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Tdad@92his first spring day my father turned 92.  He was in the hospital for a fall, but without much damage, so he bounced back fast.

His room provides a terrific view of the harbor and snow capped Mount Baker of the North Cascades.

The hospital staff conveyed one key point – Dad has a great sense of humor.  Everyone who knows him will concur.  Whether I live past 60 or 100 I know that the soul of wit and levity is too dear to be lost.  Forsaking humor for the sake of discomfort or fear is to lose all.

My father taught me patience of a particular sort born of persistent focus such as time may not weaken.  Humor sharpens focus and disassembles diversion, hence reinforcing patience.

I visit my folks every month and am looking forward to Dad’s 93rd day of birth when we may share a laugh in the new spring morning.

 

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death_pill_grayscaleThe Massachusetts State motto contains the phrase “peace only under liberty.”  The liberty to seek final peace is being sought in court by Roger Klinger, a Massachusetts physician with prostate cancer.  The cancer has not responded to treatment and is diagnosed as terminal.  Klinger wants the option to deal with that terminal condition on his own terms, by taking a fatal dose of medications prescribed for that purpose.  Massachusetts law prohibits its citizens from ending their own lives.

Five US states have laws allowing physician assisted suicide; Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and California.  The first such US law was Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act which allows terminally-ill people to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.  Oregonians enacted that law in 1997 though initiative petition.  Twenty years later the Oregon experience provides a model for the nation as other states deliberate similar liberties.  The Oregon Department of Public Health publishes an annual report on the Act. The reports are very instructive.  For instance, since 1988 1,127 Oregonians have ended their lives using the law.  The majority of those chose to die at home.  Only 64% who are prescribed lethal drugs under the law actually use them.

The political and moral issues of physician assisted suicide are complex.  The Oregon experience with the law and its practice stands as a guide for the nation.  But after all, Oregon’s state motto is “Fly on one’s own wings.”

Klinger focused his proclivity to helping people by becoming a facilitator for a Cape Cod Death Cafe. That event and those like it around the globe provide opportunities to discuss issues related to mortality.  Death Café Corvallis is such a venue now in it’s third year.

Peace and best fortune to Dr. Klinger and all people facing terminal illness.



Conversations on topics such as in this post are common at Death Café Corvallis. You are welcome to participate. Information at Death Cafe Corvallis.

5449002019_c15cd9cc3a_b_editI have awoken to an America that I do not recognize.

The 2016 election shows that what I thought I knew about national politics is wrong and I feel humbled.

Nearly all of the expert analyses of the election turned out flawed including my own amateur efforts.

What is frustrating about the failure of professional and academic analyses of this election is that the methods used to project outcomes are the same methods used to explain the outcomes.

That makes it hard to trust any analysis as to why Trump and the GOP succeeded against expectations; it also makes it hard to trust analyses of what Trump is doing and where our country is going.

A source of error in the projections was that the pollsters and the media did not accurately represent the portion of the electorate who made the difference and that turns out to be half of the voters.

That omission is important to reflect upon because the nearly 60 million people who elected Donald Trump are misread by those of us who were caught unawares on election night.

Trump supporter and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel provides a clue about that misreading;

“I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media always is taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously, but not literally.” [1]

Thiel’s distinction makes all the difference in how we interpret one another across the political divide.

For instance, I suspect that many on the left suppose that Trump cannot practically deliver on promises that he made in the campaign and conclude that this inconsistency will disillusion his supporters and weaken his base.

That conclusion follows only if Trump supporters interpret his Duck-Rabbit_illusionpromises literally and I have come to believe that Trump voters construct his meaning not all literally, but symbolically.

If there are multiple ways to make alternate meanings out of the same words, we must strive to comprehend all of those meanings together.

Unless the people on the opposite sides of the political divide become visible and clear to one another the prospects for national unity will continue to dim.

In the political struggle that fractures America, most of us are boxing with shadows.

I do have one data point to rely on in my account of this election because in August I attended a Trump rally in Everett, WA.

I wanted to find out personally what attraction this unconventional candidate held for his followers.

I want to tell my progressive colleagues and readers that Tump supporters are not bad people; not deplorable.

I talked with a dozen rally attendees and observed hundreds and for the most part, I liked them as individuals.

The rally was thousands large and had a festive atmosphere with families, kids dancing and no physical violence that I witnessed.

