. “

                                                          –  Jose Ortega y Gasset


You should also watch (at least) this clip from a certain French film.  And I’d certainly recommend that you see the whole movie.
Here’s the trailer –
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Finding the Chords



It goes like this –

The fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah


There are LOTS of songs accessible from YouTube.  And (of course) there are no rules. But I’m going to assume that most of the time (when you’re trying to find the chords to a certain song) that you’ll be ‘working alone’.  That you’ll just have the song in your head (having already internalized it) and won’t be using a professional recording of it.


You see – if you’re just starting out, there’s some (big) advantages to working with the key of C  (which means – C and/or A-minor). Now sometimes you MAY want to make use of a recording to help you figure out the chords to a song; but – what if the recording is NOT in the key of C?  (And of course – MOST of them are NOT) Then you must either learn the new set of chords … or transpose the song (many times, probably) into C (where it’s easier to play).


In either case, you should make use of the (double) ‘1, 4, 5, hand’ (which I explained in the previous blog) … and thoroughly reacquaint yourself with your six chords (1, 4, 5 … and the Dark One, the Dark 4, and the Dark 5  … which (in C) are :   C, F, G … and Am, Dm, & E [or maybe Em]). [If you’re working in another key, the pattern will be exactly the same.]


When Leonard Cohen (who of course WROTE the song ‘Hallelujah’) says, (as in the epigram) “… like this – the fourth, the fifth” –  his word choice suggests “notes”, but he does not mean that.  He means – “the four, the five” … he’s talking (in real time) about the chords.  (He had to to do the wording the way he did – for the ‘rhyme’ he was after.)


Anyway, at those points … he’s telling you what the song’s doing.  And (even though it won’t be as elegant as what he manages to build in)  I propose to use this song as a ‘practice song’ … in hopes that it will help you get used to using your chords (1, dark One; 4, dark 4; & 5, dark 5).


Besides, we’re in luck:  I just now checked Leonard Cohen’s YouTube “Hallelujah” video (Live in London, 152 million views) and … it’s pitched in C !      [and the video is below, at the end]


As I said (last time) – a song will almost always ‘come home’ at its end (or end of a musical line) … but – how do you start?

Well, unless you have a different guess, the ONE will be the chord to try.  (Songs do NOT always open on the 1; but many of them do.  And if a song starts with a ‘pick-up’, you should try the 5then the 1.)  Just pay attention.  You’ll get used to it. 


 [The tune to ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY” is musically rather simple: it partakes of the Four chord only once in the whole song: and that’s where you sing the Name of the person you’re singing the song TO.  And, other than that one spot, the song is either on the One, or the Five. Not much guessing for that one.  

And by the way – in ‘Happy Birthday’, the second time you sing the word ‘birthday’ – that is a good time to use the G-seventh … which you do by adding the ‘seventh note’ (F) to the chord.  So instead of just playing Do, Mi, Sol … you play Do, Mi, Sol, & Ti-flat.  That’s how you create (any) seventh chord.]


Anyway, “Hallelujah” DOES open on the One … and then goes to the dark One (back & forth a couple times) … then 4,  5, then home …  

Try accompanying yourself now, and see how far you get.


Did you do it?




            C                                Am                                  C                                       Am       

I’ve heard there was a secret chord     that David played and it pleased the Lord


           F                               G                         C                   G

But you don’t really care for music, do ya?


       C                                   F                    G                  Am                            G

It goes like this –  the fourth, the fifth    the minor fall, the major lift


                                             E                    Am

The baffled king composing Hallelujah.


  C       F                       Am                   F                     C             G    C             G

Hallelujah,    Hallelujah   Hallelujah, Hallelu – u-u-u   jah





In most versions I’ve heard of this song,there’s a (back & forth) One / Dark One vamp at the beginning and between verses … but not this Live in London version.  It’s (maybe) an “Easy Gospel” treatment    and stays in the sunlight more.


In any case (and in any version) – the most important Musical Transaction in the whole song … is in the chorus: when (with the second ‘Hallelujah’) the song comes home … to the One (of course).  But it does NOT come home to the Regular One, it comes home to the Dark One.  This is terribly important to this song.  

(Try playing a C at this point instead of an Am.          … Mmm?)


The other place in this song (that’s also Very Important) – is [in the verse(s)] – the chord which shows up just before the word ‘Hallelujah’ (the last word in the verse).

It’s the Dark Five (the E).


This is perhaps the ‘Secret Chord’ that the lyrics refer to … because (till it actually shows up) you wouldn’t necessarily think there WAS such a chord (which is able to DO what the Dark 5 DOES    right in that spot ! I find it surprising. Shocking maybe even.


Red & Green & Yellow (etc.) do NOT imply purple.  

Maybe someday we will see a color which we never had imagined even existed.


Every time we play (& sing) a song … (whether we’re practicing or performing) … we need to Reach for the Song.  [I learned this from Gabriel, my music teacher]


Something deep inside tells you (when you come closer)


I mean, I think we should respect and appreciate the creative genius behind much of our Art.  However, I can tell you that – when I find a way to improve any song (according to my own sense of it) – I do not hesitate to adopt the change


Songs change (and grow) over time … don’t they?


For example, I rather prefer: “… saw her bathing on the roof in the moonlight, and her beauty overthrew ya” … so that’s the way I sing it now.


And (musically), I rather prefer the Four chord (rather than the dark one) – for the last chord before the chorus.


(Just another arrangement choice)


Reach for the song.




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Play Piano by Ear


By the fourth grade I could (spontaneously) make up harmonies to songs that we sang in school.  I began singing in the (adult) church choir when I was about eleven. I loved many of the songs that we sang around the campfire (in Scouts).   I sang in the school choir in Jr. High and in High school.


I got a lot of joy from singing.  So, as I was about to graduate from high school (and go to college) I considered majoring in Music.  But as I contemplated doing this, I felt as though I was standing on the edge of a deep dark pit. (Music is, after all, quite mysterious)  It seemed like, if I committed to Music, I would have to throw myself into this “pit” … and (honestly) this put me off.


I entered a Liberal Arts program in college and took some choral electives, eventually ending up in the concert choir.  And, as I had begun playing guitar in high school, I continued to study music informally, on my own. (For a couple years in high school a friend of mine and I were a folk duo.  We sang folk songs (and Beatles songs) and accompanied ourselves on guitars. I usually sang harmony. We got some gigs and we had some fun.)


As I continued to play (and sing) in college, I came to realize that the chords used to accompany a song …. exist as a Pattern – and so can be transferred to another key, while keeping the pattern intact.


It is not easy to build a guitar, but it is not difficult to build a gut bucket (a home-made string bass – made from an inverted (steel) wash tub, a broom handle (or stick) and a piece of braided nylon cord.  I would make such an instrument sometimes … and play it. You raise the pitch of the note by pulling the stick away from the tub (you put your foot on the rim of the tub, opposite the stick) / increasing the tension on the string.  Of course it’s funky (not ‘respectable’) to look at … but, if played well (which I could do) it does a good impersonation of a real stand-up bass.  [Years later … watching the string vibrate one day … I realized – this is an exquisite instrument.]   Anyway, it’s fun, it’s cheap … and it’ll give you a “bottom”.


I continued to ‘study’ music and song structure (& chord patterns) over several decades.  And eventually I understood music enough … such that if I could have been in possession of these understandings while standing on the ‘edge of the pit’ … I think that pit would NOT have seemed so dark and foreboding … and maybe I would have jumped.


