We don’t want to believe these days that a person is capable of independent thought and action. And we like to believe the facile thing – radical Islam. But the truth is – hardened thought that raises an Idea above the value of a human being will always be threatening. Ideas have interchangeable vocabulary …. White Supremacy, the True Believer, Radical Islam …. Ironically, ideas can also sound like Human Rights, ProLife, Women’s Rights, “My Constitutional Rights” or Christianity (religion of any kind). It’s a wise mind that can weigh the idea against the humanity, the mind against the heart, Righteousness against forgiveness …. Above all there is life. To quote the poet: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes”
The “value” of a liberal education can’t be measured in money earned over a lifetime. It isn’t about jobs or the state of the state. It IS about critical thinking, moral and ethical decision making, the worth of a human being beyond what the human being “consumes” or manufactures. The possibilities of independent thought and decision making could, in fact, lead to the downfall of corporate thinking and the aims of the STATE.
I was so moved by Sharon’s paid advertisement – her personal letter to friends and neighbors, I decided to reprint it here so it can be referenced for everyone to see. People everywhere are stepping up, speaking their minds. So proud of Sharon!
As printed in the Perrysburg Messenger Journal October 31st 2012
A paid advertisement placed by the author – our friend
Sharon Belkofer Perrysburg, Ohio
Dear Neighbors & Friends,
I am a 70-year-old retired registered nurse, who has never been politically involved until now. Never in the 53 years I have been voting have I been as worried as I am today, for my children and my grandchildren. Never have I seen an election so blatantly purchased as I’m seeing today (Thanks, Citizens United.). And never have lies, distortions, misin- formation and deception been so cleverly crafted in a constant barrage of ads to garner our votes. I have become so concerned that I have taken some of my retirement savings to purchase this ad. Please give me a few moments of your time.
Actions Speak much Louder than Words.
On the evening of January 20, 2009, seven Republican leaders of the House of Representatives, including Paul Ryan, and five Republican leaders of the Senate met at the Caucus Room, a Washington restaurant, to make a pact: absolutely nothing that the new President might propose was to be allowed to pass. No matter the dire circumstances of the country, no matter the needs of the people, no matter how good a proposal might benefit the country, NOTHING must pass. There was one goal and one goal only according to Mitch McConnell– defeat this President and anything he tries to accomplish.
That’s what they swore to do, and that’s what their actions have consistently portrayed.
Actions Speak Louder than Words.
So what did they do?
- Filibustered or stalled an historic 300 bills brought to the Senate floor.
- Cast an initial “no” vote on every bill brought to the House floor by Democrats.
- “No” on all bills on Veterans’ Health, on Veterans’ Education assistance, on Veterans’ Job assistance programs. In fact,
“Veterans” was not even mentioned in their budget.
- “No” on equal access to health care coverage for all Americans; for coverage for children with chronic diseases; for any
one with pre-existing diseases.
- “No” to save the Auto Industry.
- “No” to end Bush era tax cuts that primarily benefited the top 3% financially.
- “No” to raise any revenue that would change tax rates for the ultra-rich.
- “No” for EPA funding.
- “No” for disaster relief funding following the wildfires, hurricanes and floods in 2011.
- “No” on the Anti-Rape Amendment.
- “No” on the Fair Pay Act.
- “No” on the Lilly Ledbetter Act (to allow job discrimination claims to be filed).
- Refused to consider the Americans Job Act.
- Stalled on the Transportation Bill potentially sacrificing 2 million jobs.
- Voiced opposition to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy. – Obstructed the Budget Super Committee by refusing to compromise on anything.
All of this despite repeated efforts by the President and Vice President to bring about compromise in order to accom- plish needed legislation. The only way anything passed was if a few Republicans individually acceded and gave their support. Those who did suffered for it–the well-financed Tea Partiers (funded by billionaires Koch, Norquist, etc.) cam- paigned strenuously against those who did not conform, and they were defeated in their re-election bids. The Republican House would not compromise. There was no interest or willingness to work together. The Tea Partiers, I call them the Me Partiers, had one stance, “Our way or no way.”
So what did the Republicans propose? Again, Actions Speak Louder than Words. Only 90 bills were proposed, his- torically a miniscule number for any Congress. And what were they?
- 16 bills to rename Post Offices.
- A bill to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official national motto.
- 15 bills classified as “jobs” bills affecting restraint on Internet providers, pesticide use, water quality, and the cement
industry. None had any real affect on jobs. – Curtailment of unemployment insurance.
