Visionaries

MSNBC Provides Welcoming Community Center for DNC Visitors

I was fortunate to visit the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte on Wednesday, September 5.  This was a great experience, thanks largely to the cool community center provided by MSNBC.   The city was very well-prepared in terms of security and logistics.  However, for those of us without credentials, there really was no public welcome center or place to get an orientation.  Fortunately, MSNBC was ready, willing and able to serve as a community center for the thousands of convention delegates and international media, as well as for plain-old citizens like me.

MSNBC’s efforts paid off very well.  Read here about how and why their ratings rocked during the DNC (and will continue to grow.)  You will also learn about the positive experiences they provided daily for thousands of people in Charlotte, as well as millions of viewers around the world.  Their nearly constant coverage and the overall MSNBC experience have clearly cemented their position (in many minds) as the world leader in all form of news – not just progressive politics.   It was also the one place for thousands to turn on Thursday night after the big speeches were moved indoors (see right.)  Click Below for a Behind-the-Scenes look at the MSNBC Experience and their Coverage of the DNC.

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Categories: Prez Obama, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mickey Hart Accelerates Next Stage in Music’s Evolution

Throughout a career spanning over 50 years, Mickey Hart has been an innovative and inspirational leader in musical research and performance.   Known as “The Rhythm Devils,” Mickey and Bill Kreutzman were the driving force behind The Grateful Dead – particularly during their extended jam experiences.  It is only fitting that Mickey’s latest venture – Mysterium Tremendum – is ground-breaking and entertaining at the same time.  Mickey and his band weave together a host of musical styles and influences, including world music, electronic wizardry, hippie rock, and psychedelic trance.

In this article I will personally review Mickey’s latest CD project.  I will include selected lyrics – written by Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter.  After that I will summarize some other CD reviews, as well as reviews of the band’s live performances.    I have abstracted  some recent interviews with Mickey and several band members – bassist Dave Schools and producer/keyboardist Ben Yonas.  After that you can read about some of Mickey’s innovative, interdisciplinary research projects, as well as some of the awards he has received.  He is truly an interdisciplinary musical scholar who has written some really fine books.

I find the fact that Mickey has been a lifelong musician, who has also explored cutting-edge science to be personally and professionally very inspirational and unique.  I just spent almost three decades in academia earning degrees in Biology, Journalism, and Sociology (Ph.D. Iowa State University in 1986.)   I worked as a Professor of Sociology and Food Science at North Carolina State University from 1987 – 2010.  For the last 15 years I have again been playing a lot of music (guitar, mandolin, and percussion) – something I had done a lot between 1965 and 1980.

Click Below to learn “all you need to know” about Mickey Hart’s life-long and continuing contributions to the evolution of music (and society.)

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Categories: Musician Tributes, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Saul Alinsky Would be Impressed and Encouraged by the Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement learns and benefits from all the struggles and creative activism during the 20th Century.  One of the key intellectual and innovative leaders was Saul Alinsky who has again become part of the public dialogue – thanks to Newt Gingrich.  Just like Mr. Alinsky his reputation has now become larger than life.  At the same time, most people (including Bill Maher) readily admit they don’t know who Alinsky was, what he did, or why he matters to America today.  Given that I taught about Alinsky for many years, I find this lack of understanding and respect to be disappointing – but not surprising.

This article explains why Saul Alinsky’s work that started in my hometown of Chicago in the 1930s is so important and relevant for understanding our society.  This article starts with the latest burst of Newt-inspired news about Alinsky (that will likely continue throughout the campaign season.)  IYou will also learn how right wing politicians continue to spread myths and misperceptions about Saul Alinsky and President Obama’s connections (which are indirect at best.)  Finally, this article also lists Alinsky’s various rules and selected quotes.  As you read, you will see connections to the strategies and tactics of the both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party.  CLICK BELOW TO LEARN MORE.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Jesus Would Lead the Occupy Movement to Fight Injustice

Jesus Drives Money Changers from the Temple

The Occupy Wall Street movement builds on over 2,000 years of Christian activism aimed at helping poor people and promoting social justice.  Like Jesus, many of the people taking a stand are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and welfare to help the less fortunate.  In this article I compile writings that demonstrate how Jesus Christ was a radical reformer and rebel who challenged the rich and powerful of his day.  You will find key quotes that summarize how Jesus taught us to care for the least among us.  He also fought hard against greed and corruption during his time.

