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Category Archives: Culture

Got Books?

Ezra_Cornell's_first_book

An Open Book
Ezra Cornell  annotated the first book he ever owned.
Image: Public domain

 

Something in my email this morning gave me cold chills.

There was a story about the ” decline of reading books.”

I clicked on it instantly and although it was happening in another country, it delivered the point quite quickly.

Children and yes, even adults it said,  are rapidly moving away from reading books.

The entire civilized world it seems, would prefer to do anything and everything on a hand-held,  electronic device of any sort, rather than read a book.

Now my introduction into the wondrous world of the written word,  began quite early, at the tender age of six months, in a playpen with my first tiny,  little book made of cloth.

It was a joyous experience and a happy habit that has lasted my entire life.

I consider books and reading to be the single most important part of any human beings education, without books, without reading, we are simply just another animal on the planet.

This one Human ability, reading,  is truly, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

My passion for reading compelled me to ride a  bicycle every single day as a young child, many blocks to the public children’s library in Indianapolis, where I would joyfully fill up the entire basket, take them home, devour them all and then return the next day to do it all over again.

Yes, I was a voracious reader.

This continued until I reached High School, where at last, I was finally surrounded by books everyday, as a monitor in the Reference Reading lab.

Later when I went to College,  after raising my three children, I was once again to revel in the glory of libraries, always looking for just the right book to use for one of my classes.

After College and leaving California to go live in the East, my luck and love affair with books would continue with a cultural book business, for nearly seven wonderful years.

During this time,  I had the great fortune to travel to some of the finest Universities in America with my humble little book business, and yes,  I had the enormous pleasure of being at  Cornell  several times.

At each event, I was thrilled to talk to the eager learners,  who like me, wanted to stretch their minds.

Some of my very best customers were staff and faculty at the schools.

With over 500 titles of wonderful books about Culture,  there was always something for everyone that I met.

It was to become, simply the most rewarding job/career/business of my life.

Sharing the knowledge in those books with thousands of people all over this country, who were starving for information,  was a never to be repeated, or forgotten time in my life.

I will always treasure it.

Now today, seeing this story and reading about the apparent huge decline in reading books, I am left wondering, how the world can go on, how can we as a species continue to learn and grow, if we stop reading books?

Will our descendants give up books completely, will ours be the last generation of great readers?

In the future, will we only gather information from smart phones, e-books, iPads or other?

Do we truly believe that a handheld electronic device can offer the same satisfaction as reading a “real ” book?

The current generation obviously seems to thinks so.

Living in Florida now, I wonder just how well these devices will handle lengthy power outages, Hurricanes and the like?

But, as for me, I cannot imagine, nor will ever accept, a world without books.

 

Most of the reference links below are outside of America, but is it really any different here?

The first link, in my opinion, is the most complete, as well as, the one I most related to, it is a student’s Final term paper and be forewarned, a  PDF:

America’s Decline in Literary Reading

Experts bemoan decline in classic book reading

Decline of reading a concern for e-book publishers

Decline in book reading culture

Book culture in decline

Book reading on decline

 

 

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A Serbian Sensation~

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Dusan Krtolica,  Serbian artist extraordinaire~
Picture credit: Dušan Krtolica

 

A very kind fellow Hoosier just sent me a link to a story about one of the most gifted young artists that I have ever seen.

Thank you  Mosdao  for this information,  it was absolutely awesome.

And here are all of the details about the incredible work of this very young creative genius.

His name is  Dušan Krtolica and he is an unbelievably  talented  11-year-old from Serbia, who has been creating beauty in the form of a multitude of animals of all kinds and drawing  since the tender age of two.

This brilliant young artist has already had several art shows and his future appears to be so bright, that  he may need some really good sunglasses to protect him from the glare of the huge spotlight on his work right now.

Dusan’s dream is to one day be a  Zoologist and the field would be lucky to have one as knowledgeable about such a vast number of animals,  as he already appears to be.

