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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

12-14-2022 - A Democratic Agenda, Tic Toc, Donations, and the Poetry-Music Connection

About Tic Toc

Last week’s New Yorker magazine included a lengthy article on Tic Toc.  In addition to pointing out how this site enables almost anyone’s simple musical videos to go viral, it also explained a lot about Tic Toc itself.

The tremendous success of Tic Toc, especially among young people, is based on its algorithms, which seem to be keyed to whatever it can find out about contributors, anything they have put on the internet or viewed there, and similarly, the identity of their contacts, and others to whom they may have communicated, and what their internet experience has been as well as that of the contributor, on Tic Toc or elsewhere.

Tic Toc viewers, many of whom are teenagers, usually watch a posting for just fifteen or twenty seconds, listen to the music, perhaps pass it on to others, and then jump to another and another and another, and still another, posting.  Visitors to other, more 'traditional' sites, like YouTube, usually watch something for at least several minutes.  That’s why Tic Toc postings have so many more followers than other sites and why many posting go viral.  Ultimately, this enables their ‘monetization’ but usually not for the benefit of the originator of the video.

Some, including government agencies, in this and other nations, consider their methods to be a dangerous invasion of privacy and ultimately a misuse of social media, particularly since Tic Toc’s servers are still located in China, the site having originated there, where government involvement is not impossible, with a lot of personal information conceivably ending up in its hands.

Without getting into most of Tic Toc’s content, suffice it to say that at best, it encourages ‘empty-headedness.’   At worst, who knows?  To find out more about Tic Toc, check out the New Yorker article at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/12/12/so-you-want-to-be-a-tiktok-star or by CLICKING HERE.  


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An Agenda For Democrats

Democrats might be happy that there was not ‘Red Wave’ on November 8 and that they gained a seat in the Senate and lost far fewer seats than they expected to lose in the House.  But that’s not enough.  

Too many voters stayed away from the polls, not understanding for what the Democratic Party and its candidates stood.  Merely being against the defeated former president and those he endorsed was not sufficient to bring about greater victories, particularly at the State legislature level.

Too many Democrats are wary of the Party’s progressive left (the remaining Sanders and Warren advocates and the growing number of youthful AOC supporters) and are content to try to appeal to the suburban middle of the road voters as sort of an old-fashioned ‘Repubican-lite’ Party. 

Here's some news, Democrats.  In the long run, that won’t workSooner or later the G.O.P., when they feel they no longer need their vote, will ditch the defeated former president’s followers, cleansing themselves, and where will that leave the Democrats?  They must have a strong fundamental agenda of their own, one of which they can be proud.   Here’s one for starters - - -

An Agenda that will ultimately succeed for Democrats:

  •       Unequivocally, be for full social and legal equality for all persons, regardless of ethnic, racial, religious, or sexual differences, including  LGBTQ individuals, specifically including marriages and family benefits.
  •         Unequivocally, be for abortion rights for women.
  •         Unequivocally, be for laws that will restrict the civilian possession of firearms except for non-military type weapons used for hunting, target shooting, or personal protection at home or in businesses.   
  •         Unequivocally, be for truthful presentation of American history in schools at all levels. 
  •         Unequivocally, be for removing any legislation which restricts the number of people eligible to vote.
  •         Unequivocally, be for keeping religion as a personal matter, without specific religious beliefs of any kind being practiced or reflected in any State or federal legislation, or in public education.     
  •         Unequivocally, be for the availability of health care to all Americans.
  •         Unequivocally, recognize that the planet’s environment must be preserved if mankind is to survive.
  •         Unequivocally, be for tax reform that benefits students, working people, and senior citizens.
  •         Unequivocally, be against tax reform that benefits businesses or the very wealthy.
  •         Unequivocally, be for unionization of employees.
  •         Unequivocally, recognize that the Constitution is a living document, adaptable to present social and economic realities.
  •        Unequivocally, be proud to make it clear than none of these positions are given a lower priority than any others of them nor are they subject to any compromises.  They are all important.  They are all fundamental.  They are all interconnected. 

