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September 2016

Problem Solvers…ish #17: Political Cows and Facebook Vitriol

So, the campaign season that is Monkey House 2016 is in high gear. Unfortunately, so is the Facebook vitriol that keeps showing up in your feed! These people are your friends, right? Or, at least they were back in April, before everybody lost all sense of political proportion.

Artists rendering of what political discourse might look like Facebook vitriol took place in physical gathering places, such as cafés, instead of in "the cyber" of social media, (by Manuel Cabral y Aguado Bejarano).
Artists rendering of what political discourse might look like if all this recent Facebook vitriol took place in physical gathering places, such as cafés, instead of in “the cyber” of social media, (by Manuel Cabral y Aguado Bejarano).

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Growl #1: Richard Wolff on the TPP and Vanishing Higher Ed Careers

"Economic Update with Richard D, Wolff" airs on Greylock Nation weekly on Friday mornings at 10 EST and repeats on the following Monday at 2 p.m. EST.
“Economic Update with Richard D, Wolff” airs on Greylock Nation weekly on Friday mornings at 10 EST and repeats on the following Monday at 2 p.m. EST.

Long before I had the chance to have a conversation with Richard Wolff about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I heard him speak on an episode of Alternative Radio, entitled “Capitalism: Fantasies & Realities.” I was, I thought at the moment the show came on, not in the mood to hear another dry diatribe against an economic system that has so obviously blown a gasket. The facts were plain. The evidence was all around us, and yet such a tiny fraction of the American population seemed to have a clue that I couldn’t fathom how another academic exploration of the subject was going to do anybody any good. Keep Reading

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FICTION:
Selecting Cantaloupes

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

by Jason Velázquez

"Rock Melons," by Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
“Rock Melons,” by Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
He remembered that she liked cantaloupe. Correction: he remembered that she loved cantaloupe. She told him that if he were ever to be exiled to a desert island and only given three food choices for the rest of his life, he should choose turkey, kale, and cantaloupe because they provided (in combination) all the nutrients a body needed to survive. But that had nothing to do with her love of cantaloupe. She just ate the hell out of it whenever it was around.

She taught him how to pick out a good one, too, at the store. She had never been wrong. This past Saturday, at the store, there was something about the way the old lady in the produce section was holding the cantaloupe Saturday afternoon that reminded him of her. Except that when he asked the old lady if she’d found a good one, she told him, no, she didn’t think so. She was never very good at selecting fruits or vegetables if she couldn’t see, plainly, how ripe they were.

He stepped up to the pile in the display bin and sorted through some until he located one with a mostly beige cast to its exterior. He picked up the lacy-skinned melon, and held its navel up to his nose. He inhaled slowly but deeply with both his nose and mouth, allowing the scent of the nectar inside to travel into his brain, allowing his instincts to guide his judgment. Then, holding the cantaloupe centered on his left palm, he thocked the rind firmly in several places on the fruit’s body. He listened for a certain tone, a certain resonance. Echolocation for sweetness and succulence, she had laughed, back then.

Lastly, he held the cantaloupe in both hands and weighed it. Not for its total mass, but more to judge its density, it’s ratio of sugar to size to juice to flesh. He hefted it up and down a few times. His face changed from a set of critical concentration to an easy, relaxed smile of approval.

He had been explaining the entire process to the old woman as he went along. The old woman did not take notes, but seemed to be hanging on his every pronouncement. When he placed the chosen one into her hands, she thanked him with a relief that was visible. She asked him if the same technique could be used on other melons. Somewhat with honeydews, he told her. Not at all with watermelons.

How the hell did anyone get to be her age and not know how to select a good cantaloupe?

He picked one out for himself and ambled over to an express check-out line behind a young couple who were purchasing twelve gallon-jugs of spring water. After they carried their water away, the young cashier caught herself flirting with him, and then, annoyed at his taking notice, switched to curt, just shy of brusque. She rang up his eggs, mouthwash, and cantaloupe. He told her he didn’t need a bag, either paper or plastic.