Please do see the links below to learn more about him,  his work is absolutely breathtaking.

The detail found in his stunningly beautiful drawings would be expected of an adult, but to see this in one so young,  is mind-boggling.

Dusan already has a Blog, a Facebook Group that you can join and follow for updates on his work and he also has a Facebook Fan page.

This very intelligent young man is quite well covered in social media and it can only get better for him from here.

His talent and hard work will surely lead him to a lengthy career in the fine arts,  where he will have few peers.

 

Places to learn more:

11-Year-Old Artist Creates Amazingly Detailed Drawings of Wildlife

Dušan Krtolica, the World of Art

DUSAN KRTOLICA FAN PAGE

 

 

 

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The True Cost of Your Food!

migrantchildren

The year  is 1941 and these are the children of Migrant Farm Workers in California.
Picture credit: Library of Congress, Robert Hemmig.

 

As you sit to eat each day, do you ever think about where the food on your table comes from?

Perhaps not, but maybe you should.

The United States has millions of Migrant Farm Workers whose sole means of survival, is to put that very food on your table.

And how do we thank them for this life-giving nourishment?

The truth is not very pleasant, nor often even humane.

The work that they do is back-breaking, with very low pay or sometimes,  even no pay.

They have no health insurance and few rights and even fewer who care what happens to them at all.

Yet, without these Migrant Farm Workers who suffer in silence, we would have nothing, or very little, on our dinner tables in America.

I know of no one who would do the work that they do,  no one!

Would you?

If they are lucky, they and their children will hopefully survive it all.

As most of you who follow my two Blogs know, I lived in Southern California  for over 30 years.

My education was in Anthropology, and my opportunity to learn about Migrant Workers came easily because of these two facts.

My last semester at CSUN was a rewarding one, the hard part was all done and the classes that remained were ones that gave me the chance to study what really meant the most to me, people.

Over the years, I had met and become friends with many Hispanics in California, some were legal residents, many were not, but they were all the same to me, kind, warm and family loving people,  that I enjoyed being with and knowing.

The first  “free study”  Class that I did was about the Migrant Farm Workers who lived and worked in Southern California.

I spent countless weekends for six months,  all over LA talking to and learning about, the way these people lived and worked.

They were so forthcoming in offering me the chance to understand the hard lives that they and their families lived.

In these interviews, the people who talked to me were always men,  their wives and children were still in Mexico and they sent them as much as they could each week.

This was the saddest part of the lesson learned, many times the men would get onto trucks and work for an entire day in a field somewhere, only to be dropped off and told that they would be paid the next day.

But, that never happened they said,  because the next day the nasty people who did this,  always chose another street and another group of unsuspecting victims.

Usually, these men lived as many as 8-10 to a room, sharing what they had,  just trying to survive and send money home.

They were victimized by “legal” Americans who cared nothing for them of their families, but only used them.

The workers of course,  could not complain, as so many of them were not here legally and those who cheated them, were quite well aware of this fact.

This was in the mid 1990’s.

What I did not know about at the time of these interviews,  was all that had been done to those who came before them.

Migrant Farm Workers coming to pick food in California began shortly after the two World Wars,  first in the early 1900’s and then later, in the 1950’s, with the Bracero Program.

California advertised everywhere to bring people there to pick the exploding orange and fruit harvests for the owners who were desperate for pickers.

Those who came, were promised many things and in the beginning they were treated fairly well.

Although unbelievably,  I just learned today, they were sprayed with DDT at the Borders.

But then later after the worker shortage slowed down around the mid 1960’s, things began to change and conditions for the pickers became most unbearable.

Just about this time,  Cesar Chavez began his lifetime of dedication to improving  Farm Worker’s Rights.

He would fight this good fight,  until his death and made such a tremendous difference in their lives.

But silently waiting in the dark shadows all during this time was a sinister evil that few suspected, until it was out of control.