You see – by the age of 18, as I first dared to ‘peer into the pit’, I knew that even if I should become an ‘accomplished musician’ (quite able perhaps – to play any piece you might care to put before me) … a ‘well-oiled music machine’ … that that would NOT be enough for me.  I knew that I needed (not just to be able to PLAY music) … but also to UNDERSTAND it.

As Annie Dillard says – “we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?”

Even then I knew that I’m a philosopher … and that I would require a philosopher’s enquiry into the nature of music.  I wanted to feel the music with my soul; and I wanted it (to the extent possible) to make sense intuitively.  I knew that a mechanistic approach would NOT satisfy me.


I do not claim to know the Path of Formal Training.  I do not know what it’s like to ‘become a musician’ by going down the Formal Path.  But I can now say some things about the informal path. And I quite suspect – that these two approaches naturally complement and augment each other.  So (it may be that) what I have learned may be of use even to a musician who DID go down the Formal Path.


It seems to me that the core of what I have learned about Music: (song structure and chord patterns) is really quite simple.  It doesn’t amount to much. And yet it is powerful. Do these few things, and you will become a musician.


If you can sing a song (especially if you can sing it beautifully) – you’re a Singer.  If you can ACCOMPANY (on an instrument) someone else (or yourself) such that your accompaniment makes them sound good – you’re a Musician.  [And my assumption is that you’d like to be able to accompany YOURSELF as you sing a song.  And my suggestion for an instrument is – the PIANO. The keys are perfectly laid out in order.  And (not trivially) you do NOT have to PRACTICE on the piano … just to play a chord.  The first time you try to play an F chord on the guitar, you may think:  “I’ll never be able to do this.”  It isn’t TRUE of course; you CAN learn to play it, but you have to practice.  But with a piano, you just have to know what to DO to play a given chord.  (And of course – EVERYTHING gets better with practice.)


You will notice that a piano keyboard is laid out (in a repeating pattern) with white keys and black keys.  Imagine for a moment that this were not the case. What if all the notes were identical in appearance. It would be very difficult, would it not – to orient yourself on such a keyboard?  (Be grateful for the way it is.)


You may as well know – that any note you choose to play will have a certain frequency.  [the A below middle C is 440 hertz (440 cycles per second) … world-wide]  So – the A below that will be HALF that frequency – which is 220 Hz … and the one above will be of TWICE 440, or 880 Hz.  And this pattern holds true for any note, anywhere.  This is the relationship of notes an octave apart.


Also you should know – that as you move up the keyboard, note by note, that all the intervals are equal … regardless of whether you’re moving from a white key to a black one, black to white, or white to white.  The intervals are all the same; and this (one note to the next) interval is called a “half-step”.   Each octave is divided into 12 (equal) half-step intervals.

All the white keys on the keyboard are (thought of as being) lettered, sequentially, by octaves  –  A, B, C, D, E, F, G … then you’re in a new octave, and you start over.  Seven letters for seven notes.

I think we should admit that the word “octave” is slightly confusing … as it means – “8” … even though there are only seven (different, solfa) notes.  This is because when we play (or sing) up the keyboard – all the notes of an octave, we WANT to hear the Do at the beginning … AND AT THE END AS WELL.  Our ear simply REQUIRES THIS.  (TRY getting away with just playing seven notes … and you’ll see what I mean.)


So (beginning on C  – the white key just to the left of a ‘two-group’ of black keys) – if you play all the white keys in order) … you will recognize the solfa scale.  And the black notes show you the structure of the solfa scale:  that is – FIVE of the intervals are whole-steps … and the other two (between Mi & Fa, and from Ti to Do) are half-steps (as there is no black key in between).


You may as well acquaint yourself with the black keys.  If you play them (starting with a 3-group) you will hear them play (as you run up the keys) an abbreviated version of the seven-tone solfa scale:  They go: Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La, Do.  Five notes. This is called the Pentatonic Scale, as it has five tones. The tune(s) to ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Shortnin’ Bread’ (for example) are pentatonic.  Mmm?

I want to say something to connect the piano keyboard to the standard way of writing musical score:  The C (note) in the middle of the keyboard is called ‘Middle C’. The treble clef (of musical score) is depicted as being a considerable distance from the bass clef.  But here’s the truth: There is really only a single line missing (undepicted) between the two clefs … and this (undepicted) line … is Middle C.


And, by the way, the difference between a man’s voice and a woman’s voice … is (roughly) one octave.  So (by convention) the same notes are used to depict a female vocal part … even though those notes  are really an octave higher than the notes used to depict a (male) Tenor line.


You need to know chords.  And for that you need to know solfa.  The good news is – that you ALREADY KNOW sol-fa. (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do) … but you’ll need to make it more accessible to your intellect; so you might as well learn the hand signs:    (Solfege Hand Signs)


Let’s not pretend  – all these notes are NOT of equal importance.  Do & Mi & Sol … are the most important; and (of these Main Three)  – Do is the most important.


Do is Home. Songs have no trouble starting on a note other than Do; but at the end of the song (the tune) will always (almost always) ‘come home’ to Do.


So – the C-scale (on the piano keyboard) … shows you the structure of the SolFa scale.  [To play the solfa scale using only white keys, you must begin with C (as Do).] 


 Remember this: The key of C (on the piano) DISCLOSES the solfa scale.


Okay.    Chords:


Just keep in mind that a piano allows you to play any song in ANY key.  But for now (for simplicity / to minimize the need for black keys) we’re going to stick with the key of C (that is –  C   and A-minor)

{I play the piano and the guitar (by ear) … and I use these instruments mainly to ACCOMPANY myself or others while singing.  (When I sing in a choir, I am obliged to make use of [paper] score; and I can sight-read better than most.) But when I play the piano … I do it without any paper.

I prefer playing in the keys of A, C, D, E, & G.  (I will sometimes play in another key, but only if necessary … and with some difficulty.)  And this is the case with BOTH (piano and guitar).

In recent years, I’ve developed a bias toward the key of D.  Quite often it just seems like the Best Key (given that it suits the vocal range, etc.)            Some years ago I was trying to figure out the chords to Mozart’s   Ave, Verum Corpus (a work of extraordinary beauty and grace.)  [When I was 18 or 20 I sang this song with my mom, in church, as a duet.  She sang the harmony; I sang the melody.  It’s a gorgeous piece.]   I tried the key of C, but couldn’t seem to get through it.  Then I tried D (which is the key Mozart wrote it in) … and it worked.  It was much easier.

Anyway, D is a good key.  I don’t really know why.}


Before getting to the nuts & bolts of chords, I want to make one more general statement about chords.  Eventually I realized (and it’s quite a surprising discovery, really) – that a given song is MADE of its chord pattern.

Now, you can ask any sensible person, and they will tell you that a Song is equal to its TUNE.

Well, this is TRUE, of course … even SO … a song is, in its First Essence – its Skeleton … that is – its Chord Pattern.

And what convinces me of this is the fact that you can leave the tune unchanged; but, alter the chord pattern … and you get quite a Different Song.


A song’s Chord Structure  would seem to be of a Higher order of reality than the Tune.


Okay –

Now we’re going to play a ‘C chord’, an ‘F chord’, and a ‘G chord’.


To play a C chord, I put my right thumb on a C … my index finger on the E … and my ring finger on the G.  (A real piano player may tell you a different way, but that’s the way I usually do it.)


You can use Middle C.  Remember? It’s the first white key   just to the left of the two-group of black keys in the middle of the keyboard.  

Satisfy yourself that your thumb is on C … and the other two notes – you do by feel.  You’re now playing a (major) C-triad / a C chord. Your thumb is playing Do … your index finger is playing the Mi … and your ring finger is playing the Sol … all at the same time.