The campaign rhetoric was jarring to my ear and I had difficulty referencing what people told me.

They all said that the economy is failing, the military is in decline, billionaires are incorruptible and that America’s core values have been undermined.

None of it looks that way to me, but I did not argue, I listened and listening may be the most important part of dialog.

In academia and on the left of center we have not been listening to half of the electorate and we paid the price for that insensibility on election night.

candle-335965_960_720Perceiving the need to listen to people whose ideas we reject lights a path to a way forward for those of us who value dialog and the exchange of ideas as a means of growth.

The opportunity is to step up to the challenge of creating conversations between people who are not hearing and seeing one another.

This conversation is possible because we all have so much in common.

This conversation is hard because we generally disbelieve what the other side sees as true.

This conversation is necessary because finding our common ground is the one hope that we have to transcend our growing national chasm of ideologies.

To Trump supporters reading this I want to say that those of us who emphasize justice, equity and individual rights are not bad or deplorable either.

We are operating with caricatures of one another, you and I, and it is to our mutual interest to understand how those false images come about and to what purpose.

You know as well as I that election victories are temporary and the political pendulum will swing back in time, so what matters to the good of our nation is how we manage the change together.

I genuinely want to understand what you think and what you trust and what kind of world you aspire to.

flag-american-heart_editWhen enough of us recognize the reflections of ourselves in the human beings on the other side, the bridge building will begin.

I pledge to work towards producing opportunities for political reconciliation and human communication across our community.

I hope that you, dear reader, will join that effort in your own way to make America work together again.

 

Sources
[1] Roller, E. Peter Thiel Wants You to Take Trump Seriously, but Not Too Seriously. November 1, 2016.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/opinion/campaign-stops/peter-thiel-wants-you-to-take-trump-seriously-but-not-too-seriously.html

Image Acknowledgements

5449002019_c15cd9cc3a_b.jpg
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5298/5449002019_c15cd9cc3a_b.jpg

Duck-Rabbit_illusion.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Duck-Rabbit_illusion.jpg

candle-335965_960_720.jpg
https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/05/02/12/41/candle-335965_960_720.jpg

flag-american-heart.jpg
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=85942&picture=flag-american-heart

voteAdept politicians pay attention to voting bocs, which are aggregations of citizens who share interests that influence their voting.  Religion, ethnicity, and age are common issue clusters around which voting blocs form.

A voting bloc that has been neglected in the 2016 Presidential campaign is dead people.

It is fair to say that the 2016 Presidential election is a grave decision for voters, but it is a quite different matter that dead people register to vote in significant numbers and many of them do vote.

It is true that electoral officials work to prevent dead people from voting because they have no voting rights; still many of them vote anyway.

Election officials attempt to limit dead people voting by comparing voter registration roles and voting records against the Death Master File maintained by the Social Security Administration.image-20150417-3241-dmi4mw_cropped

When dead people vote and are found out it is considered election fraud.

People who assist dead people with voting are charged with election fraud as was recently the case with an 88 year old Illinois woman, Audrey R. Cook.

Her husband of 66 years, Vic Cook, recently applied for absentee ballots to vote in the 2016 election but died before they could complete them together.

So Audrey went ahead and completed Vic’s for him and sent both ballots in.

Vic’s ballot was identified as a dead person voting and was nullified.

Audrey now faces potential election fraud charges.

375px-Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1The case is complicated by the fact that both Vic and Audrey were Madison County election judges, as Audrey was when she filed the dead person vote.

I hope that the Illinois Attorney General will cut Audrey a break.

She is grieving a loss and to her Vic is not really gone, so it is comprehensible to me that she would assist him in casting his last vote, even from the grave.

Vic’s dead man vote will not count in the election, of course, but we should have compassion enough for people like Audrey who lose those they love to understand how they may continue to act as if they were among the living.


Conversations on topics such as in this post are common at Death Cafe Corvallis.  You are welcome to participate. Information at Death Cafe Corvallis.

 

Image Acknowledgements

vote.jpg
https://warasto.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/vote.jpg

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https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/78456/width926/image-20150417-3241-dmi4mw.jpg

Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1.svg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rose_(symbolism)#/media/File:Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1.svg

As I write this armed protestors are playing a deadly game of chicken with the FBI in Eastern Oregon and opinions on the situation are furiously flying.

