Running for Your Life: If the Greats Were With Us Thursday

Today’s “Greats” honors Dwight D. Eisenhower. Why? For the greatest political speech in post-TV American history.

His topic? On what now we take as a vested interest that will never be torn asunder: the military-industrial complex.

(And this speech in 1961 occurred long before the military- and defense contract-serving NSA got its act down on tracking every shred of the people’s social and political lives.)

Consider these ideas and just try to imagine them being uttered by any one of our current leaders, in or out of office:

  • We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

  • It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

  • We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

If only Eisenhower were with us. Alas, he is not. But these ideas are sound and the MIC much more threatening to our “democracy” than it was in this great American’s day.

Talk about making America great again! Let’s do something about the unstinting control exercised in our lives by the MIC of 2016.

Next: Running for Your Life: Deep State S--t

Running for Your Life: Screen Grab

The backlash is on!

Ex-blogger extraordinaire Andrew Sullivan fired the bazooka in this week’s New York magazine, to wit:

There might be a few of you who bookmark this essay – or more radically – set aside time RIGHT NOW! to read it. Do otherwise and yes, as they said in The Sixties, consider yourself part of the problem – not the solution.

Readers of this blog have seen these thoughts here before. In fact, I’ve been running without headphones – more interested in achieving a meditative high than an adrenaline high – for forty years next year. On July 17, 2012, I wrote:

“Item: Nokia slashes price of Lumia 900 Windows phone to $49.99 with a two-year contract.

Item: Young man in Prospect Park flogging cut-rate mobile-phone service near-interrupts me, thrusting a promotional postcard, while I’m on a fast-paced run.

It’ll get you, Internet addiction. Consider the following:

Item: The brains of Internet addicts look like brains of drug and alcohol addicts.

Item: A researcher on aging and memory selected 12 experienced Web users and 12 inexperienced ones and passed them all through a brain scanner. The difference was striking, with the Webbies showing fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes. The novices went away for a week and were asked to spend a TOTAL of five hours online. The brains of the novices had rewired and were similar to the Webbies.

Item: The average teen processes 3,700 texts a month (123 texts daily).

Item: Teens fit some seven hours of screen time into the average school day; 11, if you count the time spent multitasking on several devices.

How hypocritical of me. People turning to this blog – either on a mobile device, a PC, a Mac, etc. – are adding to their screen time. And too often every day I find myself checking to see how many visits my blog posts have attracted. I’m typing into a computer screen right now, my rewired brain piqued by the rush that I’m attracting readers, maybe even followers.

In the event of followers, listen to this: Log off. Go out for a run. Pet the dog. Pick up a pen and journal and write. Call a friend and make a plan to play tennis, or golf. You can be assured that Facebook and Twitter – and yes, Running for Your Life – will be there when you get back.”

So consider this shout-y protest as a grab for your screen. I am not so arrogant as to think that my way is better. (I use a flip phone that gets less smart by the day). Rather, I’m happy to have more company in the forefront of the backlash against the screen that mirrors your brain.

Next: Running for Your Life: Deep State S--t

Running for Your Life: September!

Back to school on Resolution Row: weigh less, drink fewer bottles, exercise more.

What fades in summer under the weight of humid air, lazy days, beachcomber malaise revives in the cool air of September. The extremes of the heat dome may return but it is more cap than cover. Soon to be swept off in the cold of October, the bite of November. September, that elegant pause between.

While summer is now, fall triggers memories. Action movies give way to emotional dramas, character driven. The dog, Thurber, taps energy that for months lay dormant within him. In Prospect Park, the New Doggy Beach is open. He is like a pup again.

The air conditioner is off. For days at a time. Weeks and weeks it whirred and rattled, making for unsound sleep. In September, subway platforms are no longer murderously sweltering. Sweat doesn’t bead on your forehead as you read a book, waiting for the express. You remember what you read, even pull out your notebook and write down an idea.

Celebrate September! Your friends are back in town for the season. Make a date for a coffee, a beer, an ale instead of a pilsner. Drink up (but not much, you’re on a diet). Raise a toast: It’s September!

Next: Running for Your Life: Screen Grab

Running for Your Life: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? By Yanis Varoufakis

So you live in a nation where either Anthony Weiner or Donald Trump command the headlines – not just in the tabloids but in the papers of record too.

Americans may be racing to the heavens in Silicon Valley (SpaceX and Blue Origin, a colony on Mars, anyone?), but in political, economic and social news, it’s a race to the bottom. That’s not so much a comment about American global power or domestic economic health. Rather about the quality of its news and commentary.

Then there is “And the Weak Suffer What They Must?” by Yanis Varoufakis, a onetime finance minister of Greece. In a single volume published by Nation Books (Hachette), Varoufakis follows the money in a well-written expose of surprising literary flourish on the modern global economy, with the US and Europe at its center.

Consider this splash of wisdom, in which he quotes from Thucydides’s Pelopennsian War, a portion that was underlined by John Maynard Keynes:

“There it was underlined in pencil, the famous passage in which powerful Athenian generals explained to the helpless Melians why ‘rights’ are only pertinent ‘between equals in power’ and, for this reason, they were about ‘to do as they pleased with them.’ It was because ‘the strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.’”

A harsh concept. But words to learn by. You won’t go wrong in getting a firmer grasp of where we are – and where we are heading – than by sitting down and reading this book.

Next: Running for Your Life: September! 

Running for Your Life: Keeping Up the Blog

Why write?

A reasonable question. For someone like me, a lifelong newshound, it’s something I care dearly about. Back when I started in the newspaper business, readers began the day with the paper that was delivered to their home. And many writers, like me, found a future in finding, selling to editors, and then writing stories in those papers for you to read.

Now readers get their news from places sourced by Google and Facebook. Ad dollars always chase readers, that’s how the business works. Facebook and Google represent 72 percent of all digital ad revenue outside of China, according to a leading research analyst.

With readers migrating to the Web and mobile platforms for their stories, some writers like me have taken to blog-keeping as one way of reaching readers. In my case, this blog works as an idea forum, a place to make contact with old friends and new friends, and a spur on to, as Nike says, Just Do It. In my case that's Running, Reading and Writing.

Keeping up the spirit of the chase for new ideas and different ways to convey them, if you will. (Not in the vein of Keeping up With the Kardashians – there is a meaningful book, or an idea of merit in any of that? If so, please advise.)

So here goes. Delivering on forty years of writing experience, not in the pages of a newspaper, but in the digital space of a blog. For more reasons to write, please take a moment. Read a blog “back issue” below. My hope is, there will be something of value in those previous posts for you. A lesson, a wise thought. An occasional bon mot.

Next: Running for Your Life: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? By Yanis Varoufakis