5/26/12

We Are Already Doomed to Future Nuke Meltdowns

Nuke Regulators' Cozy Industry Ties - The Daily Beast: "Here's something to think about as Japan continues working to fix its stricken reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now criticized as being extremely close to the industry, routinely postponing requiring maintenance until crises develop, and even then usually delivering only a slap on the wrist. The agency puts up with violations, says critic David Lochbaum, because "Otherwise, nearly all the U.S. reactors would have to shut down.""

What else is new under our fading sun? This is the sort of thing that reinforces self-creep, the phenomenon of withdrawal from participation in anything.


Nuclear plants are a lethal time bomb. Nuclear plants have no place in a new world of sustainability and enhanced living. Nuclear plants are not economically viable. The countries that say no to nuclear will build toward a sustainable energy future. Nuclear plants are the signature of an era of destruction.




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Jonathan's Wake - a Personal Reflection


Jonathan's Wake was a Movement Whose Aim was Largely Misunderstood Because of the Massive Discontents of the Late 1960s. The Aim is the Same Now as Then

Here is part of a small collection designed to recall a time when some of us engaged in direct action to achieve renewal and reform of mainline Protestant churches in the United States. The specific effort that I helped create was called Jonathan's Wake. I am tagging items Jonathan's Wake and will put what I have found up as time permits.

This item was posted by Richard L.York.

Jonathan's Wake Stirs Late Awakening

I remember Dick along with Steve Richardson, Tony Nugent and other members of the Berkeley Free Church from Detroit and a later trip I made to Berkeley. This group was in some respect the most visible part of the Jonathan's Wake aggregation that showed up at the Hotel Tuller in Detroit in December, 1969, and turned the National Council of Churches' General Assembly at Cobo Hall into a confrontational event whose resonance continues to be felt.

I suppose the main feeling would be a growing sense that we were onto something and a parallel knowledge that there was vastly more resistance to change in the denominations than we believed at the time. One of the most interesting indicators of this resistance was a simple study I did soon after Detroit for my friend Bob Lynn when he was at the Lilly Endowment.

I wrote every head of the major denominations and asked if they thought there would be church union within 10 years. All said yes save one. The one was correct. And his reason was correct. This correspondence is archived here.

I also have noted Jonathan's Wake in a more personal way in the page My Books.

My sense then and now is that the participants in Jonathan's Wake not only combined different styles, but also differing agendas. These generally overlapped to the point that there was general support for most of the actions and objectives.

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More on Berkeley Free Church





ADDENDUM

I will confine the following to my own specific memories of a reparations struggle which began in the spring of 1969 and culminated in an extended demonstration at a General Assembly of the National Council of Churches at Cobo Hall in Detroit in December of that year. As far as I can find, this small but important effort to change the course of ecumenism in mainline American Protestantism has been forgotten or repressed or simply lost.

When my alma mater, Union Theological Seminary, held a symposium on reparations recently, there was no mention of this incident. Today the mainline denominations, who were at the time involved in negotiations to unify under the banner of the Consultation on Church Union, are each plying an autonomous course. I think their palpable resistance to change in 1969 prefigured their current, predictable decline in numbers and influence.

I was a Presbyterian delegate to the Consultation on Church Union and joined others in Atlanta in the spring of 1969 to discuss uniting the mainline denominations. At the meeting, Oscar McCloud, a classmate from Union, suggested he and I hold a public meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern, by which we meant how all this unity talk related to racial justice.

At that meeting I, spontaneously proposed that the Black community seek reparations from the white denominations. And that the white denominations pay them. I had, prior to this time, concluded that the then-large endowments of the various churches were a liability in terms of achieving church union and that they ought to be given away. And I had by that time written The Grass Roots Church in which I proposed a radical restructuring of churches at the local level, a restructuring that assumed the effective replacement of denominational by ecumenical structures.