Some commentators focus on the race of the protesters, some on their religion, others are concerned about guns, cattle, land use, rural culture, politics, hypocrisy, the sentiments of local people in Burns, arson, Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street, al-Qaida, Daesh, Nazis, as well as the protesters’ preferences in snack foods and hats.

One point that is missing from the majority of opinion pieces is the primary cause of why Ammon Bundy and his group are motivated to such unwise and illegal action.

That primary cause is the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Whatever you think of the man_in_the_maze_flickercurrent situation in the Malheur wilderness it is worth considering what this law is about because it affects all of us.

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was passed in the wake of the bombing of a Federal Building in Oklahoma, a terrorist act that killed 168 people.

AEDPA is a huge law with sections of statutes on restitution for victims of terrorism, funding for law enforcement against terrorism, restrictions on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, international terrorism prohibitions, and criminal law modifications to counter terrorism.

Many of these statutes are good ideas, but two parts of AEDPA are very bad ideas leading to injustice without helping to stop terrorism.

Intelligent Americans should investigate and challenge AEDPA and policies that unjustifiably reduce our freedom.

One of the bad ideas is the suppression of habeas corpus rights. The other bad idea is allowing people to be convicted of terrorism for actions that are clearly not terrorism.

The opening section of AEDPA limits judicial review of appeals by defendants. The intention was to shorten the time between convictions and executions by making it harder for convicts to appeal their sentences.

The effect has been to obstruct the right to appeals overall.

This seems like a great idea to some people because it allows the government to carry out punishments more efficiently.

The common defense in favor of punitive efficiency is that limiting appeals prevents frivolous appeals. That is true, but it also prevents legitimate appeals.

What is a legitimate appeal? Well, the law is conducted by people, some of whom make mistakes or cheat or break the law themselves.

When a conviction is achieved by wrongdoing by the enforcers – such as lying, planting evidence, or mistaken identity – the individual has the right to defend themselves against the government.

That right is habeas corpus which is the foundation of all human rights, because if an individual cannot legally challenge what the government does to them, no civil right can be exercised.

That fundamental right, habeas corpus, is currently at its weakest point in American history.

AEDPA cast the first stone against habeas corpus in modern America. The Patriot Act of 2001 knocked that freedom to its knees. The Bush and Obama extra-judicial executive actions have rendered every American citizen nearly powerless against our bureaucracy with respect to judicial review (Reinhardt 2015).

I grieve the oppression of people who seek justice such as in Ferguson and Minneapolis, yet I tell you that as sadly as racism raises its ugly head, unchecked power is the the engine of racial and all injustice.

The second bad idea in the AEDPA is the government’s ability to convict people who are not terrorists of “terrorism.”

The concept of terrorism varies but you know what it looks like and I believe that most of us understand it to be intentional violence against civilians inWikinews_tag_terrorism service of a political agenda. There are many crimes and some of them are heinous, but most of them are not terrorism (Orye 2002).

This distinction matters because our government seeks special powers on the basis of protecting us against terrorism and we readily give it to them.

In fact our government has won the special power of the suppression of habeas corpus on the basis of protecting us against terrorism.

When government agencies expand those special powers to include acts that are not terrorism that power is no longer special, it is the norm and the law of the land.

The more crimes classified as terrorism the less freedom every individual has to challenge their government and the less our governmental agencies need to account for their actions.

AEDPA codifies the following as law; “Criminal Law Modifications to Counter Terrorism – Enhanced Penalties for Use of Explosives or Arson Crimes: Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or agency thereof, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.”

This Counter Terrorism statute is the law under which the Oregon ranchers – the Hammonds – were convicted. Because of that they are held to minimum five year sentences despite the trial judge Thomas Hogan’s emphatic dissent.

“with regard to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, this sort of conduct could not have been conduct intended under that statute…in addition, it just would not be — would not meet any idea I have of justice, proportionality. I am not supposed to use the word "fairness" in criminal law. I know that I had a criminal law professor a long time ago yell at me for doing that. And I don’t do that. But this — it would be a sentence which would shock the conscience to me.”
[District Court of Oregon Judge Michael R. Hogan’s remarks at the 2012 sentencing of Steven and Dwight Hammond].

Let’s agree for the moment that the Hammond’s are arsonists. They set fires that burned acres of wilderness. That’s illegal and they served time in prison and paid hefty fines.

Do you also think that they are terrorists?

