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A session with Seeger … about to turn 90!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | A session with Seeger.

Reading the BBC news site, I just learned that one of my favorite singers and greatest heroes, Pete Seeger, is celebrating his 90th birthday on May 3. The festivities include a concert at Madison Square Garden featuring Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, and thirty other musicians paying tribute to him.

The article linked above, from the BBC website, is charming, interesting, and provocative … like Seeger himself.

Shopping Sickness — Paul Solman talks with Paco Underhill

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

It was only a five-minute interview on The News Hour last night, but it contained a wealth of great quotes.
thumbnail for PBS Newshour interview with Paco Underhill
A few gems:

“We cannot sustain the juggernaut of consumption that we have had here in the United States over the past decade….. Our houses are too big, our cars are too big, our debts are too big, our bellies are too big, and it’s time to go on a diet.”

“Sixty percent of discretionary income of people in North American is held in the hand of people who are 55 and over…. [Those of us of that age] could live the rest of our lives on fruit, vegetables, pasta, olive oil, wine, and yearly doses of socks and underwear.”

“Our basic marketing engines are in the hands of people who are thirty-something, and they like selling to themselves, and they like selling to a younger generation.”

“One of the fundamental issues that we’re trying to discover as consumers is that there are no acquisitions that are transformational. Acquiring that iPod or that tube of lipstick or that Maserati doesn’t change us into anyone other than what we were to start out with.”

“We can’t do this anymore.”

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

This is an excellent commentary from Thomas Friedman on the vain and vacuous consumptionism that has characterized the American economy increasingly during the past several decades. We’re talking about a vicious cycle that seems now to have brought our economy to its knees – to say nothing of the harm that it’s doing to our planet.  There’s a theological point to be made about this, of course, but it’ll just have to wait.  Crux of the critique:

We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese …

We can’t do this anymore.

Op-Ed Columnist – The Inflection Is Near? – NYTimes.com.

Fate of One Family Illustrates Gaza War’s Ferocity : NPR

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Listening to this horrific and heartbreaking story on “Morning Edition” this morning, I was reminded of comments by New York Times Correspondent Chris Hedges, quoted in Bob Abernethy and William Bole’s The Life of Meaning:

War is one of the most heady and intoxicating, addictive enterprises every created by humankind. It has an allure, a fascination, a draw that sweeps across national lines, ethnicity, race, religion. It has perverted, corrupted, and ultimately destroyed societies and nations across the globe…. War is like imbibing a drug. Once that drug is kicked, once that war is over, many decisions that are made in warfare – not only what we do to others, but also what we do to ourselves&emdash;are exposed for being not only wrong, but stupid (pp. 20-21).

War as intoxication, war as a state of inebriation in which euphoria transforms the unthinkable into the matter-of-fact. How else could the inhumane and atrocious acts described in the story be possible? And what hope can there be for redemption from this scourge? Hedges continues:

Love is the only force that finally can counter the force of death, the death instinct… You can’t go through an experience like [the shelling of Sarajevo] and not understand the palpable power of love, the power of that one act of forgiveness—the Muslim farmer who gives milk to the Serb baby for two hundred plus days…. What appear to be small acts of love—in those acts are seeds of hope (p. 23).

Fate of One Family Illustrates Gaza War’s Ferocity : NPR.