Now play them one at a time and listen to the chord structure:  C, E, G = Do, Mi, Sol.

This is what it means – ‘to play a C chord’.  You’re playing a Do-Mi-Sol chord … with C as Do.


Okay, now the F-chord:  Just lift your hand and move your thumb to the F … and play the same (skip, skip) pattern as before.  (index finger on the A … and ring finger on the C). Now the Do is F (and you’re also playing Mi & Sol relative to the new Do)

Okay?  Now – same thing with the G chord.  You put your thumb on the G (skip, skip) and play the same pattern as before.  Index finger plays B (the new Mi); and your ring finger plays the new Sol (supplied by the D).   This is what it means ‘to play a G-chord’. (G is now Do; and you’re also playing the necessary Mi & Sol relative to that G.)    Mmm?


Now, to grow as a musician, you must keep track.  You must pay attention … but NOT to everything. You just need to know that you’re playing a C chord, (or whatever) … that your thumb is on C … and a ‘C chord’ = Do, Mi, Sol (with C as Do)


You also need to keep track of where you are IN THE PATTERN (the chord pattern).  And you’ve already learned one.  C, F, G  aren’t just random chords.  They comprise a pattern. A Music Major will call these chords: Tonic, Subdominant, and Dominant.  A working musician will probably refer to them (the SAME chords) as 1, 4, & 5.


Now, if you’re playing in the key of G, then 1, 4, & 5 will NOT be C, F, & G … they will be G, C, & D.  But we won’t worry about that for now. However, you can be assured – the pattern is exactly the same.


Let’s turn our left hand into a Teaching Aid:  Look into the palm of your left hand. (Level your forearm so that your thumb is pointing up, and your fingers point to the right.  You’ve probably already noticed that you have five fingers. Let’s number them: little finger = 1 … thumb = 5.  Now fold in 2 & 3.   What remains (of course) are 1, 4, & 5. Have a good look at your left hand as you see it right now. Remember it.

This pattern is analogous to the solfa scale.  (Only –  solfa is about NOTES … and the ‘1-4-5-Hand’ is about CHORDS.  But BOTH are key-independent.)


Do = the root (or Home) … Sol = the ‘high one’ … &  Mi = the ‘pretty one’ –    ( 1, 5, & 3 )


Again, let’s play a C-major triad  (1, 3, 5 = C, E, G)


Okay, now play the same chord again, only this time play it with a flatted 3rd.   (instead of playing E for the 3rd, play the black key  E-flat)

Hear that?

That’s a C-minor chord.


The Do didn’t change.  The Sol didn’t change. Only the Mi changed; it changed to Mey.


Whether a chord is Major or Minor … is determined by the THIRD.


Now play these two triads sequentially / open them up in time:  C, E, G … C, E-flat, G …

And sing along:  Do, Mi, Sol … Do, Mey, Sol


Only a single note is different (and only by a half-step) … but it makes a huge difference.


The Mi (in the major triad) seems pretty; but the Mey (the third in the minor triad) does not.  It’s somber.   Dark.

Big difference.


Now, let’s describe these two chords – by their respective intervals.  A basic chord is 1, 3, 5 … three notes, and TWO intervals.

How many half-steps are there? – between the Do and the third (Mi)   in the major triad? We can find out  by simply counting the cracks between the keys.  I make it: FOUR. And between Mi and Sol … there are THREE more half-steps.


So – we may describe the major chord (in terms of intervals) as: 4 & 3


The minor triad (Do, Mey, Sol … wherein the 3rd has been flatted) as: 3 & 4.

[Please do not be bothered by the fact that these numbers (3 & 4) do NOT refer to notes or chords, but to the number of half-steps between the notes of the chord.]


4 & 3 = Do, Mi, Sol  = a major chord.


3 & 4 = Do, Mey, Sol  = a minor chord.


ANY major chord … ANY minor chord.   Mmm? (REMEMBER this.)




We’re now going to DOUBLE the number of chords in our (basic) chord pattern.


Before we just had:  1, 4, and 5.

Now we’re going to add the Shadow Chords: (dark 1, dark 4, & the ‘dark 5’)


We already know the relationship between, say, a C-chord … and a C-minor chord.

We know what it SOUNDS like … and we know what the change amounts to.


Our Basic Chord Pattern is about to include, not just the normal 1, 4, 5 chords (C, F, & G) but also the Relative Minors of these chords (Am, Dm, & Em … these are also called Enharmonic Minor(s).


Here’s how you form them.  (It’s always the same!):


Play a C-chord (C, E, G)

Now, instead of flatting the third, we’re going to change a single note … and still turn this chord into a minor chord.  Here’s what you do:


Lift your hand … and put it down again, but with your thumb on the A.


Before the chord was: C, E, G … now it’s A, C, E.     It was major; now it’s minor.  It was a 4 & 3 chord; now it’s 3 & 4 (in terms of intervals)


‘A’ has become the Do … The C (which was Do) is now Mey … and E (which was Mi) is now Sol.


Play these chords (back & forth) a few times.  Get used to the sound of them.  [ C … Am     – – – –         The ‘One’ chord … the ‘Dark One’ ]


You may form the Relative Minor of ANY (major) chord … in just this way.  [Lift your hand, shift down three half-steps, put your thumb on that note, and continue to play what were the bottom two notes, just as before.]


That’s all there is to it.


Do this with your Four-chord (the F-chord) … and you get Dm.

Do it with the 5 (the G-chord) … and you get Em.


But now I have some news for you:  the Dark 5 (Em) MAY be E-minor … but, more likely – it will just be E.   Yep, E-Major.

But whether it’s Em or E-Major … we’re STILL going to call it the ‘Dark 5’ chord.



Hunt up your left hand again … and configure it as before (with fingers 2 & 3 tucked in) …


Now find a light    and a flat surface (such as a table top) … and get your hand to cast a shadow on the surface.  You should now be able to see TWO hands … one – which helps you wash your right hand … and the shadow-hand.  The flesh hand reminds you of the regular chords (C, F, & G) … and the shadow of it is to remind you of the shadow chords (Am, Dm, & Em/E … the ‘dark One’, the ‘dark Four’, and the ‘Dark Five’)


Go use ‘em.


You can now give yourself permission to accompany yourself on the piano.   Just pick a song you know (and like) and see if you can accompany yourself on the piano.


We haven’t yet dealt with  Accidental chords (chords which aren’t part of the Regular Progression, but are used anyway) … seventh chords (and major sevenths) … suspensions … or chord inversions  …   but those things are for later.  

You have a lot to work with already.

You can get a cheap bottom … by simply playing a single bass note – corresponding to the root (the Do) of the chord you’re playing with the right hand.

This is quite easy to do; and it adds quite a bit of fullness to the sound, and for very little work.

You may be able to add yet another dimension, simply by doing a ‘slow pulse’ with your right hand.  [listen to ‘The Rose’;  link at end]


Read the section on Changing Chords … then pick a song, and give it a try.

You find the chords, you find the song.


Remember, we’re not trying to be GREAT on the piano.  We’re just (as Bukka White says) playing the piano till the piano player comes.



Changing Chords

A given song might of course be played in any key.  But if you’re just beginning to learn to play the piano by ear, why not linger a while in the key that’s easiest to play  — C (and A minor).


One of the things going on here is that we’re using the piano to understand Song Structure.  When you’re on your own (i. e., not looking at marks on a piece of paper), you have to GUESS.  You have to guess When to change and What to change to.  So, just keep in mind what you know about chord patterns / (song structure)    and DO something. When you make a mistake, the piano will tell you.  


