December, 2013


Cat Fletcher, Co-Founder of Freecycle (now known in the UK as Freegle)

On global resources: 

“We use something like 60 billion tonnes of raw material energy every year on the planet to make new shit and that’s going to triple by 2050 because of all the growth in Brazil and India and China.  And we don’t have three times 60 billion tonnes of raw materials every year to make things that people don’t even use, that are frequently designed really badly, that exploit people.  

There are just so many things wrong with the way we consume.  So we’re using anything that has already been made and had energy expended on it, that has already used raw materials, has already shipped around the world, and has already had tax paid on it.  What Freegle does, and what my mission in life is, is to make sure that all that stuff has an extended life for as long as possible.  

Sometimes that’s being reused as it is, sometimes that’s repair, sometimes it’s using inventiveness and creativeness.

The thing with re-use is it has to be frictionless – it has to be really easy.  If you think how easy it is to buy something… you can go to your high street to shopping malls or you can go online.  [With Freegle’s new mobile app], we want people to be able to pull their phone out of their pocket, take a picture of something and make it available for reuse.  And that brings it to the mainstream, to a whole new demographic.”

– – –

Betina MatofskaBetina Matofska, Founder of The People Who Share Project

On sharing:

“Through consumption, we’ve destroyed a third of the world’s natural resources.  We feel very strongly about sustainability and alternatives to consumption, and that’s why we as an organization…don’t believe we should be talking about consumption at all.  That’s why we talk about the sharing economy…  It’s about a complete lifestyle change…

I worked in broadcasting, worked in the private sector, and I would definitely have considered myself to be a consumer, living a certain lifestyle.  But over the last seven years I’ve made huge changes to that lifestyle.

Because I think it’s true to say that one thing you can change is yourself – your own behavior and your own consumption.  I don’t buy anything new and I’ve been doing that for 18 months now.  We don’t need to buy things new, so why do that?”


November, 2013

Clive Hamilton

Clive Hamilton, Australian author and commentator

On defining “Affluenza”:

“1) The bloated, sluggish, unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses.

2) An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American dream.”

– – –

Joshua Katcher

Joshua Katcher, founder of website The Discerning Brute, devoted to helping men make ethica, informedl lifestyle decisions

On cheap clothes:

“The fact that you can get a sweater for $19.99 at many stores should terrify you.  Fast, cheap fashion is not affordable when you look at the whole picture.  Someone is paying for it, whether it’s an exploited factory worker, an animal or a river system.  Things are cheap when people aren’t paid a living wage, when corners are cut in handling waste or planning production models that consider the reality of the way ecosystems function, and when money is not invested in sustainable technology and innovation.”

(Ethical brands – i.e. addressing at least one of labor/environmental concerns – recommended by Katcher?  Junky Styling, Regenerate, Keep and Share, Patagonia, People Tree, Credau, and Brave Gentle Man)

On ethical clothes:

“For now, ethical fashion is often more expensive than fast fashion because it requires lots of investment to make sure things are done properly and ethically.  As the technology and demand for ethically-made products develop, it will become more affordable.  If you are opposed or unable to save up for that one ethically made classic item or pair of shoes, stick to second hand, or passive fashion, which requires no new resource to be extracted.”  

– – –

Mo Better 3 Chris Legree

Albert Samaha, Villiage Voice journalist in a recent article on Brownsville, Brooklyn’s youth football program Mo Better:   

“Chris Legree (right) runs this show.  He’s 57, and built like a bouncer.  Bad head, big hands, muscular calves.  He’s famous around Brownsville, the superstar high school quarterback who returned to his old neighborhood to start up a youth football team.  By now, the program’s origin story is almost mythic:  Legree and his childhood buddy Ervin Roberson went to the Million Man March in October 1995 and returned to Brownsville inspired.  They wanted to create something to help the community and football was what they knew best.  Legree liked Spike Lee’s film Mo’ Better Blues, so they borrowed the name.  

A whopping two kids made it to Mo Better’s first official practice in January 1996.  But soon more came, drawn by Legree’s renown…  

Mo Better 2

Legree calls his mother’s place the ‘refugee house.’  His brother calls it ‘the shelter.’  By their estimate, about 50 Mo Better kids have lived with Lillian Legree [when they had nowhere else to stay].that first year, the Midget team won a state championship… 

A communal mindset runs through Mo Better.  Those with resources look out for those without…” 

– – –

James Clapper

James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence

When asked at a Senate hearing in March (three months before Snowden’s revelations began to emerge) whether the NSA collects ‘any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of America:

“No, sir, not wittingly.”

– – –

Eric SnowdenEdward Snowden, former NSA systems administrator

On his intentions behind leaking classified documents that reveal illegal government spying:

 “I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.  Harming people isn’t my goal.  Transparency is.”

– – –


Quotes I liked from the Autumn 2013 PositiveNews:

“One evening I just decided to dance about it, and suddenly I had choreography.  Even if just one person feels a sense of relief about their own experience knowing it happenedto someone else too, then it was worth it thousands of times over.  People have sent me messages saying they are talking about sexual assault with their friends and being more supportive of each other.” – Ellie Cosgrave, 26-year-old London engineer, who performed a dance on International Women’s Day 2013, in the same London underground train where she’d been sexually assaulted the year before.

“…that fear of inappropriate attention and intimidation from men belong to another time…” – journalist Laura Smith

“…it’s hard to deconstruct the deeply rooted traditions that deny women a dignified existence, especially since they are mixed with narrow interpretations of religion…” – Haifaa-al-Mansour, director of Saudi Arabian film Wadjda (and first woman ever to direct a film there)

“Bates says two of her non-negotiables – always believe the victim and treat everything seriously, no matter how seemingly minor – were adopted without question” – in praise of the response by London Police to Laura Bates’ citywide initiative to report and reduce sexual assault on public transport

“What people don’t realise is that if you are getting a cheap deal, someone is almost certainly getting exploited” – Kate Belcheva, who started a successful ethical cleaning company in London

– – –

UK Police

British Police, in an internal draft document justfiying the nine-hour detention at Heathrow Airport of David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has published many of Eric Snowden’s leaked documents showing secret and unlawful spying on the part of America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ:

“[Miranda’s detention is legal because the Snowden revelations Greenwald has published are] designed to influence a government, and…made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism.”

– – –

Shami ChakrabartiShami Chakrabarti, Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and Director of British civil liberties advocacy group Liberty

On British Police’s justification for David Miranda’s Detention as a “terrorist”:

“More and more we are shocked but not surprised.  Breathtakingly broad anti-terror powers passed under the last government continue to be abused under the coalition that once trumpeted civil liberties.

The express admission that politics motivated the detention of David Miranda should shame police and legislators alike. It’s not just the schedule 7 detention power that needs urgent overhaul, but a definition of terrorism that should chill the blood of any democrat.”

– – –

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google:

On Eric Snowden’s revelations about NSA spying:

“It’s really outrageous, that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true?  The steps that the organization was willing to do without good  judgment, right?  To pursue its mission, and potentially violate people’s privacies?  It’s not OK!  It’s just not OK.  So in that sense the Snowden revelations have assisted us in understanding that.  It’s perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come.

We have complained to many many people, starting with the National Security Agency, the President, the Vice President, you name it, as well as the Congress.  There is legislation that’s being discussed in Congress, and I think it just doesn’t pass the smell test.  A simple example is the National Security Agency, allegedly, collected the phone records of every phone call of 320,000,000 people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be at risk.  That’s just bad public policy.

You have to take a strong position in favor of privacy.  Privacy is really the right to be left alone.  Do you really want the government tracking all of [that] information?  Especially if you’re a domestic citizen who’s just going about your life?  

Let’s start with appropriate oversight and appropriate transparency.  

There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America in order to find them!

On whether Chinese government will succeed in silencing the bloggers:

Well they’re trying to.  You know, China decided they wanted the benefits, from its perspective of the internet, without the criticism and the political thought that the internet often brings.  They wanted to empower their citizens, but not too much.  So they recently enacted a law where if you create a ‘stir,’ if you will, with more than 500 people, the penalties are very severe.  It clearly will have a chilling effect.  What is unclear, and I was just in Beijing, is the authorities will say:  ‘Oh we’ll use that for a few people.’  Right so the question is if it’s 5,000 people, will they in fact prosecute 5,000 people?  We don’t really know.’  

The Chinese government has a view on this, and we strongly disagree with it:  they don’t mind little things, but they don’t want things that could upend the order, as they see it, and the progress of the country, as they see it.  Google spent five years working under the censorship rules, and they’re often involving things like embarrassment, you know, the mayor’s son was arrested, or things like that, things we should be permitted to [have] reported.”

On whether Google will return to mainland China:

“You never say never, but the fact of the matter is the Chinese censorship regime has gotten significantly worse since we left, so something would have to change before we would come back, I think.” 

– – –

Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,

On how people work, when they feel fully recognized

“I became aware of a fundamental truth: People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced…

Embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We’ve found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives…

Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people’s potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals’ talents.

So long as the law remains silent on the workplace rights of gay and lesbian Americans, we as a nation are effectively consenting to discrimination against them.”

– – –

Dan SavageDan Savage, sex and relationship advice expert

On feeling bad for straight guys:

“I think people are a little flexible around the edges [of sexual orientation]. You know, every once in a while I see a woman that I’m like, ‘Yea!  Zing!’ I kind of like, feel something. And it’s almost invariably a lesbian firefighter.  Like, it’s a lesbian who looks like a guy, right? Muscles, and looks like Rolf from The Sound of Music, but is a woman…  Every once in a while I’d see a lesbian who like blings onto my ‘sex-dar,’ right?  And when that happens, I don’t think, ‘Oh my God!  I must really be straight!’  I don’t have this panic attack.  But straight guys, when they see the one dude, who pings onto their sex-dar, suddenly have this panic attack about ‘what it must mean? Maybe I’m not really straight. It doesn’t matter how much pussy I’ve eaten.  Doesn’t matter how much pussy I’ve pounded…  You know, that I’ve met the one guy who kind of attracted me because they vibed in a way that worked for me. The kind of types I’m attracted to.  Those guys write me every day, having just, flat-out panic attacks, that they must be gay…

I feel sorry for you straight guys, I really do…  You’re less free sexually than everybody else.  Like, I’m a gay dude, I could…go have sex with a woman, and no one’s gonna think I’m straight now.  Right?  Everyone’ll think, ‘Oh, that must have been crazy, that fag Savage fucked a woman, I wonder what that was about?’  No one’s gonna say, ‘Dan Savage isn’t a fag!  He fucked a woman!’ …  But women can do whatever they want.  They can eat pussy at college, and then be straight-identified, and nobody says they’re not straight.  But straight guys, [have one same-sex experience], you’re trapped.  And it’s not a prison of your own construction solely, because straight women, when they find out that their husbands or boyfriends had one same-sex encounter, write me, panicked, that it must mean he’s gay.  And, gay guys, you know if we found out that some hot movie star had had one same-sex relationship or encounter, he had to be gay, couldn’t do that if he weren’t gay.  I don’t know, but it’s sad for straight guys.  I didn’t like straight guys when I started writing a sex advice column?  And I started feeling so sorry for straight guys after about two years of reading their letters, and how sort of panicked [they are].