Pesticide poisoning was now rampant among the farm workers, their families and the places where they lived.

There is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, called  McFarland, where not so long ago, the rate of leukemia among the children there under six, was nearly 80% and many blamed this on the over use of pesticides throughout this entire farming region.

This town is right smack in the middle of the Big Valley, which we Californians jokingly called the “salad bowl of America” because just about everything in a salad came from there.

What no one talked about back then,  however, was the amount of pesticides and the harm they caused, used everywhere in this  Great Valley,  that  all of this wonderful food required to be delivered to America’s dinner tables.

The people who bring you your food and their families,  have paid a great price for this, many paid the ultimate price.

So, now that you know the true cost of your food, perhaps the next time you and your family sit down to dinner, you may say a silent thank you to the Migrant Farm Workers who brought it to you.

 

Places to learn more:

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Protect Farmworkers From Pesticide Poisonings

California goes mobile to educate farm workers on pesticide safety

Pesticides and Childhood Cancer

Heavy Lift

Florida Farm Workers Allege Pesticide Exposure Is Giving Them Cancer

A Poisoned Culture: the case of the Indigenous Huicholes Farm Workers

Farm Workers Demand Protections From Pesticide Poisoning

Long-awaited EPA pesticide protections a ‘mixed bag’

Farmworkers plagued by pesticides

Farmworkers

 

 

 

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Angel

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Angel Sanchez
Picture graciously lent by: Gillian at  West  Orlando News

 

My grandmother and probably yours too, always said,  ” when life gives you lemons,  you make lemonade.”

Well Angel Sanchez took this advice to heart and did exactly that.

He could have ended up so differently,  after the rough hand that he was dealt in his short life, but instead he decided to take another road.

Not only did Angel choose not to continue on the dark way that he was headed, but he turned it around 360 degrees and came out at the top.

Angel’s life began in Miami with gangs, crime and drugs and a mom fighting her own drug demons.

He finally ran away at 13.

Angel ended up in prison at the tender age of 16, but  instead of doing what so many others do, he made a decision that would ultimately change his future and his  life.

Following his father’s good advice to ” get an education,  ”  Angel fought back, but on his own terms.

During his twelve years in prison, Angel not only got his GED, but a paralegal certificate as well.

Then he took the next step and applied to various colleges.

One school answered by saying,    ” Come see us when you get out. “

This was the motivation that he needed to keep him firmly on the way to achieving his dream.

Not only is Angel graduating from Valencia College on May 3, with 1,000 other fellow students, he has a 4.0 grade average and will be the Commencement Speaker at the ceremony.

With his  $30,000 a year scholarship in hand, Angel now wants to go on and become an immigration lawyer, so that he can help others who are facing the same  kind of difficult challenges that he did.

This young man who lost his father while still in prison,  wants to help others by showing them that being homeless, does not have to be a life sentence, that  you can fight for what you want to become and win.

What Angel has done with his life,  is not only remarkable,  it is truly inspiring.

And now at 31,  with his goals lying just ahead, his life  back on track, and grasped firmly in his own hands, Angel can show others who started out as badly as he did, how they can change their futures as well.

 

Places to learn more: 

Graduate Angel Sanchez to Share Remarkable Comeback Story at Valencia’s Commencement

Former inmate now Valencia College’s distinguished graduate

Felon goes from prison to Valencia honor student

Valencia Foundation

 

 

 

 

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Carlilse

pray3         pray4
Walkingfox offering a prayer after we learned that the children were not there.

 

Recently a friend suggested that I write about our experiences at this place of extreme misery, for so many Native American children in this Country.

In 1999, Walkingfox and I took a very long journey from Los Angeles where I lived,  to Connecticut where he lived.

This would have ordinarily been a four,  to five day trip, but not in this case.

I had plans for this adventure,  that as it began, he was completely unaware of.

You see, I had been to Reservations and places of historical importance for Native people in the West many times and I wanted to share these places and their stories with him.