I was moved to write this article by the “Poverty Tour” conducted recently by Tavis Smiley and Cornell West. This amazing program was broadcast over five nights on PBS.  This article provides links to watch the shows, as well as a summary of the series.  I was also inspired to write when Joe Scarborough finished his MSNBC interview with Smiley and West with his own testimony that “Jesus’ ministry was about taking care of the poor. We don’t see that from the very people who wave their bibles around the most.”  This article documents the many ways in which Jesus would now be considered not just a liberal, but a radical in today’s culture.  I have included a summary of an important book called “Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream” by David Platt.  You will also learn about the great song “Jesus Christ” by Woody Guthrie (which uses the melody from Jesse James and has been covered well by U2.)  Click to Learn Why Jesus would Lead the Fight against greedy Wall Street moneychangers

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Without the Hippies, Steve Jobs Would Not Have Flourished

With the death of Steve Jobs we have lost one of our most brilliant minds and successful entrepreneurs.  Many tributes are being written about his impacts on the computer and communication industries.  To really appreciate the genuine genius of Steve Jobs, we need to understand the cultural climate in which he grew up.  He was a self-identified “child of the sixties counterculture” who attributes much of his success to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco communities in which he spent his early years (same time and place where the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and others started.)  This article explores the nature and extent of the counterculture’s influence over the development of the computer in general, and on Apple computers in particular.  This type of insight is vital if we ever hope to find “the next Steve Jobs.”

This article collects most of what has been written about Steve Jobs’ early life.  Particular attention is paid to how extensively Steve and other computer pioneers were greatly influenced by the values and vision of the hippie counterculture.  Steve came of age in the epicenter of this social movement.  He clearly embraced the hippies’ practices and philosophy.  Many of the tributes included here show how his business behavior was shaped by his distrust of authority and willingness to expand his mind in many directions.  To provide further context, I include a seminal article written by Stewart Brand in 1995 called “We Owe it all to the Hippies.”  I also collect detailed reviews of an important book called “What the Dormouse Said.”  This article also includes a letter sent to Steve Jobs from Albert Hofman (discoverer and proponent of LSD).  Steve Jobs acknowledged the importance of this psychedelic compound in shaping his own life and career.   It is entirely possible that we will never see “another Steve Jobs” unless another form of “hip counterculture” is allowed to flourish.  Given the conservative and corporate nature of modern American society, that is very unlikely.  Click Below to Learn More:

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Categories: Economy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dobie and Maynard were Key Role Models for Sixties Counterculture

Dobie Gillis (Dwayne Hickman) was an average teen living in America between 1959 and 1963.  This was right before so much started to change in 1964.  Like other red-blooded American teenage boys of his time, Dobie thought about money, cars and girls.   He wished he had more of all three which led to funny schemes that never seemed to work right.  Dobie’s best friend was Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), a beatnik who shuttered at the word “work.”   They both questioned the authority of adults – particularly parents and teachers.  They were also quite likeable and never meant to cause any real harm.

Like millions of others, I watched it every week between the ages of 8 to 12.  In fact, my earliest role model was Maynard – played so well by the late Bob Denver who next starred on Gilligan’s Island.   Their views on life shaped the attitudes and behaviors of many kids who grew to be hippies a few years later.  This article includes just about everything there is to know about this wonderful comedy series.  Included are show summaries and tributes – along with insights directly from Dobie (Dwayne) and Maynard (Bob).   I have also located and crafted some cool pix for your enjoyment.  CLICK to “Get Hip” to the Legacy and Lessons of Dobie and Maynard!

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Categories: Hippie Legacy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Video “Chicago 10” is Great Way to Learn from 1968

The 1968 Democratic convention was the site of intense protests against the Vietnam war.  Held in Chicago, then Mayor Daley made sure that the police and national guard were in place and ready to confront and control any demonstrators.  Young people were drawn from all over the country in hopes of attending a music festival and making their voices heard.  The television networks filmed as the police over-reacted and beat demonstrators, who chanted “The Whole World is Watching.”