You are training your brain.  Keep in mind that what you are learning to do  – is to ‘play’ two instruments at the same time  – your own vocal cords … and the keyboard. And sometimes chords need to change rather irrespective of the tune that you’re singing; so be patient.  And be willing to grant the piano Independence from your singing voice.  Quite often the chord will change with the lyrics (on a vowel); but when this happens, it needs to be like ‘two people’ who (right now) happen to be doing something at the same time.  Don’t try to actuate your two voices from a single impulse. Maintain with them (with your two instruments) a regard of independence, autonomy, and equality … (and maybe even appreciation and respect). 


Accompaniment / (accompanying) is a high art; and you are learning to accompany yourself on the piano.  In order to play a C chord or an F chord, you must , of course, know that you’re playing a C or an F.     But to grow in the art of Accompanying (by ear), you must also pay attention to other things.  You need to keep track of Where you are – where the SONG is – at any given time – in the chord progression.  You need to be mentally Aware … and Emotionally aware too. In a given song every chord has a certain Feeling; and when the chord Changes, the change (itself) causes another feeling  (which I call ‘dramatic’). I think that the dramatic component is relatively ‘shallow’ (or simple). But there is a further component to the Feeling associated with the way chords change in a song   which is not in the least Simple. This one I call ‘Emotional’. This component is rooted, not just in the song itself, but in what we believe, what we love, and how we experience Life. It is very spread out.  It should (the way music is emotional) probably be regarded as one of the Mysteries.


Just pay attention.  Use your own feeling-sense.  You will notice, for example, that the 1-chord has the feeling of Home, especially when the song Comes Home (at the end of a musical line or at the end of the whole song).  The change from the 1 to the 4 chord can have the feeling of venturing forth (of going out from Home). The 5 chord can have the feeling of Tension … of the Need for Resolution.  Sometimes, when the song is in the 5, you can feel a Wanting to Come Home. And of course it wants to come home to the 1 (to the Home chord). Normally this is a simple 5-1 event. But when the song comes home through the 4-chord, it will sound Bluesy.  This is definitely a blues move (5-4-1).  

But Feel in your own way.  Just have fun … stay oriented … and pay attention.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[In this case, at the beginning, you’re hearing the piano/right hand playing an ‘open‘ (that is – a ‘thirdless’) chord.  It happens to be in C … so:  just the C & the G, (no E)]

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Greta Thunberg



Probably most of us have seen the film: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).  Let us for a minute regard this film as Theater … that is – that it’s reflecting to us a vision of ourselves.  I will leave to you whether the reflection in this particular mirror is accurate; but, what it’s showing us is that the Grownups have somehow lost their humanity … and that the children are the only sane human beings around.

If you haven’t seen her before, let me introduce to you – Greta Thunberg:


  (Greta Thunberg attacks world leaders at UN Summit on Climate Change, 23 Sept. 2019   [1 ½ min.])


Don’t you think you’re in the presence of a Sane Person?   (a person of unusual sanity, I should think).



When she says  “those of us on the spectrum”  she is referring to the autistic spectrum … as she has Asperger’s syndrome   (which she regards as an asset).

    (Greta Thunberg, TED talk  [11 min.])




She says – she does what she does … so that she’ll be able to look herself in the eye – 

  (Greta Thunberg on Whether She’d Meet with the President   [8 ½ min.])




“Act … as though you love your children above all else” –

   (Trump and Greta Thunberg clash at Davos over climate change  [1 ½ min.])  – 

    [A fine example of and excerpt from   – the Great War of Ideas.]




Jimmy Kimmel Live [6 min.] –

    (Trump’s Insane Outburst Against 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg)




From her speech at the U.N. global climate conference in Madrid  … warning against “clever accounting and creative PR”  to avoid action on the climate crisis. [8 min.]  Hope is with THE PEOPLE!














(Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says – Greta Thunberg can criticize ‘after she studies economics’)








Greta is one of our new great heroes

in the Great War of Ideas

         no doubt.





Greta Thunberg

Excerpted from – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Greta Thunberg
Portrait of Thunberg at the European Parliament

Thunberg in April 2019
Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg[1][2]

3 January 2003 (age 17)

Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation Student, environmental activist
Years active 2018–present
Movement School strike for climate
Relatives Olof Thunberg (grandfather)

Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg FRSGS (Swedish: [ˈɡrêːta ˈtʉ̂ːnbærj] (About this soundlisten); born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition. Thunberg is known for her straightforward speaking manner,[3][4] both in public and to political leaders and assemblies, in which she urges immediate action to address the climate crisis.

Thunberg’s activism started after convincing her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. In August 2018, at age 15, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate). Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together, they organised a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were multiple coordinated multi-city protests involving over a million students each.[5] To avoid flying, Thunberg sailed to North America where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Her speech there, in which she exclaimed “how dare you”, was widely taken up by the press and incorporated into music.

Her sudden rise to world fame has made her both a leader[6] and a target for critics.[7] Her influence on the world stage has been described by The Guardian and other newspapers as the “Greta effect”.[8] She has received numerous honours and awards including: honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical SocietyTime magazine’s 100 most influential people and the youngest Time Person of the Year; inclusion in the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2019)[9] and two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020).

Early life

Greta Thunberg was born on 3 January 2003 in Stockholm, Sweden,[10][11] the daughter of opera singer Malena Ernman and actor Svante Thunberg.[12] Her paternal grandfather was actor and director Olof Thunberg.[13][14]

“I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndromeOCD and selective mutism. That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”

— Greta Thunberg in her TEDx Talk
Stockholm, November 2018[15]

Mental health

Thunberg says she first heard about climate change in 2011, when she was eight years old, and could not understand why so little was being done about it.[16] The situation made her depressed. She stopped talking and eating, and lost ten kilograms (22 lb) in two months.[17] Eventually, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndromeobsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism.[16] In one of her first speeches demanding climate action, Thunberg described the selective mutism aspect of her condition as meaning she “only speaks when necessary”.[16]

Greta struggled with depression for three or four years before she began her school strike.[18] When she started protesting, her parents did not support her activism. Her father said he does not like her missing school but said: “[We] respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be really unhappy, or protest, and be happy”.[19] Her Asperger diagnosis was made public nationwide in Sweden by her mother in May 2015, in order to help other families in a similar situation.[20] While acknowledging that her diagnosis “has limited me before”, Thunberg does not view her Asperger’s as an illness, and has instead called it her “superpower”.[21]

Activism at home

For about two years, Thunberg challenged her parents to lower the family’s carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment by becoming veganupcycling, and giving up flying.[12][22][23] She has said she tried showing them graphs and data, but when that did not work, she warned her family that they were stealing her future.[24] Giving up flying in part meant her mother had to give up her international career as an opera singer.[19] Thunberg credits her parents’ eventual response and lifestyle changes with giving her hope and belief that she could make a difference.[12] The family story is recounted in the 2018 book Scenes from the Heart.[25]

Interviewed in December 2019 by the BBC, her father said his wife stopped flying to try to ‘save’ their daughter rather than the climate. He added: “To be honest, (her mother) didn’t do it to save the climate. She did it to save her child because she saw how much it meant to her, and then, when she did that, she saw how much (Greta) grew from that, how much energy she got from it.”[26]


School strike for climate

Strike at the Riksdag

Thunberg in front of the Swedish parliament, holding a “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (transl. School strike for climate) sign, Stockholm, August 2018

Bicycle in Stockholm with references to Thunberg: “The climate crisis must be treated as a crisis! The climate is the most important election issue!” (11 September 2018)

