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Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2018 01:11:06 +0000



Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:01:26 +0000

When I left my body, the voyageurs nibbled the bones
& yelped, feeling willful & saintly, with nothing
up their sleeves. Except that the aftermath was not what
they thought it would be, no idea that the Great Lake
would wreck & the dunes where they portaged
birch canoes would languish in real estate. Just voyageurs
talking to bones in patois, enticing, as if to coax
beaver pelts & pemmican out of my rib cage. The sawyers
also approached the bone meal; as it decomposed, they
discovered furniture, the day being long. And the tumult
being far off, they were free to denude my groin, which was
no picnic. The manufacturers followed, laying out
showrooms on flood basalts & ash beds, asking themselves
no questions since it was not expedient to do so. When
at last the chemists pharmed the marrow, it was not clear which
fruits were permissible nor

The post MICHIGAN appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

Is Forgiveness the Basis of a Healthy Democracy?

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:01:08 +0000

Why do we have such difficulty thinking about forgiveness? Read the news on any day and you’ll find stories of war, injustices present and past, and attacks on democracy. It’s apparently a world of apathy and lack of empathy for one another. Forgiveness is not a virtue of this de-civilizing world. But it is the responsibility of outsiders like philosophers and artists to think about forgiveness because it is a powerful personal and political tool that is essential to democracy, to peace, and for personally coming to terms with the injustices and suffering that humans experience and inflict upon those around them.

Philosophers can bring humanness out of the inhumane, as they can bring beauty out of ugliness and peace out of war. So philosophy is a powerful human tool for forgiveness, but it can also radically rethink the idea of forgiveness as the bearer of dignity. This is why

The post Is Forgiveness the Basis of a Healthy Democracy? appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

How White Settlers Buried the Truth About the Midwest’s Mysterious Mounds

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:01:34 +0000

Around 1100 or 1200 A.D., the largest city north of Mexico was Cahokia, sitting in what is now southern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Built around 1050 A.D. and occupied through 1400 A.D., Cahokia had a peak population of between 25,000 and 50,000 people. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cahokia was composed of three boroughs (Cahokia, East St. Louis, and St. Louis) connected to each other via waterways and walking trails that extended across the Mississippi River floodplain for some 20 square km. Its population consisted of agriculturalists who grew large amounts of maize, and craft specialists who made beautiful pots, shell jewelry, arrow-points, and flint clay figurines.

The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were

The post How White Settlers Buried the Truth About the Midwest’s Mysterious Mounds appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

What the Path of Curry Tells Us About Globalization

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 08:01:05 +0000

One Sunday morning in 1993, “Bushman,” “Spider,” “Tall Boy,” and “Crab Dog” were gathered at a rum shop in the Guyanese coastal village of Mahaica. The rainy season had driven these Afro-Guyanese diamond miners out of the interior, and they had settled down for a companionable drinking session. They were joined by Terry Roopnaraine, an anthropologist gathering information for a study of gold and diamond mining. Spider, who was flush with the proceeds from a big strike, was treating the others from his earnings. Eventually, Bushman announced that he had killed an iguana the day before.

“So, let’s cook him,” the men declared.

Tall Boy, who worked as a cook out in the mining camps, persuaded the rum shop owner to let him use the kitchen in back. He softened onions in coconut oil while he slit the belly of the iguana, cleaned out its guts, and chopped up the

The post What the Path of Curry Tells Us About Globalization appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

Before You Push That Big Nuclear Button, Consider the Source

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:01:54 +0000

Shortly after 8 a.m. on January 13, 2018, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out a chilling alert to residents across the state of Hawaii: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Thousands of frightened people flocked to shelters; some even climbed down manholes to save themselves. Hawaii State Representative Matthew LoPresti told CNN: “I was sitting in the bathtub with my children, saying our prayers.” It was not until 38 minutes later that a second message made it clear that that the first had been a false alarm.

Such episodes are not new. Since the advent of mass communications, similar scares have taken place. From intentional hoaxes to accidental alerts, we have become susceptible to reports of terrifying events that never come to pass.

Canadian philosopher and media scholar Marshall McLuhan famously observed that we all live in a global village. Where

The post Before You Push That Big Nuclear Button, Consider the Source appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

Could a New River City Transform California?