The immediate reaction to this proposal was a speech by a Black clergyman named Mance Jackson, saying that I as a white person was not qualified to be proposing an agenda for Black persons. I felt I was being hung out to dry. No one rose to my defense. I thought Jackson's logic was understandable in terms of the anger of the time, but nonsensical in terms of the actual issue under discussion.

A week later in Detroit, Jim Forman made national headlines by proposing exactly what I had proposed the week before. Here s Google's page referencing Jim Forman and the Reparations Struggle of 1969.

On April 26, 1969, in Detroit, Michigan, Forman presented the Black Manifesto at the National Black Economic Development Conference. Sponsored by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations, the conference adopted a manifesto that demanded Protestant and Jewish organizations pay $500 million in reparations to the African American community. In his speech, Forman called upon blacks to join in a black-socialist-led armed struggle to overthrow the United States government.

A month later, Forman interrupted services at New York City's Riverside Church to demand that the congregation pay reparations for the past damage inflicted upon people of color by white America. According to Larry Neal in The Black Seventies, this act not only made national front-page news, but marked "one of the high points of nonviolent action" during the conservative years of U.S. president Richard M. Nixon's administration.

SOURCE

The only existing references to my efforts are my own short biography at the Civil Rights Veterans site and what I have posted here.

After the Forman move, which was highly publicized, I decided to keep organizing my own effort to achieve church unity via the transfer of resources from the denominations, to be used as reparations as Forman proposed.

My main impulse was two-fold:

1. To prepare the way for a viable ecumenism and

2. To forward the cause of racial justice.

Since I was then living in Stockbridge, MA, where Jonathan Edwards had been an exile, I decided to call the little movement I organized Jonathan's Wake.

In the fall of 1969, I announced that a movement called Jonathan's Wake would go to Detroit in Devember to the National Council of Churches General Assembly in Cobo Hall to press an agenda for church renewal and ecumenism that would involve the transfer of endowments from the denominations to the Black Economic Development Conference for use in achieving justice in impoverished Black communities.

With the help of a friend, Fred Lord, and the support of my colleague of many years, Will Campbell, we showed up in Detroit with a contingent of from 50 to 100 persons, depending on how you counted other groups that were sympathetic. We headquartered in the Hotel Tuller downtown. It was a more reasonable place to stay than the Pontchartrain Hotel where most of the church delegates were housed.

We had considerable publicity at the time. But it soon became apparent to me that very few really understood the purpose or reasoning I was pushing. I really did see the financial wealth of the individual denominations as the main reason they would cling to their identities and avoid true local ecumenical engagement.

But most people had other agendas, the most prominent being opposition to the Vietnam War. This helps explain why my own opposition to Johnson and the Vietnam War was based in large part on the war's preemption of the promise of the 1960s, the beloved community and the visions of Dr. King.

The Jonathan's Wake protest turned out not to be a reasoned effort to get the church folk to consider the implications of their denominational finances for ecumenism, but a series of dramatic interventions on the floor of the meeting.

The most dramatic was the action of folk from California who poured something like blood on the rostrum. I did not see it but it grabbed the attention.

Finally, we managed to propose a condition that came to a vote, far from what I had sought. It had to do with not asking the state (police) to intervene in church disputes. The measure passed on a majority vote and was defeated when William Thompson, head of the Presbyterian group, won a two-thirds vote on a point of order.

At this point I considered everything lost, the concept, the effort to sway the denominations, and most likely my own future as a person concerned with renewing the church. I ran through the hall yelling Crucify me now.

Here is a sonnet I wrote recounting this a few years ago:

When I ran crying crucify me now
Across the floor of Detroit's Cobo Hall
Excessive legalism took a bow
Denominations sidestepped one more call
None dared say Jesus complex but the thought
Could not have been too far from many minds
But all it was was me just feeling caught
Like one condemned when time finally unwinds
I think I cared about a unity
That no one wanted and few want today
I think I cared about a harmony
Whose price few have the least desire to pay
I'm twice the age that Christ was when he died
Still railing at the temple he defied

Immediately after, I ended up consoling a young woman who came up in tears and said she understood for the first time that denominations were the problem. That is as close to understanding why I was there as anything.