Sign in Berlin, 14 December 2018

In August 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches for which she has become an internationally recognised climate activist. In an interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, she said she first got the idea of a climate strike after school shootings in the United States in February 2018 led to several youths refusing to go back to school.[12] These teen activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, went on to organise the March for Our Lives in support of greater gun control.[27][28] In May 2018, Thunberg won a climate change essay competition held by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. In part, she wrote “I want to feel safe. How can I feel safe when I know we are in the greatest crisis in human history?”[29]

After the paper published her article, she was contacted by Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dalsland, a group interested in doing something about climate change. Thunberg attended a few of their meetings. At one of them, Thorén suggested that school children could strike for climate change.[30] Thunberg tried to persuade other young people to get involved but “no one was really interested”, so eventually she decided to go ahead with the strike by herself.[12]

On 20 August 2018, Thunberg, who had just started ninth grade, decided not to attend school until the 2018 Swedish general election on 9 September; her protest began after the heat waves and wildfires during Sweden’s hottest summer in at least 262 years.[19] Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and she protested by sitting outside the Riksdag every day for three weeks during school hours with the sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate).[31][32]

Thunberg said her teachers were divided in their views about her missing class to make her point. She says: “As people they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers they say I should stop.”[19]

Social media activism

Thunberg posted a photo of her first strike day on Instagram and Twitter, with other social media accounts quickly taking up her cause.[33] High-profile youth activists amplified her Instagram post, and on the second day she was joined by other activists.[33] A representative of the Finnish bank Nordea quoted one of Thunberg’s tweets to more than 200,000 followers. Thunberg’s social media profile attracted local reporters whose stories earned international coverage in little more than a week.[33]

One Swedish climate-focused social media company was We Don’t Have Time (WDHT), founded by Ingmar Rentzhog. He claimed her strike only began attracting public attention after he turned up with a freelance photographer and posted Thunberg’s photograph on his Facebook page and Instagram account, and a video in English that he posted on the company’s YouTube channel.[34] Rentzhog subsequently asked Thunberg to become an unpaid youth advisor to WDHT. He then used her name and image without her knowledge or permission to raise millions for a WDHT for-profit subsidiary, We Don’t Have Time AB, of which Rentzhog is the chief executive officer.[35] Thunberg received no money from the company[34] and terminated her volunteer advisor role with WDHT once she realised they were making money from her name.[36]

After October 2018, Thunberg’s activism evolved from solitary protesting to taking part in demonstrations throughout Europe; making several high-profile public speeches, and mobilising her growing number of followers on social media platforms. After the December 2018 general elections, Thunberg continued to strike only on Fridays. She inspired school students across the globe to take part in student strikes. That month, more than 20,000 students had held strikes in at least 270 cities.[37]

Protests and speeches in Europe

Her speech during the plenary session of the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) went viral.[38] She commented that the world leaders present were “not mature enough to tell it like it is”.[39] In the first half of 2019 she joined various student protests around Europe, and was invited to speak at various forums and parliaments. At the January 2019 World Economic Forum, Thunberg gave a speech in which she declared: “Our house is on fire”.[40] She addressed the BritishEuropean and French parliaments, where in the latter case several right-wing politicians boycotted her.[41][42] In a short meeting with Thunberg, Pope Francis thanked her and encouraged her to continue.[43] By March 2019, Thunberg was still staging her regular protests outside the Swedish parliament every Friday, where other students occasionally joined her. According to her father, her activism has not interfered with her schoolwork, but she has had less spare time.[44] She finished lower secondary school with good grades.[45] In July 2019, Time magazine reported Thunberg was taking a “sabbatical year” from school, intending to travel in the Americas while meeting people from the climate movement.[46]

Sabbatical year

In August 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, England, to New York, USA, in the 60-foot (18 m) racing yacht Malizia II, equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines. The trip was announced as a carbon-neutral transatlantic crossing serving as a demonstration of Thunberg’s declared beliefs of the importance of reducing emissions. France 24 reported that several crew would fly to New York to sail the yacht back to Europe.[47] The voyage lasted fifteen days, from 14 to 28 August 2019. Thunberg was invited to give testimony in the US House Select Committe on the Climate Crisis on September 18. Instead of giving testimony, she gave an eight sentence statement and submitted the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C as evidence.[48]

UN Climate Action Summit

Thunberg at the Climate March, Montréal, September 2019

On 23 September, Thunberg attended the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City.[49][50] That day the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hosted a press conference where Thunberg joined fifteen other children including Ayakha MelithafaAlexandria VillaseñorCatarina LorenzoCarl Smith and others. Together, the group announced they had made an official complaint against five nations that are not on track to meet the emission reduction targets they committed to in their Paris Agreement pledges: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey.[51][52] The complaint challenges these countries under the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Protocol is a quasi-judicial mechanism which allows children or their representatives, who believe their rights have been violated, to bring a complaint before the relevant ‘treaty body’, the Committee on the Rights of the Child.[53] If the complaint is successful, the countries will be asked to respond, but any suggestions are not legally binding.[54][55]

In a speech at the summit, Thunberg said to world leaders: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”[56]

Autumn global climate strikes

In Canada, Thunberg participated in climate protests in the cities of MontrealEdmonton and Vancouver including leading a climate rally as part of the 27 September Global Climate Strike in Montreal.[57] The school strikes for climate on 20 and 27 September 2019 were attended by over four million people, according to one of the co-organisers.[58] Hundreds of thousands took part in the protest described as the largest in the city’s history. The mayor of Montreal gave her the Freedom of the City. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance, and Thunberg spoke briefly with him.[59] While in the United States, Thunberg participated in climate protests in New York City, Iowa CityLos AngelesCharlotteDenver, and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. In various cities, Thunberg’s keynote speech began by acknowledging that she was standing on land that originally belonged to Indigenous peoples, saying: “In acknowledging the enormous injustices inflicted upon these people, we must also mention the many enslaved and indentured servants whose labour the world still profits from today.”[60][61]

Participation at COP25

Thunberg had intended to remain in the Americas to travel overland to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) originally planned in Santiago, Chile in December. However, it was announced on short notice that COP25 was to be moved to Madrid, Spain, because of serious public unrest in Chile.[62] Thunberg has refused to fly because of the carbon emissions from air travel, so she posted on social media that she needed a ride across the Atlantic Ocean. Riley Whitelum and his wife, Elayna Carausu, two Australians who had been sailing around the world aboard their 48-foot (15 m) catamaran, La Vagabonde, offered to take her. So, on 13 November 2019, Thunberg set sail from Hampton, Virginia, for Lisbon, Portugal. Her departing message was the same as it has been since she began her activism: “My message to the Americans is the same as to everyone – that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science.”[63][64][65]

Thunberg arrived in the Port of Lisbon on 3 December 2019,[66][67] then travelled on to Madrid to speak at COP25 and to participate with the local Fridays for Future climate strikers. During a press conference before the march, she called for more “concrete action,” arguing that the global wave of school strikes over the previous year had “achieved nothing”, because greenhouse gas emissions were still rising—by 4% since 2015.[68][69]

Further activism in Europe

Thunberg speaks before the European Parliament’s Environment Committee in 2020

On 30 December 2019 Thunberg was guest editor of the BBC Radio’s flagship current affairs programme, the Today Programme.[70] Thunberg’s edition of the programme featured interviews on climate change with Sir David Attenborough, Bank of England chief Mark CarneyMassive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, and Shell Oil executive Maarten Wetselaar. The BBC subsequently released a podcast[71] containing these interviews and other highlights. On 11 January 2020 Thunberg called on German company Siemens to stop the delivery of railway equipment to the controversial Carmichael coal mine operated by a subsidiary of Indian company Adani Group in Australia,[72] but on 13 January Siemens said that it would continue to honour its contract with Adani.[73]

