Before Stonewall, decades of West Coast queer activism helped build a movement

By Ryan Kost on 

Committee for Homosexual Freedom protest on June 23, 1969.Photo: The Chronicle 1969

This is how we tell the story: On a warm summer night, 50 years ago, almost to the day, a Greenwich Village bar rowdy with hustlers and queens and queer people of all sorts got rowdier still when police came to raid the place. A crowd gathered outside. There were 100 people, and then 200, and then 500 or 600, each new person adding to the tension. A woman in handcuffs shouted at them all. Why don’t you guys do something? And so they did. Bricks went flying, or maybe it was shot glasses, and riots raged at the Stonewall Inn for two nights.

This, we say, is how the modern gay-rights movement began. And now this year, we celebrate the riot’s 50th anniversary as we celebrate Pride.

But that’s not really how history works, all nice and neat with clear-cut beginnings and endings. Stonewall was not the first riot like it, and neither were the organizations that grew from it the first of their kind. Stonewall was more like “the crest of the wave, rather than the beginning of a wave,” as historian Susan Stryker put it. The movement had been gathering itself up for decades before that.

A couple of weeks ago, queer historians made their way to San Francisco for a queer history conference. Historian Marc Stein spoke at the event. He’s written much about Stonewall, and for this occasion, he hoped to tie that event to California, in part, by contextualizing what came before it. The Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper, wrote about Stonewall not long after it happened, he said. They congratulated New York City on “joining the revolution.”

“You know every year at Pride, we hear the narrative that everything began with Stonewall,” Stein said later over the phone. So it’s been an annual ritual for historians, at least as far back as the ’70s, he said, to push back on that. To talk about a movement that began in the ’50s, and one that could also trace its roots to Europe decades before that.

“Social movements are complicated, right?” he said. “And understanding the longer history of LGBT resistance and activism, I think helps us appreciate that the struggle is a long one, and it’s one that takes many shapes and forms over a long period of time.”

A gay wedding between Angela and Jefferina in the Bay Area in 1972.Photo: Dave Randolph / The Chronicle 1972

Before Stonewall, there were protests at the Black Cat Tavern on Sunset Boulevard (’67); and before them a riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, an all-night diner in San Francisco’s Tenderloin (’66), and before that a protest outside a restaurant called Dewey’s in Philadelphia (’65); and before that a riot at Cooper Do-nuts in downtown Los Angeles (’59).

Each of these is a piece of a “bigger more complicated story. We can’t sew things up neatly,” says Stryker, the historian who is credited with rediscovering the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. “I’m also weary of ‘Stonewall wasn’t the first, it was actually Compton’s. Oh no, it wasn’t Compton’s it was Dewey’s. Oh no it was Cooper Do-Nut, oh it wasn’t Cooper Do-Nut, it was this thing we never heard of.’

“So firsts are not significant for me. For me what we’re seeing in the post-World War II years is this really different way relating identity to bodies politic to rights and citizenship, there’s new ways of thinking about the kind of person you can be.”

Much of that thinking began in San Francisco.

Queer California,” an exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, takes a long view of the movement. A big timeline in the back of the exhibit, tracing the gay-rights movement, puts Stonewall somewhere closer to the middle, and pulls lesser known bits of activism to the front.

The Mattachine Society began building a “homophile movement” from Los Angeles in 1950. The Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian rights organization, formed five years later in San Francisco. In the mid-’60s, queer youth formed a group called Vanguard. They staged protests in the Tenderloin and along Market Street. “Vice Versa” was the earliest known gay periodical. It began in Los Angeles in 1947. “It seems such a courageous venture, though perhaps not a very wise one,” a reader wrote to the magazine.

There were other organizations and periodicals in those early years. Their work was not invisible. In the summer 1969, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a three-part series about lesbians. The first in the series appeared June 30, just days after Stonewall. In one image, people picket outside the State Line steamship company. “Gay is good,” says one of the signs.

“I think, broadly speaking, it’s not unfair to characterize San Francisco, and California in general, as a place where things have been a bit more open,” says Christina Linden, the Oakland Museum show’s curator. “It’s not a surprise to me that Stonewall actually happened later than a lot of this organizing.”