In retrospect, reparations as a legal or moral issue was secondary to my concern for church renewal. If I had to judge now, I would say that some equivalence to reparations is always required in the face of continuing injustices toward one group by another. It really amounts to figuring out when both sides can agree that things are square.

In retrospect, my caring about church union and ecumenism has transformed into the religionless Christianity that I think Bonhoeffer prefigured without exactly embracing. It goes without saying that I would love to see the churches take seriously the understandings in mu book "The Grass Roots Church", even now. But I have few illusions that the denominations, battered by predictable attrition and ongoing internal culture wars, will willingly cede even a radically shrinking power.

Who is killing the church? Might it be G-d?

I see the unfolding Obama era as a chance to forge and develop a secular spirituality based partly on the implementation of his non-proselytizing notion of local ministries sponsored under religious auspices. This could be huge and that would make Barack the achiever of a renewal that churches were unwilling or unable to bring about by decisive acts of their own.


For Charles Sanders Peirce language is a subspecies of of semiosis


Gene Halton:  "In the Peircean perspective, language, if you mean by that linguistic language, is but a subspecies of the inferential and communicative process of semiosis, even within human communication. Two examples: “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture,” as Thelonius Monk once said to quiet a critic’s question. Or as the great modern dancer Isadore Duncan said, “If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.” Or consider felt, wordless empathic communication. Or this: Someone I know who studied with a Native American wise man told me that the man gathered all of his students, former and current, to spend a month with him for his last teaching. His last teaching he gave to them was his death, as it unfolded over that month."

ADDENDUM

Peirce: “Nor must any synechist say, 'I am altogether myself, and not at all you.' If you embrace synechism, you must abjure this metaphysics of wickedness. In the first place, your neighbors are, in a measure, yourself, and in far greater measure than, without deep studies in psychology, you would believe. Really, the selfhood you like to attribute to yourself is, for the most part, the vulgarist delusion of vanity.”
From the Peirce list

An Approach to Torture that Goes Past the Question of Whether it Works


When I am dissatisfied with search results I have to dig and dig and dig. If your objective is to find some reliable information about torture, be my guest. Here are some helpful starting points.

A pragmaticist argument will link the metaphysical and logical to the scientifically demonstrable. One might argue that when the metaphysical and logical are ranged squarely against torture and the scientific observations are generally but not always in apparent agreement, the benefit of the doubt - or the abduction - should be that torture indeed does not work. And that if there are exceptions they are not worth the other results of engaging in torture as a national policy.

Here is the most celebrated modern text on the subject.

My Thoughts Are Free: MARK TWAIN ON TORTURE
: "'I will tell you nothing more than I have told you; no, not even if you tear the limbs from my body. And even if in my pain I did say something otherwise, I would always say afterward that it was the torture that spoke and not I.'"

Move to the realm of observation.

When there is no unanimity, this does not mean that torture is a good idea. It means that in absolutely every case it cannot be shown that torture will not work. At which point the argument becomes, given the preponderance of evidence that torture does not work, it makes little sense to practice it as if in every case it did work, which is false.

And it calls investigation and proof of when a respectful effort to extract information has been efficacious. Such evidence is mounting.

Neuroscience:Torture Doesn't Work and Here's Why - Newsweek: "Shane O'Mara of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin explains in a paper in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciencecalled 'Torturing the Brain,' 'the use of such techniques appears motivated by a folk psychology that is demonstrably incorrect. Solid scientific evidence on how repeated and extreme stress and pain affect memory and executive functions (such as planning or forming intentions) suggests these techniques are unlikely to do anything other than the opposite of that intended by coercive or 'enhanced' interrogation.'"

Torture is not too swift in the battle to win people's hearts and minds.

