New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Water World

December 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Are We Approaching a Global ‘Cadillac Desert’?

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Water for the Greeks was the immortal natural world. The supreme Greek god, Zeus, sent rains; Poseidon, brother of Zeus, was the god of the oceans and seas; Metis, daughter of the Ocean River god and first wife of Zeus, was goddess of intelligence and mother of Athena, goddess of the arts of civilization.

Homer said the god of metallurgy, Hephaistos, sculpted the great Ocean River surrounding the Earth on the outermost rim of Achilleus’ shield. Achilleus, son of a water nymph, was the Greeks’ greatest hero during the Trojan War.

And the first Greek natural philosopher, Thales, proposed in the seventh century BCE that water was the stuff of life and the cosmos. (more…)

Remembering Mandela

December 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

What Didn’t Kill Him Made Him Stronger

by David Swanson

Nelson Mandela’s story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life.  Worse, we don’t tell such stories in many of our novels.

A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs.  He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation.  He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory.  He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable.  He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away.  But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.

Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause.  He was a fighter and a boxer.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: “Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. … Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you.  And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened.” (more…)

Suspending Disbelief

November 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson

‘God Made Me an Atheist…’

by David Swanson

Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists is a curious and ultimately very valuable book.

It’s curious because it doesn’t make much of a case — or at least not the sort of case I would have liked — for why we should create atheists.

It’s valuable because, if you believe we’d be better off with more atheists, this is a remarkable tool for accomplishing that goal.

I don’t view sloppy thinking as a great evil in itself.  It doesn’t offend me the way hunger and lack of medicine and Hellfire missiles offend me.  So, I look for the argument — which I think can be made — that sloppy thinking has serious results, or that belief in a god leads to a lack of responsibility, or that belief in eternal life diminishes efforts to improve real lives.  This book does not focus on those arguments.

Boghossian points to abstinence-only sex-ed, bans on same-sex marriage, teaching Creationism, corporal punishment in schools, and other offenses in the United States, as well as pointing to various more-severe abuses by the Taliban, as the undesirable results of theism.  But, with the possible exception of Creationism, these things could continue without theism or be ended while maintaining theism. (more…)

Being Somebody

October 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Missy Beattie

Survival in an Age of Violence

by Missy Beattie

Another school shooting. Another candlelight vigil.  On Monday, October 21st, a Nevada teacher was murdered and two 12-year-old boys were wounded. The shooter, described as a “nice kid,” killed himself at the scene.

Student Amaya Newton said, “I believe it was because I saw him getting bullied a couple of times and I think he took out his bullying.”

Another student reported that the shooter said, “You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours.”

Just a few days before, Erma, Laura, and I sat in my living room, talking about 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick who jumped to her death last month after she was bullied. Guadalupe Shaw, 14, and Katelyn Roman, 12, have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.

On Shaw’s Facebook page was a post her parents and her attorneys insist is evidence of a hacked account. The Shaws maintain that their daughter would never have written, “Yes, IK (I know) I bullied REBECCA nd (and) she killed her self but IDGAF (I don’t give a fuck).”

Erma said, “I am Rebecca Sedwick.” And she cried. (more…)

Occupy Everything

October 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Reflecting on Lessons Learned and New Directions

by David Swanson

When the Pentagon ends an occupation, crawling home from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan with its Tomahawk missile dragging between its legs, it declares victory every time.  And, depending on how you define victory, it certainly leaves lasting effects.  The cancer and birth defects and poisoned water supplies bear witness: there was an occupation here.

When the Occupy Movement lost its presence on television and therefore in real spaces that are never quite as real as television, it too left a lasting impact.  But it was a positive lasting impact, difficult as yet to measure fully, but observable in many areas.  (more…)

Tenacious Spirit

September 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Winslow Myers

New Book Spotlights the Life and Work of Dag Hammarskjöld

by Winslow Myers

Roger Lipsey has produced a magisterially comprehensive portrait of the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, in his 2013 book Hammarskjöld: A Life. Lipsey’s achievement is all the more remarkable because at first glance Hammarskjöld appears to be, in the combination of his monastic bachelor dedication to his role and his veiled diplomatic tact, a uniquely unknowable person.

As Secretary-General, what kept him steadily moving forward against the gale-force winds of chaos, violence, and cynical double-dealing by governments was his systematic subjugation of individual will to a fervent wish to be used by God. Brought up in Swedish Protestant Christianity, a deep reader of the Christian mystics, Hammarskjöldnot only valued, but actually lived, what he called “stillness,” a creative discipline that enabled him to stay flexibly creative in the welter of such events as the Suez crisis of 1956, when he was one of the first to initiate the exhausting process of shuttle diplomacy.

The working heart of Lipsey’s approach is to subtly tie the entries in “Markings,” Hammarskjöld’s spiritual poetry, a number of which are specifically dated, to the stream of acute international crises in which Hammarskjöld was crucially involved, including the battle for Congolese independence, during which he lost his life in a plane crash — a crash that may not have been accidental. (more…)

A Bit of Truthfulness

September 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

This War, Too, Is a Lie

by David Swanson

Some smart people thought, and perhaps some still think, that the 2003-2011 war on Iraq was unique in that it was promoted with the use of blatant lies.  When I’d researched dozens of other wars and failed to find one that wasn’t based on a foundation of similar lies, I wrote a book about the most common war lie varieties. I called it War Is A Lie.

That book has sold more than any of my others, and I like to think it’s contributed some teeny bit to the remarkable and very welcome skepticism that is greeting the U.S. government’s current claims about Syria.  The fact is that, were the White House telling the truth about the need for an attack on Syria, it would be a first in history.  Every other case for war has always been dishonest.

The United States sought out war with Mexico, not the reverse.  There was never any evidence that Spain sank the Maine.  The Philippines didn’t benefit from U.S. occupation.  The Lusitania was known to be carrying troops and arms.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.  Iraq didn’t take any babies out of incubators.  The Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over to be tried in a neutral court.  Libya wasn’t about to kill everyone in Benghazi.  Et cetera. (more…)