Who's your doormat?

We are at the deepest risk of losing, forever, our connection with each other - family, friends, collogues, students, spouses, kids, whatever, and it isn't technology's fault, religion's fault, education, drugs, or any other THING'S fault. It's ours. 

When we look around, when we take time to be aware of life and things and people around us, when updates on friends and family are deeper than Facebook walls or Instagram posts, when we no longer measure success with numbers, test scores, and resume accomplishments, we might actually hear the groans and moans of the dead and decaying humanity that we so mindlessly abuse and use and trample. Every. Single. Day.

But who has time for that when a promotion is right around the corner, blog posts need to be posted, or when longly held accomplishments are just out of reach and I just need to stand on you for a little bit so I can reach the next rung and, maybe I'll see you later? 

This ending completely caught me off guard. And ever since, I can't stop thinking about it - for myself for sure, but  for our world and smaller societies that we live in. We're all proud enough to not straighten our tie and simply lie down and let someone walk and trample stand all over us, but do we support those that try and stand up? That no longer want to hold our coats or open doors for us? 

Do we notice that they're trying?

Do we notice them at all?


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  :  Regular People, like us  :  Real People, Real Stories




Open Thoughts : This is where I am


For the past few days, even weeks, I've been in a sort of rut with my writing and general creativity. Specifically, I've been wrestling with two larger thoughts - one on family and the other on guns, and after several hours spent on both, I got nothing. Every time I look at whatever I wrote the night before, I hate it, delete it, and start all over.

And this is more than just a bit discouraging. 

How is this so hard? Why am I unable to think or articulate simple thoughts? Why does it all seem so flimsy and shallow?

I don't know, but over the past several days, I've begun to wonder if I should just give up on writing and blogging and pursuing this crazy idea that I might some day be considered a legitimate author. Because what's the point?

Good writers should be able to write, daily, and produce material worth reading. Good writers shouldn't misspell or misuse words and they shouldn't struggle so damn much to call simple ideas  to a page, it should just happen, with the ease of routine, because they're good writers and that's what good writers do. 

I'm not sure when this slippery beast of doubt crept in, but like a silverback gorilla who's bathed in butter and just slipped through an open attic window, this sucker is rather difficult to get a hold of and shove out the door. 

So instead of writing, I watched this:

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.

I'm not sure about you, but I found this short talk somewhat encouraging but also fantastically terrifying because what she doesn't acknowledge is the absolute true possibility that although I'm working hard, I'm doing it all wrong. 

Because even though I believe that "the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with {my} effort" that doesn't mean all and every piece of work and drop of sweat is growing and leading me in the right direction. And my deepest fear, I guess, is this: what if it's not?

I don't know.

I'm sure there are little anecdotes of "just try your best and it will all work out," or "it's okay to fail because that's where you learn and grow" and all that other bullshit we say to ourselves to make us feel better and to keep our spirits high, but I'm kinda tired of such empty talk and hollow promises. Because they're exactly that, hollow promises. 

So what now?

I don't know.

Therefore, like Angela Duckworth, that's where I'm going to end my thoughts because that's where I'm at. And I'm not okay with that. 

Here's to tomorrow.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Open Thoughts  :  On Creativity



A Disturbing Film About the Night in 1939 When 20,000 American Nazis Rallied in New York City

In a noble effort to provide information helpful to current times, director Marshall Curry from Field of Vision gathered historical footage from various different archives to create the short film “A Night at the Garden“. This disturbing and difficult film spotlights that night in 1939 when the German American Bund (Nazi) gathered at Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City to proclaim their patriotism as German-born Fritz Kuhn called for a return to a “white, gentile-ruled United States” with “gentile-controlled labor unions free from Jewish Moscow-directed domination" (via).

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled “made in Germany”; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism.” – Halford E. Luccock

The protester who jumped on the stage is Isidore Greenbaum. After being pulled off, he was savagely beaten, stripped of his trousers and fined for disrupting the peace (via).

Curry explained why he felt the need to make this film:

The footage is so powerful, it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. But I think the rally has slipped out of our collective memory in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget. We’d like to think that when Nazism rose up, all Americans were instantly appalled. But while the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the Nazis, there was also a significant group of Americans who were sympathetic to their white supremacist, anti-Semitic message. When you see 20,000 Americans gathering in Madison Square Garden you can be sure that many times that were passively supportive (via).