I don’t think that they are terrorists in even the worst case description of their acts of arson.

Arson is a crime but should only count as terrorism when it is enacted to kill civilians for political purposes. Yet, the Hammonds cannot effectively appeal their convictions as “terrorists” because under the AEDPA law the rights of convicted terrorists are limited.

Let me put that last point another way. Here is the legal logic that AEDPA allows. You are charged and convicted as a terrorist. You do not think that you are a terrorist because you did not harm anyone or intend to, so you seek to challenge the “terrorist” charges. Yet you cannot legally challenge the “terrorist” charges against you because terrorists are not allowed to do so.

Well, that legal double-bind may make sentencing more efficient, but if this seems to you to serve justice, then I suggest that you will find gratification in reading Kafka.

The Hammond case is the result of a bad law that harms us all. The anti habeas corpus statutes of ADEPA should be repealed. The Supreme Court is divided on this matter and the outcomes depend much on our choices – such as elections and our voices.

The protesters in Malheur are in-part motivated by this injustice. It is an injustice, not just for two Oregon ranchers, but for all of us.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It is also true that Ammon Bundy’s sovereign citizens have chosen the wrong way to protest their grievances. They should drop their guns, surrender and go to jail.

President Obama, who studied and taught constitutional law, should commute the extended sentences of the Hammonds.

Intelligent Americans should investigate and challenge AEDPA and policies that unjustifiably reduce our freedom.

In so doing we all should look for guidance to a moral and spiritual philosopher who’s birth we celebrate this week. Martin Luther King did not carry a gun. He led a transformation of America and the world for the better through his courage and words – among them; “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Bibliography

Caplan, L. (2015, June 21). The Destruction of Defendants’ Rights – The New Yorker. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-destruction-of-defendants-rights

O’Bryant, T. C. (2006). The Great Unobtainable Writ: Indigent Pro Se Litigation After the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 4, 299-337.

Orye, B. R., III. (2002). The Failure of Words: Habeas Corpus Reform, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and When a Judgment of Conviction Becomes Final for the Purposes of 28 U.S.C. 2255(1). William & Mary Law Review, 44(1), 441-485.

Reinhardt, S. R. (2015). The Demise of Habeas Corpus and the Rise of Qualified Immunity. Michigan Law Review, 113(7), 1219-1254.

Young, R. (2006). Defining Terrorism: The Evolution of Terrorism as a Legal Concept in International Law and Its Influence on Definitions in Domestic Legislation. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, 29(1), 3rd ser., 23-105.

Image Acknowledgements

man_in_the_maze_flicker.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/generated/3409686604

Wikinews_tag_terrorism.png
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikinews_tag_terrorism.png

Got thoughts about mortality?

Monday’s – 5:30-7:30 PM – 2nd St Beanery – 500 SW 2nd St. Corvallis OR 97333

Death Café Corvallis is simply in order to listen and talk about death.

Death Café Corvallis is NOT a support group, therapeutic agenda, debate society, social action group, religious or anti-religious organization, political committee, or sales pitch.death_cafe_corvallis_hubble_spiral_galax.fw

Our welcoming, friendly and supportive café is open to everyone who participates in a welcoming, friendly and supportive manner. Our guiding principles are respect, openness, and confidentiality.

Come drink coffee, eat cake, and discuss death with interesting people. Join the online Death Cafe Corvallis community if you like.

Death Café Corvallis is allied with the US Death Café.

— contact – deathcafecorvallis@gmail.com

Come talk truth to death.

I am deeply troubled by the recent tragedy in Roseburg and recent atrocities in Yemen and Afghanistan, so I want to share with you ways that I have been exploring for responding to horror without becoming numb to its significance.

I am learning to implement a technology by which you too may sustain yourself while also acting effectively in a tragic world.

First consider how we commonly respond to news of a horrible event.

When I heard of Thursday’s Umpqua massacre I felt a cold weakness in the middle of my chest.

Shortly after I stood before a class of first-year students, some of whom I knew were from Roseburg, all of whom reminded me of the dear people we had just lost.

It seemed apparent to me that they did not yet know what had just happened and I struggled with a sense of unreality as I reached for something meaningful to say.

After that class I wept.

Perhaps you also have physical reactions to awful news.

Next I did what many parents do when we hear of a disaster; call our children just to make sure they are ok.