Looking into these histories reveals class and race struggles, disagreements over whether to assimilate or be bolder. These lessons meet us in the here and now and seem as fresh as ever. In recent years the radical queer organization Gay Shame has been pushing San Francisco Pride to ban police and corporations from participating. “It’s incredibly important to let these histories be more complex, as broad and rich and diverse as they actually are,” Linden says.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were founders of the pioneering lesbian organization the Daughters of Bilitis.Photo: Clem Albers / The Chronicle

David Evans Frantz has spent hours upon hours sifting through archives. He worked in Los Angeles as the curator at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, the largest and oldest of its kind. Stonewall, he says, was absolutely a galvanizing force.

But, all alone, the memory and myth of the riot grows heavy and bloated. We try to see things in it that just weren’t there. (We’ll likely never know who threw the first brick … or shot glass, or stone.) No event, no moment can hold all of that weight; but a broader, considered history — one with nuance and rough edges — can offer a sincere and true home.

“I think so much of the ways in which we think about Stonewall is about the construction of grand narratives,” he says. “Even as it can expand (to include figures like Marsha P. Johnson), it still can’t expand to encompass all of the permutations of people who continue to be left out, or the different types of communities or the different conceptions of queerness.”

These grand narratives are born of many things, of histories poorly recorded and histories actively erased. The point, then, in opening history up isn’t to diminish a moment, so much as reveal others.

“It’s more important than ever to remember that resistance has happened, resistance has made changes and that a different world is possible,” Stryker says. “Continuing to activate what Stonewall can stand for, the idea of a mass uprising that can change our history, that’s important to remember. So even if we complicate the story — it wasn’t the first, it wasn’t the biggest — we can contest its legacy, but the take away point of all of that … should not be to undermine the significance of political resistance.

“That is to be celebrated.”

Wait: Galway Kinnell’s Beautiful and Life-Giving Poem for a Young Friend Contemplating Suicide

By Maria Popova (


“To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” Albert Camus famously wrote — a statement that has only swelled in intellectual notoriety and spiritual significance in the half-century since. But beyond philosophy, when the will to live or die plays out in the personal realm, it creates a vortex of pain — not only for the anguished person contemplating suicide but for those who love them, to say nothing of the perilous social contagion of suicide.

Pulitzer-winning poet Galway Kinnell (February 1, 1927–October 28, 2014) addressed this elemental question of existence with extraordinary compassion and spiritual grace in a poem he wrote for a student of his who was contemplating suicide after the abrupt end of a romance. Originally published in Kinnell’s beautiful and beautifully titled 1980 collection Mortal Acts, Mortal Words, it was later included in A New Selected Poems (public library).

In this recording courtesy of the Academy of American Poets, Kinnell brings his miraculously life-giving words to life:



Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

I am grateful to Rosanne Cash and the New York Public Library’s Paul Holdengräber for bringing this enormously enlivening poem to my attention. Complement it with Diane Ackerman on what working at a suicide prevention hotline taught her about the human spirit.

For more beloved poets performing their work, hear Sylvia Plath reading “Spinster,”“The Birthday Present,” and “The Disquieting Muses,” Billy Collins reading “Aristotle,” T.S. Eliot reading “Burnt Norton,” Lucille Clifton reading “won’t you celebrate with me,” Elizabeth Alexander reading “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe,” Sarah Kay reading “The Paradox,” and Mary Oliver reading “Wild Geese.”




P.O. BOX 2457, SEDONA, AZ 86339 (928) 282+5600
Copyright 2018 Signe Quinn Taff

Dear Consciousness Seekers,

2019 SUMMER WOBBLE alert: This Wobble begins June 8th and goes until August 3rd . It is a long one since it is both a Moon and a Solar Wobble. It is a triple whammy and extreme Wobble. It includes 2 Eclipses and a Mercury Retrograde. The Solar Eclipse on July 2nd is in the Sign of Cancer at 10 degrees/38 minutes. This is right on the United States Sun. A time of major change. Then we have a Lunar Eclipse on July 16th in the Sign of Capricorn at a little over 24 degrees. By the way the center of the Summer Wobble is at 17 degrees/ 31 minutes of Cancer. Anyone with Planets in the Signs of Capricorn, Cancer, Libra and Aries will experience the Wobble the strongest.

Mercury goes retrograde on July 7th at 4:15 pm pacific time and does not go forward until July 31st at 8:58pm pacific time. It is Retrograde in the Sign of Leo until July 19th when it becomes Retrograde in the Sign of Cancer. This Mercury Retrograde is most important for the Signs of Leo and Cancer. It impacts the world and many individuals who have planets in the Signs of the Retrograde. There is always the tendency to depression as emotions which one has not fully dealt with, come up more intensely during Mercury Retrogrades. An ideal time to do therapy. Irrational violent acts harming others have become too prevalent. The greatest gift we have is Life and it is sacred.

