'One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star'- Nietzsche
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Monthly Archives: September 2020

Money Talks
Abba Bina, aka Mr. Shit. Photo by John Hawkins

Straining in the new-fangled Roman outhouse, Titus was sitting there with a shit-eating grin, drawing conclusions on the wall:

Nero was here.

Nietzsche is peachy

For a good time call Viagara on DCI-MMI-CCCV.

Trombones featured in the third movement of his bowel symphony, a turgid presto, and he was complaining about the new toilet tax levied by his father, the emperor Vespasian. His Dad, just back from slaying all the usurers, had quipped, index finger skyward, like Socrates, “Pecunia non olet,” which is to say Money Doesn’t Stink. To which Titus, after taking a whiff of a bronze unto-him-rendered Caesar, had rechortled, “And yet it comes from poo.”  Thus, giving a taste of the world’s very first toilet humor. 

Or, as Bobby Dylan would say, Money doesn’t just talk, it swears.

I was drawing my own conclusions about money the other day, sitting on the toilet, releasing a crocodile back into the wild, and thinking about my days spent, a quarter-century ago in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a place that Time forgot to forget, and where, in some quarters, the Mighty Whitey hadn’t ever been seen until the 1970s.  

Among other things, it was a GodsMustBeCrazy kind of place, almost hallucinogenic in some ways, driven over the edge by colonial introjection; you found yourself doing double-takes a lot.  It was a place filled with colorful characters and doings, which could be summed up by a blurb for a book of short stories, Port Moresby Mixed Doubles by Michael Challenger: “The local inhabitants are often relegated to roles as domestic servants, subordinates at work, or as partners in brief sexual flings. Among the expatriates themselves, relations are complicated by boredom, jealousy and self-importance.” So true.

In keeping with our current theme, out of all the colorful characters I came across there none brought out the crazy melange of Das Kapital, prehistoric literality, missionary pilgrims-progressivism, and the kind of good old-fashioned ingenuity that kept the chains moving on the evolutionary track: Meet Abba Bina, aka Mr. Shit. I remember him fondly for his proud morality motto: “Chicken shit, horse shit, cow shit,  but no bullshit.” He ran for office with that slogan, and lost, because, as we all know, at the end of the day, once the charm of such populism wears off, we want the bullshit. The spectacle of turds. Anyway, Mr. Shit knew how to make a buck and would have perfectly understood Titus’ toilet humor about money. 

Mr. Shit, in turn, had me thinking about another character from PNG I dealt with in a book review in these pages last week: Behrouz Boochani.  He’s the Iranian Kurd who was chased out of Tehran, the religious regime there wanting to bust his balls (no doubt, literally) for his dreaming of a future Kurdistan. Some “friend” sent him in the direction of Australia in search of expressive freedom, apparently as some kind of practical joke, as Oz, for all its virtues, has no real protections for journalists, and struggles, occasionally, to justify it. Boochani managed to find a way to smuggle not one but three mobile phones into the Manus Island prison, which, because I’m twisted, made me think of the scene in Pulp Fiction when young Butch is delivered a family heirloom.  

Anyway, Boochani’s book, which some ex-guards have called shit, features several episodes when the pump don’t work and noone knows if the vandals took the handles or hwat. Detainees must slosh and smell through ankle-deep turds in “cremation” hot heat that Boochani rightly describes as torture.  Well, Boochani will never get into Australia now, even if he had been found to be a valid “refugee.” And there he languishes, a refusee, to this day. However, it’s not all bad news for our Behrouz. He wrote his book with WhatsApp and it won prizes and he eye-witnesses for the Guardian and gets absentee lecturer money from a university and shekels up with each new interview, and is now, when all the chips are counted, the richest homeless guy in the world, with my estimate at as much as $500,000. If he can’t escape Manus, then maybe he can start a cargo cult, ten hut.

That’s a lot to take in right there, but it goes on and on, like bowel symphonies sometimes do. In the course of research, I wondered about the local scene, how Australia had contracted with PNG to set up the detention and later “residential” facilities for the asylum-seekers.  Apparently, the asylum-seekers had plenty of sympathy from the locals when they first arrived in 2013 (I’ve seen happy-faced testaments) and the good missionary work of a charitable heart seemed on full display. But then I discovered ka-ching was a factor and that other kinds of missionary work was going on, probably at reasonable rates for the refugees but at great cost to the local colonized community: Brothels to service the asylum-seekers.  