Then come a series of predicable messages from predictable sources.

People start sharing rumors and reports as if possessing the latest bit of information can impact the gravity of the incident.

Leaders hold press conferences and send email denouncing and consoling.

Some people immediately seize the shock of the moment to advance or defend their political and personal agendas, often in ways that increase the harm.

Then comes a barrage of angry and speculative verbiage about who to blame.

Experts weigh in with analyses, statistics and opinions.

That evening people with gather with candles, put personal items at the site of the harm and set up memorial scholarships, every detail shared by constant repetition through many media.

Then we go on about our business in wait for the next appalling event.

In our present age all of this reaction happens with blinding speed and tends to race past the reality of the moment, as if the attendant information and spectacle is more significant than the event itself.

This set of reactions may be called a “viral cycle” because the activity builds on itself and has a predictable path as social phenomena.cue_routine_reward.fw

Do you recognize the parts of this viral cycle and most important, your roles in it? Do you have characteristic reactions to news of a horrible occurrence?

If you do, and I think that we all do, then there is a habitual pattern in you that guides your reactions automatically.

What concerns me about these habitual patterns is that they typically leave us individually and collectively in a negative mental state and with a sense of impotence about effecting any change for the better.

When there is nothing that we can do about suffering except feel bad, it is natural to seek emotional distance and I suspect that much of transpires in the social viral cycle are various ways of gaining that distance.

Yet we really can do something to make things better in the face of horror and it starts with our remarkable ability to modify our own habits.

There are techniques – a technology – for changing our own habits. By using those techniques we can teach ourselves to react with care and kindness in the face of horror.

This capability matters because increasing care and kindness in the world is the effective means to preventing future tragedies and because acting with care and kindness sustains your self when the worst happens.

Here is how you may modify your gut reactions to tragedy (and any other habits that you want to change).

Learn the technique of habit modification such as that developed in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2014) by Charles Duhigg. the_power_of_habit

In Duhigg’s analysis every habit consists of a cognitive/behavioral loop in which a cue triggers a routine which elicits a reward.

Think of the cue as an event that happens to us, the routine as a behavior pattern that we perform in response to the cue, and the reward as a perception that the routine was successful.

Habits are self-reinforcing and habit change is most effective when we associate the cue and reward with a different routine.

When we learn of a horrific event it is a cue that triggers routines (such as those listed above) which reward us by reducing negative feelings.

Following this analysis of habits, the effective means to changing your reactions to shocking events is to associate the cue (horrible events) and the reward (feeling less badly) with a new routine (patterns of action).

A routine that is relevant to the cue of horrible events is to increase your feelings of care and expressions of kindness

I am serious that expressing kindness from a feeling of care provides an effective counter to shock and frustration

Treating others with kindness from care through words and actions will change how you feel.

I’ll not suggest how to be caringly kind because in order to effect personal change those feelings and behaviors must be uniquely yours.

I will show how to develop those feelings and behaviors for yourself.

Step 1: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for yourself and turn them into a habit.

You already know how to be mean to yourself and maybe have a strong inner critic.

Now add to that self-judgment an inner advocate that throughout the day acknowledges positively you for simple accomplishments and voices value for you as a person.

In second week scan the news for a horrific tragedy, it won’t take long, and when you find it make yourself aware that the fact that you care about it is reason enough to be kind to yourself (just some inner kind words are enough).

Step 2: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for others.

People are all round you so opportunities for care and kindness abound.

Start with people whom you know and tell them what you value about them, then expand into kindness to strangers.

Repeat the news-scan activity in step 1, this time responding to tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to others.

Step 3: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for people whom you dislike or who irritate you.

Caring for enemies may be as simple as wishing them well in your mind instead of wishing them harm; i.e. that they suffer the same as they cause.

Replace signals of irritation (scowls, gestures and words) with quiet patience until you are practiced enough to muster a smile.

Repeat the news-scan activity in steps 1 and 2, this time responding to the tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to people who irritate you.

Now put the three steps together so that you perform all of them at least once per day and please note that in order to work you need to make this a practice in action, not merely a thought.

I base this formula upon the psycho-spiritual technologies developed and taught by Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Śāntideva, King and Gandhi among other luminaries.

I believe that using the technology of habit modification to transform your feelings of hurt and frustration into actionable change will benefit you because the resulting patterns of behavior make you more effective and positive in dealing with tragedy.