People who seek help when they have an emotional problem, including depression are more successful than those who do not ask for help. There is an old saying and a true one “that character is Destiny”. Many have lost their way because they have no moral compass. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, a great Spiritual truth.

We are in a ‘pressure cooker” of difficult Cycles that ultimately come for humanity’s evolution and growth. Saturn the Planet that represents lessons, tests and karma is in the Sign of Capricorn which represents the outer material world. What has been going on making it more challenging and difficult is that Saturn is currently on the South Lunar Node also in the Sign of Capricorn. Where the current South Lunar Node is reflects our area of undoing. Both Saturn and the South Lunar Node have been together since this May and continue to be together until October of this year. A time of great problems worldwide and a time of challenge in each individual’s Life. It feels like a never ending Wobble. Focus on the changes you need to make that will enhance your Life and create less stress.

In Love and Truth, Signe

“Signe Quinn Taff is not a member of The Properos group.”

The Unbearable Pointlessness of PowerPoint

The Unbearable Pointlessness of PowerPoint

 June 26, 2019 

PowerPoint is everywhere in the contemporary university. And so long as it is, superficiality will eclipse idiosyncratic and original thought.

In the academy, PowerPoint originated with the natural sciences. Then it spread to those social sciences such as psychology and economics that deal with large amounts of data or rely on complex mathematical modeling. It is neither my intention nor my inclination to judge its appropriateness for such fields, although it is worth mentioning that the renegade political scientist Edward Tufte finds them highly problematic even for the sciences. Tufte shows how reliance on PowerPoint, especially its condensation of information into categories ranked in importance, as well as its proclivity to reduce information to fit conveniently onto a slide, led scientists at NASA to misjudge the danger faced by the damaged space shuttle on its return to earth.

A reliance on PowerPoint in the humanities and soft social sciences is another matter. From the way graduate students are taught to the way they themselves eventually teach, PowerPoint has become the essential means of academic communication, and a much less vibrant academic culture is the inevitable result.

Among the major purposes of the nine-year graduate-school experience these days — nine years being the average in the humanities — is to prepare the student to give a seamless PowerPoint presentation at a job talk. Everything else, including courses, comprehensive exams, and even the writing of a dissertation, which no one outside the thesis committee will ever read, is window-dressing.

PowerPoint has become the essential means of academic communication, and a much less vibrant academic culture is the inevitable result.

In graduate school, numerous hours are devoted to job-talk practice sessions, including rigorous questions about method that a young academic will face when she goes out on the “market.” To meet those challenges, students develop an outline that can be shown on one slide in summary form, nearly always with categories such as (1) the problem; (2) why existing research fails to grapple with it; (3) my approach and innovative methodology; (4) my results; and (5) implications for future research or, if in the social sciences, policy. Careful attention will be paid to the third and fourth points; it is imperative to speak carefully about method because the interviewees, having themselves gone through this process in the recent past, are more comfortable there than they are with actual findings. Practiced well, the whole thing takes about 50 minutes, just enough to appear comprehensive without completely boring the audience, although the latter is always a risk. Generally during a PowerPoint presentation the lights are dim, as if to remind everyone how far we have come from the great thinkers of the Enlightenment.

In the humanities and social sciences, PowerPoint comes equipped with an epistemology, or theory of knowledge. Facts are not arranged with the help of PowerPoint; instead PowerPoint arranges the appropriate facts. PowerPoint is quintessentially question-answering rather than question-asking. It tells us that we can map the world and then enables us to fill in that map. It gives us the confidence, nearly always illusory, that we are making progress. It leaves the impression that every problem is similar to every other problem. We rely on PowerPoint to assure us that, when all is said and done, order rather than chaos rules the world. In the sciences, PowerPoint is used to describe order. In the social sciences and humanities, it is used to impose it. Meant as an aid, PowerPoint becomes the purpose.

No wonder, then, that when graduate students earn their doctorate and venture into the job market, they rely on PowerPoint to land whatever jobs are available. Because all PowerPoint job talks are similar, all job candidates using PowerPoint become identical; after the job talks are completed, hiring departments often find themselves arguing over which candidate said exactly what. The different countries political scientists discuss, the different texts English professors deconstruct, the different eras on which historians focus — little of this matters because very different subjects are presented in exactly the same way.

