The Real Challenge by Orlando

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been making the rounds, and doing an amazing job at bringing attention to ALS. But with so many problems out there, will we ever look at the undercurrents of society that brings many more problems with their supposed solution. We’ve all been told that we are a nation of law, but it’s not always so easy to see when it seems to depend on your station in life. We easily create laws, but never seem to think of repercussions that occur when we didn’t take a broad look when making a one-stop solution to an issue. And now people everywhere around the world are looking at the repercussions of one such tactic that has been taken by our respective goverments: militarization in the name of national security.

Orlando Jones wanted to get us to take another perspective when answering a call such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has been taken by people from all echelons of society – famous to regular everyday people. Orlando wanted to take the time to make a statement about the militarization of our supposed protective forces who now seem to stand against people who are exercising their rights as citizens (such as the right to protest against wrongs committed by society) – the very same people they have sworn to protect. Take a look at a powerful reinterpretation of the Ice Bucket Challenge, using something that is prevalent in the new actions of militarization:

Talk about a powerful message that has been experienced unequally by citizens within one nation’s society, multiplied by all of the nations in the world.

Every society has winners and losers. We have stories that are written about society at certain periods of time, and there is always one common denominator between all of the stories. The winners dictate how the losers should live. It never even dawns on them that the shoe can be switched in a single blink of an eye. Laws are not applied equally, because laws are created by winners who have control of how society functions.

When a government issues instructions that government officials can’t take a challenge because then it would look like the government is making a stand on a certain issue, then you know that the issue is probably a divisive one. The leaders know that if they take a side, then the one who isn’t supported will comment on their choice. It’s a no-win situation for them.  When you’re only worried about your own personal standing, then I guess it would seem that way.

Certain social issues like inequality cross over many barriers and infect all aspects of life. Those who are in the winner’s circle won’t experience the negatives because they’ve designed the “game” of life so that the rules don’t impact them. But when you look at the entire population on this planet, there are a lot of people who are experiencing many negatives that fashion their very thoughts and actions. And when those actions become a trickle-down of bad laws that are tunnel-visioned, those on the outside peering in stand in a downpour of connected consequences from really bad decisions.

Sure, Lady Justice is shown to be blind, but the meaning of her blindness has been perverted over time. When morality comes with clauses, there is no longer true morality that embraces the uplifting forces of life. Laws become mere words that circle in loops that obstruct the true meaning of justice. Justice is not something only available to those who can afford it – it is something that we are all afforded as long as we seek it.

Here’s the real challenge as issued by Orlando Jones to all of the world. Will we finally restructure society so that “liberty and justice for all” isn’t just a pledge, but a promise to us all? Our Supreme Court building carries the words “Equal Justice Under Law”. How our society actually acts when those words are uttered is the true test as to whether we are still enlightened…or devolving into feudalism.

This is a valuable challenge that each of us need to take, for the betterment of mankind and possibly even its future. I’m willing to take it. How about you?

- thanks to Salon and Fusion for this important conversation

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Nature Inspires

So, today I had a pretty amazing experience. You know how I’m always looking for inspiration, and nature is full of it. Well, something incredible happened while I was watering the plants in our backyard. And I really wish that I had a picture to prove it, but I didn’t have my phone or camera handy…since electronics and water don’t mix too well.

I noticed a juvenile hummingbird hovering just above me as I sprayed the plants to prepare for another hot day. He (or she) kept buzzing me, trying to get closer to the water. So I widened the spray with my thumb to create a shower for him, and he started flying through the water to cool himself down. It was amazing to see a hovering hummingbird literally a foot away from me. The details of a hummingbird’s feathers are even more amazing up close! After a few minutes, he flew up to a branch just above me to shake off the excess water and dry off in the wind.

Yeah, it was over in just a few minutes, but inspiration tends to strike that way, don’t you think? It’s what gets left behind inside you that resonates in your life far into the future. I want to remember this meeting forever, because it felt incredible to touch the face of nature for a brief moment.

Enjoy this image instead by thinwallryan. They look a lot like my hummingbird (just smaller, if that’s possible).

How does nature affect you?