Being a straight male, somehow, after gay people started coming out of the closet, became defined as nothing positive.  You were ‘not a fag’ and ‘not a girl.’  So if there’s anything girly or gay that intrigues you or interests you, it can undermine your heterosexual bona fides with other straight people, other straight guys, and it induces a kind of paranoia in straight guys.  They’re not sort of, comfortably straight.  Not all of them. You know, ‘Individual results may vary,’ but they’re sort of paranoid!  

I used to pretend to be straight when I was 15 years old, and really tried to perform ‘straight.’  And I see so many straight guys who are adults who are still doing that – still trying to convince the world that they’re straight.  Nobody walks around once they’re out of the closet and gay, going, ‘I’ve gotta convince everybody.  I’ve gotta walk this very careful line with, you know, playing gay so that nobody thinks I’m not gay,’ but straight gays have to walk this line!  All their lives!”

On the unfair expectations men and women face in sex:  

“One of the burdens – we talk about ‘slut-shaming’ of girls and it’s a real problem – a lot of the pressure that’s on girls sexually to be, you know, as voluptuous and seemingly available but chased at the same time, and it puts the zap on their heads.  But there’s also a zap that is on boys’ heads, which is:  sex is your job, and you have to be good at it. It’s this burden of mastery.  The first time you do it you have to sort of execute this quadruple back flip double jump thing perfectly, and that’s a lot of anxiety-inducing pressure.  We have to give people permission, and I do all the time when I talk to young people – permission to be really bad at it at first.”


October, 2013

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Founder of Russian oil giant Yukos, who’s spent the last decade in prison

On life in Russian prison:

“If you want to stand up for your dignity, you have got to be ready to fight and to suffer losses. Just like everywhere else.”

On how prison life had changed him:

FT:  “He [said he[ was more tolerant of human weaknesses and mistakes (a quality some Yukos employees say he lacked in his go-getting heyday) but quicker to cut people off “if they cross the line”. (In prison, “softness is not understood and not excused.”)

On the most painful parts of being politically persecuted:

“When you are getting your fingers smashed with a hammer, which one hurts the most? Perhaps the first one. But more likely it comes in waves: it seems you’ve got used to it, and then suddenly the pain comes again. But after five years the acuteness of perception declines. No question.

On what “Putinism” is to him:

“Putinism is authoritarian state capitalism based around one leader. It’s an attempt to control society and the state apparatus through kompromat [“dirt” about a person used to keep them in line], and through arbitrary law enforcement. It’s the consistent annihilation of the substance of independent state and civic institutions. It’s an attempt to run a huge country in “manual mode”. That’s no way to build a modern country.”

On Russia’s path since Communism’s fall in 1989:

Until the beginning of the 2000s we were building a democratic state, with all its early-stage shortcomings. The US in the 1930s to the 1950s provides some very similar examples. From 2001 on – and especially after the Yukos affair began – an analogy to early fascist Spain is closer: “To my friends, everything; to my enemies, the law.” The fork in the road is obvious.

The origins of the Putin regime can be found in 1993, when the Chechen war started, when separation of powers was eliminated and the president received dictatorial powers. It was at this moment that we made a mistake.”

On his ideal Russian future:

“Of course I’d like it if Vladimir Putin were to gradually divide presidential power between an honestly elected parliament, an independent judiciary and a coalition government, and a new president became a compromise figure, not an authoritarian one, the guarantor of citizens’ rights.”

On the differences between the generations in Russia now:

“The division is different – between people who feel fully dependent on the state or its bureaucracy, and independent people, ready to take responsibility for their own fate…  The main thing I like about the “dissenters” is their sense of their own self-worth, which sometimes comes to a person only in later years. And this is remarkable!”

On what he’d do if he were released:

Returning to business is of no interest to me, and I’m not attracted to government service, fighting for the votes of a paternalistically attuned electorate and political intrigues. I’m prepared to stand up for the interests of self-dependent people who possess a sense of their own self-worth. I understand them, and they understand me. Unfortunately, there are not that many real citizens in Russia for now but there will certainly be more. For this reason I’ll continue to be engaged in civic activity.”

On whether Russia’s history, culture and Orthodox religion mean it can never become a law-based democracy:

“It’s hard for me to agree. Russia really for the past 400 years has had an absolute monarchy, although with fairly powerful local self-government that was not destroyed until Stalin, in the transition to totalitarian practices. Until that moment, the territory of today’s Russia was inseparably connected with the west and was going along the same path – albeit with something of a time-lag and in its own particular way. From all appearances, nothing has changed today.”

– – –

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle, spirituality author

On becoming goal-obsessed:

“because you are seeking happiness, fulfillment, or a more complete sense of self in it, the Now is no longer honored.  It becomes reduced to a mere stepping stone to the future, with no intrinsic value.  Clock time then turns into psychological time.  Your life’s journey is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to ‘make it.’  You no longer see or smell the flowers by the wayside either, nor are you aware of the beauty and the miracle of life that unfolds all around you when you are present in the Now.”

– – –

Dave Grohl 2

Dave Grohl, lead singer of Foo Fighters and maker of the documentary Sound City

On ‘guilty’ pleasures:

“I think the whole ‘disco sucks’ era:  ‘Disco sucks!  Disco sucks!  It’s digging the life out of music!  It’s not real!  Disco sucks!’  I listen to disco now and I’m like, well wait!  What’s wrong with disco?  I put it on in the morning when I’m making breakfast, and the kids dance…  Those drummers are amazing.  The disco drummers were fucking amazing.  Disco’s great!  What’s wrong with disco? 

Also, I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.  If you fucking like something, like it.  That’s a problem with our generation – that residual punk rock guilt, like, ‘you’re not supposed to like that.  That’s not fucking cool.  That’s not fucking cool.  You’re not supposed to do that.’  When I was young, and I brought 21-12 home from my cousin’s house in third grade, I was afraid to play it for anybody for two reasons:  one, ’cause I didn’t want them thinking I liked a band that the singer’s voice sound like that? And also, you remember that picture where they’re wearing like white kimonos – the one dude has like the craziest man camel-toe, like you could see one of his nuts on each side of the seam of his white satin pants, you know?  I should’ve been able to fucking stand there in third grade and say, ‘This is who I am!  Fuck you!’  ‘Cause that’s what it’s all about.  And I think people should be able to say that.

Like, don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ Toxic!  It is cool to like Britney Spears’ Toxic!  Why the fuck not?  Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it!  That whole guilty pleasure thing is like, full of fucking shit!  That’s an important part of appreciating music, is realizing:  you’re allowed to like anything.  You’re allowed to like anything.”

On making music:

“I think that kids need to understand that it’s OK to buy a guitar at a fucking yard sale, take it into a garage, invite your neighbor down the street to beat the shit out of some pots and pans, write a song, sound like fucking shit, and then become the biggest band in the world…  [as opposed to,] walk and stand in line for eight hours at a convention center, to be on a fuckin’ TV show where a judge hears you sing for 30 seconds and says, ‘You know what, you’re not good enough.’  I honestly believe that if the next generation of musicians doesn’t understand that it’s entirely acceptable to do it your own way, and to sound like shit, and to try to fucking do it better, and to do it with other people, that that’s rewarding in itself.  You don’t have to be the biggest fucking band in the world, but you can get off playing fucking cheap trick songs in your garage, with your fucking neighbor…  That’s what the Sound City movie’s about.”  

On magic and imperfection:

“What I’m trying to explain in Sound City is that the magic moments that are made musically happen when a performer embraces and accepts their human element, which I consider to be like, their imperfections.  And that’s the personality of playing.”

– – –

Nathan Lustig

Nathan Lustig, Founder of Entrustet, which enables people to instruct loved ones about how to handle their online imprint after they die

On what he’s learned running a ‘death-focused’ company for three years:

I deal with death on a regular basis.  It’s forced me to confront many issues of mortality and the unpleasantness that goes along with thinking about my own demise.  I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to think about issues that most people only think about in their 50s or even potentially on their death beds.

So how has working in the “digital death” industry changed me and my worldview?

I no longer take anything for granted.  I’ve read so many stories of people dying unexpectedly that I’ve realized how special life truly is.  Jesse will say from time to time “Isn’t it ridiculous that we’re alive?  Think about all of the things that had to go right for us to be here today. It’s amazing.”  It really is true.

If the average life expectancy is 80 these days, it means we only have 29,200 days on this Earth.  Before Entrustet, sometimes I thought days were boring, or were simply impediments in time before I got to do something I really wanted to do.  Now that I’ve been working on Entrustet for almost two years, I never take a single day for granted.  It’s one of my 29,200, and only if I’m lucky.

Dealing with death has caused me to care even less about what other people think.  You only live once, so do what makes you happy.  In the whole scheme of things, rejection isn’t that big of a deal.  Seize your opportunities and take your chances with alacrity.  You never know when you won’t have the ability to take them in the future.

I’ve become even less materialistic.  You can’t take your possessions or your money with you when you die, so I’ve come to realize that I don’t need things or to make $1b (unless we get hyper inflation!).  When I read about people on their deathbeds, they all say they regret not spending more time with friends and family or taking a trip to a foreign country or taking the opportunity to work on the things they loved.  They never say they wished they had bought a bigger TV or a nicer car.  I’ve realized that it truly doesn’t take much (money) for me to be happy.  I know I can live well on a small amount of money.

It’s strange that I’m dealing with these issues as a 25 year old, but I think I’m lucky.  Most people push the idea of death down the road and many people don’t end up following their dreams.  I’m glad I’m realizing these truths now, not when I’m 50, 90 or not at all.” 

– – –

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead

On finding his direction:

“I go through my life, come what may, doing stuff because I can’t not.  You know, it’s like, well, my instinct is to go here.  And that’s it.  I can’t do anything about it.  That’s just how it is.  

I’m very lucky that people stayed with it.  But it wasn’t like – I couldn’t have done it another way.  And also that thing – I think:  you can’t write stuff to please people.  You know, you have to write it ’cause, it’s what you’ve got.  That’s it.  You know, you sit down, and give it to someone, it’s a painting, and it’s like, ‘This is what I’ve got.  This is it.  I couldn’t have gone other ways.  This is me.'”

On art college:

“Art college to me was one of those things where, I knew wasn’t really an artist, particularly, but the relief of living and breathing this creative thing, and working with other people, and watching how they worked, and being taught to respect that, as a thing.  You know, being exposed to so much creativity, and to so much modern art was amazing, and completely changed my life, because it made me confident about who I was.  And that was wicked.”

On facing corporate pressure to make successful music:

“My only experience really was art college, and at art college, they’re teaching you to follow your instincts, and teaching you to rely on what you have, on your work, and once you’ve got your work, everything else falls into place, well hopefully.  So I was saying to everyone, I mean we all were:  If the music’s good, if we make a good record, all this stuff will just come.  Whatever.  

The only reason that we’re in this situation right now is that by accident, we made a tune that hit on what we were trying to do.  So let’s just carry on, doing that.  But not like trying to write a hit.  Just carry on, whatever that energy is that we found, let’s just work on that.  So we didn’t really talk to anybody, about anything, until we were excited about the music.  So much of the time [in the music industry], it’s the other way around.  Because, at that time especially, you’re involved in a huge corporate business… I think it can just crumble your psyche.”

On art being hard:

“It was hard [making The Bends].  But, thus you make the discovery that every record you make is hard, and if it isn’t, you’re in serious trouble.  Although actually, this Atoms for Peace album was not that hard.  It was quite fun.”

On creating, and the vulnerability of not knowing what you’re doing:

“Part of creativity sometimes is when you are wildly out of your depth!  [Like,] ‘I’ve got no idea what I’m doing.'”