As problematic as it may be for spontaneity, however, there is much that is reassuring about the sameness PowerPoint induces. Job talks are meant to remind everyone, no doubt including the presenters themselves, that they will act in acceptable ways if hired. PowerPoint does more than outline a research project; it provides an outline to the lives job candidates hope to lead. Just like their methodology, they will do everything in the right order, first obtaining publication in prestigious journals, then moving on to a new, but related, field, and finally proving the department’s wisdom by obtaining tenure, where they can begin the process all over again with a new generation of graduate students. “Humanists,” writes Leonard Cassuto, an English professor at Fordham University, “worship great artists who break molds. But even as they value such iconoclasm in their articles and classrooms, humanists maintain highly restrictive molds for themselves.” PowerPoint enables them to do so.

It is not long before PowerPoint filters down to the undergraduates. It has, of course, always been there: Even before Microsoft, teachers in the arts would use slides to show great works of art in order to illustrate their fine points. But there is a major difference between PowerPoint as illustration and PowerPoint as pedagogy.

When I was in college, I objected to multiple-choice tests. But at least they were used for evaluation and not teaching. Teaching from PowerPoint leaves me aghast. One might as well go to presentations led by branch managers about last month’s sales campaign. The same impulse that wanted me to forbid students from taking notes in class — it would have been better if they had just listened — wanted me to forbid any oral presentations requiring an outline.

There is a major difference between PowerPoint as illustration and PowerPoint as pedagogy.

Convinced that my undergraduate students lacked experience with oral presentation, I would ask them to make a short oral report, usually five to 10 minutes, on a topic of interest to them. Without PowerPoint, they barely knew where to start. It is as if the PowerPoint presentations made by successful graduate students had passed undigested directly through me to them. I can see them in their first jobs developing presentations that simply cannot be delivered without the use of a laptop.

If PowerPoint for graduate students cripples the imagination, PowerPoint for undergraduates paralyzes the mind.

Undergraduates unable to live without PowerPoint lose the capacity to develop rich and enriching narratives. Even when filled with ideas, their reliance on a tried-and-true method of presenting them detracts from their originality. They have no place in their mental equipment for irony and puzzlement unless such against-the-text emotions are announced in advance, perhaps with an emoji on the slide. Unable to speak or write freely, their thinking lacks originality.

True, they will be socialized into what they can expect in the worlds of business and government upon graduation. But they will lose the beauties of indirection, the fact that the path may not always be straight or the answers readily at hand. The most interesting aspects of the world lie between the categories and off the grid. Because graduate students rely on PowerPoint, our undergraduates, like those who teach them, are being trained never to expect the unexpected.

Alan Wolfe is a professor emeritus of political science at Boston College. He is the author, most recently, of The Politics of Petulance: America in an Age of Immaturity (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

Why changing how we view pain can help us address the opioid crisis

Jun 19, 2019  (

Too many of us, too often, think of pain as something that needs to be eliminated, at any cost. But we — doctors, patients, drug makers, and all of us — can be part of a much-needed shift that  questions this attitude, says bioethicist Travis Rieder.

Travis Rieder’s journey down the rabbit hole of opioid dependence began with his motorcycle accident in 2015. Enduring half a dozen surgeries, drugs were miraculous and essential to his recovery. But his most profound suffering came several months later when he went into acute opioid withdrawal while following physician’s orders. After a painful struggle, Rieder finally succeeded in weaning himself, and he vividly describes his experience in his TED Talk. Below, he explores one of the cultural challenges that we must overcome if we are to address the problem. 

The very frame we have for pain is part of what is driving the ineffective solutions that have emerged in response to the opioid crisis. Too many of us, too often, think of pain as something that needs to be eliminated, and so we focus on pain intensity, with the goal of no pain. This is precisely how we traditionally use that ubiquitous 0 – 10 scale: “Oh, you have pain? Okay, how intense? Let’s see if we can get that number down.” And the patient thinks, “Yeah, down to zero.”

A pain-free life, though, is not an appropriate goal. As military anesthesiologist Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III told me, “I can get anyone’s pain to zero. It’s just that you’ll be lying on the floor, slobbering all over the carpet.” I immediately thought of my time in the hospital, where I essentially did that. Not that I blame myself for seeking serious pain relief immediately after trauma, but thinking only of intensity would drive me to beg for unconsciousness. If I had tried to take that reasoning and move forward into recovery, the goal of pain reduction would have been incompatible with living.