Well, the argument for brothels was not so much a matter of providing comfort to the stateless prisoners, but rather seemed, if I read right, to be along the lines of providing a good wage for the island girls and, apparently, wives.  But the idea was rejected because, being a community that has absorbed the invader ethos, locals can’t open up a shop referred to as a “brothel,” but instead already provide the same services in facilities called “massage parlors, bars, strip clubs, body rub parlors, and studios or by some other description.”  Wham. And then it comes at you, the colonial corruption at work and play, Big Mammon™ spreading its seed. You can see it in the way they dress, the crossover, and it reminds you of “horrors” you’ve seen elsewhere. 

And the shit keeps coming, overflowing really, like Boochani’s depicted toilet room, and you find yourself looking among the turds for a grand eye-opening epoophany, or some sage conclusion drawn on the wall, but it never arrives. Australia has spent more than $10 billion on the “offshore processing” of asylum-seekers, according to a Unicef report, from 2013-2017.  

After the detention center closed and detainees were moved into other encampments on the island, Australia hired, without a bid, a shady mercenary company called Paladin who were handed $423 million dollars to service the asylum-seekers, but accountant giant KPMG, in a report through the Australian Financial Review, can’t seem to figure out what the company is actually paid for: “One issue is the sheer amount of money being spent – $1600 a day for each refugee, not including food or medical care, when comparable mining camps in PNG provide far more services for around $100 a day.”  Where does this money go?

But back to the locals, who are the neglected lot in this sordid tale. It turns out, the brothel idea may be a kind of control valve to help contain some ‘hyper-active refugees’.  Because there has been a pregnancy problem in the community; refugees hooking up with local women and having kids together. When father refugees are removed from PNG, they leave behind women who will bear children who will be seen as second-class citizens in the local patrilineal culture. In effect, the refugee fathers could leave these women — and children — homeless.  That takes awhile to settle in.

Further, children of these mixed-couple liaisons are eligible, under Aussie rules, for medevac care, meaning they could be flown to Australia for medical treatment.  And, strangely enough, now that Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister (and the architect of the offshore processing solution), pregnant Manusians with complications could be flown to Australia and a baby delivered there would become Australians on birth.  That is, one could argue so: Morrison is a born-again Christian who believes in personhood on conception. Boochani can’t get into Australia, he could potentially wreak his revenge by knocking up a local girl and who would give birth to a — citizen. Named, let’s say, Behrouz.

The locals have no say on these state-to-state issues: Australian politicians meet with PNG politicians, talk cash payments (manus manun lavat), and essentially set the agenda for things that will happen on Manus Island (and elsewhere in PNG). Manusians have no say. Now that Americans have decided to challenge the Chinese in the region in a war of doctrines, Project for a New American Century (see John Bolton)  versus the Asian Century, a new naval base will be needed — on Manus Island — to stop the spread of the Red Menace in the South Pacific, the Commies tweaking the noses of the Capitalists. The base will cost billions of dollars. Those brothels — er, massage parlors — will come in handy.

Then you learn that Manus Island is to be declared a Tax-Free Haven.  More money pouring into Manus Island. The locals living on short pay, like servants looking for tips.  Or as The Big Smoke has it, “To prove that irony is dead, and perhaps pointing to the fact that we’re living in a dystopia, the Papuan government has this morning announced that Manus Island is set to become a corporate tax-free zone.” Again, no local input. 

Yup. Now Titus is writing one last thing on the stall wall: manus manum lavat (one hand washes the other).  This is the way it has always been with money — all the way up to Mr. Shit and beyond. The crocodile released back into the wilds of the world. Slide trombone.  And flush with cash.

 

 

 

05/28/20 George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. NYTimes.

By John Kendall Hawkins

 

The riot squad is restless

They need somewhere to go

    • Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row”

 

Derek the chauvinist piggy

Up to his knee in neck

All coz George wanted a ciggy

And paid for a pack with dreck

 

Repeat: I can’t breathe, he said

I can’t breathe: sixteen times

a mindfulness exercise gone code red

Derek up to his neck in crimes

 

Lawdy, why, just yesterday it seems

We were modelling new Covid kerchiefs

On blue screen catwalks, zoom-zoom streams

Buffer zone fantasies, locked in like thieves

 

And now twin cities tumbling

Miniapnea–too much St. Pauli’s, girl

An empire’s nasty stumble bumbling

Riot squads ready, batons a-twirl

 

Arrests in 140 cities

Like characters allowed in tweets

Dusting off our rage and protest ditties

Bringing isolations to the streets

Whoa, what’s that cop there doin’?