Baby hummingbirds on a gargoyle by thinwallryan

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Craft-O-Tron

And back to some creative inspiration…

When buying local looks this amazing, it’s really hard to resist, isn’t it? I saw this image on Reddit, and managed to find out that this is indeed a real live art vending machine that has it’s own social media page. Here’s the Traveling Pittsburg Craft-O-Tron (“Tronny”) Machine created by Lynn Kropinak and inspired by Art-O-Mat:

 

Support your artist community, both locally and globally. Because creativity connects people everywhere, especially when it’s personal. This should inspire everyone to create their own dreams and share them everywhere. The world needs this!

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Question To Our Leaders

So, I’ve been quiet lately (yes, I’ve been saying this for a while), because I’ve returned to that impasse that I’ve encountered repeatedly throughout my life. You know the one – the one that saps you of your creativity. Why, you might ask? Take a look at the world lately. Not at the individual people, but at the national levels. Things are looking really wrong. Whether it’s politics, economics, religion or ideology, we are really at a screwed up point in human history. It’s enough to make a person turn inward instead of outward, which doesn’t always help with creativity.

If violence is on a decline as one scientist/psychologist mentioned back in 2011, then we’re sure not seeing it lately. But the one thing that we can surely agree is that our continued patterns of antiquated leadership in all industries and institutions have led us to this seemingly inexorable moment of historical return. For those who agree that history is important (of which I’m one), then we also probably agree that repeating history should be something that we don’t blindly blunder into without heartfelt understanding. Yet, our modern times show that those at the top have not learned ONE DAMN THING from past history! How is that possible? Could it be that human tendencies like greed, envy, pride and lust never went away? Looking at those titans of industry and institution, it’s clear that they’ve gotten worse or just never diminished. Do as I say, and not as I do must still be their motto? For all of this talk about religious superiority that’s taken hold all across of our world, we keep seeing the mortal failures that never stop repeating themselves – at all levels of society but especially at the top.

Things to be disgusted about:

  • Just look at 7/17/2014 (and many previous) front page(s) of any newspaper – WAR (or strife if you want to nitpick, since no one declares war anymore) is everywhere.
  • Laws are returning to an age of STUPID un-enlightenment for important freedoms: Net Neutrality, religious freedoms, cybersecurity, and the repulsive Patriot Act (to name a few)
  • Since corporations got the same rights as people, according to the Supreme Court, all hell has been breaking loose with consequences that directly affect individual lives: Seriously, “business has a role to play in shaping public policy in a democracy” (read the whole position by a certain businessman on Guardian, though he’s not the only businessman pushing this mentality)?!?
  • Umair Haque rightly calls our modern times, The Age of Hate, as shown by the humanitarian crisis on US borders, strife in the Middle East, and the tragedies of increasing loss of human life everywhere.
  • Inequality has a root to many if not all of our problems, as noted by the calls from many protestors from many public groups (and I’ve been talking about).

So, here is a question to our leaders around the world: What in the h*ll do you think you’re doing?

Are any of you thinking about long term consequences for us all, morality (not just the religious kind), and your own responsibility as role models to the rest of us? And if so, do you really think that every one of your current actions are going to be mindlessly accepted by all 7 billion + people on this planet???

Individuals with this type of power have a responsibility to everyone and everything on this planet. It’s what they chose when they took these positions. It not all about them, no matter how important they seem to think they are when compared to the rest of us. Take responsibility for the ripples that your actions will cause now and in the future. Every action that we all do will have repercussions, even if we don’t recognize them at the time we do something. Our current leadership everywhere (with the exception of a handful of innovators) gets an “F” if we were grading with letter grades.

War – What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing! - Edwin Starr

Enough is enough! A lot of us are fed up.

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Education Is Our Foundation

Education is on everyone’s mind, but more so when you are an adult and especially if you are a parent who has an opinion on school’s effectiveness. We all look back on our years of learning and gauge whether we followed the right path by where we currently stand. Add everyone’s opinion about the lack of effective standards or good teachers in education, and it becomes even more complicated. But who is to say that there is only ONE standard path to education? Perhaps it’s our desire for simplicity that lulls us into the false narrative that there can only be one solution. But that’s more about our personal choice or maybe how we’ve always been taught. A system is developed for standardization, but it can’t be so immutable that we stagnate in our own learning process. Systems should evolve just as life evolves.