Our obsession with a unidimensional pain scale and a medicine that can get us to zero — but with serious costs — has been a recipe for disaster.

In an effort to incorporate this insight, the team at the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Medicine in Maryland has released a new pain scale. This revised scale is to be used with a list of questions, and together they link the intensity of pain to four considerations: activity, stress, mood and sleep. Each of these considerations is ranked, and the overall pain rating reflects the intensity of the pain and its effect on one’s life. Rating one’s pain, then, is much more than an exercise in trying to subjectively evaluate how bad it feels — it’s about judging how the pain affects overall quality of life.

This scale represents, for me, an important step in moving away from opioid-centric pain care. Our obsession with a unidimensional pain scale and a medicine that can get us to zero — but with serious costs — has been a recipe for disaster. What the revising also points out is the role that each of us can play in solving some of the overwhelmingly large and complex problems connected to opioid misuse. Each of us can question the views we hold that have allowed our healthcare system to develop.

During the summer of 2017, my friend Colin Hickey needed to undergo surgery — two, in fact. He had torn the labrum of each hip (a cartilage ring around the socket), due to a combination of a very active lifestyle and a structural deformity. The surgeon planned to operate on one side first and then do the other a couple of months later.

This procedure can appear to be a fairly minor one. It’s minimally invasive, and the surgeon does the work with very small incisions. Once inside, however, he needs to repair the torn cartilage and carve down some excess bone to prevent the friction that caused the tear. This is why people who undergo this surgery have months of physical therapy and recovery, after weeks of extremely limited mobility.

My friend Colin looked pained but also completely alert. I asked about his pain and meds. “Yeah, they gave me a bottle of pills, but I don’t want ’em,” he replied.

After his first surgery, I visited Colin at his apartment, and we swapped war stories of our injuries, surgeries and recoveries. He was in pretty rough shape and confined to his bed most of the day. He looked pained but also completely alert. I asked about his pain and meds.

“Yeah, they gave me a bottle of pills, but I don’t want ’em,” he replied.

Familiar with my struggle with painkillers, he looked at me sympathetically. He said, “Obviously I know the risks; but I also just don’t think I need them. It hurts, and it’ll hurt for a while. But the first days were the worst, and I made it through. So I don’t think they’re necessary.”

Colin is one of the most focused, thoughtful, straight-up toughest people I know, and I was impressed.

“So you didn’t take any of the pills? At all?”

“Not a one,” he replied.

“And how many pills did they prescribe? Of what?”

“Uhhh, I think it’s like 60, probably Percocet. They’re right there on the table,” he gestured.

Part of why Colin was able to make it through without pills was because he doesn’t expect life to be pain-free.

He was right: 60 pills of 5mg oxycodone/325mg acetaminophen, and not a one missing. We chatted about his reasons, which seemed to come down largely to his personal philosophy. Colin is a Colorado hippie who’s been a complete minimalist as long as I’ve known him. He also isn’t a huge fan of medicine. And while he would have, I think, taken the pills if he really thought he needed them, he just wasn’t afraid of some pain. He was willing to be uncomfortable and work hard.

Nothing about my admiration for Colin should indicate that all torn labrum surgeries should be performed without prescribing opioids for recovery.But what I love about his story is that it highlights the degree to which some pain can simply be dealt with and that our expectations can really affect what we do and how we feel. Part of why Colin was able to make it through is because he doesn’t expect life to be pain-free.

As I was thinking about Colin, I ended up chatting with my mom on the phone, and we were discussing her recent knee replacement surgery. I told her how impressed I was by her recovery and how little medication she’d taken. She told me something I hadn’t expected: “Well, you told me it was going to hurt — that it was really going to suck. And I knew that I didn’t want to be on the meds for too long. So I went into it expecting for it to be pretty terrible. I was ready, I guess. And I knew it wouldn’t last forever.”

Watching these two people that I deeply care about come to understand pain and medication differently has been very moving. In my case, trauma caught me by surprise, and when I found myself in hospitals for weeks, on morphine and fentanyl drips, popping oxycodone, I wasn’t prepared at all. I had one goal: Avoid the pain. Only in retrospect can I realize that I carried that goal much too far forward into my recovery.