– – –

Albert Camus

Albert Camus, French philosopher

On justice and your country:

“I should be able to love my country and still love justice.”

– – –


September, 2013

Jamie Franzo

Jamie Franzo, guest on Paul Gilmartin’s ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour’

On the results of getting sober and getting help, and finding safe people with whom he can be vulnerable:

Jamie Franzo:  “My father has a son today, [which he didn’t used to have have].  My mother has a son today.  My girlfriend has a mate that is constantly looking at ways to honor their relationship.  My friendships with men, and I count you [Paul] among them – well, we’re there for each other.  I have relationships today.  [In the past,] I had this relationship, with an image of myself, that took thousands [of people] to fill.  And now, with a handful of intimate relationships, that are based on truth, and being a safe place for each other.  I’m fuller, I’m talking behind my sternum here in my chest, than I have ever been.  I didn’t know this was possible. 

Paul Gilmartin:  Isn’t that a trip?  The ego needs a fucking Roman banquet every four hours to stay sated.  And our soul can nibble on a crouton, and be like, ‘This is the fucking tastiest crouton in the world.’  But it’s so hard, because we live in a society that is ego-driven, that tells us ‘success’ is all of these things that are attached to your ego.  And it’s so hard to unlearn them.  It is so hard.”

– – –

John Lucas

John Lucas, author of the London gangland novel “Turf,” which takes place in Hackney

On his experience with gang culture:

“I wasn’t involved in gangs to the extent that Jaylon [Turf’s narrator] is, but I definitely used my own experiences to write Turf. I really felt there was a gap in the media, particularly fiction, for a fresher, more realistic representation of the kids that are caught up in that world. When I was growing up, the kids on the local council estates were actually quite witty and articulate, and a lot more intelligent than they are often portrayed; I wanted to show that these kids weren’t a lost cause, they were just caught up in the wrong situations.

I was stabbed a few years ago, and I’ve seen muggings and attacks and I used that to influence my writing. A boy I knew at school was shot and killed in a gang-related shooting about ten years ago and I can remember him in school – we weren’t close, but I can remember playing football with him and then something like that happened – it seems such a waste. I suppose one thing I was trying to get across was the value of life. I mean it’s a fictional story rather than a journalistic piece, but I definitely used my own experiences and how I felt about them to write the story.”

On blaming the poor:

“What I was trying to explore in the writing was that these kids aren’t a lost cause – they have to create their own meaning, and a lot of that is being in a gang, violence,  etc. Like Jaylon said, they’re fighting for lines that were drawn up by people before they were born, and I think that’s really sad. They’re just reacting to how they’ve been raised; I saw a lot of that going on as I grew up, and I think it’s unfair to be put into that situation and then to be blamed afterwards for causing trouble.”

On the London riots:

“I was in London, but I mainly tried to avoid them to be honest. I caught up on the news afterwards. But they certainly proved a lot of what I was trying to get at in Turf; I think Shads (bad guy gang leader) says to Jaylon, “We were born with handcuffs on.” Of course there were all sorts of people involved in the riots, but I think a large part of it was people who felt they weren’t getting anything back from society.”

On religion in poorer communities:

Religion is quite a big part of some poorer communities, a much bigger part than is often documented. A lot of these people don’t have a lot to hang on to, but they do have religion, and when you’re young it’s quite hard to work out what all this stuff’s about. It occupied my thoughts a lot as I was growing up.”

On how to fix the problems of gang life and poverty:

“We just need a more equal society. If you don’t make people feel like a part of the world then they’re not going to be a part of the world and they’re going to react against it. They’re just making life harder for themselves. But still, if they aren’t getting more back from the world, then they wont make any effort. People need to feel like the world is there for them. I notice sometimes that people who come from a more privileged background have a sense of… entitlement, almost, not in an exploitative way, but they feel like the world is there for them. They don’t see impossibilities, they see potential. 

If you’re growing up in a situation where you aren’t getting anything back from the world, where there aren’t job or education prospects, what is there to get excited about? Why would you want to make an effort? That’s why I feel that the only answer is to live in a more cooperative, equal society, where people actually care for one another. That’s the only option.”

Is an equal society attainable?

I’d like to think so. Why not? Why do we put up with inequality? I mean we all go to school, which is quite an amazing thing in itself compared with other countries, so why can’t that growth continue?

– – –


Leo, a mystical homeless man from the London gangland novel “Turf,” by John Lucas

On understanding:

Jaylon:  “I don’t understand”

Leo:  “No, but that’s not important.  Understanding is overrated.  Complete understanding is unattainable.  Partial understanding is misleading.  Much better to appreciate.”

– – –

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain:

On Eastern European food:

“You know?  Communism, not good for food.  Man, the Soviets really, just, they didn’t kill the chefs, they just saw enjoying yourself at the table as bourgeois, and possibly treacherous.  You know, just bad for the revolution?  And they managed to suffocate it.  So, a lot of Eastern Europe, they really obliterated what cuisine was there, and there are a lot of places where it really hasn’t come back.  It’s tough.”

On food and emotion:

“”Cynical food doesn’t taste good, and irony is something that’s dangerous in food.  You know?  If it’s sort of an ironic riff on something.  You have to be a romantic to cook well.  You have to actually like food yourself…I use the word ‘heart.’  Yea, essentially, if your’e a good chef…you’re in the pleasure business.  You have to have an understanding of what makes people happy, and push those buttons…  There are some cooks that are really technically accomplished, but you eat their food, it’s like, ‘I don’t know whether this guy’s ever been laid in his life.’  You know, I don’t think he understands pleasure, or making somebody else happy.  You know…it’s too cerebral.  [Food’s] an emotional thing.”

– – –

Leonard Lauder

Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of Estee Lauder

On a good idea:

“If you have a good idea, don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

– – –

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage (45.4%)

On thinking before an important shot:

“I just said, you know what?  ‘Just fire away.’  And that’s the best advice that anybody ever gave me, was, ‘Don’t think.  Shoot.’  Soon as you start thinking, that’s when you miss.”

– – –

Wallace D. Wattles 2

Wallace D. Wattles (1860-1911), author

On reading the thoughts of God:

“It is impossible for an anxious person, a worried one, or a fearful one to perceive truth; all things are distorted and thrown out of their proper relations by such mental states, and those who are in them cannot read the thoughts of God.”

– – –

Phil Hendrie

Phil Hendrie, comedian

On pressure to ignore parents’ wounding because they didn’t mean it:

“As somebody once said to me:  ‘Even if you’re cut with a knife by accident, you’re still bleeding.’  You know, and that sum-bitch that just cut you by accident?  ‘Be careful, man!  You just cut me!’  ‘Oh, it was by accident.’  I don’t give a shit.  I’m bleeding.”

– – –

Frank Auerbach 2

Frank Auerbach, painter, 81

On devoting his life to painting:

“If I hadn’t been able to devote myself to painting, I’d have felt I had wasted my life…  When I was at art school it was assumed you wouldn’t make a living…  I had no money at all until my fifties. Through early middle age I would wake up in the night wondering how I would be able to afford materials to paint.”

Frank Auerbach

On natural talent:

“I felt I stood more chance with persistence, digging deep, then something reason­able happening, simply by laying siege to the subject. It’s just what I was capable of. Some people are natural draughtsmen. I sometimes feel sorry for them – you have to work through that to something deeper. I don’t know how you would break up an easy virtuosity.”

– – –

Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication

On receiving appreciation:

“Paradoxically, despite our unease in receiving appreciation, most of us yearn to be genuinely recognized and appreciated.”

On when a person feels ‘heard’:

“When a person feels ‘heard’ to his or her satisfaction, it can often be seen bodily.  A person may relax and take a deeper breath.  This often indicates that enough empathy has been received, and they’re now able and free to shift attention to something other than the pain they have been expressing.”

– – –

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell,

On finding your vitality:

“The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it.  The world without spirit is a wasteland…  Find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”

On following your bliss:

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.  When you see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open doors to you.”

– – –


J. Edgar Hoover

On J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI 1935-1972, who famously aggrandized and abused the power of his position – illegally wiretapping Martin Luther King with the express purpose of undermining his influence as a civil rights leader, for example, or ravenously collecting secrets on politicians for the purposes of blackmailing them later 

“In 1946, U.S. Attorney General Tom C. Clark authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.[30] 

In 1956 Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. Some of his aides reported that he purposely exaggerated the threat of communism to “ensure financial and public support for the FBI.”[31] At this time he formalized a covert “dirty tricks” program under the name COINTELPRO.

This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971…  [COINTELPRO first targeted communist organizations, and later] the Black Panther PartyMartin Luther King, Jr.‘s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.[34] Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.[35] 

Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians…

After trying for a while to trump up evidence that would smear [Martin Luther] King as being influenced by communists, he discovered that King had a weakness for extramarital sex, and switched to this topic for further smears…

Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.[39] 

Hoover maintained strong support in Congress until his death at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack attributed to cardiovascular disease.[41] 

The attorney Roy Cohn, a top aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy who assisted Hoover during the 1950s investigations of Communists[69]and known to be a closeted homosexual,[69] opined that Hoover was too frightened of his own sexuality to have anything approaching a normal sexual or romantic relationship.[39]  During the Lavender Scare, Cohn and McCarthy further enhanced anti-Communist fervor by suggesting that Communists overseas had convinced several closeted homosexuals within the U.S. government to leak important government information in exchange for the assurance that their sexual identity would remain a secret;[69] A federal investigation that followed convinced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to sign an Executive Order on April 29, 1953, that barred homosexuals from obtaining jobs at the federal level.[69] In his 2004 study of the event, historian David K. Johnson attacked the speculations about Hoover’s homosexuality as relying on ‘the kind of tactics Hoover and the security program he oversaw perfected—guilt by association, rumor, and unverified gossip.'”

– – –

Young Stalin 1

Young Stalin 2

Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian and biographer

On Soviet leader Josef Stalin in young age (right):

“With sparser emotional attachments, Stalin became a natural extremist.”

– – –

Richard Ford

Ariel Leve, Financial Times journalist

On interviewing American novelist Richard Ford (right):

“When he’s not speaking, he doesn’t appear to be waiting until it’s his chance to speak again.  He’s a man who enjoys listening.”

– – –

Morris Berman

Morris Berman, author

On what life has taught him after 67 years (from Spinning Straw Into Gold)

“I guess what I can say is that the years have provided me with a kind of ‘flashlight’ for looking into what’s going on with me, such that I experience two kinds of ‘glimpses’ into the trajectory of my life, or destiny, from time to time.  The first is an oblique awareness that I’m on the right track, though I can’t say how I know this.  It’s as though there is a ‘vector’ one can follow, which says:  ‘Go this way.’  Yet, we sometimes hesitate; too often, we want to know that the outcome of moving in a particular direction will be successful, when in fact there is no way to know.

“The ‘vector’ is not about guarantees.  What it does do is call on us to trust; and I am now convinced that this one single act, this leap of faith, is the most important act one can perform in one’s life.  Over and over, circumstances (or ‘the universe,’ if you prefer) will call on us to take this step, and it is here that we find the link between Chance and Fate; you make your fate by taking the chance.”