About midway into the next month, the light in the back of the refrigerator revealed that the cantaloupe, now also in the back of the refrigerator on the top shelf, had developed a white fuzzy glaze on one side. The mold had almost exactly the same pristine white appearance as that of the decorative glaze on gingerbread men and certain other Christmas cookies. The melon had begun to collapse in on itself. It sat in a gooey pool of the juices of its own disintegration, leaking from a crack in the rind either in the back or on the bottom that he couldn’t see from this angle.

He pushed a glass jar with three green olives in it and a plate of carrot cake that he should probably have covered out of the way to make room for the remainder of the rotisserie chicken that he’d purchased at the very same market the cantaloupe had come from.

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Plenty #7: Darra Goldstein Helps Ferment the Food Revolution with CURED

Thanks for joining us for another mouthwatering helping of Plenty, the farm and table podcast that examines the people, practices, and policies that affect what goes on behind the menu and beyond the shopping list. This episode? Number 7. “Darra Goldstein Helps Ferment the Food Revolution” with the brand new journal of food preservation, CURED, from Zero Point Zero Media.

The pickled Kyoto specialty, Shibazuke, is a mix of chopped eggplant, ginger and a cucumber-like vegetable known as uri gourd. The vegetables are traditionally allowed to ferment in brine for about a year, but more modern versions involve salting them for a month (photo, Akihito Yoshida).
The pickled Kyoto specialty, Shibazuke, is a mix of chopped eggplant, ginger and a cucumber-like vegetable known as uri gourd. The vegetables are traditionally allowed to ferment in brine for about a year, but more modern versions involve salting them for a month (photo, Akihito Yoshida).

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Top Left Corner #35: Jessica Sweeney Discusses New ROOTS Teen Center

Jess Sweeney, executive directory of the ROOTS Teen Center, with members of the MCLA LEAD Academy, who helped get the center ready for operations.
Jess Sweeney, executive directory of the ROOTS Teen Center, with members of the MCLA LEAD Academy, who helped get the center ready for operations.

I’d been looking forward to having Jess Sweeney on the show again, and with the upcoming grand opening of the new ROOTS Teen Center, the reason couldn’t be better!

Jessica Sweeney, founder and director of the Common Folk Artist Collective; photo by Jason Velazquez
Jessica Sweeney, founder and director of the Common Folk Artist Collective, is the founding executive director of the new ROOTS Teen Center; photo by Jason Velazquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

The center will be a safe, welcoming place where youth can explore their creativity and build strong, positive connections to their community. Check out their Facebook page for updates.

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WDIJW? “Dream”

by Tessa Violet, Video directed by Isaac White

A heartfelt and dizzying confession and profession of longing for a love that may just yet be warm to the touch.

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Problem Solvers…ish #16: Game Day Awkwardness

Game Day
Game Day

So, you’re invited over to watch the big game with a pack of armchair athletes—what fun, right? Alcohol, grub, and lots, and lots of explosive volume. Can’t you just smell the testosterone (and maybe a fair share of estrogen) in the air? The pre-game show is buzzing in the background, and the den is shoulder to shoulder on the couches with raving fans. So what’s the problem? Your host just said the Celtics are looking good this season, and you responded, “Yeah! They’re one helluva hockey team!” Whoops. Not the best way to start off game day.

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Will Call #50: Hancock Shaker Village Appoints Jennifer Trainer Thompson New President and CEO

Pittsfield, Mass.—The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced Wednesday, September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson as president and chief executive officer. Ms. Thompson will assume her new role at the end of the year from her current post as senior vice president of partnerships and external affairs at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson to the positions of president and CEO of the landmark institution (photo, Robert S. Colantuono).
The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson to the positions of president and CEO of the landmark institution (photo, Robert S. Colantuono).

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Problem Solvers…ish #15: Eating Healthy (Healthily? Healthfully?) Is Hard!