On 21 January 2020, Thunberg returned to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, delivered two speeches, and participated in panel discussions hosted by The New York Times and the World Economic Forum. Thunberg used many of the themes contained in her previous speeches, but focused on one in particular: “Our house is still on fire.” Thunberg joked that she cannot complain about not being heard, saying: “I am being heard all the time.” [74][75][76]

On 4 March 2020, Thunberg attended an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee to talk about the European Climate Law. There she declared that she considered the new proposal for a climate law published by the European Commission to be a surrender.[77]

Position on climate change

File:Greta Thunberg- World Economic Forum (Davos).webm

A video of Thunberg speaking at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos

Thunberg believes that humanity is facing an existential crisis because of global warming[78] and holds the current generation of adults responsible for creating the problem.[79] She uses graphic analogies (such as “our house is on fire”) to highlight her concerns and often speaks bluntly to business and political leaders about their failure to take concerted action.[80][81]

Thunberg has pointed out that climate change will have a disproportionate effect on young people whose futures will be profoundly affected. She argued that her generation may not have a future any more, because “that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money”.[82] She also has made the point that people in the Global South will suffer most from climate change, even though they have contributed least in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.[83] Thunberg has voiced support for other young activists from developing countries who are already facing the damaging effects of climate change. Speaking in Madrid in December 2019, she said: “We talk about our future, they talk about their present.”[84]

Speaking at international forums, she berated world leaders that too little action is being taken to reduce global emissions.[85] She makes the point that lowering emissions is not enough, and says emissions need to be reduced to zero if the world is to keep global warming to less than 1.5C. Speaking to the British Parliament in April 2019, she said: “The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual”.[86][87] In order to take the necessary action, she added that politicians should not listen to her, they should listen to what the scientists are saying about how to address the crisis.[88][86]

More specifically, Thunberg has argued that commitments made at the Paris Agreement are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and that the greenhouse gas emissions curve needs to start declining steeply no later than 2020—as detailed in the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5° C.[89][82] In February 2019, at a conference of the European Economic and Social Committee, she said that the EU’s current intention to cut emissions by 40% by 2030 is “not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today” and that the EU must reduce their CO
 emissions by 80%, double the 40% goal.[90][91]

Public response and impact

Thunberg has received both strong support and strong criticism for her work from politicians and the press.

International reception

In February 2019, 224 academics signed an open letter of support stating they were inspired by Thunberg’s actions and the striking school children in making their voices heard.[92] United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres endorsed the school strikes initiated by Thunberg, admitting that “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”[93] Speaking at an event in New Zealand in May 2019, Guterres said his generation was “not winning the battle against climate change” and that it’s up to youth to “rescue the planet”.[94]


Presidential candidates Kamala HarrisBeto O’Rourke, and Bernie Sanders expressed support after her speech at the September 2019 action summit in New York.[95] German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that young activists like Thunberg had driven her government to act faster on climate change.[96]

Thunberg and her campaign have been criticised by politicians as well, such as the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison,[97] German chancellor Angela Merkel,[98] Russian president Vladimir PutinOPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and repeatedly by U.S. president Donald Trump.[99] The criticism ranges from personal attacks to claims she oversimplifies the complex issues involved.

Addressing her critics:
“It’s quite hilarious when the only thing people can do is mock you, or talk about your appearance or personality, as it means they have no argument or nothing else to say.”

— Greta Thunberg
Person of the Year
TIME magazine October 2019

In October 2019, Vladimir Putin described Thunberg as a “kind girl and very sincere”, while suggesting she was being manipulated to serve others’ interests. Putin criticised her as “poorly informed”: “No one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different and people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same wealth level as in Sweden.” Similar to her reaction to Trump, Thunberg updated her Twitter bio to reflect Putin’s description of her.[100] In December 2019, Thunberg tweeted “Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forrest [sic] from illegal deforestation. Over and over again. It is shameful that the world remains silent about this”. When asked about this subject two days later, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro responded: “Greta said that the Indians were dying because they were trying to protect the Amazon. It is impressive how the press gives voice to such a brat.” On the same day, Thunberg changed her Twitter description to “pirralha“, the Portuguese word for “brat” used by Bolsonaro.[101]

In September 2019, Donald Trump shared a video of Thunberg angrily addressing world leaders, along with her quote that “people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction“. Trump wrote about Thunberg, tweeting: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Thunberg reacted by changing her Twitter bio to match his description, and stating that she could not “understand why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science when they could do something good instead.”[102] In December 2019, President Trump again mocked Thunberg after she was named Person of the Year for 2019 by Time magazine: “So ridiculous”, Trump tweeted. “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” Thunberg responded by changing her Twitter biography to: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”[103]

In an interview with Suyin Haynes in Time magazine, Thunberg addressed the criticism she has received online saying: “It’s quite hilarious when the only thing people can do is mock you, or talk about your appearance or personality, as it means they have no argument or nothing else to say.”[104] Joe Biden, a former US vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner, responded to President Trump’s tweet mocking Thunberg after she was named Person of the Year 2019 by Time magazine tweeting: “What kind of president bullies a teenager? @realDonaldTrump, you could learn a few things from Greta on what it means to be a leader.”[105]


In August 2019, Scott Walsman wrote in Scientific American that Thunberg’s detractors have “launched personal attacks”, “bash [her] autism”, and “increasingly rely on ad hominem attacks to blunt her influence.”[106] Writing in The Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty said that columnists including Brendan O’NeillToby Young, the blog Guido Fawkes, as well as Helen Dale and Rod Liddle at The Spectator and The Sunday Times had been making “ugly personal attacks” on Thunberg.[107] British TV presenter Piers Morgan also mocked Thunberg.[108] As part of its climate change denial, Germany’s right wing Alternative for Germany party has attacked Thunberg “in fairly vicious ways”, according to Jakob Guhl, a researcher for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.[109]

Arron Banks‘ Twitter post saying that “freak yachting accidents do happen in August…” outraged a number of British MPs (Member of Parliament), celebrities and academics. Tanja Bueltmann, founder of EU Citizens’ Champion, said Banks had “invoked the drowning of a child” for his own amusement and said that most of those attacking Thunberg “are white middle-aged men from the right of the political spectrum”.[110] Writing in The GuardianGaby Hinsliff, said Thunberg has become “the new front in the Brexit culture war” arguing that the outrage generated by personal attacks on Thunberg by Brexiteers “gives them the welcome oxygen of publicity”.[111]

“The Greta effect”

Thunberg has inspired a number of her school-aged peers in what has been described as “The Greta effect”.[112] In response to her outspoken stance, various politicians have also acknowledged the need to focus on climate change. Britain’s secretary for the environment, Michael Gove, said: “When I listened to you, I felt great admiration, but also responsibility and guilt. I am of your parents’ generation, and I recognise that we haven’t done nearly enough to address climate change and the broader environmental crisis that we helped to create.” Labour politician Ed Miliband, who was responsible for introducing the Climate Change Act 2008, said: “You have woken us up. We thank you. All the young people who have gone on strike have held up a mirror to our society … you have taught us all a really important lesson. You have stood out from the crowd.”[8]

In February 2019, Thunberg shared a stage with the then President of the European CommissionJean-Claude Juncker, where he outlined “In the next financial period from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change”.[113] Climate issues also played a significant role in European Parliament election in May 2019[114] as Green parties recorded their best ever result,[115] boosting their MEP seat numbers from 52 to 72.[116] Many of the gains came from northern European countries where young people have taken to the streets inspired by Thunberg.[115]