I also believe that this practice will contribute to preventing some horrific events because as the practice of care and kindness grows – by you joining it – the people who potentially cause harm will encounter care and kindness.

The killers at Umpqua, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Northern Illinois and so many others expressed their perceptions of social isolation as a partial motive for the horror they inflicted.meditation-651411_640

If a potential killer experiences even momentary kindness from strangers, their path of destruction may be altered.

We have the technology to change ourselves, our actions and the people around us.

You and I are not helpless in the face of horror and tragedy as long as we have the will to become the change that we want to see in the world.

 

Oregon State University Support Resources

OSU has resources for students, staff, and faculty for addressing grief and stress.  The centers of these resources is:

CAPS
http://counseling.oregonstate.edu

Student Health Services
http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu

 

Image Sources

Sépulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadness#/media/File:S%C3%A9pulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12.jpg

cue_routine.reward.png
jon dorbolo

the_power_of_habit.jpg
http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

meditation-651411_640
https://pixabay.com/en/meditation-compassion-presence-love-651411/

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following individuals who contributed to this essay.

– Jennifer Knaus

potter_jumpDean Potter jumped off a cliff 2,286m (7,500ft) up and died.  He had done this and other stunts taunting death many times; in the end death won.

Dean is a celebrity among many people who risk their lives to base jump, climb, dive, and engage in other activities known as “extreme sports.”

I have no criticism of those who engage in extreme sports, even when like Dean they hit the wall.

I do think that his death affords an opportunity to explore an interesting distinction – that is: our culture commonly reviles people who kill themselves, but does not revile (and even honors) people who get themselves killed.

Dean Potter got himself killed, but he did not kill himself.  That distinction is at the core of why folks dead people like Dean are treated heroically, even spiritually, in the media while suicides are publicly called out as “cowards.”potter_moon

The legal status of killing oneself has changed in the US from being a felony in all 50 states to currently having no explicit criminal sanction, but will likely invoke State health authority.

Getting oneself killed has never been criminal, so far as I am aware, so that jumping out of an airplane, a cliff, or building is one’s own business, unless it involves trespassing.

People who get away with such activities are not treated publicly as criminals, but as celebrities.

There is something fascinating about people who risk their lives for fun andhoudini_water_torture profit.  In 19th century England attempted suicide was punishable by the death penalty.  At the same time people paid to see performers go over waterfalls in a barrel and for Houdini to court death chained in tank of water.

Perhaps the distinction is based in the intention.  The serious suicide intends to kill themselves and die.  The daredevil is not overtly trying to kill themselves and die, but rather to come close to death and escape its grasp.

Dean Potter did not jump off a cliff because he wanted to die.  He expected to live to tell the tale of his near-death experience.  He spoke of his experience of fear and his intense awareness that he might die.

It by surviving that the daredevil represents a triumph over death.  We honor the risk takers because they show it possible to overcome the fears that we experience.

potter_flight_frontalAccordingly, when the risk ends in death such as Dean Potter, our sense of the risk is verified and we know that he was playing it for real.

I suspect that the more successful we are at preventing death by disease, accidents, and violence, as our natural life spans increase, our value for living will grow.  One effect of this value is that daredevils – those who risk death – will become more special and interesting for us because they will be risking even more.

To be clear – I find daredevils fascinating and followed Dean Potter’s adventures.  I am not criticizing him or other risk takers.

I do think it is relevant to re-think how we classify those who get themselves killed and those who kill themselves.

Monkey Day 2014, a great day for monkeys and other primates!

Hanuman_Mistakes_the_Sun_for_a_FruitThis is an auspicious moment to honor Hanuman the Indian monkey god.  He excels in the virtues of intelligence, courage, and agility.  Son of Siva, god-son of Vayu, as an infant he mistook the sun for a fruit and chased after it voraciously.  He suffered for his error but gained the power of flight.

An excellent source volume is Hanuman: The Devotion and Power of the Monkey God (2010) by Sri Krishna Das.

A terrific cartoon, complete with talking animal characters (including a cameo from Bambi) and demon women warriors, is Hanuman.  It is in Hindi, but we English speakers ought not expect to be spoon-fed cultural comprehension.

Chimps are apes, not monkeys, but Monkey Day is a good time to honor them as well.