- The Ryan Budget Bill that:
• Cuts $300 billion from Medicaid, provider of healthcare for low income children and those with chronic diseases. • Raises taxes for earners of $50,000 – $200,000 by $1,358 to $2,681.
• Lowers taxes for earners over $1,000,000 by $300,000.
• Makes the Bush tax breaks permanent increasing loss by $5.4 trillion.
• Creates a two-tiered tax system that costs $3.2 trillion over 10 years.
• Repeals the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), raising the deficit by $300 billion and taking away healthcare
from millions of uninsured, eliminating coverage for pre-existing conditions and eliminating coverage for children until the age of 26.
• Reduces the corporate tax rate adding $1.1 trillion to the deficit.
• By 2022, reduces federal revenues to just 15.8% of Gross Domestic Product. • In Ohio, the Ryan Budget:
• Eliminates almost 10,000 jobs in Head Start, special education, and nutrition and food stamp programs.
• Cuts $110.8 million in special education funding.
• Ends tax credits for 107,210 small businesses that offer health insurance for their employees and costs an
average $762/year for each of those employees.
• Costs 197,600 seniors $102,675,000.
• Eliminates funding for 177 million meals for low-income families.
• Costs families twice as much as the Affordable Care Act in annual healthcare spending. • Increases the number of uninsured rather than improving it.
Fortunately, the Senate defeated this bill. But is it any wonder that Congress’ approval rating fell to 9%?
In 1789, the First Federal Congress convened in New York City. It was a contentious one, Northerners, Southern- ers, Federalists, Anti-Federalists, each with their own agenda. Yet, they were leaders, elected to lead. And that’s what they did. Despite a $25 million national debt, they came together, tackled significant challenges and set a promising fu- ture for the new republic. The 112th Republican Congress has done none of that.
Actions Speak Louder than Words.
I fear for future actions more than I believe easily spoken and often misleading words and promises. I see what has been accomplished despite a vow to prevent it.
- 5 million new jobs in 30 months.
- National unemployment rate at 7.8% from 10+%. In Ohio, 7.2% from 11%. In Wood County, 6.6% from 13%.
- Affordable healthcare coverage for all, at the same time reducing the national deficit and providing assistance for small
business to cover their employees.
- Doubling of student funds.
- Maintenance of low student interest rates.
- Job retraining for the unemployed.
- Jobs assistance for veterans.
- Elimination of pre-existing conditions for children.
- Improvement in healthcare for children, women and families.
- Reduction in oil imports to the lowest level in 10 years.
- Aggressive actions against Chinese unfair manufacturing and import activities. – A strong boom in the housing industry.
- A steady increase in manufacturing and in the economy.
- Businesses expanding and adding new jobs.
This must continue, and I am going to vote for those who have ACTED, who took an oath to serve and did so–not those who have ignored that oath, dispersed an overwhelming amount of misinformation, and DONE NOTHING for any of us.
I hope, that with all this information, you will make the same decision. I hope you’ll continue to support our growth and re-elect President Obama, Senator Sherrod Brown, elect Angela Zimmann to the House and support those in Wood County who have worked so hard to restore our local economy.
Thank you so much for your time and attention.
Sharon Belkofer Perrysburg, Ohio
There is a story about a man who faked his own death on the internet. One might ask ‘why’ but the internet in some ways is also a stage whereupon many of life’s dramas can be acted out. A sociopath, for example, would be yet another step removed from the people for whom he already holds no ties. Such a scheme would be the ultimate in manipulation provoking a sense of being loved (on some level) and power over the domain and those who dwell therein. As we cry, he laughs.
The internet is something of a mental platform or stage where-upon we are all actors. Did someone once say that about life … all the world’s a stage or something akin? But the internet can become a stage of our own making, a place to play out what we want to be and from which we can garner what we need. Without reality everything up there is nothing except a pattern of hieroglyphs. It matters only in consequence.
Back in June of 2009 I posted an article entitled “#iranelection and the search for truth” wherein I discussed how we know what actually is true on the internet and what is made up or, if not made up, true because we desire it to be so.
But I had also posted another query In “Learning the Twitter Rules of Engagement” that discussed responding to what we hear on the web and the consequential dangers. The Iran elections focused both the use of the internet as a revolutionary device interweaving the issues of divergent realities, life, death, control, with the consequences which burst through into the real world. What was exciting to read had potential disastrous life and death consequences in reality.
Whatever web “Rules of Engagement” I developed depended upon the consequences. Ultimately, my use of the term “Engagement” was meant to be engagement between the social media user and the words on the page as much as engagement can be about a soldier in combat.
