The Curious Autodidact

March 20, 2017

How Broken is our Mental Health System?

Filed under: book related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:48 pm

While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness

The brutality that took place on a summer night in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood is a horrific incident no one will soon forget. Stranger writer and Seattle native, Eli Sanders, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the story and resulting trial and crafted his work into this amazing book While the City Slept.

Certainly, it is the story of a crime but more it is the story of the broken mental health system, in Seattle’s King County, and in the wider country. Sanders has incredible respect for the surviving partner which is handled with nothing short of grace. He also carefully dissects the steps the perpetrator went through, on his journey into brutal madness, and into the criminal justice system. If there is finger pointing it is a system that allowed this man to go improperly treated and monitored.

The book is so well-crafted and so compelling written you will want to read it in but a few sittings.

The bravery of the courtroom testimony, about the crime, and the compassion to see that this young man barely had a chance, from his humble beginnings ,will move readers way after the book is closed.

Read it and realize we have a mental health crisis in our country that spawns neglect, horrific crimes, drug abuse, and prisons bursting at the seams. Read the book and work for mental health parity and more resources to help those who suffer most among us.

“Inspiring . . . From a harrowing crime, it draws powerful lessons for our mental health and criminal justice systems that can’t be ignored.”

Sister Helen Prejean, bestselling author of Dead Man Walking

 

February 20, 2017

Krista Tippett: A Gem

 

Krista Tippett is a National Treasure. She lived in Germany and was a foreign correspondent for the NYT. She went to divinity school and has become an expert in creating spaces for civil conversations in a time of too little of this.

She hosts a show called “On Being” that books fascinating guests. She was the recipient of the  National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2014, and has won a Peabody Award. I am surprised more people aren’t aware of her work and her great show.

She most recently is the author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living which she has issued a great discussion guide for each chapter to encourage people to share their thoughts about the book.  She explores the materials for a meaningful life:

Words — The language we use to tell stories to ourselves and others;
Body — “The body is where every virtue lives or dies”;
Love — More than something we fall into or out of, love is “the only aspiration big enough for the immensity of the human community.”;
Faith — “Literal reality is not all there is.”;
Hope — Hope has nothing to do with optimism or wishing, rather it reflects reality and reveres truth. Hope is a habit.

She has also written Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit and Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters—and How to Talk About It. 

Her interview style is intelligent and almost always enlightening. She features guests you are familiar with a some that you will not be. Also interesting is the fact that she releases the one-hour edited show and also the raw version.

Some of my favorites of her podcast include Rep. John Lewis, Pico Iyer, Parker Palmer with Courtney Martin, David Isay, Maria Popova, Ruby Sales, Mary Karr, Gordon Hempton, Isabel Wilkerson, Jimmy Wales, and Pauline Boss.

Here Krista is interviewed by the talented Debbie Millman.

 

September 27, 2015

Leaning Into Sharp Points

Filed under: book related,end of life,helpful hints — Honilima @ 11:51 am

Leaning into Sharp Points by Stan Goldberg is a brilliant book full of insights and practical advice about what it is to be a caregiver and what ways one can properly care for someone with intention, compassion, and love.

There were several lines that I made notes of including: “The decision to die in a hospital has the underlying premise that the length of time left to live in more important than the quality of time remaining”

Reading the book cover-to-cover in order is an option but it is also a book that can be sampled and dipped in and out of. Clearly Stan Goldberg knows of what he writes and cares about the various people he has seen to as a hospice carer. His willingness to share his experience and wisdom is a gift to all readers.

I have read many books of this ilk and this one stands out as one of the best

August 21, 2015

The Liberators: History Brought to Life

Filed under: book related,media related — Honilima @ 10:20 am

The Liberators by Michael Hirsh

Podcasts of radio shows are a fun to learn new things and often brings history to life. On Point Radio had a great show featuring Michael Hirsh, author of “The Liberators: America’s Witnesses to the Holocaust.” He interviewed more than 150 World War II veterans who entered the concentration camps.

Milton Silva is also featured, he was a sergeant with the Army’s 120th Evacuation Hospital who arrived at the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp on April 14, 1945, as U.S. troops liberated the complex and began helping survivors.

Stanley Friedenberg is the other guest, he was an officer in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps. He arrived at the Nazi Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 5, 1945, in the hours after U.S. troops first entered the complex. Part of the Buchenwald system of subcamps, Ohrdruf was the first concentration camp to be liberated by American soldiers. Later, Friedenberg was also at the concentration camp at Gusen-Mauthausen, in Austria, on May 5.

June 28, 2015

Roz Chast: National Book Critic Award Winner & National Book Award Finalist

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff,women heroes — Honilima @ 11:40 pm

If like me and you smile when opening your The New Yorker and seeing one of Roz Chast’s cartoons you must read her book Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. She has appeared on those pages since 1978 and focused primarily on domestic topics. This book is a cartoon memoir that candidly capture her experience seeing to her parent’s needs at the end of their lives. She is an only child, they have lived in the same New York apartment she grew up in. It is an amazing book, all I could think about was her reliving all these things as she got about halfway into this artistic project and what it was like to read this one of kind terrific book. If you aren’t yet convinced listen to her on KQED’s radio segment.