Every elected Democrat, most of all those in Congress or in any State legislature, the forums in which these issues arise, should adopt this agenda.  It is no more extreme than political agendas that are diametrically opposed to these points that seem to work for Republicans.  It should be shouted from the rooftops!  Do that and everything else will then fall into place, including the Supreme Court. Halfway measures will not work! 


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Some Heavy Lifting - What is Music and Poetry For, Anyway? Why Bother?   Lincoln Did.

We communicate with words.  Why then is it necessary to dress those words up as poems so they are prettier?  Why is it necessary to set the thoughts behind them to a tune so they sound nicer?  Are music and poetry something we can do without?  Send your answers to this question to the blog. 

 Meanwhile, here is one I came across recently After attending a concert by pianist George Li at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, I found this in the ‘program notes’ (credited to Professor Lacey Golaszewski) about the composer, Robert Schumann,  whose compositions Li played.

“Schumann’s dual passion for music and literature, especially English and German, was ever apparent in his work in both.  His music frequently included literary references, and his writing often progressed from a discussion of poetry to that of music. For example, he writes, poetry is a bright crystal which purely and clearly mirrors the spiritual life of generations.  It is a glittering prism which reflects all colors in the most beautiful and pristine light.  The poet looks with yearning to the distant light of the stars and opens the wings of the soul.  And when the seventy minutes we call years have sounded, he rises like a phoenix, as the ashes of his feathers fall back, pure as tones from heaven. 

Tones are the finest matter the spirit can hold.  They alone are the greatest gift of the deity.  Thus music is the invisible bond which unites all souls, because harmony is the union of tonesThe spiritual realm of tones moves us deeply.  Tones and tears are one and the same – sensations from the soul.“

In 1861, four years after Schumann’s death, Abraham Lincoln expressed the same thought concerning ‘tones’ referring to them as ‘chords’ in his First Inaugural Address, when he said that “the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely, they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

His was the same allegory about which Schumann wrote in explaining poetry and music.  We remember Lincoln’s words because they were not only poetic but involved music as well, and of course were true.


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Getting Personal About Political Donations

During the mid-term elections, I made donations to candidates whom I felt needed my support.  These included winners like Rafael Warnock in Georgia, Mark Kelly in Arizona, and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.  I wrote out and mailed out 200 postcards in support of these last two.  Unfortunately, in Florida, both Charlie Crist and Val Demings, to whose campaigns I donated, both lost.  That was the fault of that State's Democratic Party, whose leadership's heads are buried in the sands of that State’s beaches.

But now is not the time to close your checkbooks.

Right now, with fascism rearing its ugly head, and with the Republicans unwilling to denounce those in their party who to varying extents tolerate or support it, it is important to support organizations actively fighting it.  It was no accident that the defeated former president recently hosted white supremacist, antisemitic, Holocaust-denying, guests for lunch at Mar-a-Lago. You cannot just sit by idly, wringing your hands. 

Your donations are necessary to counteract the millions of dollars of ‘dark money’ consistently pouring into the coffers of those out to destroy American democracy.  Where do you think those like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene get their financial support?  It’s not from just the voters in their districts. I  recommend donating whatever you can afford, even if just a few dollars, to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), both of which have identified these enemies of democracy and battle them.  I have donated to both.


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Blog Business:

Email Alerts:  If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. 

You can pass those email addresses to me by emailing me at jacklippman18@gmail.com .

Paintings:  Recently added to the blog is a feature showing one of my paintings.  (Besides writing, I also paint with acrylics for recreation.)  Right now, it features my latest work, but it will be periodically revised to show earlier paintings.  You can find it off to the right on your desktop or tablet.  

Forwarding Postings: And of course, please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  The place to send them is: https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com

Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, has revised its forwarding abilities.  If you click on the envelope with the arrow at the conclusion of every posting, (it looks like this:  ), you will have the opportunity to list as many email addresses as you wish, along with a comment from you, each of which will receive a link to the full blog that you now are reading, with all of its bells and whistles.  This is a great advance from the very basic format Google Blogspot originally provided when they forwarded something for you.  It might take a few minutes longer for your message to be transmitted but this method of forwarding offers the advantage of being able to forward jackspotpourri to many addresses simultaneously. Try it.

Either way will work, sending them the link above or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting.  


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