Rubber bullets, tears and stuns

Hey look! Harmon Killibrewin’!

Beating the snot outta Rod Carew’s sons

 

Two police cruisers accelerated — zoooooom —

And disappeared through time

Other fascists used a sonic gun — boooooom —

And protesting brains turned to slime

 

Then, inexplicably, GW Bush

Was asked for his take on events

And all hell broke loose

When he said all you need is love

Love is all you need

 

Twin cities falling

Goodyear drones overhead

Call 9-1-1, someone’s calling

Freedom’s just another word for the walking talking dead

 

Hep two three four, laughin’

Cuz I’m thinkin’ Bill Murray

And that egg beater scene

(Why, what’d you think I was thinking of?)

 

Cops firing point blank paint

At the people who ain’t

Joe Biden people

Like fascist machinegunning  pointilists

angry at the canvas for being blank

Or being at all

 

Thugs, tweets Trump

And Cepi agrees

When he sees

America with Kurds disease

 

Trump holding a bible:

Face all Wrath of Con

More hot air than a balloon

should have to don

 

The veiled threat of violence

In the corona age

A headline reads

In the the Democracy Dies in Darkness Daily

 

Cops charged with excessive force

Like Kathy Scruggs charged with excessive journalism

Both sponsored by the voice of god

Deus ex machinas outta control everywhere

Someone call the cops

 

Po-lice

Po

Lice

Po people

Licentious

License to kill

We don’t need no stinking badge

Predators overhead

 

Feminist patrols of local women

Foxy femme fatales

Like Sirens from Smith College

(I remember well)

Enforcing curfews

Godivas with batons

Pestlemortarin’ their palms

Knees on the necks of creeping Toms

No happy ending for Nicholson this time

 

Light them up, one cop said

And thus began, the Boston Massacre

Crispus Attucks, a freed slave

(did you see what they did there?)

Paul Revere rode all day and all night

To warn about the black and white

And then, when the craze was over

Settled back in with his favorite nightmare

Chicago ‘68: The Love we loved to hate

 

Remember how in school

A private one, of course

We limned the world’s end

and had to choose between

Archibald McCleish, TS Eliot, WB Yeats

Compare and contrast

Circus crash or whimper bang or falcon-masked women

Who won’t listen

 

Justice in a Just Is world

Curfews in cities coast to coast

Curlews in ditties ghost to ghost

All you kneed is love

Love is all you kneed

 

Fade to black

06

Thanksgiving at the Naders: Roast Thought with Stuffing

by John Kendall Hawkins

 

Sow the Seeds of Victory! Plant and raise your own vegetables

    • WWII-era Victory Garden slogan

Call before, you dig?

    • utility notification for unmarked Internet cables from hippy who finally got a job

 

The other day, minding my own business, and getting lots of unwanted help doing so, I got a welcome Tweet push from the 86 year old Ralph Nader inviting me to visit with him at Latitude Adjustment where he’d been interviewed about his new book, The Ralph Nader Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond. Hm. My first thought was how much we forget, we who care at all, that Ralph is a root product of Lebanon, one of those Middle East places that — looking back at how much Nader has accomplished in the last 55 years, beginning with Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) and the passage of seat belt laws — would have put Lebanon squarely on Trump’s shit country list, even though Nader was born here. Remember Judge Curiel?

Well, Bette Davis in All About Eve (1950) did warn us to strap ourselves in because it was gonna be a bumpy night, and it’s almost like Ralph foresaw the long night’s journey into day ahead, down a Lost Highway full of potholes, loopholes and assholes — the corporates and pollies — who slick the paved roads of governance and taxation, and see democracy as a roadblock to their getaway. But they didn’t find cops at the roadblock, it was Ralph Nader, walking tall, calmly asking to see some ID, asking if they knew why he pulled them over, arranging a nice big fat fine. So, I was all-too-ready to listen to Ralph sprout like a green seed from a podcast.

I found my way to Latitude Adjustment and Route 66 or, rather, Podcast 66, the one with Ralph Nader.  I saw that the pods were hosted by Eric Maddox and Laila Mohhiber. Rummaged around first to check out the universal resource locator (URL) environment I was in. Said, hmm, me think me likey.  Scrolling through past podcasts there were discussions of all types with personages of all ilks. Stuff like Podcast 65, “On the Ground in Idlib, Syria,” where Everyday People discuss the polymorphous perversity of turning their lives into a war zone — a place you may remember as the site where Trump sent ISIS head al-Baghdadi on his way toward outer space, and the Afterlife, allegedly clutching two virgins, as if covering his bases when he got there.