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  History  :  WWII Vets Reuniting with Japanese Soldiers




Steinbeck's Nobel Prize Speech

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Min Vackra Fru, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I thank the Swedish Academy for finding my work worthy of this highest honor.

In my heart there may be doubt that I deserve the Nobel award over other men of letters whom I hold in respect and reverence - but there is no question of my pleasure and pride in having it for myself.

It is customary for the recipient of this award to offer personal or scholarly comment on the nature and the direction of literature. At this particular time, however, I think it would be well to consider the high duties and the responsibilities of the makers of literature.

Such is the prestige of the Nobel award and of this place where I stand that I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession and in the great and good men who have practiced it through the ages.

Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair.

Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.

The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species.

Humanity has been passing through a gray and desolate time of confusion. My great predecessor, William Faulkner, speaking here, referred to it as a tragedy of universal fear so long sustained that there were no longer problems of the spirit, so that only the human heart in conflict with itself seemed worth writing about.

Faulkner, more than most men, was aware of human strength as well as of human weakness. He knew that the understanding and the resolution of fear are a large part of the writer's reason for being.

This is not new. The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement.

Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love. 

In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation.

I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

The present universal fear has been the result of a forward surge in our knowledge and manipulation of certain dangerous factors in the physical world.

It is true that other phases of understanding have not yet caught up with this great step, but there is no reason to presume that they cannot or will not draw abreast. Indeed it is a part of the writer's responsibility to make sure that they do.

With humanity's long proud history of standing firm against natural enemies, sometimes in the face of almost certain defeat and extinction, we would be cowardly and stupid to leave the field on the eve of our greatest potential victory.

Understandably, I have been reading the life of Alfred Nobel - a solitary man, the books say, a thoughtful man. He perfected the release of explosive forces, capable of creative good or of destructive evil, but lacking choice, ungoverned by conscience or judgment.

Nobel saw some of the cruel and bloody misuses of his inventions. He may even have foreseen the end result of his probing - access to ultimate violence - to final destruction. Some say that he became cynical, but I do not believe this. I think he strove to invent a control, a safety valve. I think he found it finally only in the human mind and the human spirit. To me, his thinking is clearly indicated in the categories of these awards.

They are offered for increased and continuing knowledge of man and of his world - for understanding and communication, which are the functions of literature. And they are offered for demonstrations of the capacity for peace - the culmination of all the others.

Less than fifty years after his death, the door of nature was unlocked and we were offered the dreadful burden of choice.

We have usurped many of the powers we once ascribed to God.

Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world - of all living things.

The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand.

Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have.

Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope.

So that today, St. John the apostle may well be paraphrased ...

In the end is the Word, and the Word is Man - and the Word is with Men (via)


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Stories  :  Nobel Speeches



Part of the story: A father's heartbreaking video about his dying son


"Filmmaker Christian Schultz tells the story of Finn Muedder, a 3-year-old boy who suffers from from Hunter’s Syndrome, a rare disease affects about 500 boys in the U.S., an estimated 2,000 worldwide. Researchers believe they are close to a cure, but not without expensive new research -- money Jon doesn't have -- he used what he knew to get the world out" (via).

It's not just about our family, it's about all these other families, and doing everything we can so that Finn and these other boys have a better chance at life.


He may be the first generation of boys who really has a cure.

Or, he may be part of the story, of boys, who brings the cure after him.


Finn and his family have established a GoFundMe page where people can contribute to curing Hunter’s Syndrome once and for all.

They need to make hit their $2.5 million target by November. Otherwise, important experiments won’t happen. 

Currently, they $640,000.

Beyonce : How to make lemonade

How To Make Lemonade is Beyonce's newest work - a collector's edition box set. "The retrospective will includes a 600-page hardcover book comprising unseen photos from the making of the audiovisual album, personal writing by Beyonce and handwritten lyrics and poetry by Warsaw Shire" (via). 

If we dance to survive, than Beyonce and company are thriving. 

Damn. She's good.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Art  :  Beyonce Videos



I Have a Message for You

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To escape Auschwitz, Klara Prowisor, now 92, left her father to die in the hands of strangers. Decades later, she got a message from. This short film, directed by MATAN ROCHLITZ, is her story. 