In the same light, our literal web presence can have consequences, whether we are aware of them or not. The issue is to and for whom. After we die our web ‘stuff’ remains in someone elses box with or without change, with or without context, undefended forever with the web archives acting as backup. We may die and take our shadow with us. But what of that box? For whom may it have consequence?
Control it. Before hand. While you can. Decide what to do with that box and leave clearly written instructions including passwords. Control whether your online life shuts down gracefully or remains. Think of the consequence.
In 1994 I created my first web page entitled “Barb McMillen’s Site for Sore Eyes”. In those days the coding was hand milled on notepad and the graphics were culled, manipulated and compressed over hours of dedicated work.
The web was fresh and new and as such had not become solid in its commercial function nor drag and drop in its creation. For me it was located “up there” and some nights I thought about my page while it was raining. On the one hand, the web was a kind of heaven. On the other, the web existed unprotected in the rain.
And the web’s life? Even the web has a heaven. If you want a sense of web eternity, you can make contact with the past on the web by looking through the doors of the internet archives via the wayback machine (http://wayback.archive.org/). I found my beloved puppy, Pico’s page (created in 2001) after he passed away this year and I keep a link to it on my desktop. I like seeing his face and knowing he’s still ‘there.’ (http://web.archive.org/web/20010501104323/http://www.bfmcmillen.com/pico/)
Back in 1994 I recall running across a page that read like a prayer entitled “Sur la mort de ma mere.” The webpage owner simply placed a single page “up there” documenting her mother’s death for the world. She wanted the world to remember the reality and strength of both love and grief and the poignancy of that moment. “Sur la mort de ma mere” existed as a kind of prayer. I can’t find the page any longer (not even in the wayback machine). Nevertheless, the page influenced my thinking about the imaginary web for years.
However, life makes fools of us all and the unsimple application of an FTP program taught me the location of that box “up there” was on my ISP’s server. And if you want to stick to reality, you might consider who owns the part of you that is up there: you or your family or the web? And if you want to control your own identity and destiny you must take control over the web’s reality.
There are examples like “Sur la mort de ma mere” of websites with the purpose of existing forever. I’d like to reference “The Adventures of ALS Boy” (http://alsboy) as an example as well. The Adventures of ALS Boy maintains the presence of a beautiful consciousness, stunning in its honesty, precise in its prose. There is hope and love on the web. And long after passing, Jason Picetti lives on.
The web as a kind of perpetuity-engine can be for some who live there an aspiration and for others who find them an inspiration. But maintaining websites in perpetuity is, well, its own issue. You must remember someone is paying for the server you live-on on.
You don’t want to rent the suit you’re buried in.
The New York Times article “Cyberspace When You’re Dead” describes the personal lives of several talented folks who spent much time adored by others online but whose families felt infringed upon. The families wanted to control whatever legacy the person who died had achieved. It’s not unlike the children of a movie star who want to control the family legacy and any subsequent income.
But what of death then? Should your family and friends erase your virtual life upon your death? Ask yourself if you really want your family to take charge and erase that other life you achieved online. On the other hand, do you even want them to know of it?
Christina Hernandez Sherwood’s “Death and the Internet: How your online identity can live on after death” (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/death-and-the-internet-how-your-online-identity-can-live-on-after-death/2119) describes a program called Legacy Locker. ‘Legacy Locker is a safe, secure repository for your vital digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of loss, death, or disability.’ (http://legacylocker.com/)
It claims “around 10,000” people have signed up for its digital-estate-management service. Wikipedia says its program competitors include DataInherit, a service of DSwiss, “the Swiss bank for information assets” (you can even update your digital-legacy data via its iPhone app), and Entrustet, of Madison, Wisconsin. Last May these three firms sponsored Digital Death Day, an event tacked on to an annual online-identity conference near San Francisco.
Sherwood also discusses the website Deathswitch that allows users to store encrypted emails to be sent out at the time of their death. This is determined by the user entering a password at preset intervals. If the password is not entered after several prompts, the emails are sent out to the indicated email recipients. (http://www.deathswitch.com/).
There’s an app or a web company for everything. But internet companies also have a way of coming and going. Sherwood references ‘My Web Will’ as a resource but when I took a trip to http://www.mywebwill.com/ I heard a voice from beyond the grave
We are sorry to announce that the service My Web Will has been permanently closed as of November 2nd 2011.
Wishing you all the best and a happy digital life!
//The My Web Will Team.”
Ah. A 404 with an attitude.
So you can choose 1) to end your online presence by euthanizing your accounts followed by a final post saying good-bye, 2) to forever separate your online life from your relatives and live forever in the life you chose, or 3) to tell your family how to access your accounts and shut down your internet life.