Other yummy-looking podcasts were 47, “Last Slave Ships to the US,” where Joe Womack recounts, in two parts, his life growing up in AfricaTown, Alabama, an all-Black community in the heart of Dixie; Podcast 46 serves up “Gaza Sky Geeks & Women in Palestine,” where techie skills and women’s rights are chewed over; and, all the way back to Podcast 1, “Andrius & Lithuania & Turkey & Travel,” where Maddox literally breaks beer with Andrius Mažeika, who discusses “Lithuanian Jazz and Reggae, and reflections on culture and politics from his years living in Turkey through the string of bombing attacks and the attempted coup,” writes Maddox, and adds, “Heads up, there’s some naughty language at the end.” I remember Taksim well, throwing snowballs in the yard of the Whirling Dervish lodge.

Anyway, I was already thankful to Nader for his lifetime of staring down the Man, with his six-shooter law degree and Ennio Morricone soundtrack (Think: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), and corrected miscreants crying after him, “Lebanon blondie,” when he left them hangin’ just long enough to consider their sinning ways before releasing them back into the wilds of corporate finance. So there I was, at Podcast 66, listening to Ralph Nader serve up the news to, in this case, eager ears. Like a prelude to the program, that reminded one (okay just me) of Wagner’s Prelude to Act One of Lohengrin, Ralph begins. I’m all ears, dipping some flat bread into Nader’s hummus bi tahini, peckish.

Ralph says,

So there are a lot of people who don’t even recognize that there are far more reforms and changes from living wage to health insurance to cracking down on corporate crime to solarizing our economy to having more access to government, more access to justice, criminal justice reform — all of these actually have conservative-liberal supporters. That’s what the polls show. But that isn’t what the politicians emphasize. They emphasize what divides people so they can attach to one group in contrast to another.

So, there it is: what Ralph does best, and one explanation for his largely unblemished longevity: He accentuates the common interests of the Left and Right. Today, only a moron wants to drive along without a seatbelt. (Or texting while they drive.)

And then we’re on to Ralph’s new Family Cookbook (he’s put out two others). For a moment, I’m not sure I’m ready to go on a food journey with Nader, recalling Sy Hersh’s memoir, Reporter, wherein the prize-winning journo (Pulitzer, My Lai, 1970) reveals the times he shared lunches with Nader in their early DC days:

There was nothing in those days quite like a quick lunch at the downstairs coffee shop with Ralph. He would grab a spoonful of my tuna fish salad, flatten it out on a plate, and point out small pieces of paper and even tinier pieces of mouse shit in it. He was marvelous, if a bit hard to digest.

Hersh has served up a lifetime of spicy revelation meatballs, too, come to think of it (and not always turd-free, but then consider what he’s had to muck around in).

Eric, Laila, and Ralph begin their gustatory feast by dishing up a platter of entrees — a cornucopia, really, of his achievements: Five time spoiler of the lesser-of-two-evil system, running for president as a Green; “one of the most influential figures in American history”; six decades of advocacy, civil liberties defender and truth-to-power speaker; author of many public interest books; Erroll Flynn-like (if you took away the CGI) leader of Nader’s Raiders, a kickass group of marvelous heroes who took on the Federal Trade Commission, established nationwide PIRGs, and let us into the vaults of government secrecy through the FOIA. But they came to praise Ralph, not to bury him, so we hear from Ralph about his new projects, specifically the cookbook, and, later, his take on the Fake President and the demise of democracy during Trump’s tenure.

The main meal arrives, the Cookbook, and I immediately dive in, scrolling through the recipes for appetizers and dips, soups and smoothies, salad and mains, vegetables and breads, and desserts to dive for.  Baba Ghanoush, Cannellini Bean Soup with Swiss Chard, Tabouleh,  Baked Kibbe, Steamed Broccoli with Garlic, Lemon, and Olive Oil, and Two-Two-Two Cookies looking so delicious you find yourself stuttering. I look and salivate at the ingredients for one of my favorite dishes.