In June 2019, a YouGov poll in Britain found that public concern about the environment had soared to record levels in the UK since Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion had “pierced the bubble of denial”.[117] In August 2019, publication and sales of children’s books about the climate crisis reportedly doubled compared to the previous year. Publishers attribute this to the “Greta effect”.[118] Inspired by Thunberg, wealthy philanthropists and investors from the United States have donated about $600,000[119] to support Extinction Rebellion and school strike groups to establish the Climate Emergency Fund.[120][121][122] Trevor Neilson, one of the philanthropists, said the three founders would be contacting friends among the global mega-rich to donate “a hundred times” more in the weeks and months ahead.[119] In December 2019, the New Scientist described the impact made by Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion with the headline: “The year the world woke up to climate change”.[123]

Flight shame

Thunberg has spearheaded the anti-flying movement, promoting train travel over flying on environmental grounds.[124] The buzzword associated with this movement is flygskam or ‘flight shame’.[125][126] It is a phenomenon in which people feel social pressure not to fly because of the rising greenhouse gas emissions of the airline industry. It was originally championed by Swedish Olympic athlete Björn Ferry, but has gained significant momentum after Thunberg’s refusal to fly on environmental grounds. Thunberg backed the campaign to fly less, and made it part of her 2019 “awareness tour” in Europe.[127] Sweden has reported a 4% drop in domestic air travel for 2019 and an increase in rail use. The BBC says that the movement could halve the growth of global air travel, but Airbus and Boeing say that they still expect to grow at around 4% until 2035.[128][129] In June 2019, Swedish Railways (SJ) reported that the number of Swedes taking the train for domestic journeys had risen by 8% from the previous year, reflecting growing public concern (reflected in a survey published by the Swedish Railways) about the impact of flying on CO

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The Doomsday Clock


So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live; and what we have to do then – is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time.     

                                              –     Jose Ortega y Gasset   


One must have apocalypse in one eye and the millennium in the other, and as you look out through that double vision, the third eye develops and sees the resolution of tragedy and conflict and the rest of it.

                                        –   William Irwin Thompson







We should not think that our paying attention to the (real) possibilities of Disaster … amounts to Fear-based Thinking    or that it’s a negative thing.


Many of us sometimes drive a car.  And some of us have had an accident.  But consider all the times we have reached our destination SAFELY.  How does this happen?


It happens because we are doing what (above) William Irwin Thompson says we SHOULD do:  we are guided by TWO MAIN desires – to get where we are going … and NOT DYING or KILLING SOMEONE.


How (for example) do we decide whether to overtake the car ahead of us?  (or whether it is needful)   We do not HAVE to think about the results of a head-on collision; we already KNOW that such an occurrence is likely to be deadly … so we AVOID making such decisions.  

And ALL THE WHILE we are remembering our PURPOSE:  the REASON for our trip  – what we hope to DO when we get there.


So  – you see  we are ALREADY well practiced in ‘keeping one eye on the apocalypse and the other on the millennium.’  We do it ROUTINELY.


There is nothing negative about it.  And we KNOW HOW TO DO IT. It’s what gets us there AND keeps us alive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We should ALL be aware of the work of the folks who publish the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.


Some of the scientists who helped create the Atomic Bomb (following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) CONTINUED to collaborate … in order to PROMOTE SURVIVAL.


And so – they began publishing a mimeographed newsletter … and then a magazine (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)


As a communication tool, they use the idea of a clock.  The time to which the clock is set – is meant to be an indication of  –  the degree to which we are at risk of perishing outright, as a species  (or as a planet).


The application is of course metaphorical.  But it does not merely make use of our notion of time; it also makes use of our understanding of machines.


We all know – that a clock is a machine, and (as such) it will just keep moving.  So – using a clock is a way of communicating urgency. Their clock is telling us that – if we wish to SURVIVE … we’re going to have to DO SOMETHING.


We must CHANGE.


Our car is heading toward the DITCH !




Rachel Bronsen says (their current President & CEO) –  


“We believe that we can help solve the world’s most intractable problems with sustained attention, sound judgment, and evidence-based debate and assessments. But we can’t do it without you.”


Each January they make a determination as to “what time it is” … and the clock gets reset.


They take into account: 


nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies.


Sometimes the clock is advanced … sometimes it is set back.


It has varied between 17 minutes to midnight (in 1991) … to 100 seconds to midnight (since Jan. 2020).





[At the end of this essay, I’ll list the clock’s timeline … or  – you can find that in Wikipedia’s page]


Have a look at their site –   

and maybe sign up to receive their updates.




   (the Doomsday Clock, explained)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[from   ]:



Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge. Faced with a daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2020 time of the Doomsday Clock.




As the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board prepared for its first set of Doomsday Clock discussions this fall, it began referring to the current world security situation as a “new abnormal.” This new abnormal is a pernicious and dangerous departure from the time when the United States sought a leadership role in designing and supporting global agreements that advanced a safer and healthier planet. The new abnormal describes a moment in which fact is becoming indistinguishable from fiction, undermining our very abilities to develop and apply solutions to the big problems of our time. The new abnormal risks emboldening autocrats and lulling citizens around the world into a dangerous sense of anomie and political paralysis.See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2019 time of the Doomsday Clock.




The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed. It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent. The opportunity to reduce the danger is equally clear. The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2018 time of the Doomsday Clock.




For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2017 time of the Doomsday Clock.




“Last year, the Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes to midnight, noting: ‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.’ That probability has not been reduced. The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act—immediately.” See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2016 time of the Doomsday Clock.




“Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads-thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.” Read the full statement.




“The challenges to rid the world of nuclear weapons, harness nuclear power, and meet the nearly inexorable climate disruptions from global warming are complex and interconnected. In the face of such complex problems, it is difficult to see where the capacity lies to address these challenges.” Political processes seem wholly inadequate; the potential for nuclear weapons use in regional conflicts in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia are alarming; safer nuclear reactor designs need to be developed and built, and more stringent oversight, training, and attention are needed to prevent future disasters; the pace of technological solutions to address climate change may not be adequate to meet the hardships that large-scale disruption of the climate portends. Read the full statement.




“We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons” is the Bulletin’s assessment. Talks between Washington and Moscow for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty are nearly complete, and more negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. The dangers posed by climate change are growing, but there are pockets of progress. Most notably, at Copenhagen, the developing and industrialized countries agree to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Read the full statement.




The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property. Read the full statement.




Concerns regarding a nuclear terrorist attack underscore the enormous amount of unsecured — and sometimes unaccounted for — weapon-grade nuclear materials located throughout the world. Meanwhile, the United States expresses a desire to design new nuclear weapons, with an emphasis on those able to destroy hardened and deeply buried targets. It also rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Read the full statement.




India and Pakistan stage nuclear weapons tests only three weeks apart. “The tests are a symptom of the failure of the international community to fully commit itself to control the spread of nuclear weapons — and to work toward substantial reductions in the numbers of these weapons,” a dismayed Bulletin reports. Russia and the United States continue to serve as poor examples to the rest of the world. Together, they still maintain 7,000 warheads ready to fire at each other within 15 minutes. Read the full statement.




Hopes for a large post-Cold War peace dividend and a renouncing of nuclear weapons fade. Particularly in the United States, hard-liners seem reluctant to soften their rhetoric or actions, as they claim that a resurgent Russia could provide as much of a threat as the Soviet Union. Such talk slows the rollback in global nuclear forces; more than 40,000 nuclear weapons remain worldwide. There is also concern that terrorists could exploit poorly secured nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union. Read the full statement.