So, what brought up this conversation? Well, I was recently approached by a researcher who helped find answers to the choice of home schooling. Home schooling is resurging as a method of alternative education for your child. And that is the key, teaching YOUR child the skills that YOU think they will need in order to proceed in this complicated world. After all, we know what is best for our child, don’t we? If you’re interested in learning more about whether the option of home schooling is good for you, then check out: Home Schooling: Good For Your Child & Your Finaces?

I was drawn to the conversation because I feel very strongly about life-long learning. And I responded to this researcher with my curiosity and a whole lot of comments and questions that I hope will expand this necessary conversation. In today’s society, there are too few open conversations happening that seek to better our collective world. Most voices push out in one direction, with tiny shouts coming back, but little to sustain an on-going discussion. Some discussions do expand in limited gatherings, but they too do not encompass the larger group that is our society. The results of these expansive silences are now showing in the cracking foundations of systems and standards that aren’t being kept up by the collection that is all of US.

Now, let’s hear from a single young voice who is passionate about the pursuit of open learning, because he understands that education is our foundation. Meet Logan LaPlante from Ted X University of Nevada:

Logan’s method of learning is much like the one that I continue to pursue in my adulthood, though I did start my education in both public and private schools. I have my inspirational teachers who helped me stay curious so that my learning progressed forward. The key to my concern about systems is that we continue to limit ourselves by not seeking all available options. And for something as important as education, why does there only have to be one solution? With over 7 billion people on this planet, there is no possible way that standardized education can answer each and every one of our needs.

Looking at education today, the biggest concern that I have is that schools today do not focus on the student more than they do on their results. Actually, today’s society is all about results: awards, likes, connections, and any other status that places us on a specific level or label. So where does the individual fit in? Why isn’t their curiosity fostered more, even if it goes against the grain of status quo? Why does everyone accept the norm when it is obviously so broken? I’m sure that I’m not the only one with these types of questions.

Education is not only about schooling. It is a bigger foundation that encompasses the many types of knowledge that we humans need and want. It is not something that needs to be measured, unless we want to know if we are well-rounded enough yet. It can’t be standardized, because that is a form of limitation. Scores can provide a temporary standing within a controlled environment, but since when is life controlled? Ask any adult who has left school, and I’ll bet they wish that control existed so that they could know what to expect in the future.

And that is what education is all about: The future – yours, mine and ours. Am I concerned that home schooling is a viable alternative? I’m more concerned that education is available to every child and adult so that they can get the chance to become who they dream of being. The how is an option that we choose throughout our lives – even home schooling should be an available option as we all do it already. It’s the why we need education that is much more important because it will shape our lives.

Want some resources for open learning? I found this awesome Reddit thread on OpenCourseWear with a list of available online learning sources. There’s more than one way to learn and there’s more than one moment in life to learn. Considering that this life is your life, you probably should take an active role in it. Don’t let a system or people make decisions that are yours to make. You need to do what is right for you and your expectations. Not even your parents will know what is best for you, because they’ll be using themselves as the model and not you. There are models all around you: a teacher, a craftsman, a writer, a scientist, and many many more. Whatever your interest, there’s someone out there who can help you find the necessary knowledge.

Systems are breaking down everywhere because we think that they are perpetual in their current form. History and current events are telling us that nothing remains the same in life. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all need foundations to stand on. What we build on those foundations is up to us. The world needs more dreamers, just like it needs more students like Logan. Education isn’t just our foundation, it’s our common denomination. Only when we all understand one another can we build a world that is big enough to hold all of us and our dreams – together. Just like no one person who is always right, there’s more than one way to become educated.

If you feel passionate about home schooling or education in general, continue the conversation here or at Money.co.uk. It’s an important conversation to grow, and there’s a lot more to talk about.

…just saying

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Open Is Good

Did you see today’s news?

 

 

 

 

 


Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk made an announcement via their blog that is taking the tech community by storm: All Our Patent Are Belong To You. This is the single most amazing announcement that I have ever heard from a company. The fact that it comes from the ultra competitive car manufacturing world, which like most industries, believes in patenting everything first and asking questions later makes this a game changer. Of course, everything that Elon Musk has done to date has been a game changer in a world where business as usual is the usual mantra.

