In my last entry I mentioned the idea of our social networks as prosthetics for our minds. I gave the example of the boy born without a cerebellum who’s family had filled in for his missing capacity, truly becoming a prosthetic cerebellum. I went on to consider how my friends and family had served as agents for me, enabling me to achieve goals I couldn’t due to my incarceration. What I had NOT thought about was what role I might serve as a mental prosthetic for my friends. What do they get out of association with me? Being incarcerated I can’t physically help them with tasks. I can’t help someone move or give them plants from my garden for theirs. The only service/roll/benefit I can serve must be emotional, or maybe intellectual. I hope that visiting me isn’t just an obligation that friends and family fulfill. I hope that they get something out of it. Roz had always been impressed with my ability to handle a potentially depressing situation and to always remain optimistic. Maybe that’s what I can serve as: a prosthetic optimistic outlook. *smile*
I have just finished reading Fear by Bob Woodward, one of the 2 Watergate reporters. I chose to read his book on the Trump presidency because he has some 40 years of journalistic experience and is highly respected for his detailed and factual reporting. He documents his sources while researching the material and though the sources aren’t directly revealed in the book you know that he has done a thorough job verifying and corroborating his facts. I would say it is a stunning picture of a chaotic white house except that there are so many other reports saying the same. The fact that he is such a well respected journalist and is known for his detailed, meticulous and documented research lends credibility to all those other accounts of problems of our current president. 2 things struck me. His book only goes up to about mid ’18, when the president’s lawyer, Dowd, quit. The first thing that struck me is if things were that bad with Kelly, Mattis, Cohen and Dowd around, how much worse must they be now. Dowd, for instance, was replaced by Guliani and as anyone who has seen him on TV can see, that was not an improvement. The second observation was a stylistic one. Woodward’s book was a pretty easy read even though it didn’t follow a single topic or even a strictly chronological order. What made it an engaging read was the fact that he wrote it almost exclusively in dialogue. He is recreating the dialogue from participant or eye witness accounts but he writes it as if we were there eavesdropping. I realized that writing dialogue is a serious weakness in my writing style. *pout*
Speaking of writing, I have prepared another piece for the UNO creative writing class. It is a poem titled Breaking The Chains in memory of Terry Berry, the guy who was choked to death by his cellie in the hole last year (4/14/18). The assignment had been to write about a scar or tattoo and I understand the pegogocical reasoning behind the assignment, writing on something physical and intimate is a good way to practice being concrete and descriptive in your language. However, when I went to write I was inspired to do something with my feelings over Terry’s murder. I liked the piece though I thought it could use some more polishing (I had edited it a bit already) but when I read it out loud to the class I have to say I was impressed with how well it captured my emotions. I was also very happy when, during the class feedback, where I couldn’t talk, even those who had never met Terry were able to make an association with someone that they had known. Specific yet universal. According to the reading the prof. gave us that is the unattainable ultimate goal of poetry. *chuckle* I look forward to feedback from the UNO student(s). I was intrigued to find out that the one student who had been reviewing my work so far is working on their Masters in Criminal Justice and, like me, is interested in reforming the Nebraska criminal injustice system (their turn of phrase). In the review of my haikus from last week they mentioned that fact and had apparently read through some of my blog as well as the articles from the forum (Hi *wave*).
Colin told me that there are several new members signed up for the forum above and beyond him (admin), Bill (dev), and Denise (moderator). I hope that the new members are finding the information on the forum interesting and useful. I am starting a campaign to spread the word about the forum to begin to build the community necessary to make a forum/wiki useful. I have shared the articles (through my father) with the Inspector General of Corrections and invited him to join. I sent the article links to John Krejci, a long time NE activist for criminal justice reform, and also encouraged him to join. I also sent the articles to Mary Lee Brock, the Creighton prof. who is supposed to be taking over and restarting the Nebraska Criminal Justice Review newsletter. Next I want to share the articles with all the state senators on the NE legislature’s Judiciary committee. I think they should know NDCS is miscalculating the overcrowding and that they have absolutely no plan for (or have even thought about) how to deal with what they admit is an inevitable declaration of an overcrowding emergency in 2020. I would like to also share it with as many media outlets as possible in the hopes that one of them might pick up on the story. Taking the advice of my UNO reviewer I might also share my poem in memory of Terry Berry.
On a different note, yet with a similar political agenda, I watched a new show on Adult Swim on Friday (I think). I believe it was called Soft Focus and it was both informative and hilarious. It is a comedy news interview, very much like Samantha Bee does in Full Frontal. Each episode is on one subject. For instance, the first one I saw was about sexism in gaming. The host (I don’t remember her name, but she looks a lot like a younger Samantha Bee) asked a few male gamers about sexism in gaming, then she invited them to try out some new VR tech she was demoing. They sat in a room in a VR headset and (fake) body suit and were submitted to a VR simulation of extreme sexual harassment, including some real sensory stimuli (thus the fake body suit). Afterwards she asked their opinions and the one guy who had been saying that the women were usually asking for it told her that she should do a secret camera set up and show it on TV, which is exactly what she was doing to him. Hahaha! I won’t even try to explain the insanity of the next episode where she interviewed John McAfee, the developer of the anti-malware software, person wanted for murder in Belize, one time Libertarian candidate for president, and total nut-job. You just have to see the episode to believe it. *chuckle*
Speaking of politics…I wanted to mention how much I admire the subtlety of the NPR sound editors who create the musical interludes between news pieces. Right after the announcement that Mr. Stone, the long time friend and adviser of president Trump, had been indicted on several charges, they played an instrumental version of Auld Lang Syne. I couldn’t help but sing alone “May old acquaintance be forgot” and then I realized why they had played it after the piece about Trump’s friend, Stone. LOL!
Today I got an email from Roz. She is back in Malaysia so she’s out from behind the Great Firewall of China and can access JPay email again. Ha! She had sent a couple of group emails to my parents and they had forwarded them to me but now she and I can email directly. Her first group email was about her experience trying to practice taiji in Shanghai. You always hear about groups of people congregating in parks in China to collectively practice taiji so one evening she went for a walk and found a nice place to practice right at sunset. Soon a police officer came running up to her shouting, which of course she didn’t understand as she doesn’t speak Mandarin. After a “conversation” with the cop, using translation apps on their phones, she found out they didn’t allow taiji practice at night, only in the morning. Imagine that, I actually have more freedom to practice taiji than Roz did in China. LOL! Unfortunately, with the extreme cold over the past month I haven’t been able to go out to yard to practice once. *pout* Maybe this weekend when it hits 50. *smile*
I have finally settled on a topic for my next Toastmasters’ speech. It is the 8th of the 10 necessary for the Competent Communicator certificate and the 8th is supposed to be a persuasive speech. I gave an earlier speech where I attempted to persuade the members to “escape” prison by practicing gratitude on a regular basis. I failed to adequately connect with the audience and I don’t believe anyone has actually tried practicing gratitude. I chose a topic that I was emotionally engaged with but I didn’t succeed in engaging the audience emotionally. This time I am choosing a topic which I am attached to but also that the audience is already involved in. Yeah, I’m cheating. *chuckle* I’m going to give a speech on how NDCS is miscalculating the overcrowding and has no plan for dealing with an overcrowding emergency and then ask each to write one or more of the state senators on the Judiciary committee to share that information with them. A snail mail spam campaign. Ha!