On living an authentic life in today’s world:

“There are so many forces trying to get you to live in a narrative not of your own making (as happened with Mr. Obama), to betray yourself, to forfeit everything really important to you so that you can fit in.  Isn’t it exhausting, working long hours at a meaningless job, sucking up to a boss you hate, taking antidepressants to get through the day, and telling everyone at work that you are happy to be there?  Doesn’t it nag at you, that you have a large house filled with expensive objects while you never have sex with your spouse anymore, and your kids don’t talk to you and just sit in their rooms playing video games?  Isn’t it disturbing to you that you have no real friends, but just people in your environment with whom you share nothing deep and personal, whom you don’t trust, and with whom you have virtually nothing in common?

And beyond that, what does it feel like to live  in a culture in which power and influence mean nothing more than this:  one is willing to inject poison into its veins on a daily basis?  This is what gets rewarded in our society…  Is this what you want your life to be about?  After all, it’s going to be over faster than you can blink, and you are going to be dead for a very long time…

What is your [path toward authenticity], then? … Do you know what it is?  If not, how do you propose to find out, assuming you want to step out of your narrative and start living an authentic life? …  The fact is that no guru, no system, no slogan, no narrative…has it for you; you will have to look elsewhere to find it, perhaps in some unusual and uncomfortable places…

And you probably won’t find it right away, either.  But hey, there’s no rush, and living in limbo won’t kill you (even if you think it will).  The end of your world, to paraphrase Mark Strand, is not the end of the world as such, but only the end of the world as you know it.  And that could be a good thing, after all; maybe even the best thing imaginable.” 

On wasted energy:

“I looked back at epic struggles I had had in the past:  a bad marriage (two people with nothing in common making each other miserable); moderate professional success…and seemingly endless personal conflicts over anything and everything…  And much of it now seemed unnecessary in retrospect, a waste of time; stupid, even.  I had the feeling that a lot of that wasted energy, those ultimately trivial struggles, could have been avoided if I had had the awareness at the time that it all really didn’t matter, that I could have just ‘let the universe do its thing,’ and that what was supposed to work out in my favor, would.”

– – –

Adam Carolla

Adam Carolla, comedian and podcast host

On how happy families regard their children:

“Yea.  I like that.  No that’s like, ‘Hey, we’re alive.  And we’re happy.  And we’re happy you’re alive, too.  And this is good, and you’re a blessing.  And we’re glad you’re under our roof, together.”

– – –

Alan Watts

Alan Watts

On hurrying, and feeling:

“People in a hurry cannot feel.”

– – –

Michael Brown

Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process

On the falsity of adulthood:

“In the present moment, we discover that there are no adults in this world:  there are children that are alive, present and playful; and children that are dead, serious, and working very hard to keep up their very important adult pretenses.”

On this moment:

“It is very important to stop, to gently connect our breathing, to smile inwardly, and to enjoy this moment.”

On presence and gratitude:

“A reliable indicator that we have entered present moment awareness is that our life experience…is infused inwardly with the resonance of deep gratitude.  This gratitude is not founded on comparison…  It is a gratitude for the invitation, the journey, and the gift of life itself.”

On our past bubbling up to the surface:

“That unconscious emotional experiences are coming to the surface to be neutralized by the presence of our conscious and compassionate attention…’the past coming to pass…'”

– – –

Barrett Brown

Jennifer Lynch, lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which advocates for Internet freedom and privacy

On the prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown (right) – whose reporting has revealed a web of shady connections and activities between the U.S. government, corporations, lobbyists, and private military and infosecurity consultants – and whose posting of a link to a web page listing stolen credit card information has being held on charges that could imprison him for 105 years.

“The big reason this matters is that he transferred a link, something all of us do every single day, and ended up being charged for it.  I think that [the Obama] Administration is trying to prosecute the release of information in any way it can.”

– – –

Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi Yanai, founder of Uniqlo

On globalization:

“It’s criticised from a western perspective but, if you put yourself in the shoes of people in the developing world, it provides an unprecedented opportunity.”

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, comedian and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast

On crying:

“Crying is just your soul blowing a load.”

– – –

On feeling ‘felt’:

“A therapist expressed it this way:  ‘You need to feel that you’ve been felt.’  And it made me want to cry when I heard it, ’cause it was like, ‘Oh my God.’  I never realized:  I never felt ‘felt.’  I never felt understood.  I thought it was just about being ‘good.'”  

On when life begins to feel meaningful again:

“I think you get it when you begin to show – to people that are safe – you begin to show the side of yourself that you’re afraid to show.”

On how convincing mental illness is:

“That’s how convincing mental illness is!  It’s so fucking convincing!  I always say, you know, George Lucas has nothing on mental illness.  It creates a world that is not real, that is so fucking believable.  And you really believe that it is never going to get better, because the way you feel, feels like it’s going to last forever.”

On having deep and lasting relationships with people:

“It’s taken me 48 years to realize:  if I don’t get comfortable in my own skin, I am never going to have a deep and lasting relationship with other people.”

On falling behind:

“When you feel like you’re falling backwards, slipping behind, you might just be backing up for a running new start.”

On why people might seem so averse to revealing their demons, or talking about their problems:

“A lot of us were raised in invalidating environments where our vulnerability was used against us, and we had to shut that door to protect ourselves.  And that’s why it’s been so liberating for me, personally, to find people who are like-minded and suffer through the same things, because I can open that door around them.  And it feels amazing!”

On people who feel stuck in a world of pain, but are afraid to open up and seek help about it from anyone:

“Please you guys, please, go talk to somebody.  It is so much less scary than you think.  I think a lot of us think it’s gonna be scary because our template is often family members, or parents, or authority figures, who have let us down.  But there are so many people who won’t let you down, especially therapists and support groups.”  

On a listener’s mother:

“Wow, it really sounds like she is not there for you.  It sounds like she is a real fucking narcissist who can only accept you when you fit into her model of what she thinks her child should be.  She really sounds like she’s treating you like an object, or something, but she doesn’t sound like she has a lot of empathy.  She sounds really like she’s got a lot of fucking issues.  I encourage you to find someone that’s safe to open up to, ’cause your mom does not sound safe.”

On progress:

“We all backslide.  We all take two steps forward and one step back.”

– – –

Barton Gellman

Bart Gellman, Washington Post and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter

On why he and filmmaker Laura Poitras were approached by Edward Snowden:

“Laura Poitras, who’s done some very interesting and important documentary film work since 9/11 about the wars overseas, and about the government’s national security responses at home –  Snowden approached her.  And he had been interested in her because of her films, and because he had read that the U.S. government was stopping her every time she came into the country, and searching her, and sometimes taking her electronics to search them, and he thought she would understand, at a sort of personal visceral level, what this kind of personal surveillance, meant.”

On how companies like Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo!, Facebook and others pass information along to the NSA:

“They go to places where there are stored communications…  PRISM was [that].  It was going to Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo!, Facebook and others, and saying, ‘We’re interested in stuff that matches these search terms,’ they call them ‘selectors.’  And those companies, by one means or another, usually with government equipment installed on their premises, would transfer the information back to the NSA.”

On the relevance of making public exactly which companies have cooperated with the NSA and secret FISA court rulings:

“It changes the equation when you know [specifically]:  it’s Facebook.  It’s Microsoft.  We consult with the government and tell them what we have and intend to publish before every story, and the thing that the intelligence community most wanted to protect in that first story – they most asked us to hold back – was the names of the companies…

“The impact on the companies has been substantial and is ongoing…  The companies, for the first time ever, have pushed back very hard and demanded that the government permit them to disclose more about the nature of their cooperation, the extent of it, the number of occasions, sort of the quantity of data that they hand over…

“Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo! are all fighting the government in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), but they’re not allowed to say what exactly the legal issues are, you’re not allowed to see their briefs, you’re not allowed to attend the hearings, because this is a secret process, in a secret court.

“And this is one of the things now under public debate:  should the entirety of this process, from the interpretation of the law, to the execution of it, to the broad terms of the surveillance, should that all take place behind closed doors, unavailable, not only to the public, but to, in practical purposes, unavailable to nearly anybody in Congress.”

On what the NSA can legally do to obtain information about specific Americans:

“There are, I don’t know, two dozen pages of targeting rules, and what they call ‘Minimization Rules,’ that have been disclosed by Snowden and published in the Washington Post and in The Guardian.  

“It is very complicated.  The surveillance law itself is very complicated.  There’s a fair amount of wiggle room.  But we do know that under ordinary circumstances…they are not allowed to ‘target’ Americans. But ‘targeting’ has a somewhat narrower meaning’ for the NSA than it might to the general public.  And it does not stop them from obtaining a lot of information to, from, or about Americans, in ways that they consider to be ‘inadvertent’ or ‘incidental.’  

“And although they have to, by default, mask the identities of the Americans in the data they collect, they can also unmask those identities, ‘un-minimize’ them, is the term they use.  And under a number of circumstances, they’re allowed to search the information, analyze it, and report the information to other intelligence agencies.”

On whether Snowden would have preferred his leaked documents be published entirely, and all at once:

“He gave these documents ultimately only to three journalists.  What he said he wanted was for us to use our own judgment, and to make sure that his bias was kept out of it, so that we would make our own judgment, about what was newsworthy and important for the public to know, and he said we should also consider how to avoid harm.

“Now, in case anyone doubts his intentions, let’s consider what he could have done: if Chelsea Manning was able to ex-filtrate, and send to Wikileaks, and publish, in whole, half a million U.S. government documents, Edward Snowden, who is far, far more capable, had far greater access, certainly knows how to transmit documents – he could have sent them to Wikileaks.  He could have set up, and mirrored around the internet, in a way that could not be taken down, all the documents.  They could all be public right now, and they’re not, because that’s not what he wanted to do.  He told us not to do it, and he didn’t do it himself.”

On Snowden’s greatest fear:

“Once he released the documents to us, his greatest fear was that he would be caught, and that the documents would not be published – that we would somehow be restrained, or we would lose our access to them, and he would have taken all these risks for nothing, without achieving the larger public debate that he was looking for.  And so he was impatient for the stories to begin.  And I told him what I tell every source:  that we can only publish when we’re ready.  We have to authenticate this stuff.  It looks quite valid to us, but we have to know for sure that these documents are real.  We have to consider the security harms.  We have to consider the newsworthiness.  We have to set them in context.  We’re going to consult with the government, and, you know, ‘hold your horses.’  He understood that.  There were times that he didn’t like it.  But he understood it.”

On whether he was concerned that he might be assassinated because he was publishing Eric Snowden’s leaks:

“Honestly I did not think that likely.  [Snowden] was also concerned that he could be.  And, if you look at it logically, he has this great big pile of some of the most sensitive secrets in the U.S. government and in the intelligence community.  He thought if the only way that the government could stop that, that if the government had a plausible chance of preempting the release of these things, by tracking him down and killing him, that it would do so.  I don’t know, I don’t know that to be true.  I am frankly a little bit skeptical.  I don’t think that that’s ordinarily the way that the U.S. government operates, but I certainly wasn’t qualified to say for sure.  And frankly, there are a number of things that have been disclosed in the documents, either publicly, or that I have seen myself, that surprised me.  That, I would have said, a year ago, having spent all this time covering post-9/11 national security establishment, I would have said, ‘Nah, the government doesn’t do that.’  And it does.  It doesn’t rise anywhere near the level of going out and committing an assassination to preempt disclosure, but he pointed out, in fact:  ‘Look, the U.S. government does now openly target Americans overseas, for killing.  And I guess I couldn’t rule it out…for him.  I never thought that I was at personal risk.”