You really need to go read what Elon writes. because he’s taking a page from the open source world to try to innovate new technology that will replace gasoline vehicles. And considering the news that we’re hearing on a daily basis about climate change and more, anyone who wants to join in with Tesla’s quest to building viable electric vehicle solutions now has a partner (so-to-speak) in the engineering and development of the technology.

Open mindedness has always been a hallmark of true innovators that change life as we know it. Elon Musk has joined these intrepid voyagers, not only in space (with SpaceX), but by challenging the norms that keeps life predictable and oh so limited. If you read the comments that have followed this extraordinary announcement, then you know that there are many open-minded people who are ecstatic that the world has changed just a little bit more because another person is challenging status quo.

We could definitely use more of this type of thinking, don’t you think?

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Reset The Net…And More

If you’ve been on the Internet at all today, then you probably noticed that much of the online community is on full mobilization today to Reset the Net. All of this came about because one person sought to shine light on some extreme mindsets that are changing our very way of life. But he’s not the only one to have done this, though he is definitely the name of the moment as his actions have eclipsed many who came before him. The names are only important as sources of inspiration to not just do good, but to be good, which is no small feat in today’s world of “legality” that is little more than who can get away with the most by twisting words to their breaking point.

We’re seeing examples everyday of institutions who are using the words of law to claim that what they do is right. But right has become a word of empty meaning as people make it fit one specific situation while their entire groundwork of actions breaks foundations which held us all higher. Uniforms have become straight-jackets. Titles have become pedestals. And meaning has all but disappeared into a shadow world that obfuscates.

There are people who want to Reset the Net, but they also realize that this is a symptom to a hidden disease that evades the light of knowledge. We are in a moment of time when people everywhere are seeking to reset the world. They seek to do so because the world that we thought we knew was merely a puppet show of propriety – a world where pageantry diminishes spirit.

Those who use morality from books usually fail to understand the intent of those words, in the context of when they were written and by whom. Even if those words come from a higher source, there is always context. Which means that the world is not black and white as so many people would have you believe, but also bathed in many shades in between. And all of these shades and colors have meaning, which when brought together, gets us all closer to the universal truths.

One of the best ways to reset the world is to first learn about it. Learn about all that is visible and invisible in the world. Learn about people. Learn about what they believe in and how they live. Learn about what they have created for the past, present, and future. Learn about alternatives. Learn about compromise. Whatever you do – just keep learning. Because each new bit of knowledge that you gain will help to create a puzzle piece that fits somewhere in this world. And each of us will make a multitude of these puzzle pieces that, when put together, just might successfully reset the world in more meaningful ways that will impact us all.

First, Reset the Net because the actions of a few are having profoundly devastating affects on how we live today. …And More – Reset the World so that we can live a life that respects the spirit of the words as well as the words.

Here’s a few great starting point towards understanding why so many want to Reset the Net:

EFF – On 6/5, 65 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance That We Didn’t Know One Year Ago

Fight for the Future - Reset the Net Privacy Pack

Guardian – NSA Files coverage

 

Now go search for your own knowledge about the world. Read the news stories (including those smaller international ones) to understand why our world is the way it is. It’s out there on the current iteration on the Net. Whether that stays the same is up to you and me.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

…just asking

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Peek-A-Saturn

Sometimes, the sights that we’re used to seeing hide the most amazing things. And like always, Reddit manages to share the wonder that makes the space lovers like me just stare in wonder. This image shared by WARH3ART shows something that you don’t see everyday (unless you have a dad like WARH3ART’s who also has a telescope).

Notice anything? No? Look closer…

 

Yep, that is the planet Saturn playing Peek-A-Saturn (also known as occultation) with us Earthlings. And I’m going to go back to staring with my jaw on the floor because this is not something you see everyday. WOW!!! Thanks, WARH3ART and Reddit.

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The Internet As We Know It

Update: It sounds like we indeed are now in a bad position. According to Cory Doctorow, the FCC commissioners voted 3-2 along party lines to push forward Wheeler’s proposal of an “open Internet” for public comment. As there is already too much evidence of just how bad revolving doors can be in government, and once again a former cable lobbyist is raising more questions about his true intentions about an Internet that so many cherish. We have 120 days of comment period to be heard. EFF has a primer on how we should proceed to stop or change this pay-to-play roller coaster that will change how we all interact on the Internet.