STUFFED KIBBE COOKED IN LABANEEYE:

basic kibbe mixture (see page 51)

kibbe filling (see page 51)

5–6 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

mint (preferably fresh but dried is okay), use generously to taste

2 quarts laban (see page 22)

1 quart cold water

1/4 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice

1/4 teaspoon butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

Simple, quiet, a palate of democratic values hoying to be heard, Nader the Socrates of the moment’s aesthetic taste, a classic battler of dialectical materialism. (Sure, hammy, but check out the words that that other 60s genius, Dylan, uses to describe his Tennessean whiskey label, Heaven’s Door (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it): “A succulent, harmonious bourbon that hits all the right notes at the right moments for the category; a study of equal parts elegance and power.” Perfect for this meal.  And ain’t it so, that in the backwoods of Tennessee still waters run deep?

In his interview with Eric and Laila, Nader reminds his listeners of the intrinsic value of groups coming together to break up the bread, break open the bottles, and, later, break out the wind.  The taste of the interview goes something like this:

Laila:            What was the inspiration for this latest cookbook? Why now? And what impact do you hope it has?

Ralph:  The growth of nutritional movements in the US, more and more people wanting to eat fresh food, not processed food. They’re upgrading their nutritional diet. Now, with Covid-19, people are growing or expanding backyard gardens and they’re spending more time in the kitchen. There’s another reason for this book: There’s still a lot of people with a high fat, high salt diet and diabetes is rampant, including among young people…So, this book attempts to elevate their diet into the Mediterranean diet…the Arabic cuisine.

I found myself drifting at this point, virtually thumbing through the Cookbook, looking at the photos and recipes, tidbits of cultural heritage about the food. Then I came across Nader’s stuffed grape recipe, simple. elegant, tasty, and reminded me of my time in Istanbul, taking the fare-sharing taxies they called dolmuşes out of Taksim square — getting stuffed into cabs, old American ‘50s style vehicles, 7-8 tangled torsoes, hanky-panky just begging to happen, the driver eyeballing us in the rearview mirror, from which a blue-eyed evil eye hangs, feeling like I was stuck in a German expressionist painting.

Now the reverie’s in the rearview, too, and the recipe’s right before me:

YABRAK ARISH begins

Stuffed with lamb and rice, or vegetarian filling, this delicacy has become popular but it’s often found in heavy olive oil. Steamed and served hot or cold, this recipe contains no added fat products. The grape leaves can be prepared ahead of time, and refrigerated or frozen uncooked, leaving out the lemon juice and water until you cook them.

And then:

Lamb filling: Mix ground lamb meat with rice, season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

Vegetarian filling: Mix all ingredients together

Mixed all together.  Like some trauma.  But delicious.

The great thing about all these recipes is they’re familiar, easy to prepare, and really tasty; designed not for the haute couture set but for hoi polloi like me.  You feel, looking at these dishes, that you won’t be ‘inviting’ in pretentious book club types (Why did Atlas shrug?); career advancers needing flattery all night, like dark personages out of Dostoyevsky; or ‘gourmands’ who take Dylan’s label seriously. Dig in, Nader says, with your hands, if need be. I fade back in:

Eric:    So, speaking of the current moment, what’s the connection between that and your politics? And how do you think your kitchen, so to speak, should inform the politics of our listeners?

Ralph:  Well, one is [legislatively] pressing for a more organic food.  One that doesn’t have residual fungicides, pesticides, herbicides. Who knows what else is put into meat products — hormones. So, we try to emphasize with this kind of Arabic cuisine, you can look around for farmers who grow organically…[and] The recipes are so simple, and the ingredients are so easy to buy…and they’re far less expensive than steaks or chops.

And on he goes, with slow-burn elegance. Let us cut to the chase. In the Introduction of the Cookbook, Nader tells us,

My mother and father and their four children—two girls and two boys—all ate the same food. There were no food clashes; there was peace and time for what our parents wanted us to discuss, inform, and question regarding our schooling and readings.

Meaningful table dinners with family, instead of everybody eating something different in their rooms in front of computer screens, self-isolating as a virus. To his mother, “whether at breakfast, lunch, or supper—was a daily occasion for education, for finding out what was on our minds, for recounting traditions of food, culture, and kinship in Lebanon, where she and my father were born.”