On the merits of Snowden’s leaks being published:

“There are balances to be struck between perfect security and the ability for the public to make fundamental decisions about what its government is doing, and what the rules should be.  And we’re looking for that balance.  And to the extent that Snowden says – ‘We’ve pushed the needle way too far in the direction of security, and in fact some of this stuff isn’t especially important for security, and it is damaging to civil liberties, and it is risky for the government to have this much power’ – I think it’s clear that I and the Washington Post agree that those are questions at least worthy of debating, and you can’t have that debate without information.” 

On whether we’re entering a ‘Big Brother’ society:

“You know, Big Brother is a very imperfect analogy.  On the one hand, I see no evidence that there’s anything but good intent to protect U.S. interest.  I see no evidence that the government is assembling these tools in order to spy on political opponents, or corruptly to serve some private interest, or all the things that you worry about with the Big Brother analogy.  On the other hand, it has accumulated powers that were beyond all imagination of George Orwell, that dwarf the surveillance capabilities of Orwell.

“And as it has done so, and as it has made the whole world, and the U.S. population, more and more transparent, it has become more and more opaque about what it’s doing.  And so increasingly we are living behind one-way mirrors, in which the government knows more and more about us; we know less and less about what the government is doing.  That’s the core reason why I believe these stories are important to tell.  

J. Edgar Hoover“It is not the case that the government is collecting giant dossiers on every American, that it is browsing through those for any purposes other than what it considers to be national security purposes.  But it is actually collecting records of every single phone call we make.  It has given itself the means to collect comprehensively all the content of all the communications in the United States.  It is not doing all that it can do, but it has created a machine that is governed either by a slice of code, or an internal regulation, either of which could change over time, and could, at some point, put in the hands of a future president, a future NSA Director, powers that J. Edgar Hoover (above) could not have dreamed of when he was abusing his powers at the FBI. 

“Any time you accumulate vast powers, in secret, without effective checks outside the government itself?  That should cause students of history some concern.”

On Snowden and the U.S. Constitution:

“In the Preamble to the Constitution, there are six major purposes that are set out for the design of our government.  One of them, which is listed fourth, is to secure the national defense.  

“It’s not the only interest that we have, and there has to be a balance, and balance has not been debated publicly, it has not been debated by an informed public, because there was an absolute dearth of information.  And what we’re seeing now, what a lot of Americans say they appreciate, is enough transparency to enable Congress and the American public to decide where they want to draw the lines.”

– – –

Phoebe Philo

Phoebe Philo, fashion designer & creative director at Celine

On her approach to development:

“It’s very old-fashioned as an approach, I guess.  It was very important to me that with Celine we went step by step, with no giant strategic plan.  I feel very much that I am a human being, with human limitations, and I need to respect that.”

– – –

Blaine Capatch

Blaine Capatch, comedian

On performance:

“If you think you’re going too slow, slow down.”

– – –

Pamela Weiss

Pamela Weiss, Zen Buddhist monk and workplace consultant

Workplace tips:

–  If you find yourself in an argument, don’t argue—instead, start asking questions. “By being inquisitive, you uncover new ways of seeing,” explains Weiss. “That helps you get past roadblocks.”

–  Before leaving the office, imagine a box. Place the day’s events inside, then visualize it floating away. Says Weiss, “Releasing these thoughts lets you engage wholeheartedly at home.”

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, comedian and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast

On dealing with feelings:

“I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of kids – is, everything can be boiled down to, when we do things that we don’t want to do, or things that we feel like we can’t control – it’s our way of dealing with feelings that are overwhelming.  And, there are no feelings that are bad, that are wrong, there’s just healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with those feelings, and so what are you gonna choose?  And most people, and kids especially, don’t know a way of dealing with feelings that are overwhelming.  So, you check your [twitter] feed, or you get on facebook excessively, or you make yourself throw up, or you…”

On worrying and meanness:

“If you’re a worrier, the positive doesn’t matter.  Because the negative is your food, that’s what you use to feed the machine in your head.  And as much as you can tell yourself, ‘Hey!  There’s more positive than the negative,’ it’s like a dog’s diet:  when you’re used to eating a certain thing, it doesn’t matter what the treat is.  It’s that meal, you’re gonna be drawn to that, because it’s what you’re used to putting into your body, and, it’s so fucked up.  You can tell yourself intellectually, ‘You should ignore these people, they’re just haters.’  But it affects you on a cellular level.”

– – –

Glenn Greenwald 2

Glenn Greenwald, journalist

On what has motivated attempted attacks against American civilians:

“In the last several years, there have been [five] serious attempted or successful attacks on US soil by Muslims, and in every case, they emphatically all say the same thing: that they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world – violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children…

It should go without saying that the issue here is causation, not justification or even fault. It is inherently unjustifiable to target innocent civilians with violence, no matter the cause (just as it is unjustifiable to recklessly kill civilians with violence). But it is nonetheless vital to understand why there are so many people who want to attack the US as opposed to, say, Peru, or South Africa, or Brazil, or Mexico, or Japan, or Portugal.”

On what we can do to stop terrorism:

“It’s often asked:  ‘what can we do to stop Terrorism?’ The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence. Yesterday at a Senate hearing on drones, a young Yemeni citizen whose village was bombed by US drones last week (despite the fact that the targets could easily have been arrested), Farea Al-Muslimi, testifiedAl-Muslimi has always been pro-American in the extreme, having spent a year in the US due to a State Department award, but he was brilliant in explaining these key points:

“Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers. The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.

“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

Farea Al-Muslimi

He added that anti-American hatred is now so high as a result of this drone strike that “I personally don’t even know if it is safe for me to go back to Wessab because I am someone who people in my village associate with America and its values.” And he said that whereas he never knew any Yemenis who were sympathetic to al-Qaida before the drone attacks, now:

“AQAP’s power and influence has never been based on the number of members in its ranks. AQAP recruits and retains power through its ideology, which relies in large part on the Yemeni people believing that America is at war with them” . . .

“I have to say that the drone strikes and the targeted killing program have made my passion and mission in support of America almost impossible in Yemen. In some areas of Yemen, the anger against America that results from the strikes makes it dangerous for me to even acknowledge having visited America, much less testify how much my life changed thanks to the State Department scholarships. It’s sometimes too dangerous to even admit that I have American friends.”

He added that drone strikes in Yemen “make people fear the US more than al-Qaida”.

There seems to be this pervasive belief in the US that we can invade, bomb, drone, kill, occupy, and tyrannize whomever we want, and that they will never respond. That isn’t how human affairs function.”

On Muslims:

“They seem to get angry when they’re invaded, occupied, bombed, killed, and have dictators externally imposed on them.”

– – –

Jessica Zucker

Jessica Zucker, Clinical Psychologist

On preparing for difficult situations:

“Role-playing with yourself or whomever ahead of time might be wise, so that you feel armed, through and through, inside and out, to be able to just take good care of yourself, and still feel authentic, too, so that it doesn’t feel like a volcano, erupting, inside of you.”

On taking care of our own feelings, putting them aside to care-take for someone else who won’t take care of us at the same time:

“It’s a matter of:  do you want to thrive?  Or would you prefer that she feel good about the relationship, and you stymie your own growth, possibly, through trying to finesse things in a way that – ‘make her feel better, you feel worse; make her feel better, you feel worse.’  You’ve been doing that a long time.”

On setting boundaries in poisonous relationships:

“You can have firm boundaries like you might with a toddler, for example, and that’s it:  ‘We’re talking about this, I’m telling you this much.  I need to go.’  She can have a tantrum.  She’ll survive.  Toddlers survive.  They need to have boundaries, and feel there are limits, in order to feel safe.  And it doesn’t feel good, but they need to be kept safe, even if they don’t know it.”

– – –

Peter Marino

Peter Marino, architect

On life:

“Life is a struggle, and you can let it crush you, or you can fight.”

On the best advice he ever got:

“‘You have six months to live:  what do you do?  Then do it.’  It’s the best advice I ever got.  Everyone should ask themselves that question, and then act on it.”

– – –

Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson, paleo lifestyle author

On play:

“The real center of play for my kids was the deep emotional investment.  It’s the feeling of risk and power, of silliness and absurdity, of the slight, alternating edges of (benign) fear and ecstatic relief.  How many of us feel that level of emotional investment in our play – or in anything?  I think that’s the heart of what we lose as adults – the freedom of play, the pure release of it…  We can be conscientious and simultaneously miss the point – and benefit – entirely…  We have to surrender, or at least, suspend, something in ourselves that’s hard to relinquish.”

– – –

Subrata Big City

Subrata, the husband in Satyajit Ray’s “The Big City”

To his wife Arati, who’s been fired from her first job for standing up for a colleague:

“Worrying about work makes you spineless.  You’re not like that.”

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, comedian and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour

“You know what I wanted to say?  I don’t know how to put this.  I’m happier than I’ve ever been, in my life.  And I’ve shared before that it’s kind of weird, because I’ve never made less money, I’ve never been fatter, and I’ve never been happier…  I feel fucking great.  

My passion is back for woodworking.  I’m making a kitchen table for a friend of mine, that is the wood from the tree that used to be in our front yard.  I dried it, for like a year, and cut into slabs, and I just, I feel so fucking lucky.  

And I think what I wanted to say was:  before I started getting into support groups, and treating my addiction, and really delving into therapy, I thought that my way to survive in life was to know as much information as I could, and that that would protect me, and my intellect would keep me safe.  And I’ve realized, that while facts are cool?  Truth is really what I’ve been after my whole life.  Truth of what makes us tick, that, you know, I had to discover the truth of what was driving me.

And, after doing a lot of work on myself, I came to realize that the truth that was driving me was that I was afraid that I wasn’t enough.  I was afraid that I was unlovable.  I was afraid that I didn’t matter.  I was afraid of living a life that was forgettable.  A life that had no meaning.  And I was afraid of being left behind.  I was afraid of everybody doing better than me, and that is what drove me.  And it’s taken me a decade of working on myself to uncover that truth.

And if you’re out there, and you’ve got a great life on paper, and you’re a smart person, but you feel like there’s an emptiness in your life, like something is missing from it, I understand you.

I understand you.  And there is hope.  But it doesn’t lie in becoming more knowledgeable.  Our intellect cannot bring us peace.  An intellect is a beautiful thing, given to us by the universe, but it is not our savior.  And in many ways it can be our enemy, because we look to it to save us, and we think that some profound truth is going to be reached intellectually, when in reality, those truths can only be accessed through getting vulnerable, through admitting that we don’t know, and through asking for help.

That’s what I wanted to try to say.  And I think that humility is the shortest route to truth.  And love – is the best way to stay there.”

– – –

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle, author 

On being an outsider:

“Being an outsider to some extent, someone who does not ‘fit in’ with others or is rejected by them for whatever reason, makes life difficult, but it also places you at an advantage as far as enlightenment is concerned.  It takes you out of unconsciousness almost by force.”

– – –

Paul Buhle, Professor of History at Brown University

On America’s understanding of itself over time, and Howard Zinn’s (below) contribution:

“The history of the United States was written for many generations as a heroic conquest of the land and its original inhabitants, and as the steady spread of democracy from border to border and sea to sea…

Howard ZinnThe Vietnam War changed the perceptions of a generation.  Some few earlier dissenting historians, such as W.E.B. DuBois, had pointed toward a markedly darker national saga, but they had been not much heard.  Then, an evident crisis in empire…  Another story began to be told, not of America as a wicked place or Americans as wicked people but of the trouble in the soul of an imperial nation.