We need to tell the FCC and Congress that the Internet should be classified as a Title II Telecommunications Service under the Communications Act. (read more on Arstechnica)

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People everywhere are talking about Net Neutrality. If you don’t know anything about it, then you should watch this explanation by Vi Hart:

Vi Hart nails it on the head with the reason why so many of us are beyond upset at the FCC’s potential (yeah right, try likely) move to create a slow lane and fast lane that makes us pay EVEN MORE to play on the Internet. It’s why you’re seeing that slow loading clip on so many sites. The FCC is planning to vote on the OPEN INTERNET rules today. We’ll find out what happens next. But read more about Net Neutrality on Mashable and BoingBoing and Techdirt and EFF (to name a few). It’s that important of a topic that will affect how so many of us live.

You can also Google (or DuckDuckGo, or whatever search engine you use) to find more – while the info is still easy to access and treated equally on the Internet as we know it.

Read more »

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Shaping Our World In Our Own Way

Our world isn’t looking so good, though our view depends on where we stand in society. The atrocities that people suffer around the world at the hands of one another, or at the hands of Mother Nature, are hard to comprehend. But the minute digs (like paranoid actions because of the unknown) that we don’t notice are also doing equal damage to the way that we feel we should be allowed to live. Sometimes it takes enormous tragedy to get even the slightest bit of momentum forward to make change happen… simply because we can no longer stomach the way that we exist.

As a busy fan of Bones, it is sometimes much later when I can actually view a show. A particular show that took place in 2012, The Patriot in Purgatory, hit all of my buttons for reasons that had little to do with the main force that drove the exemplary Jeffersonian team to find out the truth about a man in the shadows. Not shadows as we’ve been hearing due to national security, but shadows as in someone who didn’t fit into our idea of who or what is acceptable. Take a brief glimpse at this short tribute done by LamaxProductions1 (courtesy of YouTube):

 

There were several important moments in this episode that helped to remind us of why being human holds its own strengths and weaknesses. Like the moments:

  • When Arastoo told Brennan that it was his duty to help this one man swept under the rug get his moment of truth;
  • And when an unthinking Finn asked if Arastoo would be fine continuing the examination of the homeless man he brought into the light, simply because of his beliefs;
  • And when Fisher forced everyone to face the unspoken boogieman that no one wanted to admit to in his own “crazy” (his words) way;
  • And finally when Booth choose to memorialize a man who continued to shape our world in his own way, even after the atrocities of war that he had experienced.

Watching the news everyday can make one go insane. The fact that people who are in leadership positions choose to ignore the inconvenient because it will shake the foundation they count on to stay solid. Or the fact that selfishness seems to be the underlying motivation to stop cooperation. Or even the fact that one specific view demands precedence over all else. And on and on and on…

It’s only moments when people push back against the accepted norm that we actually have a chance of making the world a better place. These so-called outlier personalities force us to face the uncomfortable truth that we have let this world fall apart for far too long. It has little to do with generations, because there are outliers in every generation. It’s more about how we each choose to raise and nurture our humanity.

There are those who want the world to be a better place, and their sense of justice permeates every atom in their being. It moves them to do things that others would call naive or insane because it’s not what everyone else would do. But it’s these moments of insanity that focuses the reality as though looking through a powerful microscope. When we strip away all of the dressing, we confront the truth as we see it. Both good and bad.

When others around us see this same truth, it becomes a new foundation on which to build the next iteration of life. Hopefully this iteration takes into account what we all as a single humanity desire more than all else. Hopefully it has nothing to do with power, wealth, personal security, or any of those other trappings that do so little to the actual nurturing of life in its entire complexity and mutual dependence on one another.

Here’s to another emotionally necessary reminder that we are all capable of shaping our world in our own way. But it’s together that we shape a future that respects all. Don’t listen to leadership words. Learn why they are spoken so that you get the ultimate lesson that life provides us on a daily basis. Word can become anchors when actions repeat without thought. But actions that have weighted thought behind them, that take everything into account, are what motivates others to follow. So we need to make our impactful actions live up to the thoughts behind the words. Because they all are shaping our world in a collective, maybe even exponential, way.

That’s your ( my, and our) legacy.

…just saying

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Stop censorship