He had never been to any of the places where we stopped and it was the most memorable trip of either of our lives.

We took our time and never went more than a hundred or so miles a day, it ended up being a thirteen  day trip~

There was just always something to explore and learn about when it came to Native people and culture.

One of our first stops was at the Hopi and Navajo Reservations in Nevada  and along the way, of course I had to make sure that he saw and experienced Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee in South Dakota, first hand.

The two places are so rich in history for the Lakota people and my own trips there had been some of the best of my life to that point.

As the miles and days went by,  we made many stops and learned and saw so much, but the last stop we made before heading into Connecticut,  would prove to be the one that changed both of our lives forever.

I had read about a place in Pennsylvania, a school, where Indian children from all over the country were sent to become civilized, their word, not mine.

It was called the Carlisle Indian School.

Many of these children had been taken forcibly from their parents in the West, but not all.

These young innocents, would have their physical appearances completely made over to appear to be ” white. “

They were forbidden to use their own language or practice their culture and were punished when they did.

Carlisle soon became known as a place of horror for Native children.

I was adamant about taking him there on this trip, so that we could experience it together.

We finally found the school and began the day for personal reasons at the Cemetery.

Walkingfox got out of the car and started walking slowly all around this sad place, stopping and saying prayers as he went and telling me what he was doing along the way.

There were many rows of graves and head stones, reading them was heartbreaking, as their ages ranged from only  just a few days, up to about twelve years old.

It was the saddest place that either of us had ever been to.

When he appeared to be finished, he turned and looked at me and his face told me something was wrong.

I asked what and he said, ” they are not here.”

I said, ” who? “

He replied, ”  the children, they are not here.”

I was not sure what to say in response to that, so we got back in the car and drove on.

A few minutes later,  we came to the Fire Station and  we went inside.

A very nice man came over and they began talking.

He told the man what he had already said to me.

The man gave him a look,  that I will never forget.

I got closer so I could hear what he said, ” how could you know that?”

” You are right,”  he said,  ” they are not there.”

Neither of us was prepared for what he said next.

” They are buried under the football stadium.”

They talked for a while longer, then we got back in the car and drove to the stadium.

When we got there, once again,  he got out of the car and began praying for the children who had died.

But, again that look.

” Now what, “  I said?

He said once more, ” they are not here.”

We walked all the way around the stadium and finally, he got another look on his face, a better one.

He smiled, and said, ” they are here.”

I felt sick now, but he seemed to be better.

You see, we were standing at the public bathrooms and it seems that the children were there, buried right at the bathrooms.

Nothing after that day,  would ever hurt either of us more.

No matter where we went, or what we saw, this had been the worst.

 

 

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Ishi, the last Yahi

ishiwiki

Ishi, the last of his kind, the last Yahi.
All pictures are public domain

 

Many years ago, while going through a stack of newspapers that had been held for us while we had been away, I came across this story which was personally very close to my heart:

” Last of the Yahi Indians is finally coming home for proper burial”   by Michelle Locke.

It was a brief story about the man called Ishi, his life and death and his final return to California.

This latest chapter in the story of Ishi, touched me nearly as deeply as had the book and the movie about this remarkable man.

The movie, The Last of his Tribe, with Graham Greene as Ishi and Jon Voight as Professor Kroeber is quite compelling.

I highly recommend it and all of the books associated with Ishi’s  life.

Be prepared to learn the unpleasant facts about the treatment of our first people in this country.

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Ishi, the last Yahi.

Ishi’s voice was  recorded on wax cylinders   by Professor Kroeber

and can be heard at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara.

If you are ever near this area, the chance to hear this recording will make your visit unforgettable.

Even though it is quite old and not modern technology, Ishi’s heart and soul come through loud and clear.