His father, who ran the family business, the Highland Arms Restaurant, and liked to treat his kids to his handmade ice cream (“When the ice cream was ready, we would fill our bowls and lap it up happily.”), had a complementary philosophy about the family dining experience. But still they had table expectations that would be considered challenging today. Nader notes,

Mother knew that at the kitchen table she had our undivided attention. When we came home from our nearby schools for lunch, she would relate historic sagas, like the tales of Joan of Arc. She never read to us, preferring to rely on her memory to tell stories and recite Arabic poetry, watching the expressions on our faces closely. Coming from a vibrant oral tradition in Lebanon, she had an endless treasure trove of recollections.

Nobody said Shut Up, nobody ever got mal and started a foof fight, and look how Ralph has turned out.

I find myself musing again, thinking of all the Eid fast breaks, Easter dinners, and seders. My Dinner with Andre.  The Woody Allen flicks featuring families fighting, but with ‘love.’ The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. The discussions.  And I’m thinking of Nader at the first Thanksgiving dinner telling a Wampanoag guest, quietly, that he had mouse turd in his pumpkin pie, just to see the look in his eye, and it hasn’t stopped.

Eric stops my musing, asking Nader if there are ways in which food can be used to bring together people “separated by politics and by borders.”  Nader is generous and expansive in his reply:

It’s pretty well known that wherever you have people who disagree politically — but boy do they like certain ethnic food —  and you get them around a table and they start talking about things that are not dividing them, they broaden their vistas and their horizons and see each other as human beings instead of stereotyped people.

He notes this exactly the kind of togetherness the ruling class hates and seeks to destroy. He continues, passing around water, with: “a few years ago I wrote about a left-right alliance. I came up with about 25 major changes and redirections in this country that are supported by liberals and conservatives.”

He tells Eric and Laila, struggling to figure out how to vote in a two-evil election: “Vote your conscience in swing states” Nader advises. He owns that the current two-party set-up is a mess, where “49% unhappy after every presidential election.” He wonders “why the Greens fare so poorly when they are the People’s party,” with all the popular solutions for health, education and welfare issues. And though he doesn’t elaborate, he “suggests that America adopt an electoral system” similar to Ireland’s which has a preferential voting system.

They ask him what they can do as new and first time voters to prepare for an election.  He recommends that they read William Greider’s Who Will Tell the People? Then he gives the podcast duo a portrait of an activist as a young person. He says,

Young people need to realize that the ten greatest social justice victories in our country were initiated by a handful of people [and] such people shared three qualities:

  1. They were serious people.
  2. They knew what they were talking about.
  3. They represented majority public opinion.

There’s a pause during which my glass is refilled, and then to other topics.

Nader recalls the phenomenon known as Victory Gardens, which he says had been making a comeback, and that that has now accelerated with the isolation Covid-19 has brought with it. “There was time,” says Ralph, “when  35% of all vegetables were grown in home gardens…There are now about 20 million home gardens and growing, so this effort has been a success. This whole effort meshes well with the goal of more self-reliant economies.”  Michele Obama is vaguely remembered for her ‘victory garden,’ presumably a photo-op gesture in support of the war effort on Terror— a new poppy flower placed for each terrorist killed, two if it was a double tap. But that’s not what Nader has in mind.

The Cookbook is quick and easy to read, the dishes are familiar and elegant. They remind one, again, of how simple goodness can be; like being all furrowed up with Kant and Hegel and suddenly seeing a simple dinner with friends and family as something akin to the Golden Rule. May I have butter? And it is had with a smile. I would be quite pleased if someone gave me Nader’s book for my birthday. People who want to hear more from Nader can tune into the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

Along the way Eric and Laila introduce us to another new concept — Virtual Dinners. Like the Latitude Adjustment podcasts, the themes and personages are largely media under-represented everyday people facing a variety of crises. The Virtual Dinners see one family breaking bread with others by way of Zoom.  Dinners include Kosovo and Palestine people breaking bread and discussing statehood — Kosovo, Europe’s newest entry, and the dream of Palestine. There’s a dinner where Pakistanis talk with Germans. A dinner where the central topic is What Ever Happened to the Egyptian Revolution? And What If Your Country Was Occupied? is the subject of another dinner. Yet another dinner discusses a Syrian’s venture to the Greek island of Lesbos. All meet topics.

Nader’s book, Latitude Adjustment, and the Virtual Dinners are all reminders that, as we become ever more absorbed in the Hive Mind that the Internet is becoming, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned sessions where we break bread together and share, face-to-face, the negotiation of our beings through language — and the consciousness behind it that unites us all as a species. It’s food for thought!

Mangia!

 

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