A Puff of Absurdity: Nader Interview with Chomsky on the Requiem for the American Dream

Ralph Nader interviewed Noam Chomsky last Saturday about Chomsky’s new book Requiem for the American Dream and film of the same title currently on Netflix. He’s trying every type of media to spread this understanding of history, to “throw fact against myth.” I saw the film back in December and outlined his ten-point plan back then. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Social Control in Universities

Chris Hedges has concerns with Trump’s impact on intellectuals: Trump and his Christian fascist minions, sooner than most of us expect, will seek to shut down the small spaces left for free expression. Dissent will become difficult and sometimes dangerous. … The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Social Control in Universities

Chris Hedges has concerns with Trump’s impact on intellectuals: Trump and his Christian fascist minions, sooner than most of us expect, will seek to shut down the small spaces left for free expression. Dissent will become difficult and sometimes dangerous. … The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Requiem for the American Dream

This is Chomsky’s last long-form documentary. It came out in January, but I hadn’t heard about it until recently. I paraphrased/transcribed the 72 minute video liberally with links to further readings below. It’s about the American Dream: the idea that you can be born poor but work hard enough for a home and car and ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Requiem for the American Dream

This is Chomsky’s last long-form documentary. It came out in January, but I hadn’t heard about it until recently. I paraphrased the 72 minute video liberally with links to further readings below. It’s about the American Dream: the idea that you can be born poor but work hard enough for a home and car and ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Fixing French Immersion

The Agenda with Steve Paikin had a segment on French Immersion in the schools this week. The panel raised some interesting points but neglected a few issues. A Bit of a Summary (skip down for more interesting bits) The guests were Caroline Alfonso, an education reporter for the Globe & Mail (with a young child in immersion), ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Solidarity Over Competition

As always, I loosely summarize/transcribe the important bits below. THE PROBLEMS: This is an astonishing moment in history. The human species has been around for about 200,000 years. Up until this point, people have made decisions about their lives, their immediate futures, but we’ve now reached the point that we have to make a decision ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Solidarity Over Competition

As always, I loosely summarize/transcribe the important bits below. THE PROBLEMS: This is an astonishing moment in history. The human species has been around for about 200,000 years. Up until this point, people have made decisions about their lives, their immediate futures, but we’ve now reached the point that we have to make a decision ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On bell hooks

I came across a bell hooks essay about writing with passion, as a “space of transgression,” which I like very much. And then PEL (The Partially Examined Life – a panel of four guys who talk about different philosophy texts each week, with special guest Myisha Cherry) had a couple podcasts about her views on racism ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On bell hooks

I came across a bell hooks essay about writing with passion, as a “space of transgression,” which I like very much. And then PEL (The Partially Examined Life – a panel of four guys who talk about different philosophy texts each week, with special guest Myisha Cherry) had a couple podcasts about her views on racism ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: “The News” – Jefferson, Chomsky, propaganda, and alternatives

As I keep saying, stop watching, reading or listening to “the news.” It is misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, distortion, lies and illusions, mass distraction and mass manipulation – psychological warfare, to put it in the terms of the “intelligence” community – mixed together with a healthy dose of sheer trivia, sensationalism and fluff ( also largely ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: ISIS and Terrorism – A Reality Check

“The responsibility of intellectuals is to speak the truth and expose lies.” – Noam Chomsky “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell According to a February 2015 Gallup poll, Americans consider the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — abbreviated as ISIS or ISIL — and ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: A few thoughts on empathy in human beings, and other living creatures

Empathy is natural in human beings, as Jeremy Rifkin has pointed out – and with strong backing by recent scientific findings. Some human beings have more and some less; and some are sociopaths – roughly 1% (and usually, the ones who gravitate to positions of wealth and power, unsurprisingly) – who have a near total ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Words and Virtue

Scott Long wrote an excellent article separating the act of supporting free speech from the act of supporting the words and images created by Charlie Hebdo.  But I disagree with this one bit: “Words don’t kill…” As I said in a comment there, too many young people have lost lives as a direct results of ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Chomsky’s Driving Forces in US Foreign Policy

On Chomsky’s “Driving Forces in US Foreign Policy.” This talk is from last summer, but it just caught up to me now.  I’ve summarized bits of the 2-hour long talk and discussion.  It’s all Chomsky’s words, but the paragraphs are differently ordered under headings below: On Global Warming and Nuclear Weapons  The security of state ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Chomsky’s Forward to Albert’s Realizing Hope: Life Beyond Capitalism

In full:   (The book is here.) “Throughout much of the world there is growing resistance to the severe harm that has resulted from the neoliberal policies of the past generation. Latin America has progressed farthest in overthrowing this harsh regime, in recent years largely freeing itself from the grip of Western imperial domination for ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

I feel like I don’t have to read this one with all the press it’s getting. Maybe next summer.  This is the gist I’ve gotten so far:  Michael Rozworski wrote a piece about it recently. In brief: the basic thesis of the book is that capitalism has a tendency towards the concentration of wealth in ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Ethos – a 2011 Documentary

“Our ethos is all that we currently hold to be true. It is what we act upon. It governs our manners, our business and our politics.” –  Howard Zinn Directed by Pete McGrain, and hosted by Woody Harrelson, this 68 minute film explores how we got here and what to do about it as we ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: On hummingbirds and genocide

  I was going to write a short thought on seeing an amazing little creature in my garden just now – a humming bird no bigger than a bumblebee, which made me almost shudder with joy at the sight. But then I read more on the genocide being waged against the people of Gaza by ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On John Stuart Mill, Free Speech, and Climate Change

I got caught up in a few arguments about climate change recently that just reinforced to me, that there’s still such a strong bashlash against the entire idea that we’re unlikely to move forward quickly enough to be effective. Paper is trees! My school board is fundraising for the Philippines, and I’m totally on board ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: NAFTA, “Free Trade” and the TPP: Fast-Track To Full Corporate Rule

“Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law. At the time, advocates painted a rosy picture of booming U.S. exports creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and economic development in Mexico, which would bring the struggling country in line with its wealthier northern neighbors. Two decades later, those ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and political theatre

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: The deeper reasons for the “war on drugs”

There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going. Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Reflections on tumblr, facebook and social media

Going from specifics to depth and breadth, and from particularities to universals, here are some thoughts for your consideration, for anyone who may be interested. I’ve come to love the social networking / blogging community / window onto the web which is called tumblr. That being said, tumblr is largely what you make of it. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Hedges’ Empire of Illusion

“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”  – James Baldwin  Thus begins Chris Hedges‘ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, a collection ...