Beginning in the 1960s, scholars of various kinds started to write widely about Indians, African Americans, working people, and women, of struggles for reform won and lost, of wealth gained at vast public expense in squandered dollars and lives…

[Howard Zinn’s] A People’s History of the United States (first published in 1980), its pages afire with lucidity, set a new standard for the retelling of the nation’s story, this time linked closely to other peoples everywhere.”

– – –

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, journalist

On what the word ‘terrorism’ really means:

“The reason it’s so crucial to ask this question is that there are few terms – if there are any – that pack the political, cultural and emotional punch that “terrorism” provides. When it comes to the actions of western governments, it is a conversation-stopper, justifying virtually anything those governments want to do. It’s a term that is used to start wars, engage in sustained military action, send people to prison for decades or life, to target suspects for due-process-free execution, shield government actions behind a wall of secrecy, and instantly shape public perceptions around the world…

It is very hard to escape the conclusion that, operationally, the term has no real definition at this point beyond “violence engaged in by Muslims in retaliation against western violence toward Muslims”. When media reports yesterday began saying that “there are indications that this may be act of terror”, it seems clear that what was really meant was: “there are indications that the perpetrators were Muslims driven by political grievances against the west” (earlier this month, an elderly British Muslim was stabbed to death in an apparent anti-Muslim hate crime and nobody called that “terrorism”). Put another way, the term at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states.

– – –

Wire Kima McNulty

Detectives Kima Greggs and Jimmy McNulty, characters from The Wire

On Kima’s approach to fear and being a cop:

Kima:  In the beginning, you’re in your radio car, alone, working your post.  Most women aren’t gettin’ out that car.  Not without side partners showing up.  They’re intimidated, physically.  They gotta be!

McNulty:  You weren’t?

Kima:  Yea!  At first!  But, you know, I’m talking, you know, some ‘straight out of the academy’ type scared, you know what I’m saying?  I wasn’t about to STAY scared!  Yo, look, you know, you get your ass kicked, you know, once or twice, you realize it’s not the end of the world, right?

McNulty:  [knowing smile]  Mm hmm.

Kima:  Most of the women, they don’t wanna believe that.  Some of the men, too!  They don’t even wanna go there!  But is there any other fuckin’ way to police?  


All I know is I just love the job.

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, comedian and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour

“The other thing I’ve discovered is when you’re making decisions from your heart and not your ego, there’s not a sense of panic to it.  There’s a sense of peace and a sense of faith to it.”

– – –

George Martin Beatles

George Martin, Producer for The Beatles

On if he could look back and give his younger self advice:

“My advice would be to trust your own judgment and go for it and don’t be swayed by people saying that will never work.”

– – –

Stephen King

Stephen King, novelist

On people’s good sides:

“That’s one thing about the characters in the stories I write:  I always try to show that we all have our good side.  Sometimes, with some people, it’s very small, but it’s usually there.”

– – –

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, mythology writer

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘Yes’ to your adventure.”

– – –

Michael Brown 2

Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process

“It was seldom easy and often unclear…  I was placing one foot in front of the other, following a trail that appeared to make sense only to me.  There were numerous occasions when I became very confused and disheartened.  Fortunately, I always had a way to reconnect.”

“Restoring our present moment awareness is not a destination:  it is an infinite journey.  We must therefore cultivate infinite patience and compassion within ourselves.”

– – –

Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and pioneer of Non-Violent Communication (NVC):

On hearing blame:

“In my experience, to whatever degree people hear blame, they have failed to hear our pain…  I didn’t want him to hear blame, because I wanted him to know what had gone on in my heart.”

On hearing others’ appreciation:

“NVC encourages us to receive appreciation with the same quality of empathy we express when listening to other messages.  We hear what we have done that has contributed to others’ well-being; we hear their feelnigs, and the needs that were fulfilled.  We take into our hearts the joyous reality that we can each enhance the quality of others’ lives.”

On giving, receiving, and comfort:

“Accustomed to a culture where buying, earning, and deserving are the standard modes of interchange, we are often uncomfortable with simple giving and receiving.”

– – –

Syria Protest

Samar, Syrian protester against possible American military intervention in his home country (not pictured):

“Please, leave us alone. It’s our own country. You have no right whatever to bomb it or to do anything. Go take care of your people here. Give them the money. They deserve it more than spending on the war over there for no reason. It’s another lie. Please leave us alone.”

– – –

Shin Dong-Hyuk

Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born into a North Korean prison camp, and is the only known escapee from one

On freedom:

“I still think of freedom as roasted chicken.”

(Shin’s main motivation in daring to escape was to taste roasted meat.  His food rations were so small that he used to lick cabbage soup off the floor, or eat live mice on the days that guards permitted prisoners to catch them.)

“When I compare the freedom of China or the US or South Korea, their levels of freedom are all pretty much the same,” he says. “For me, freedom is when people are free to walk in the street, to say what they want, and to eat what they want.”

On movies and music:

“I don’t really know anything about music. I can’t sing and I don’t feel any emotion from it. But I do watch lots of films and the one that moves me the most is Schindler’s List,” he says, referring to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film about the Holocaust.

On daily prison life:

“In the prison camp, every day I repented and confessed the bad things I’d done to the prison guards.”

An excerpt from David Pilling’s Financial Times interview with Shin:

“His first impression of North Korea was how free it was. People were walking around and there were no guards barking orders at them.”

– – –

J.B. Smoove

J.B. Smoove, comedian

On how one becomes a comedian:

“I wanna say this:  half the job – was walkin’ yo ass on that stage.  We all know that.  No matter what you do – standup – you a goddamn stripper.  If you walk yo ass on that stage, for some reason, the clothes come off very easily, cause you already on stage now.  You better do some’in’!  You walked your ass on that damn stage!  And peole are wavin’ money and shit.  Right?  But walkin’ on that stage?  You halfway there.  I don’t give a damn what it is.” – J.B. Smoove

– – –

August, 2013

– – –

Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem. – California), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee:

“NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place.  When errors are identified, they are reported and corrected.”

– – –

Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood, activist for government transparency

On NSA funding disclosures:

“It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number [of the NSA] disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007.  But a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach.”

– – –

Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony, comedian

On his life’s path:

“It was like…  I have to completely start over again.  So I did.  I just, I started going to even more support groups, and doing more therapy…  It helped me just go like, ‘This is just what it is!’  This is the path I was given…  Like, I just had a shitty start.  That’s just what it is!  That’s how I feel about my life now, is like, it’s just my path…”

– – –

Michael Brown

Michael Brown, author

On what our lives can be:

“Radiating our heart’s waking vision as opposed to trying to fulfill a dream someone else has for us.”

– – –

Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and pioneer of Non-Violent Communication:

“Nonviolent Communication fosters a level of moral development based on autonomy and interdependence, whereby we acknowledge responsibility for our own actions are aware that our own well-being and that of others are one and the same.”

On being in touch with our feelings and needs:

“When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.”

– – –

Abraham MAslow

Abraham Maslow, psychologist

on your potential:

“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.”

– – –

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, mythology writer

on your life’s path:

“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

– – –

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, in his column “One Day We Will All Be Terrorists,”

on American government’s refusal to practice law in accordance with basic legal protections of citizens’ rights:

“Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus [the legal right and obligation that a person under arrest be brought before a judge – rather than held indefinitely, without just cause] no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate…

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2½ years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His “proclivity for violence” is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

syedhashmi“My brother was an activist,” Hashmi’s brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. “He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brother’s humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.

“Hashmi’s right to a fair trial has been abridged,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense.

“The prosecution’s case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others,” Ratner added. “While Hashmi’s political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.”

– – –

Jeanne Theoharis

Jeanne Theoharis, professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, in her article “My Student, the ‘Terrorist’

on her former student Syed Fahad Hashmi, the subject of Chris Hedges’ column “One Day We Will All Be Terrorists” above:

“A few days later, Fahad’s father called. Syed Anwar Hashmi was distraught. The family had left Pakistan when Fahad was 3. Mr. Hashmi had worked for the City of New York as an accountant for more than two decades. He did not understand how his son could be treated in this way in a country that he had sacrificed to come to and be part of. He started to cry. He believed in the law. But there were supposed to be fair trials, a set of rights, public evidence, and no torture. Where was the Constitution now?”

“At the hearing, Fahad made his first public statement in four years. With numerous references to the Qur’an, he spoke extremely hurriedly. When the judge asked him to slow down, he apologized, saying he had not spoken much in the past years. And then he started to cry.

Fahad thanked the people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who had opposed the injustices in his case. “To the non-Muslims, above all, some of my former professors,” he said: “I hope, Insha’Allah, that Allah gives me the opportunity to me to repay you your kindness.” He expressed hope “that the bridges of dialogue and debate that were built around this case remain so.”

– – –

Monster Venice

The monk from The Monster of Florence,

On illness, listening, and communication:

“There is no longer true communication among us, because our very language is sick, and the sickness of our discourse carries us inevitably to sickness in our bodies, to neurosis, if not finally, to mental illness.

When I can no longer communicate with speech, I will speak with sickness.  My symptoms are given life.  These symptoms express the need for my soul to make itself heard, but cannot, because I don’t have the words, and because those who should listen cannot get beyond the sound of their own voices.

The language of sickness is the most difficult to interpret.  It is an extreme form of blackmail, which defies all our efforts to pay it off, and send it away.  It is a final attempt at communication.

Mental illness lies at the very end of this struggle to be heard.  It is the last refuge of a desperate soul, who has finally understood that no one is listening, or will ever listen.  Madness is the renunciation of all efforts to be understood.  It is one unending stream of pain, and need, into the absolute silence and indifference of society.  It is a cry without an echo.

This is the nature of the evil of the Monster of Florence.  And this is the nature of the evil in each and every one of us.  We all have a Monster within.  The difference is in degree, not in kind.”

– – –

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill, actor and comedian

on the influence of his mother, and going to an artsy high school:

“My mom was more like, really accepting of eccentricity, and was just like, ‘I don’t think you’re meant for college,’ or ‘I don’t think you’re meant for whatever path other kids are on.’ …  I was just very very uninterested in school, and structure…  And so when I went to that other school in 10th grade, I made all the best friends that I still have, to this day.  They had a film class there…  You were able to make your own movies.  I’m very excited and lucky that I got to go to an artsier school at that age, because it did turn my life in a better direction, because I felt like, ‘Oh!  There’s other weirdoes! [laughs]  I hated all my teachers until I got to this new school.

“I’m really fascinated by when something clicks in for a kid.  Right?  You know, my mom would always be like, ‘you’re special,’ [laughs] when everyone was like, ‘you’re crazy,’ ’cause there was no evidence for that, for academics, or athleticism, or anything.  So I’m always fascinated by when something clicks in for that person.  So once I found movies and comedy and screenwriting and acting, I wouldn’t want to do anything but work on that, and make that better.  Once that clicked in for me, I had my thing.  You know?

“I’m even lucky that it happened at that – I was 18 – and I’m even lucky that that happened at that age.  Because a lot of my best buddies are maybe 28, 29, still trying to find whatever that passion is.  So I feel fortunate that even at that age I knew what was up, I knew what I was passionate about.”

– – –

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, journalist and author (1920-2013)

on the people who are consolidating media control under a small number of corporations:

“I’d tell them, forget about all those profits, and help the country – that the media should be a public service.”