Who knows how future generations will perceive the Holocaust and the extent to which it will figure in history. Perhaps in due time it will be just another event in the troubled timeline of our species. It is far beyond the scope of this film to engage with the enormity of these questions. All I know is that we are the last generation who will be able to meet Holocaust survivors in person, and I consider that a tremendous responsibility (via).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  :  History  :  WWII Vets Reuniting with Japanese Soldiers



Movies Inspired by Art


Vugar Efendi has put together "three chapters" that explore the relationship between films that have been inspired by famous paintings.

Some of them are spot on perfect, others are beautiful adaptations, but all show a deep and strong respect for the craft, the artist, and the long held understanding that good artists borrow, but great artists steal.  

"An aspiring filmmaker with immense love for film, music and art in general," Vugar Efendi has  been acknowledged by the likes of: Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Elle, BBC, Canal +, and Indiewire.

You can see more of his inspiring work here, or follow his blog and catch Trailer Tuesday where he, you guessed it, posts trailers of different movie from all around the world. 


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Creativity  :  Inspiring Art



Chimamanda Negozi Adichie : A Troubling Silence


After Adichie's criticism for implying that trans women are not “real women”, she defended her comments during a public appearance in Washington saying, “This is fundamentally about language orthodoxy. There’s a part of me that resists this sort of thing because I don’t think it’s helpful to insist that unless you want to use the exact language I want you to use, I will not listen to what you’re saying" (via).

“From the very beginning," she continued "I think it’s been quite clear that there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It’s the sort of thing to me that’s obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. Of course they are women but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in experence of gender. That’s really what my point is . . . if we can acknowledge there are differences, then we can better honestly talk about things" (via).

In an interview with The New Yorker, Adichie explains why this sort of behavior is so dangerous: because it's cannibalism.

The Left is creating it’s own decline . . . it doesn’t know how to be a tribe, in a way the Right does. The Left is Cannibalistic . . .

In the quest for inclusiveness, the Left is willing to discard a sort of complex truth. And I think there is a quickness to assign ill intent . . .

The response is not to debate, the response is to silence, and I find that very troubling. 

After Adichie's criticism for implying that trans women are not “real women”, she defended her comments during a public appearance in Washington saying, “I don’t think it’s helpful to insist that unless you want to use the exact language I want you to use, I will not listen to what you’re saying" because " . . . if we can acknowledge there are differences, then we can better honestly talk about things" (via).

Arthur Brooks, a political independent, takes it a step further. In his discussion with Guy Raz, he argues that we need to need people who think (and talk) differently than ourselves in order actually do what is best for ourselves and, more importantly, the world.

Republicans and Democrats today, he argues, "suffer from political motive asymmetry. A majority of our people in our country today who are politically active believe that they are motivated by love, but the other side is motivated by hate. Most people are walking around saying, 'you know, my ideology's based on basic benevolence. I want to help people. But the other guys, they're evil and out to get me.' You can't progress as a society when you have this kind of asymmetry. It's impossible" and a little like cannibalism - eating those who think and talk differently than ourselves.

However, Brooks thinks this type of diversity is exactly what we need because within our seemingly irreconcilable differences, there is the best and perfect solution.

"When we talk in this country about economics," Brooks continues, "if you're on the right, conservatives, you're always talking about taxes and regulations and big government. And on the left, liberals, you're talking about economics, it's always about income inequality," which is good, because these are really important things. "But when it comes to lifting people up who are starving and need us today," he says, those things become distractions.

Instead of helping the needy or educating the poor, we argue over how, when, and where it should be done. 

"We need to come together around the best ways to mitigate poverty using the best tools at our disposal. And that comes only when conservatives recognize that they need liberals and their obsession with poverty and liberals need conservatives and their obsession with free markets" because the problems of our country and of our world are a sort of complex truth. We are all too quick to assign ill intent or shaky motives to those on the other side, silencing any chance of conversation, debate, or growth. All the while, the needy die in our streets and nearby homes.

While the Left and the Right devour each other and eat their own, children starve, freeze, and lose hope.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We just have to change, accept diversity, and be the kind of person "who blurs the lines, who's ambiguous, {and} who's hard to classify."

"If you're a conservative," Brooks argues, "be the conservative who's always going on about poverty and the moral obligation to be a warrior for the poor. And if you're a liberal, be a liberal who's always talking about the beauty of free markets to solve our problems when we use them responsibly. If we do that, maybe - just maybe - we'll all realize that our big differences aren't really that big after all" (via).


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Dangers of a Single Story  :  Diversity makes us smarter