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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Signs of Encouragement

Last week I went to a lecture at Madison's Frank Lloyd Wrigt-designed convention center, Monona Terrace, in its Wright Design Series. The lecture was given by Enrique Norten, a renowned New York and Mexico City-based architect. I still have a semi-dormant interest in architecture from the time decades ago when I was studying architectural drawing and construction at a Community College.

The audience seemed to be mostly architects, and a few of them tried to ask petty questions afterward. One of them asked why Norten's buildings tended to be rectilinear. This attempt at insider sophistication as a backhanded put-down failed, as Norton explained that his intention in design is always to fit a building into its surroundings and be focused on convenience and use by the public. He also incorporates solar energy into his designs wherever possible, hoping to reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of the buildings on the climate.

In his lecture Norton talked about his desire to use the design of buildings to spread democracy by maximizing the participation in urban life by the most people. To this end he makes his designs accessible and inviting, and includes the surrounding landscape in creating public spaces that draw people in. This is most often seen in his designs of libraries, museums, government edifices, and university buildings

Someone asked him if he considered himself a Latin American architect, since so many of his buildings are in in countries south of the border with Mexico. He answered that he didn't identify as anything other than someone who tries to serve the public wherever that may be. He continued, saying that he didn't believe in nations and borders, and that people should be able to travel and live wherever they like.

I was pleasantly surprised by this, far beyond what I expected. I only went to the lecture because the Wright Design Series has been going on for years, and it was high time I went to one of its offerings. Monona Terrace is an enjoyable place to go for its various events, classes, rooftop restaurant, and to just walk around. I had no idea that I would be hearing someone at the top of the architecture profession talking about the relationship of democracy and climate change to the design of buildings and cities.  I also had no idea such a visionary and innovator would be an advocate of open borders, or really no borders.

It was three weeks earlier in Madison that local "Hispanics" held a "Day Without Latinos" rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Over 20,000 people of Mexican, Salvadoran, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, Panamanian and other "south of the border" descent took the day off from work and protested at the Capitol. The intent of the rally was to show how integral Latino workers are to the Wisconsin economy.

The state legislature, led by criminal sociopath governor Scott Walker, has a bill in the works to make "sanctuary cities" ineligible for state funding in Wisconsin. Sanctuary cities, Madison among them, have enacted ordinances to prevent local law enforcement officials from cooperating with the Federal government's deportation activities. The only sanctuary cities in Wisconsin are Madison and Milwaukee, along with Milwaukee County as a whole.

The sign translates roughly to “Dream to be free in spirit. Struggle to be free in life.”
The law has been postponed. In other words, delayed while "Republicans" assess the political risks of enacting such a law. They have been passing one repressive law after another in recent years, and their arrogance and crony capitalism may be reaching their limits.

So maybe the tide is turning. At the national level the absurdity of the "Republican" presidential campaign is beyond surreal, and the public is getting a painful Civics lesson. The clumsy attempt to stifle Obama's Supreme Court nomination is providing another Civics lesson. Fox News is having an identity crisis.

We can only hope. This winter is the warmest in recorded history planet-wide. The supremacy of authoritarian, reptilian brain, lower-level beings will fail eventually. What better time than now?

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R.I.P. George Martin. Words cannot express what the Beatles have meant in my life. Here's a song. This is the first song George Martin produced for the Beatles. This album is the last he produced with the Beatles.

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