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, comedian and host of podcast The Mental Illness Happy Hour –

On therapy:

“So many people, myself included, are used to shutting down [emotionally] in order to protect ourselves, that the first phase is understanding what we’re even feeling, before then we know how to process that.  And a lot of people listening to the podcast can’t relate to other people’s feelings sometimes, until they hear somebody else talk about it.  And then they’re like, ‘Yes!’  ‘That’s how I feel!'”

On vulnerability:

“I love being vulnerable, and not getting hurt.”

On achievement and loneliness:

“That was what ran my life for so many years because I thought that would mean safety.  And I think when we set out to distance ourselves from other people through our achievements, all we do is wind up making ourselves lonely.  And we can’t have it both ways – I don’t think that we can be on a pedestal and not feel alone.  That’s my two cents.  I would encourage you to embrace things that make you feel one of many, and then work through the fears that that brings up – that you’re not enough, that you’re not gonna be OK in the future.  ‘Cause those are myths that drive our fuckin’ cars in crazy circles.”

On parents and our feelings:

“‘Cause then you don’t have to really see that my parents aren’t listening to what – my parents don’t care to know my emotions.  What a painful fucking truth.”

On how therapy can help:

“Where I think therapy’s gonna help, because this is what happened to me, was – it had to get better in the stuff that had nothing to do with how I earned my money.  It had to do with how I treated other people, and how I allowed myself to be treated, and building my confidence about establishing boundaries, and taking the pain that I used to be ashamed of, and using it to connect to other people who had lived through similar circumstances, mostly in support groups, and that filled the part that could never be filled with – oh, I got a half hour special, or – I’m on TV.  That could never – it would excite it!  For a short period of time.

But then it would go away, and I would say, where’s the next one coming from.  And I think you’re headed in the right direction, you’re just not feeling the benefits of it, yet.  And, I would say, just be patient.

And look for the growth in areas that have nothing to do with money, that have nothing to do with how other people view you, but have to do with how comfortable you become with your past, and how you feel in your skin right now, regardless of money.

And I think it’s gonna come from having deep connections with people who feel you, and see you, and you being there for people, because they know the pain that you’ve been through, they know when they’re telling you their story, they know you feel them, and you feel a sense of purpose.  And that sense of purpose is what changed everything for me.  It changed everything for me.  And suddenly the comedy came from a different place, and, I took more risks, and I cared less about the results.”

Christian FinneganOn worrying too much about what others think (to comedian Christian Finnegan, right):

“You won’t care [what others think of you] because something else will be feeding your soul.  Because I think we’re fucked if we get on that treadmill of – how am I being perceived – that’s how I’m going to feel about myself.  That is the worst treadmill that you can be on, and it’s the one we jump on…

I was on it for 40 years!  For 40 years of my life, until I got sober, and I went, oh!  There’s this spiritual dimension, to the world, that’s about connection, to human beings, and  feeling a sense of purpose, and being of service.

And that opened everything up.  And I went, oh, I’ve been living a two-dimensional world.  Because it was all about – me.  And, you have not used your pain in the way that it can benefit other people yet.  And I think, if you got into a support group, Christian, you could help so many people feel less alone.  You could help – I don’t know what that support group could be – but you’re an articulate, compassionate guy…  I guess what I’m asking, is, keep an open mind, that there may be a new way of living, that you haven’t tried yet, that has nothing to do with money, or recognition, that will open it up, and then that thing, begins to run on its own.  And then, you are almost in a life version, of that zone, you get to onstage, where you feel like the universe is working through you.”

On liking ourselves as much as others do (to Christian Finnegan):

“I think we all see you as someone whose trust has been deeply, deeply violated, as a kid, and you had to learn to shut down, to protect yourself, to survive.  I think every single person listenign to this episode is gonna feel that way, and feel tremendous empathy, and compassion, for you.  You come across, Christian, as just the sweetest fucking guy…  I think it breaks our heart, on a certain level, that you can’t like yourself as much as we like you.”

– – –

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey, on moving from rom-coms and action flicks to artsier films:

“There was a time where I was reading some more romantic comedies, some more action scripts, and there were quite a few I liked.  But most of all of ’em I felt like I could do ’em tomorrow.  I think that was where I just said:  wait a minute.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s great to have something you feel like you could do tomorrow.  It’s great to have your’e so-called ‘fastball.’  And you like doing ’em.

There’s a lightness that you are able to keep and maintain in those, that they need.  Because they need a buoyancy.  You’re not supposed to go deep.  You go deep on those, you sink the ship.

I had fun doing that, and also trying to do those without emasculating the male, which can be done in those romantic comedies often.

But I just felt like I could do ’em tomorrow, or the next day, so I said, I want to wait, I don’t know what I want to do.  I want to wait until something really turns me on.  ‘Moves my floor,’ as I said.  Makes me question it and go, ‘I don’t know what I’ll do with that material.'”

– – –

Darryl Hannah

Darryl Hannah, on drilling for oil by fracking:

“We all depend upon the very finite, increasingly finite, fresh, uncontaminated water resources. We depend upon uncontaminated and non-toxic soil. We depend upon an atmosphere and air that is not polluted. And we depend upon a somewhat stable climate. And fracking is anathema to all of those things.”

– – –

Chelsea ManningChelsea Manning, on why she leaked classified documents:

“It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time that I realized that our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we had forgotten our humanity.”

– – –

Theresa May

Theresa May, British Home Secretary

On the nine hour detention of David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald:

“I think it’s right, given that it is the first duty of the government to protect the public, that if the police believe somebody has in their possession highly sensitive, stolen information, which could help terrorists, which could lead to a loss of lives, then it is right that the police act. And that’s what the law enables them to do.”

– – –

David MirandaDavid Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald

On being detained and interrogated for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport, when his laptop, hard drive, memory sticks, mobile phone, smart watch and video games console were taken away:

“I am very angry. This feeling of invasion. It’s like I’m naked in front of a crowd,” he said. “They said I had to co-operate or else I was going to jail.”

On Brazilian government’s response to his detention:

“I was really happy to see that I really have a government that supports me.”

– – –

Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi, journalist for Rolling Stone

On writing about finance and corruption:

“I love writing about this stuff.  It’s like true crime writing, except it’s five times more complicated than your usual crime story.  I have like a personal mania for it.  And the other side of it is that there’s not a whole lot of people writing about it.  So I have sort of this little corner of the universe that’s sort of all to myself now.  And these guys oblige because they never stop being [laughs], greedy and corrupt and coming up with some new horrible way to steal from everybody.  So it’s fascinating.

“For instance, last year there was what should have been a huge international story – this thing with manipulating LIBOR, the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate, the rate at which all interest rates are based upon.  And the biggest banks in the world were kind of getting together and screwing around with these rates, which affected like $700 trillion worth of financial products.  So it’s probably the biggest criminal conspiracy in the world?  In history, actually [laughs].

“But you can’t just drop in and cover it, because it’s just too complicated.  If you don’t speak the language, a lot of it is just too hard to do.  And I think a lot of reporters are just intimidated by the amount of time it will take, just to sink your teeth into all of it.  So they just don’t bother, and that leaves basically me and then a whole bunch of people who are, you know, sympathetic to Wall Street, to cover this stuff.

“It’s like the law, or biology – it’s all cloaked in its own language, and if you don’t understand it, you’re not gonna get very far…  You just gotta know, and that’s kind of what this story is like.  They don’t stop in the middle and tell you what a collateralized debt obligation is.  You’ve just gotta know.  So it’s definitely an uphill climb.  

“But I love it.  To me it’s like a new episode of the Sopranos every day…  But all of these guys are educated.  They’re not just brutes.  They’ve made a conscious decision to sort of go over to the dark side, and so, they’re articulating this really really dark vision of humanity all the time.  And so they’re fascinating to listen to.  I mean, the arrogance.  It’s entertaining to follow, just to listen to…  These guys are really really interesting.

“They all [the worst offenders in his opinion] have one thing in common.  They all have this sneering attitude like they’re insulted that they even have to answer your question.  That it’s just such an inconvenience that they even have to think about explaining themselves to other people.

“A lot of the problems that we have are not so much economic, as political.  This whole issue of – you have these six or seven companies that are ‘too big to fail,’ so they commit horrible crimes, and then we don’t prosecute them because we’re afraid to cause disruption to the economy.  And that situation keeps getting worse every year.  So irrespective of whether or not there’s an economic recovery going on, you have this worsening problem of unaccountability, and impunity on Wall Street, where guys know that they can commit virtually any kind of crime and get away with it.  Like, you know, HSBC earlier this year, they got busted for, among other things, laundering $800 million for a couple of South American drug cartels, and they didn’t face a single criminal charge for that.  They paid a little bit of money, and then the whole thing went away.  Nobody does even a day in jail for that.  Meanwhile, people go to jail, and do real time, for smoking a single joint.  I think that situation gets worse and worse all the time.

“A lot of the crime that went on before 2008, before that crash, was just undetected by the authorities, because they no longer felt that they had the power to go after these companies, and so all sorts of problems were sort of left undetected for a long time.  And that just could be happening again right now, but we don’t know, because nobody’s regulating these firms.

“I think people have outrage with the – you know?  Ultimately what it comes down to is people just don’t want to think about it.  Even I don’t want to think about it!  I come home from work, and just, watch sports all day [laughs].  That’s what I do.  These are difficult, depressing, complicated problems, that aren’t going to change without a lot of effort on the part of everybody.  And that’s probably not gonna happen [laughs].  People just don’t want to think about it.”

On government contracts:

“It’s a perfect symbol for everything:  you socialize the costs, and you privatize the profit.  I mean, that’s the formula for modern government contracting.  And it’s across the board, I mean it’s not just sports – it’s in all walks of life – military government contracting, Wall Steet.  I mean there’s all kinds of ways that you get subsidies from the government, and yet they turn around and they manage to not give the public that gave the subsidy the benefit.”

– – –

Snowden summit

Eric Snowden – on not wanting to harm the U.S.:

“I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world – the locations of every station that we have, their missions, and so forth.

If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., then, you know, [I could have] shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon.  But that’s not my intention.”

On why unchecked surveillance matters:

“Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded, and the storage capability of these systems increases every year, consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it’s getting to a point:  you don’t have to have done anything wrong.  You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use the system to go back in time, and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, and derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoing.”

On personal choices we make, and “the architecture of repression”:

“If living unfreely, but comfortably, is something you’re willing to accept…  You can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck, for relatively little work, against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows…  But if you realize that that’s the world that you helped create, and it’s gonna get worse – the next generation and the next generation – to extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of repression…”

– – –


Joel Schwartz, psychotherapist –  

on trauma passing down the generations:

“The parents’ ability to really attend to the needs and emotional life of their children directly affects their children’s ability to function later on.  

And when one is so traumatized that any sort of emotional expression in the house is triggering that trauma, or too powerful for you to respond to in a compassionate and validating way, it can really hurt the next generation.  And even that hurt can be passed on to the third generation, as I have both experienced and studied.”

On being raised by parents who carry emotional their own emotional problems:

“When one grows up in such…an environment, you either accept that the parent, the security, the person you need to rely on – either they’re completely screwed up and then there’s no hope for you, or you’re the screw-up, and you have to appeal to them.  And the children of addicts, the children of traumatized individuals, or children of other parents with other types of mental illnesses as well – they grow up feeling that they have to fulfill something that the parent isn’t able to fulfill for themselves…  That really leaves a kid in a place of not knowing who they are.  Depression is just right around the corner from that – real difficulties figuring out one’s emotional life.  There are just so many varying outcomes, but none of them are very pleasant.” 