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:01:42 +0000

Could the San Joaquin River, long a dividing line in the heart of California, unite the state in pursuit of a more metropolitan future for the Central Valley?

Whether that happens will be determined in Madera County, on the north side of the river from Fresno. There, a new city, consisting of multiple large planned communities, is finally under construction after decades of planning and litigation.

The city has no name and incorporation could be decades away. But within a generation, its population could grow to more than 100,000 people; by mid-century, it might double Madera County’s current population of 150,000.

And that is just on the Madera side of the river. On the Fresno side, the county is developing open space, the city of Fresno’s north side is growing, and the city of Clovis is expanding to its south and east. Rising together, the new Madera city, Fresno, and

The post Could a New River City Transform California? appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

What Benjamin Franklin Ate When He Was Homesick

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:01:05 +0000

In the midst of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin envisioned the turkey as an exemplar of the ideal American citizen. In a 1783 letter home to his daughter Sally, written while Franklin was serving as chief diplomat to France, he wrote about the “ribbons and medals” presented to the French by grateful Americans in thanks for significant military and financial support. The tokens bore an image of an eagle—but, Franklin explained, some recipients complained that the workmanship was not up to sophisticated French standards. They thought that the eagle looked more like a turkey.

Franklin asserted that this plucky fowl would have been a better choice in the first place. Eagles were found in many countries, but the turkey was an American native and “a bird of courage,” a fitting symbol of America’s valor and virtues. It “would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guard who should

The post What Benjamin Franklin Ate When He Was Homesick appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.


Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:01:03 +0000

C: I’m Claire, I’m an avid reader, aspiring writer, and I collect a lot of books filling the entire house so there are only narrow crevices to squeeze through; windows blocked with books so no natural light comes in; floors buckling under the weight of paperback stacks
C: My husband Vance and I have been married for 42 wonderful, crowded years Vance’s tie hung on the sides of a bookcase; Claire’s shirt flung over a mound of books
V: My name is Vance, I’m a teacher and a book lover from way Back Mystics and Messiahs, Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers, Paganism Book
C: In this house, we have two very familiar phrases—“I love you” and “timbeeeeeer!” pile of books collapsing
C: We have books that go to nine feet high in some places Hurricanes and Tornadoes, Jack and the Beanstalk
C: On the first floor it is wall-to-wall

The post HOARDERS:
appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

Why Are There so Many Statues of Men on Horseback?

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:01:02 +0000

Statues are created to project meaning. Contemporary public artworks, for example, use purposely veiled messages aimed to generate thoughtful exchange with the viewer and to prompt reflection. By contrast, historic monumental sculptures employ symbolism that is direct and intentionally easy for viewers to understand.

The ancient Roman tradition of publicly displaying monumental equestrian statues of important historical figures is a particularly striking case of how to convey meaning in no uncertain terms.

Traditionally cast in bronze, these huge forms of horse and rider display messages of dominance, power, and virtue through strength. And, by doing so, they established a template that has persisted for centuries.

Perhaps, no statue embodies these values more than a famous depiction of the emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback.

The figure of the emperor is seated on top of a regal horse, artfully posed as if it were moving gracefully through a crowd. The rider fully

The post Why Are There so Many Statues of Men on Horseback? appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.

The “Little Giant” Who Thought That Backing Slavery Would Unite America

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:01:23 +0000

One of the most ambitious attempts to unite America ended up dividing it, and altering it forever.

At the opening of the 33rd Congress on December 5, 1853, Stephen A. Douglas, the short, rotund U.S. Senator from Illinois, planned an ambitious legislative program of national expansion.

“The Little Giant,” as he was known, sought to establish a new territory—Nebraska Territory—fashioned from the immense tract of Indian-occupied land that stretched west to the Rockies from Missouri, and north to Canada. He desired to remove the Indian inhabitants; to survey, sell, and populate the land; and to construct a transcontinental railroad to unite the country.

“How are we to develop, cherish and protect our immense interests and possessions on the Pacific,” he asked fellow senators, “with a vast wilderness fifteen hundred miles in breadth, filled with hostile savages, and cutting off all direct communication?” The solution, he said, was removing the “Indian

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