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Ishi with Dr. Kroeber in 1911

 

Ishi  was to many of us, a last, sad look at the kind of men who had once inhabited this country freely;

a proud, defiant man whose life was tragically changed by those who came to steal his land in search of gold.

When Ishi wandered out of the woods in 1911 in search of food, he was captured by ones who would take him to Alfred Kroeber, the Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley in California.

This historical meeting and the events that followed, would change both of their lives forever.

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Ishi before 1916

 

You may learn more about Ishi at these Berkeley web sites:

 Introduction to the man called Ishi

The Yana and the Yahi

 Ishi before the Museum

 Ishi at the Musuem

A UCSF web site:

Ishi: The Last Yahi

 

The brief time that these two men spent together, before Ishi’s untimely death, presumably due to consumption, or as we now know it, tuberculosis, would leave a legacy for those who would study California Natives and Anthropology to study and decipher for many years to come.

Sadly, after his death in 1916, Ishi was subjected to an autopsy, an act that he reviled due to his spiritual beliefs and had made quite clear to those around him, that he never wanted performed on him.

However, in the absence of his friend and mentor, Professor Kroeber, the hideous autopsy was performed  and Ishi’s brain was removed and sent away.

After many years and much searching, Ishi’s brain was recently discovered in a jar in the Smithsonian, where many other American Native remains are kept as well.

Their defense for this abhorrent, massive bone and tissue collection, was to assure a representative warehouse from a wide variety of species of animals?

Human and otherwise?

Now, Ishi’s brain has made the long trip back to Northern California, where it will be buried in  a secret place, along with his cremated remains.

At last Ishi has come home and hopefully will be allowed to walk in peace once again with his family and ancestors, unmolested by curious outsiders.

The final meaning and full worth of this man’s life and tragic death will be left for the ages to determine.

 Peace Ishi

 

 

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The NBA Cares, and that’s No Hype!

elephant1 Basketball rhino

Picture credits:  Elephant: Ian Sewell,   Basketball: Reisio,   Rhino: Ikiwaner

“It would have been great to have shown you any of the player’s pictures,  or the NBA Care’s Logo, or anything related to this story here, however, the NBA strictly forbids it!”

 

The American culture of sports figures and their ability to influence in this country is legendary, but when it becomes a mantra for saving the lives of animals being slaughtered,  it reaches a new level of altruism altogether.

The hysteria for college basketball raging through America right now is at its peak, with March Madness and all that that implies!

So, what better time for a story about some of the stars of the sport and their efforts to put a bright spotlight on a criminal, barbaric act against animals.

These six NBA stars:  “Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers, Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls ”   have joined forces with  ” NBA Cares “  and  ” Wild Aid “   and are trying to put an end to the Global  gluttonous appetite for Ivory,  with their new PSA called NO Hype.

Throughout Africa, this heinous, horrendous, murdering business has left the country littered with the rotting elephant and rhino corpses left behind in the poacher’s plunderous hunts for animal body parts, namely Ivory.

This Public Service project may or may not work, but it does clearly succeed at one thing, a whole new group of people everywhere, will now be much more aware of the problem than before.

And it is a proven fact that when the public is alerted to,  or has repeated exposure to a crime and those who perpetuate them, they can help to bring them to justice and end the criminal acts.

These men, these groups,  are collectively doing what few others could right now, they are using their public persona and star power to promote the idea that these heinous acts and those who do them can and must be stopped, before the animals affected by illegal poaching are wiped off of the earth,  forever.

These six men,  NBA Cares and Wild Aid,   are all about giving back and that’s  NO HYPE!

 

A few places to learn more:

NBA Athletes Launch Campaign Against Ivory and Rhino Horn Poaching

Pau Gasol part of NBA Cares Campaign against Ivory and Rhino horn poaching

NBA Cares

‘No Hype’ NBA Cares, Nick Brandt and WildAid 30s

Pau Gasol and Wild Aid Media

NBA Athletes Speak Out to Save Africa’s Endangered Wildlife

 

 

 

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