After the convention was over, the federal government launched a conspiracy trial against an unusual assortment of eight defendants.  The trial was a circus in many respects.  The film “Chicago 10” provides a very entertaining, educational and enlightening history of the Chicago convention riots in general – and the conspiracy trial in particular.  I have summarized quite a few reviews and also include a series of educational resources from the PBS companion website.  Click below to learn why you need to watch this important film!!

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese Youth Will Inspire and Inherit the World

Last year at this time the world was watching as China displayed its new image to the world during the Summer Olympics.  I watched most of the coverage and was particularly impressed with some of the feature stories about life in modern China.  This reinforced my opinions about how China has emerged as the world’s leading power – not just economically but socially.  About five years ago I was fortunate to spend a week in China.  This was a life-transforming experience that gave me an awesome appreciation for this values and norms of this ancient society. Since then I have taken many opportunities to talk with Chinese people I encounter on Campus and elsewhere.

In particular, for the past decade I have studied the Millennial Generation  (those born since 1980) as a social movement.  This generation (including my two kids) are going to inherit a world that is a major mess.  Unfortunately, too many American youth have lost much of the passion and power to control the future of the world.  That challenge and opportunity will fall to the youth in other parts of the world (including Asia, Canada and Europe.)  Fortunately, Chinese youth appear ready, willing and able to help pull our world away from the brink of disaster.   Last year I was also fortunate to watch an amazing documentary “Koppel on Discovery: The People’s Republic of Capitalism.” You will find a review of that four-part series, as well as selected Chinese proverbs.

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Categories: Visionaries | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Dr. Tom Picks “Office Space”

office_space-posterTime for another review of one of my favorite movies with a message.  This one is particularly relevant given the way the capitalist economy is exploiting workers.  It sure does not seem fair that many workers are baring the brunt of the financial meltdown caused by corporate executives.  Millions stuck in a dead-end and depressing job day-dreams about ways to rip off the corporation.  The movie “Office Space” came out a decade ago and contains inspiration and information to help the alienated workers take back control of their lives and redistribute the wealth.

This wonderful film validates and popularizes key lessons from social science research about work and happiness.  Enforced conformity to meaningless rules and bureaucratic processes breeds alienation – leading to lack of commitment and creativity.  Themes in this movie tie directly back to the writings of  Karl Marx (as I explained in an earlier article.)  This is a very subversive and superb movie that encourages the proletariat to smash their machine and take back control over the means of production.  This radical and revolutionary message is clearly why this movie received an “R” rating.  There is no nudity or violence (except toward technology).  Also the language is very mild.   So clearly this movie is so threatening because it hopefully will make kids hip to the BS involved with most of the jobs in the capitalist system.

Enjoyment and Enlightenment can and will be ours!

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Categories: Economy, Visionaries | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Karl Marx Would be Marveling at Capitalism’s Colossal Collapse

As the global economy continues to tank, everyone is looking for the reasons we are in this mess. What we have is the predictable and inevitable collapse of the corrupt capitalist system.  Everyone seems to be “whistling in the dark” when they half-jokingly say we are headed for socialism.  By fostering greed and inequality Capitalism is collapsing – just as Karl Marx predicted over 150 years ago.   This could happen within a couple years so get ready.  Realize that like all countries, the US has socialist features (especially with the current fed bank bailout AND auto industry.

Reading this will help you understand what has happened and what we all can do together. As the economy becomes less fair more people will join the underground economy and resist the power of the corporations.  People will increasingly walk away from their debts and stop buying new toys and upgrading technology.  Old McCain is now claiming that he won’t redistribute wealth. According to Marx, he and his rich friends will soon have no choice (they must share the wealth that Bush stole for them.)  The rich have gotten that way by living off the “surplus labor” of the workers.  Now you can learn about Marx’ life, times and lessons for today.  Along the way you will see customized pix along with expert opinion.  Tell your friends and leave comments.
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Categories: Economy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

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