With the Cold War officially over, the United States and Russia begin making deep cuts to their nuclear arsenals. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty greatly reduces the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the two former adversaries. Better still, a series of unilateral initiatives remove most of the intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers in both countries from hair-trigger alert. “The illusion that tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are a guarantor of national security has been stripped away,” the Bulletin declares. Read the full statement.




“We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons” is the Bulletin’s assessment. Talks between Washington and Moscow for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty are nearly complete, and more negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. The dangers posed by climate change are growing, but there are pockets of progress. Most notably, at Copenhagen, the developing and industrialized countries agree to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Read the full statement.




The United States and Soviet Union sign the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the first agreement to actually ban a whole category of nuclear weapons. The leadership shown by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev makes the treaty a reality, but public opposition to U.S. nuclear weapons in Western Europe inspires it. For years, such intermediate-range missiles had kept Western Europe in the crosshairs of the two superpowers. Read the full statement.




U.S.-Soviet relations reach their iciest point in decades. Dialogue between the two superpowers virtually stops. “Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda,” a concerned Bulletin informs readers. The United States seems to flout the few arms control agreements in place by seeking an expansive, space-based anti-ballistic missile capability, raising worries that a new arms race will begin. Read the full statement.




The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan hardens the U.S. nuclear posture. Before he leaves office, President Jimmy Carter pulls the United States from the Olympic Games in Moscow and considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war. The rhetoric only intensifies with the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Reagan scraps any talk of arms control and proposes that the best way to end the Cold War is for the United States to win it. Read the full statement.




Thirty-five years after the start of the nuclear age and after some promising disarmament gains, the United States and the Soviet Union still view nuclear weapons as an integral component of their national security. This stalled progress discourages the Bulletin: “[The Soviet Union and United States have] been behaving like what may best be described as ‘nucleoholics’ — drunks who continue to insist that the drink being consumed is positively ‘the last one,’ but who can always find a good excuse for ‘just one more round.'” Read the full statement.




South Asia gets the Bomb, as India tests its first nuclear device. And any gains in previous arms control agreements seem like a mirage. The United States and Soviet Union appear to be modernizing their nuclear forces, not reducing them. Thanks to the deployment of multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV), both countries can now load their intercontinental ballistic missiles with more nuclear warheads than before. Read the full statement.




The United States and Soviet Union attempt to curb the race for nuclear superiority by signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The two treaties force a nuclear parity of sorts. SALT limits the number of ballistic missile launchers either country can possess, and the ABM Treaty stops an arms race in defensive weaponry from developing. Read the full statement.




Nearly all of the world’s nations come together to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deal is simple — the nuclear weapon states vow to help the treaty’s non-nuclear weapon signatories develop nuclear power if they promise to forego producing nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states also pledge to abolish their own arsenals when political conditions allow for it. Although Israel, India, and Pakistan refuse to sign the treaty, the Bulletin is cautiously optimistic: “The great powers have made the first step. They must proceed without delay to the next one — the dismantling, gradually, of their own oversized military establishments.” Read the full statement.




Regional wars rage. U.S. involvement in Vietnam intensifies, India and Pakistan battle in 1965, and Israel and its Arab neighbors renew hostilities in 1967. Worse yet, France and China develop nuclear weapons to assert themselves as global players. “There is little reason to feel sanguine about the future of our society on the world scale,” the Bulletin laments. “There is a mass revulsion against war, yes; but no sign of conscious intellectual leadership in a rebellion against the deadly heritage of international anarchy.” Read the full statement.




After a decade of almost non-stop nuclear tests, the United States and Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which ends all atmospheric nuclear testing. While it does not outlaw underground testing, the treaty represents progress in at least slowing the arms race. It also signals awareness among the Soviets and United States that they need to work together to prevent nuclear annihilation. Read the full statement.




Political actions belie the tough talk of “massive retaliation.” For the first time, the United States and Soviet Union appear eager to avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Egyptian-Israeli dispute. Joint projects that build trust and constructive dialogue between third parties also quell diplomatic hostilities. Scientists initiate many of these measures, helping establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations, and the Pugwash Conferences, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact. Read the full statement.




After much debate, the United States decides to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb. In October 1952, the United States tests its first thermonuclear device, obliterating a Pacific Ocean islet in the process; nine months later, the Soviets test an H-bomb of their own. “The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again,” the Bulletin announces. “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.” Read the full statement.




The Soviet Union denies it, but in the fall, President Harry Truman tells the American public that the Soviets tested their first nuclear device, officially starting the arms race. “We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or year from now,” the Bulletin explains. “But we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.” Read the full statement.




As the Bulletin evolves from a newsletter into a magazine, the Clock appears on the cover for the first time. It symbolizes the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine’s founders — and the broader scientific community — are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world. Read about Martyl Langsdorf, the creator of the Doomsday Clock, and read her note about how and why she came up with the design for what graphic designer Michael Beirut calls “the most powerful piece of information design of the 20th Century.”

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Right Use of Data


“Those who do not move

 do not notice their chains.”

                  ― Rosa Luxemburg





If we survive long enough … eventually the people of this planet will come to the realization that WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF THIS PLANET …  and then we will take responsibility for our welfare. And surely one of the things we will do – is to declare that war is illegal.

But for now we are still in the awkward stage – we really haven’t made up our mind to survive.  We lack hope … and we lack unity.


We all agree that killing is wrong (& illegal) … and that people get killed in wars; but we have not yet declared war to be illegal.


Of course we all realize that every municipality assumes this responsibility (of establishing a police force to protect people … and to see that laws are obeyed)


We don’t have World Peace yet … because we don’t (yet) want it.


It’s bound to come though … (simply) because it’s the only option that makes any sense.


And we now find ourselves IN THE DIGITAL AGE.  And our relationship with that fact is similar to our relationship with realizing that we are ALL A SINGLE FAMILY.


And so – we are in (yet another) awkward stage regarding our relationship with our Personal Data.


That’s why we are currently in the GOLDEN AGE OF SURVEILLANCE.  – We have the technology. (and virtually NO regulation) The public is largely ignorant.  And we have not yet (as a society) grappled with the situation … to understand it … and then balance our need for information (for purposes of legitimate protection against real dangers) against the cost to our privacy (particularly the cost to our most vulnerable people) 


Here is a good introduction –

    (Edward Snowden  on the Importance of Privacy, [3 ½ min.])



Also this –



And there’s more here –



 (Edward Snowden “Data Security and Privacy in the Age of Surveillance”,  [1 hr. 22 min.])


Snowden says that will solve our problems by choosing to … and through engineering (rather than my laws)    Though I think we should try to humanize our laws.


We should be aware of what has already happened … and we should try to understand our (current) situation. –


 (Chris Wylie [on CNN] :  ‘We tested Trump slogans in 2014’, [20 min.])


Part of our Situation  is that there unscrupulous companies (people) which/who are altogether willing to manipulate electoral outcomes … for a fee.


(I have read that these Grey Men first appeared during the Napoleonic Wars … when certain bankers began to exploit war … for profit  (not interested in the outcome of the war. Just a means to make money)


There is a remarkable (apparent) difference between the poor toothpaste salesman Alexander Nix here –

  (Cambridge Analytica boss under fire from MPs)


                             and the Alexander Nix here –

   (Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica – on ‘Big Data’ and Psychographics and their use in elections)


[It strikes me that Nix and Trump are quite similar … in that they are both quite willing to pretend WHATEVER they think they may be able to get away with … and have NO loyalty to the truth.]


Is this what it means … to be a Modern Man?


We need to figure out  … what we need to do – so that our Personal Data is not misused  (used against us).