New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Paying It Forward

April 23, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Missy Beattie

Thoughts on ‘Authentic Carbon Trading’

by Missy Beattie

Recently, I read an article about the aging population, specifically, those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and the burden placed on families, society, and health care.  As always, I looked at reader reactions. A man said he’s saving for the likelihood of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, long-term care in a facility, so his children won’t have to bear the responsibility. I agree with the person who said she’d take her own life if diagnosed with a mind-robbing, progressive condition. You know, go while the going is good.

We, the Sisterhood, Laura, Erma, and I, discuss end times. Our own.

I have it on the best authority that I am not depressed. Read the rest of this entry →

Growing Up

April 21, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Robert C. Koehler

Living in Partnership with Mother Earth

by Robert C. Koehler

Okay, humankind, it’s time to grow up, and I see a good way to start: Change the wording of Genesis 1:26. Change one word.

I recently quoted that Bible verse in a column about the increasing velocity of climate change: “And God said . . . let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,” etc. Dominion! Nature belongs to us, to suck dry and toss away. And thus we moved out of the circle of life and became its conquerors, an attitude at the core of the Agricultural Revolution and the rise of civilization. The momentum of this attitude is still driving us. We don’t know how to stop, even though most people now grasp that we’re wrecking the environmental commons that sustains life. Read the rest of this entry →

What Is It Good For?

April 18, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

War Brings Peace and Prosperity, New Book Claims

by David Swanson

Ian Morris has stuck his dog’s ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed “Man Bites Dog.” His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things.  It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman.  Once you’ve made peace, he believes, prosperity follows.  And from that prosperity flows happiness.  Therefore, war creates happiness.  But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is — you guessed it — war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions.  These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I’m greatly tempted to get caught up in the details.  But none of it has much impact on the book’s conclusions.  All of Morris’s history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use.  He’s telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result. Read the rest of this entry →

Destabilizing Power

April 14, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Student Perspectives on the Necessity of Ethnic Studies

moderated by Devon G. Peña

{Moderator’s Note: We are presenting selected blog posts written by students in a winter quarter (2014) course, “Introduction to Chicana/o Studies” (CHSTU 101 that just completed meetings at the University of Washington. My graduate assistant Victor Rodríguez pre-selected the blogs and I did final copy-editing and formatting but the ideas and representations made here were entirely the result of the eight weeks of group research activities conducted by these young students. When we ask first- and second-year students to perform at this higher level of independent inquiry and critical thinking by asking them to engage in collaborative research and writing, we are actually revealing their capacity for a genuine love of learning that introduces them to diverse methods of inquiry and idea testing. When this happens, all is well in the classroom and we can feel a bit more confident that they will be better prepared to engage the prospects for democracy toward more just, equitable, and sustainable future. Read the rest of this entry →

Will We Ever Learn?

April 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

High-Stakes Testing Undermines the Essence of Teaching

by Robert C. Koehler

A mind is a terrible thing to test, especially a child’s mind — if, in so doing, you reduce it to a number and proceed to worship that number, ignoring the extraordinary complexity and near-infinite potential of what you have just tested.

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” What if?

What if the American education bureaucracy understood these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and honored the latent genius of every student? What if it funded teachers and schools with as much enthusiasm as it did corporate vendors? What if, in some official way, we loved kids and their potential more than the job slots we envisioned for them and judged them only in relationship to their realization of that potential? What if standardized testing, especially the obsessive, punitive form that has evolved in this country, went the way of the dunce cap and the stool in the corner? Read the rest of this entry →

More than a Trend

March 31, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Urban Agriculture in Mexico City: Healthy and Necessary

by Devon G. Peña

The Colhua Mexica (Aztec) twin island cities of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco were filled with urban farms, home kitchen gardens, fish-stocked ponds, and aviaries. Two large lakes south of the cities were filled with highly productive floating gardens known aschinampas. These ancient Mesoamerican city-states were basically food self-sufficient. The conquest destroyed most of these cultural ecological landscapes and built Mexico City with the rubble of demolished temples, schools, colleges, homes, and other buildings. Mexico City has never been able to reproduce this ideal condition of food self-sufficiency and instead basically sucks the energy out of the Mexican countryside and — ever since NAFTA — from fresh produce and processed food imported or manufactured with ingredients from the U.S. and other countries. Read the rest of this entry →

Outside the Public Senses

March 27, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Guest Author

He Hated Her for Who (S)He Was…

by Lily Liu

The long-awaited river flowed from her, streaming into the dirt as if it had been destined to breathe life into the chrysanthemums creeping from the ground. Relief filled her body as the tension dripped out, joining nature’s soil through its earthly movement.

He watched her from behind a sea of glass. Comfortable, yet irritated at the faint smell of lemon air purifier wafting from the restrooms down the hall, he wished the lemon smell, and the smells they meant to cover, could be contained. Those things weren’t meant for the public nose.

She rocked, singing joyous prayer into the passing wind. Each note warmed her throat as she sought expression, as she felt her happiness ooze from her lips. She swung her arms outward with the wings of the nearby pigeons who, startled by the outbreak of song, were flapping in chaos.

Still watching, he thanked the sea of glass for breaking sound. He preferred the predictable tics of his desk clock, the steady buzz of the pure fluorescent lighting, the controlled tapping of his shoes against his desk. Spontaneous emotions were meant for dramatic effect at friendly gatherings. Public displays of self ought to be acts of refinery. Only premeditated proverbs for the public ear. Read the rest of this entry →


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