When my sister-in-law passed away in February I noticed folks continued to post to her Facebook page and her family was keeping her computer turned on so they didn’t lose access to her online accounts. Posters announced her death on her page before any family members had a chance to return from the hospital let alone thought of accessing her page.
But even while in the hospital they were aware of some of the drama queen/king antics of folks they nearly knew claiming prayers and all-night cryings. They wondered who really owned their experience at the moment. And wondered, eventually, what to do.
Her webpage made me curious. There had to be a history of this sort of thing. Since I now have a blog, I asked Dr. Google what happens to a blog after one dies and Dr. Google replied with some interesting information about social networks as well as death and the internet in general.
I found several articles referring to families attempting to access their dead family member’s accounts: Wendy M Grossman’s excellent ’net.wars: Death doth make hackers of us all’ (http://www.newswireless.net/index.cfm/article/8043) and ‘Death, where is thy password?’ (http://www.newswireless.net/index.cfm/article/8393)
and Tyler Colfax’s – ‘Server Graveyards: What Happens to Profiles When People Die?’ (http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/blog/post/694448/server-graveyards-what-happens-to-profiles-when-people-die/) and ‘What Happens To Your Facebook Account After You Die?’ (http://www.skipser.com/p/2/p/what-happens-to-your-facebook-account-after-you-die.html)
The stories are not pretty and in some ways devastating. Of course, a person may actually want their pages to survive them but the bottom line is, take control now of your online identity. Whichever fate you long for, end it or live it, take control now.
After all is said and done, the family has passed from anguish to angst, the most important result in all cases is to keep your passwords together for easy access by your family and leave directions for what and how they should handle your accounts.
Years back a writer was deemed knighted with eternity because his or her words went on after he or she died. In fact, all artists were memorialized by their works. In all cases their words, pictures, dances, music lived on after death.
But in these years of techno-life we are all writers and artists .. we take photos, make music, make videos and films, make comments, keep daily journals, and, in a sense, we take on cyber immortality. Not because our works are great, of course, but merely because they are.
Some of our works are actually not meant to be nor ever were thought of as what should be the focus of who we are for eternity. But that is the reality of web life. Web life has its own time and space. You reach into it as if it is a box and you place who you are in the body of words, music, photographs, you place those elements of yourself into that box.
But you live out side the box. As though you lived in a parallel universe which is not actually all that incorrect a simile. And you will die without that box. Because that box is not, on the other hand, your shadow.
Update: Link to:
Took a gander we couldn’t pass up – Judi Dench, Maggi Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Tatel and Celia Imrie in one film. Could have been about NOTHING and we would have enjoyed watching these actors move about. And enjoyable it was.
But the most interesting thing about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for us was the audience. At 65, we had to have been the youngest couple there. The audience was peeked and quietly chatted before the film started. And the room was packed.
Why not, actually, since we as a generation are represented in so few films any more. Other than a snide joke or a hit at memory loss, we, the elderly actually have little existence in films. And to think about it, how odd. The films used to be all about us.
Sigh. Not so these days. And that fact seemed to instill the film with less than the hearty laughs we expected. But we found quiet chuckles, giggles of recognition and moments of honesty. Discussing the film after, my husband and I suspected there were ropes to be walked by director John Madden … the ropes being the tightropes of respect.
This isn’t a film about colonialism but it isn’t a film about Bollywood either. And India is seen as a country that includes its elderly in its daily life. Nor does the film take cracks at the elderly though it does amuse itself by the ironies of aging. The film does not make fun of anything. Instead,
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel examines the culture of the elderly which is portrayed not as a separate culture but a continuation of life; in and of itself an exotic addition to life. Until death. Transitioning is not easy but earned change can be embraced.
Must mention that many of us stayed through to the very last frame waiting for the outtakes. There weren’t any. So we all took ourselves out. (side, that is) Oh well ….
At 66, I wonder why I tweet. As it turns out, the answer lies somewhere in the old joke – because I can. Twitter is self-defining. I don’t select ego-paths or material promoters as my followers or as the source of my tweets. I select causes and issues that concern me and hope I select a broad enough swath of followers and people to follow to impact for good.
The thing about social media for me, that is, is I can be a voice and not in the wilderness. A constant song among voices singing for release from poverty and illness and war … planetary voices to some extent recorded somewhere. In the end, after the big bang, there’ll be a hard-drive surviving on which our voices will be recorded informing those beings who find it
of the culture of our concerns for each other. A cacophony rising jazz-like of dreams and wishes and ambitions. Write for the tweet not for the hate. And tweet because you can.