On growing up without the right guidance:

“You had no guidance growing up, so it’s no wonder that you went off on this path.  So how were you supposed to figure out a path for yourself?  A good path for yourself, if no one was showing the way?”  

(A perfect quote for the recent Derek Cianfrance/Ryan Gosling movie Beyond the Pines)

Mpod Holocaust

On having PTSD:

“It doesn’t always manifest in abuse, but…in needing to react instead of feeling what one feels…   PTSD is kind of a back and forth between being flooded with the traumatic experience, and needing to do anything you can to shut out that traumatic experience – whether it be aggressing against somebody else, taking drugs, psychological numbing, withdrawing.” 

Michael Rozbruch – on his father’s Holocaust trauma:

“They [his father’s family] were all killed…  My father was a broken man…  He didn’t come out a well person…  I was expected to be the best at whatever I tried, or whatever I did, and I always failed him.  I always let him down, ’cause I could only do the best that I could do.  It wasn’t enough for him.  

So, eventually, I became very good at doing drugs.  I became an excellent drug addict.  I’m a recovering drug addict right now.  

I always walked on egg shells in the house.  If I said the wrong thing – if anyone said the wrong thing in the house, there was a shit-storm, a firestorm.”

On feeling free once his father died:

“It wasn’t until he died.  It wasn’t until he died that I felt free.  I no longer had to do things thinking of what he would think, or what he would say, or if he would approve.  I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.”

(Mentalpod episode 127 – Offspring of Holocaust Survivors)

– – –

Susan Landau

Susan Landau, author of Surveillance or Security?

on the U.S. government’s approach to unchecked domestic spying over the last decade:

“Why was it done this way?  One can come up with all sorts of nefarious reasons, but one doesn’t want to think that way about our government.”


– – –

Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop, singer

On creativity:

“Get the people, get the other people, out.  Get them the FUCK, out.  When you want to do something creative, the others are not your friends.  The world is not rooting for you.  They don’t agree.  They poo poo.  They see you up, they want to pull you down.  Unless you create, through artifice, an arranged introduction to what you do that allows them to support you.  That’s showbiz, baby.

But otherwise, sometimes, you need something to get the f-ing crap, noise, out of here.  I don’t care who is the fucking president.  I don’t care.  I don’t even care…  To concentrate, cause you want to concentrate on it.  I think, that’s all [drugs] ever did for me.”  

– – –

Nicholas MerrillNicholas Merrill, Founder of an encrypted email service, and the first person to file a constitutional challenge against the National Security Letters statute in the USA PATRIOT Act

On cybersecurity:

“Cybersecurity and the concerns about privacy are really two sides of the same coin, and…there are a lot of really uncontroversial examples in which organizations and people need confidentiality. Medicine is one. Journalism is another. Human rights organizations is an obvious third. We’re trying to make the case that if the right of Americans to encrypt their data and to have private information is taken away, that it’s going to have grave, far-reaching effects.”.

On the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping:

“The 800-pound gorilla in the room, is warrantless wiretapping and surveillance of Americans without any suspicion of wrongdoing. As we’ve heard with the revelations from Edward Snowden, this is a very widespread problem. And what I started to get a sense was happening back in 2004 was that essentially the rule of law was being eroded by a combination of the Department of Justice acting without proper checks and balances overseeing what they were doing. By evading the courts and by evading the court oversight and by issuing these national security letters themselves, they were able to gather huge amounts of information on Americans. And then, also by putting everyone under gag orders who received them, they were able to prevent anyone from talking about what was happening.”

– – –

Ron Wyden

Senator Ron Wyden (Dem. – Oregon), on the government’s secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act:

“When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the PATRIOT Act, they are going to be stunned, and they are going to be angry… The fact is, anyone can read the plain text of the PATRIOT Act, and yet many members of Congress have no idea how the law is being secretly interpreted by the executive branch, because that interpretation is classified… Members of the public have no access to the secret legal interpretations, so they have no idea what their government believes the law actually means.”

– – –

Barack ObamaBarack Obama – on the NSA:

“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs; the American people need to have confidence in them, as well…  I directed my national security team to be more transparent and to pursue reforms of our laws and practices.”

on America:

“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation. It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”

as Senator in 2005, on National Security Letters:

“When national security letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive, how wide-ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove that the search is necessary. All that is needed is a sign-off from a local FBI agent. That’s it. Once a business or a person receives notification that they will be searched, they are prohibited from telling anyone about it, and they’re even prohibited from challenging this automatic gag order in court. Even though judges have already found that similar restrictions violate the First Amendment, this conference report disregards the case law and the right to challenge the gag order. If you do decide to consult an attorney for legal advice, hold on. You will have to tell the FBI that you’ve done so. Think about that. You want to talk to a lawyer about whether or not your actions are going to be causing you to get into trouble. You’ve got to tell the FBI that you’re consulting a lawyer. This is unheard of. There is no such requirement in any other area of the law. I see no reason why it’s justified here. And if someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document, through the library books that you read, the phone calls that you’ve made, the emails that you’ve sent, this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear your plea; no jury will hear your case. This is just plain wrong.”

– – –

Damon BETMatt Damon

On President Obama:

There are a lot of things that I really question. You know, the legality of the drone strikes and these NSA revelations are — it’s like, Jimmy Carter came out and said we don’t live in a democracy. That’s a little intense when an ex-president says that. So, he’s got some explaining to do, particularly for a constitutional law professor.”

– – –

Kashimr HillKashmir Hill, journalist for

on privacy and the NSA:

“Reuters reports that it plans to cut 90% of its system administrators so there are fewer people with the kind of access to classified information that Snowden had. At least that will give the NSA more privacy.”

– – –

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin, on unhealthy coping mechanisms:

“Seeing that recognition in their eye that they’re not bad, their life has just been covered up with unhealthy coping mechanisms”

On material wealth, internal emptiness:

“You know, I had a similar experience in my life, in that all the stuff that I thought would make me happy, and fix me, just made me realize even more how empty I was inside, and that I needed something else.” 

On what parents give their children:

“”Every single happy moment that people share that has to do with their parents – it is never about some gift that they gave them.  It is always about that person’s attention, and feeling seen and understood by that parent.  I’ve never met somebody that was fucked up because they didn’t have money.  But there is so much emotional poverty in this country.  We don’t even- we’re so distracted by all the shiny shit, we don’t realize that it’s an epidemic!”

On materialism:

“You could call it material fetish.  We think that every piece of happiness has to be external.  And, my best memories, are hanging out.”

On parenting and discipline:

“I can never hear enough of parents being emotionally invested in their children’s lives, and really, seeing, their children, not trying to mold them into something they think is going to protect their child from the world.  I think that’s the biggest mistake parents make, is they think:  ‘I have to discipline this child into something that will survive well in the world,’ and while I think there certainly is a small component of that in your job as a parent, the bulk of it is just letting that kid know that they’re OK exactly as they are.  That they’re loved.”

On meeting needs:

“Everybody that does everything in life, you try to get a basic core need met.  You’re not trying to hurt anybody.  You’re trying to get a basic core need met.  You don’t know how to do it.  So, ‘I go with what I know.'”

– – –

Randy Olea

Randy Olea, guest on The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast

on the therapeutic process:

“My life started to change that very day.  You know, it was a re-birth day…  I realized that I’d been lying to myself and to a lot of other people about who I was.  And I realized that I had buried who I might have been, under a ton of fear.  And I think…that recovery is about recovering the true essence of who we are…  I have been in the process of recovering, really, the original Randy, who that kid was, as a youngster, who had a joy of life, and was loving, and caring, and wanted the best for himself and others.  Because I had totally just put a lot of distance between who that person is, and who I had become…  It’s really about finding out:  OK, why am I like this?  What has made me this way?”

– – –

John Wing

John Wing:  

“People have weird ways of telling you they love you.  And if you’re not, really, acutely, perceptive, you will miss that.”

– – –

MentalPod Listener:

“I love it when, on the rare occasion, my Dad is genuinely silly.”

– – –

Amy Tozer

Amy Tozer, comedian and guest on The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast

“I’m afraid that I’ll never be trusting enough to let somebody love me.”

– – –

Anonymous MentalPod Listener:

“I’ve been incredibly emotionally abusive to people in my past, specifically so they will feel the way about me that I feel about myself.”

– – –

Greg FitzsimmonsGreg Fitzsimmons – on our parents’ generation:

“Our parents grew up tough!  They grew up tougher than us.  They had a rougher life.  People were less evolved.  It wasn’t part of the playbook to externalize it.  It just wasn’t an option for them.”

– – –

Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow, Science Fiction Writer and Editor of Boing Boing, 

On the NSA:

“the NSA and its defenders continue to claim that the organization only spies on foreigners when they’re off US soil, and not on Americans or people in America (why this should comfort those of us who are neither Americans nor in America is a mystery to me).

But they harvest every word read and written on the Internet, including private communications, and scan it to see if it matches the name of someone they’re looking at — say, Vladimir Putin. Anyone whose communications contain the name or other details of the foreign target can also be spied upon, and the NSA says this doesn’t constitute domestic spying. So they’re not spying on all Americans, just every American who’s ever mentioned the name of a foreigner — and to accomplish this, they read every word everyone writes, but they’re using a computer to do it, so it doesn’t count.”

on Tabasco:

“I put Tabasco on everything. I’d use it for contact-lens solution if I could.”
– – –

Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky,

On terrorism and power: 

“Governments always plead security as an excuse—in the Snowden case, security from terrorist attack. This pretext comes from an administration carrying out a grand international terrorist campaign with drones and special operations forces that is generating potential terrorists at every step.”

– – –

Morris Berman

Morris Berman, author

On awareness in the moment:

“Whereas once my focus was on the desired object, a lot of the time now it shifts to the phenomenon of desire itself.  I’ve had the odd experience, for example, of seeing a very attractive woman in the street, or in a cafe, and having an aesthetic reaction rather than a sexual one:  Isn’t she good looking!  Or if I do have a sexual response, I sometimes find myself focusing on the response itself, as an object of contemplation.  This shift has been pretty new for me, a change that occurred only over the last few years.  Sometimes I think it’s just a case of libido slowing down with age, but I find that it takes place in nonsexual contexts as well.  For example, whereas my career was, in past years, of the utmost importance to me, I find these days that I don’t really have one, and I hardly ever think about it.  I’m just interested in ideas, for the most part, and in sharing them with other people.  Frankly, it’s a relief not to be preoccupied with all that stuff anymore.”

On authenticity:

Daniel Ellsberg

“Daniel Ellsberg [right] set himself on the road to authenticity in 1971 when he realized that the Vietnam war was based on a pack of lies and so released that information to the New 

York Times, at great personal risk to himself. But a heroic example such as this can be a bit misleading. Reflexivity can also occur on a quiet and private level, and be equally authentic. Consider the teenager who was raised in a strict religious tradition – it doesn’t matter which – and who slowly begins to question some of its basic tenets… Her parents, in any case, have very little interest in this newfound reflexivity and tell her in no uncertain terms that if she continues on this path, she’ll be going straight to hell.

But the questions won’t go away, and eventually she understands that the religion is basically just a story, an imaginative version of how the world works. If she’s aware enough, or even mature enough, she’ll be able to recognize that there are good and bad aspects to the story… She’ll be willing to ‘live in the question,’ as the German poet Rilke once put it.”


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