Consuming Inspiration 2

The internet is about sharing, and I find much on the internet that is inspirational.  We’re seven billion souls sharing the planet and the internet lets easily communicate what inspires us in a kind of mass journalism—making us all reporters.  We don’t create the content, but pass it on.  I guess that makes us all a kind of a wire service.  I’m retired, and I spend a lot of time alone, and most days are routine, one is like the next, but what makes my day distinctive, are these inspirational news stories, the documentaries I watch, and the books I read.  A documentary a day keeps the psychiatrist away.

I need air, water and food to stay alive, but I think it’s inspirational stories that really make me feel alive.  Now, one man’s inspirational story can be another person’s depressing tale.  I find inspiration in people overcoming adversity, or someone inventing something very clever, or even an economist coming up with a fascinating statistical chart.  Here are some more examples.

Tattoos That Go Beyond Art

I’ve never really liked tattoos, especially on women.  I guess that’s showing my age.  But I came across this story at The New York Times about a tattoo artist Vinnie Myers who has given up his artistic work to create 3D nipple tattoos on women who’ve undergone mastectomies and breast reconstruction.   Caitlin Kiernan wrote and filmed her transformation in  “A Tattoo That Completes a New Breast.”

At one point in the film Myers said he wanted to give up doing nipples all the time so he could return to inking art again, but then his sister got breast cancer, and he stopped worrying about going back to art to become a healer full-time.  Now his daughter wants to learn this new trade that is part artist and part healthcare provider.  Be sure and read the comments, they are very inspiring too.

Inequality in America

Most people when they talk about inequality in America think about helping poor people, but strangely it’s really about helping the middle class, and even expand the economy to make more rich people.  A thriving middle class is what drives our economy.  That helps both poor and rich alike.  But for decades the American middle class has shrunk as all the wealth has moved to a very few people.  We all share one giant pie, however that pie can grow, but it only grows if the middle class thrives.  Look at this video:

Robert Reich, Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor came out with a film last year about this problem, Inequality for All.  It’s available from many sources, including Netflix streaming.  Here’s the trailer.

The film describes the problem, but does not really go into the details of solving it.  Reich appears with Bill Moyers and they discus some solutions.  Watch this video below if you have the time, but definitely rent or buy the documentary Inequality for All because not only is it educational, informative, inspirational, it’s also very entertaining.  Robert Reich is a very charming guy.

Most people are turned off by economics, but that’s a shame.  The numbers are so mind blowing.  For instance, during the economic recover of 2009-2012 the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans took home 95% of the economic gains made during those years.  What that means is most Americans got poorer, while a damn few got much richer.  Do you ever wonder why the rich are against taxes, social security, Medicare, Obamacare, K-12 education, etc.?  Those are big pools of money that they haven’t gotten yet.

You might not be concerned about inequality of wealth in America because you believe it’s about poor people.  Well, except for the very rich, everyone is much poorer than they used to be, and getting poorer, including you.  It’s like the frog in the pot of boiling water.  We just don’t know how warm it is.  Reich points out we’ve hidden from this problem by two family incomes, working longer hours and having more jobs, and by going into debt.  For many people, options to adjust to declining income have run out.  If you play that Wealth Inequality in American animation above you’ll understand why.

Black and White, And Dead All Over

The newspaper was the answer to the old riddle, “What’s black and white and red all over?”  Well, newspapers are no longer read all over.  I didn’t worry too much about this change in society until I watched Black & White and Dead All Over.  What these writers reminded me of that I didn’t know, was corruption in society has always been checked by investigative newspaper reporting.  The trouble is investigative reporting is very expensive, and as newspaper began to loose money publishers often cut those reporters first.  Every town needs a paper that watches over local politics and business, but that’s disappearing.  Hundreds of papers have gone under in the last decade.  One of the big differences between the United States and the rest of the world is we have much less corruption.  I’d hate to see that change.  We still have lots of investigative reporting at the national level and a handful of big cities from the few remaining big papers, and from television news programs, and even documentary makers, but ever shrinking coverage everywhere else.

I caught this on PBS but it appears you’ll have to buy a copy for now to see it.  It is free with Amazon Prime, and just $3.99 on YouTube.

This film made me feel bad for not subscribing to my local paper, but I feel it’s a waste of natural resources to print newspapers, especially when I read so little of each one.  The film did profile ProPublica – an non-profit service that claims it is “Journalism in the Public Interest.”  They syndicate their stories to papers to defray the cost of investigative reporting.  What we all need to do is find out who does the investigative reporting where we live and support them.

If you subscribe to Netflix streaming, keep an eye on their documentaries.  They have zillions.  After Breaking Bad finished I’ve hungered for another intense TV show to watch every night, but I haven’t found one.  However, documentaries are filling the void, and some of them are as intensely good as watching the adventures of Walter White.

JWH – 6/19/14

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