Some problems strike at the very essence of living! Eating healthy takes time, money, and planning. Eating crap is quick and easy. That garbage is jumping into your mouth before the bag is half open! I wonder how our stalwart problem solvers…ish will help our struggling listener find his or her way to culinary bliss and balance?

Are you eating healthy and getting your recommended daily servings of artificial, yet convincing, foods?
Are you eating healthy and getting your recommended daily servings of artificial, yet convincing, foods?

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Top Left Corner #34: The Prejudice We Deny, the Racism that Kills

Part 2 of our series, “The Shattered Shield” examines the way institutionalized racism subtly, sometimes subconsciously, guides official action leading to dire consequences.

Tracey Benson, former principal of Pittsfield High School (still image from interview by We Are Pittsfield). Perspectives on racism were not discussed in that interview.
Tracey Benson, former principal of Pittsfield High School (still image from video interview by We Are Pittsfield).

Today is Sunday, September 11, 2016. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I do thank you for tuning in to Episode 35 of the Top Left Corner.

This installment of the show features a tragic continuation of a conversation that I had with Tracey Benson, who was first a guest on this show in April of 2015 in advance of his MCLA appearance with Veronica Benavides. That public discussion revealed the outcome of their case study, “Letters from Ferguson: A Community’s Response to Race and Racism.”

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Problem Solvers…ish #14: Lightning Round of Troubles!

Graphic created with "Problem," by Ryan Jay Crisostomo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons and "Cloud to Ground Lightning in Norman, Oklahoma" (Public Domain via the NOAA Photo Library)
Graphic created with “Problem,” by Ryan Jay Crisostomo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons and “Cloud to Ground Lightning in Norman, Oklahoma” (Public Domain via the NOAA Photo Library)
Not content to completely and utterly solve one listener’s problem in a mere 20-30 minutes, this week Seth and Lex have declared a Lightning Round, where they will tackle numerous problems from numerous listeners in the course of numerous minutes and hey numerous doesn’t even sound like a word any more. Is numerous humorous? As long as it’s not numerous tumerous!

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Timothy Snyder to Visit Williams to Discuss Links between Environment and Holocaust

"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" urges us to pay close attention to growing ecological panic and increasingly widespread governmental destabilization; image courtesy Penguin Random House
"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" urges us to pay close attention to growing ecological panic and increasingly widespread governmental destabilization; image courtesy Penguin Random House
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;" the link between scarcity and Genocide (photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org)
Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale, and author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning;” photo by Ine Gundersveen, courtesy timothysnyder.org

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.—Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University, will present a talk titled “Black Earth: The Ecological Politics of the Holocaust”­­­­­ as part of the year’s Confronting Climate Change Initiative at Williams College on Monday, Sept.19, at 7 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3. This event is free and open to the public.

🔊 LISTEN to our interview with Dr. Timothy Snyder,

 

which aired just after the release of

 

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

 

and read more about his work.

Snyder’s most recent book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books, 2015), presents a new explanation of the Holocaust that highlights the role of environmental concerns and demagogic exploitation of those fears. He traces back the beginnings of the ideology that allowed the Holocaust to happen and devotes much of the book to examining the few people who aided Jews without institutional support. He concludes that due to growing current preoccupations with food and water, along with political unrest, today’s society is coming to resemble that of the early twentieth century period that saw the rise of the Nazi ideology. His talk will look at the structural causes for how Hitler’s ideology could and can function, and how today we might face similar risks due to climate change and state collapse.

Snyder was born in southwestern Ohio. He received his B.A. from Brown University and later his doctorate from University of Oxford. He has written five books and co-edited two, and has published essays in numerous publications including the Journal of Cold War Studies, the International Herald Tribune, New York Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. His book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2010) has earned him 12 awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding and the Hannah Arendt Prize.

This event is sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, the Department of History, and the Center for Environmental Studies.

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