June 24, 2015

Recycled Posting: Studying the Japanese American Internment

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff,media related — Honilima @ 2:51 am

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I heard a podcast of Kiyo Sato talking about her book Kiyo’s Story: A Japanese-American Family’s Quest for the American Dream, and she sounded so young telling her family’s story I couldn’t believe she was a senior citizen. Her talk was lively and candid. She told of how she did presentations to school children so that this ugly piece of American history will not be forgotten. Her book is highly recommend.

If like you this book gets you more curious about the history surrounding Executive Order 9066 exploring it further using the many on-line resources about the WWII Internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans including this annotated list of materials.

There’s a digital archive of photos out of University of California that are amazing to browse.  Here’s recent radio show from NPR’s affiliate KUOW featuring stories from internment in Minidoka.

Out of Seattle’s International District comes the nonprofit
Densho, a Japanese term meaning: “to pass on to the next generation,” or to leave a legacy. This extensive project includes 500 hours of oral history and over 8000 visual images. Check it out and  learn what this experience was like for so many law-abiding citizens whose stories should be honored and remembered.

Nikkei: persons of Japanese ancestry
Issei: First generation Japanese immigrants to America. Federal law prevented them from becoming naturalized citizens until 1952.
Nisei: Second generation, born in the U.S. and citizens by birth.

June 21, 2015

Podcasts of Merit

Filed under: book related,media related,social justice,Word Related — Honilima @ 3:34 pm

Image result for vintage microphone
There are so many great things to list to in the podcast category for free through I-Tunes or on the web. These are great to listen to while driving, doing housework, or even while updating your blog.

If you aren’t a regular listen to KQED radio’s program FORUM in San Francisco you may well become a regular listener once you hear one of the outstanding programs. One that struck my fancy of late was on called Why Books Matter an interview with LA Times book critic David Ulin about his book The Lost Art of Reading. If you are a fan of reading this program will tickle your fancy.

If reading interests you the Thomas Jefferson Hour‘s program on Education#839 is a must-listen. Clay Jenkinson’s program in character as Thomas Jefferson is usually outstanding but this was one i sent to several friends who are teachers.

“People generally have more feeling for canals and roads than education. However, I hope we can advance them with equal pace.” -Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 1807

It got us to sit down after dinner and write down as many countries in Africa we could each recall, indeed an interesting exercise. We studied the atlas to find out which we missed and did it again the next night, it’s a good brain stretch and certainly proves Jenkinson’s point about American’s limited knowledge of geography especially the continent of Africa.

May 30, 2015

USA: A Prison State

Filed under: book related,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:46 pm

From 1973 to 2009, the prison population grew from about 200,000 to approximately 2.2 million. With this spike, the U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population.

If the Marshall Project has gotten you thinking about America’s vast prison industrial complex, or if you have taken a road trip on America’s Blue Highways and seen the spreading of prisons outside small towns you are aware of how many resources are now put into locking up prisoners. Why do we spent some any tens of thousands of dollars to lock up people for even petty crimes? Why don’ t we work harder to help these people live productive straight lives when they are released?

There are many theories about this and it seems it has finally gotten to the point it is so bizarre that even George Soros and the Koch Brothers have decided to help fund programs to stop mass incarceration.

If you want to know more please read: The New Jim Crow  by Michelle  Alexander, Inside This Place Not of It by Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman, (you can hear them at Columbia University here <begin at minute 25>) New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover, or Running the Books by Ari Steinberg.

You can watch the Frontline program Prison State about Kentucky. Then listen to Stanford trained civil rights attorney/author Michelle Alexander from a 2010 appearance at the University of Washington. She reminds us that there are more African Americans are incarcerated, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850! Black men under the age of 35 with no high school diploma are now more likely to be in jail than working in the labor market, sad indeed, but you should move to change it with small steps by talking to your politicians about how distasteful it is that prisons are becoming rural employment centers and prisons upon release have so few options and resources.

May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Podcasts Worth a Listen

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 9:31 pm

Here are a few podcast that are worth a listen either on your mp3 player or on your computer via the links detailed below.

John Mcphee.jpg

Pulitzer Prize winning author John McPhee appears on the program On Point Radio and talks about his career as a writer. He is a brilliant author and one is reminded of his great mind during this interview, you will want to go back and read at least one of his thirty books.

Thom Hartmann’s latest book is “Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture.” He spoke at Town Hall Seattleand his talk can be listened to on-line here.

National Endowment for the Humanities chairman Jim Leach talking about his ‘civility tour’ on Michael Krasney’s KQED program FORUM. Also interviewed by Mr. Krasney is playwright Dan Hoyle talking about his 100 day road trip across America touring small towns and his work “Real Americans.”

May 17, 2015

The Kaizen Way: One Small Step Can Change Your Life

Filed under: book related,helpful hints — Honilima @ 2:17 pm

This is a little book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer, PhD but that doesn’t mean it is easily forgotten. It is about the Kaizen way but written for Westerners and accessible for a wide audience.  I have given it to people of all ages including a recent college grad who told me he read it and then turned it over and reread it right away to see what he might have missed.

The theory is that we must achieve large changes by starting with the smallest steps and learning to grow using this method which is simple but for some quite hard too. Kaizen is about small incremental improvement. This is a great guide book to increasing your effectiveness and outlook on daunting tasks that you can simplify into manageable steps. This  books makes a stunning graduation gift that will have very practical applications.

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