In many places around the world, but especially in the US, we live in a “pill for every pain” culture. You have a headache? There’s a pill for that. Sprained your ankle? Pill for that. OTC makers already capitalize on this culture, so it’s no surprise that the manufacturers of prescription medications jumped on board as well.

We can be part of an important culture change. We can stop demanding from our doctors a pill for every pain.

But not all treatments for pain involve a pill (or a medical procedure). A surprising amount of scientific data supports what we might think of as “lifestyle” therapies or self-care. Exercise, yoga and massage have all been shown to be beneficial for dealing with pain. Additionally, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective for treating certain forms of chronic pain. Despite the evidence, many people find such a suggestion offensive. If a physician recommends CBT to a chronic pain patient, the response may well be: “What? So you think this is all in my head? You think my pain isn’t real?”

That pain can be treated with CBT implies nothing of the sort. Chronic pain is often what’s called “maladaptive pain,” which means it no longer signals tissue damage or injury. Whereas acute pain serves to alert us that our body is at risk, that same pain can transition into chronic pain that no longer serves that function. The evidence that CBT can treat chronic pain suggests that therapy can help the brain and nervous system to correct this dysfunction. By pursuing psychological health, one can simultaneously promote pain relief.

Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in treating chronic pain.Although it’s totally unclear (to modern Western medicine) why it helps — that is to say, the precise mechanism of pain relief is a bit mysterious — the evidence suggests that it works. Indeed, some suggests it can work as well as pharmacotherapy for some pain and the results are lasting.

Research is being conducted into all sorts of lifestyle interventions, ranging from mindfulness meditation to qigong and tai chi. None of these are a magic bullet, but they can genuinely help. Of course, pursuing a lifestyle change can be hard, expensive and likely impossible for some people. Whereas pills are relatively cheap, the kind of changes I’m discussing here are not.

I am most certainly not recommending that we all just get up after an injury or surgery and “rub some dirt in it.” Some pain is devastating and life-limiting, and sometimes that pain responds well to opioids. But we can be part of an important culture change. We can stop demanding from our doctors a pill for every pain, and we can try to take seriously the non-medication treatments they suggest. We can talk to our doctors, like Colin did. And by formulating an attitude and a set of expectations that makes it easier for them to use those powerful tools responsibly, each one of us can make a difference.

Excerpted with permission from the new book In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis Rieder. Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2019 by Travis Rieder.

Watch his TEDxMidAtlantic talk now:

How Reliable is your Memory?

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It’s more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics — and raises some important ethical questions.

(Submitted by Suzanne Deakins, H.W., M.)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the 19th-century American movement.

Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States.[1][2][3] It arose as a reaction, to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time.[4]The doctrine of the Unitarian church as taught at Harvard Divinity School was of particular interest.

Transcendentalism emerged from “English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herderand Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of David Hume“,[1] and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kantand German Idealism. Miller and Versluis regard Emanuel Swedenborg as a pervasive influence on transcendentalism.[5][6] It was also strongly influenced by Hindu texts on philosophy of the mind and spirituality, especially the Upanishads.

A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature.[1] Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent.

Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters.

More at:

Book: “The Gospel in Brief” by Leo Tolstoy

The Gospel in Brief

The Gospel in Brief

by Leo Tolstoy,

F.A. Flowers (Editor)
Luisa Cesana (Editor)
Isabel Florence Hapgood (Translation)

“Are you acquainted with Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief? At its time, this book virtually kept me alive… If you are not acquainted with it, then you cannot imagine what an effect it can have upon a person” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, in a letter to Ludwig von Ficker. The Gospel in Brief is Leo Tolstoy’s integration of the four biblical Gospels into a single account of the life of Jesus. Inspired in large measure by Tolstoy’s meticulous study of the original Greek versions of the Bible, The Gospel in Brief is a highly original fusion of biblical texts and Tolstoy’s own influential religious views. Tolstoy explains that his goal is a solution to “the problem of life,” not an answer to theological or historical questions. As a result, he sets aside such issues as Jesus’ genealogy and divinity, or whether Jesus in fact walked on water. Instead, he focuses on the words and teachings of Jesus, stripped of what Tolstoy regarded as the Church’s distortions and focus on dogma and ritual. The result is a work that emphasizes the individual’s spiritual condition in a chaotic and indifferent world. Like Tolstoy’s celebrated literary achievements, The Gospel in Brief has the distinct bearing of a classic; in its urgency and directness it is remarkably current, as if it were written only yesterday rather than a century ago.