Significant progress in human evolution was made in 2013 when the National Institute of Health (NIH) moved to reduce research which uses chimpanzees as test subjects.  This follows the 2002 the Chimpanzee Health Improvement,450px-Kibale_chimp Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act.

Chimp Haven is sanctuary for apes released from laboratory tyranny.  An astonishing release video demonstrates clearly the meaning of this change.  Possibly the human species is growing up.

The Great Ape Project, founded by philosopher Peter Singer, is dedicated to defending the rights of non-human primates.

The struggle continues as on 12.04.2014 the New York appeals court ruled that chimps do not have human rights protections.  The suit was brought on behalf of Tommy, a chimp held in captivity in NY.  I am confident that these legal efforts in defense of apes will grow.

At issue in this debate is the definition and value of personhood.  At a time when corporations are deemed to have constitutional human rights but apes do not, we have cause for reflection on our social values.

Kant argued that animals do not have equivalent moral status to humans because;

“The fact that the human being can have the representation “I” raises him infinitely above all the other beings on earth. By this he is a person….that is, a being altogether different in rank and dignity from things, such as irrational animals, with which one may deal and dispose at one’s discretion.” (1978, Lectures on Anthropology).

Even if we grant Kant’s conception of personhood as self-awareness, the philosophical and scientific animal consciousness demonstrates an increasing difficulty in separating humans from other animals: See Animal Consciousness.

I think that along with self-awareness comes doubt which enables us to question our own beliefs.  A powerful expression of human consciousness will be to call our beliefs about animals into question and extend to them the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s extend the golden rule to our bestial kindred, the 8099406232_383e5e3d91apes and monkeys.

Most of all, take this day to appreciate and value monkeys!

I’ll celebrate with banana cake and reading Hanuman stories and at least one Curious George book.

Happy monkey day!

 

Image Sources

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kibale_chimp.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey#mediaviewer/File:Saimiri_sciureus-1_Luc_Viatour.jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/53801255@N07/8099406232/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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immersive_environments…augmented_reality…virtual worlds…robots…full_VR…games…social_media…community…genius

The Immersive Learning Research Network (ILRN) conference 2014 at Oregon’s State University (Corvallis, OR) in person, webcast, and Second Life – November 20, 21, 22, 2014.   Sponsored by The ILRNTechnology Across the Curriculum (TAC), Oregon State University, and the Applied Research in immersive Environments for Learning Special Interest Group (ARiEL SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Attendance (free)

Conference Schedule
http://elcommons.org/conferences/emergent-learning-conference-2014/?show=schedule

Live Web Cast
http://live.oregonstate.edu/elc

Second Life – Beaver Island
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Oregon%20State%20University/193/145/30

http://oregonstate.edu/tac/how-to-use/virtual-worlds/beaver-island

Everyone is encouraged to join ILRN for free before January 1, 2015 when membership application fees may apply. See http://immersivelrn.org/ for information on joining the Network.

The theme for the ILRN Corvallis, Oregon 2014 Meetup is “Immersed in the Future, Together: Scholarship, Experience, and Community”. The iLRN Oregon Meetup Committee will give preference to those proposals of Immersive Learning presentations that feature:

  • Attempts to substantively bridge multiple kinds of expertise to generate a sense of “immersion” (e.g. psychology, pedagogy, architecture, computer science, etc)
  • Sharing resources and visions for Immersive Learning researchers and practitioners to use in developing a common future
  • Sharing technical expertise on creation of Immersive Learning experiences that is not readily available for free elsewhere
  • Featuring design or evidence based reasoning for learning within the design of an immersive experience
  • Explicitly develops capacity within immersive learning experiences to form community OR focuses on the community that forms as a result of efforts to create immersive learning experiences
  • Providing Open Educational Resources or open source possibilities for developing Immersive Learning to everyone – to encourage community and sharing
  • Articulating conceptual frameworks or definitions for specific kinds of Immersive Learning expertise that may be of possible benefit or use by others

Please join us

Contact:

………………………………………………………………………………………….
Jon Louis Dorbolo, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Technology Across the Curriculum (TAC)
317 Waldo Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
Email: Jon.Dorbolo@oregonstate.edu
Gmail: jondorbolo@gmail.com
Web: http://oregonstate.edu/tac
Voice: 541.737.3811
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SMS: 541.915.0260
Blog: http://jondorbolo.com
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Chiron Mirror
slurl: Beaver Island

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