Robert Fisk: Torture does not work, as history shows - Robert Fisk, Commentators - The Independent: "Grafton's conclusion is unanswerable. Torture does not obtain truth. It will make most ordinary people say anything the torturer wants. Why, who knows if the men under the CIA's 'waterboarding' did not confess that they could fly to meet the devil. And who knows if the CIA did not end up believing him."

We may well end terror by talking respectfully with the opposition in the wake of the death of Bin Laden.

Would that we were also on the verge of framing an effective argument to end the rampant militarism that hobbles the US in the effort to achieve social equity and overcome environmental challenges.

Ex-Interrogator: Torture Doesn't Work: "'It's extremely ineffective, and it's counterproductive to what we're trying to accomplish,' he told reporters. 'When we torture somebody, it hardens their resolve,' Alexander explained. 'The information that you get is unreliable ... And even if you do get reliable information, you're able to stop a terrorist attack, Al-Qaeda's then going to use the fact that we torture people to recruit new members.' Alexander says torture techniques used in Iraq consistently failed to produce actionable intelligence and that methods outlined in the US Army Field Manual, which rest on confidence building, consistently worked and gave the interrogators access to critical information"

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The Lee Arthur Hester Case is Not Closed Annals of Injustice

The Pdf file below is a 400 page document that should be read by anyone who cares about justice, civil rights, children and our American justice system.

I was at the Hester trial in the courtroom of Judge Alexander Napoli day after day as the injstice was done. I wrote at the time, to no interest, of the fact that the murderer most probably was a deranged worker at the school Lee attended, a truth suppressed in court but made eminently clear in the narrative linked to below..

I made efforts when the Web came into being to find out what had happened and eventually contacted people who were indeed working on the case more than four decades later.

I have the original article I did on Lee somewhere and may post it in time, but the piece below is so riveting, so thorough and so damning that I do not want to waste a minute in helping to alert anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see that an injustice was done long ago in Chicago and needs to be properly resolved now.

"This article tells the untold story of Lee Arthur Hester and his case, raises questions about Hester's guilt, and takes the Supreme Court to task for failing to use Hester's case to provide greater protections to juvenile suspects during police interrogations." SOURCE



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A Modest Platform


Stop building nuclear plants 
Stop relying on fossil fuels
Use free sources of energy in non lethal ways
Use human beings as the primary generators of energy
Move from growth to sustainable economies. 
Move beyond the hypocrisies connected to work
Give everyone tenure at birth
Practice tolerance helpfulness democracy and non-idolatry 
Engage in daily meditation on the 
prayer Jesus taught the whole world to say

Catching up on Pattern Language


This brief history of pattern language is a salient description of what Christopher Alexander intended in A Pattern Language.

The concepts of Alexander have been applied to almost everything but his own magnificent goal of renewing human habitation of the world.

When Alexander's ideas are fused with a cyber-community approach, a way is opened for a grass roots effort to morph what we have into car free communities capable of spawning local economies.

Market forces may inspire investment in communities that are post automobile


The actual risks of continued reliance 
on cars and oil include wars 
death to oceans 
and vehicle deaths 
and injuries
worldwide

It is anticipated that these vehicle deaths 
will be the fifth leading cause of all dying
in the year 2020 around the whole world 

There will be more oil deaths than HIV/AIDS deaths 
by 2020 the UN concludes 

The oil and car businesses can show reductions in deaths
but these do nothing to vitiate the assumptions of the UN 

The most at risk are not the most well-to-do 

As knowledge of the actual risks are understood
the oil and car response will be to do anything legal or not
to maintain the precedence of oil as a fuel 
and of the private car as the lead product of the auto industry 

1 The world has clearly accepted oil and car 
as the self evident basis of all planning. 

2  The brute reality is resistance of the economy 
to the pressures created by this commitment 

Not only will oil eventually run out 
It will become more expensive as populations mount 
and competition to buy it increases 

3

Market forces
may inspire investment in communities 
that are post automobile 
creating a gradual transition to a new form of society

The Stupidity of Violence April 22, 2018

The Slow as Molasses Press