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Human Origins and Protests

Posted on Thu 08 December 2016 in Blog

text The Tompkins County Public Library hosted a series of events by the Smithsonian Institute this week about the origins of the human species. Three years ago I enjoyed taking my kids to Washington D.C. and we visited the Hall of Human Origins, the permanent exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History. It's a relatively new part of the Museum and they decided to take it on the road, with Dr. Rick Potts (the Chair of the Human Origins Program) discussing some of his experiences in the field of Paleoanthropology. Accompanying him were Connie Bertka and Jim Miller of the Broader Social Impacts Committee to facilitate conversations in what it means to be human. The Ithaca area has its own local experts, including John Gurche (a sculptor who designed and created many of the exhibits in the Hall), who presented on the process he went through to create the exhibits.

During a community conversation on Thursday night a group of activists could be heard just outside the library protesting the election of Trump. You could get the feel for the political stance of a lot of the room when someone suggested we go out and join them. Not exactly my thing, but I don't think anyone in the room was feeling strongly about defending our president elect...just a fact about where I live.

This week I watched Noam Chomsky's Requiem For The American Dream on Netflix. It seemed pretty straightforward to me. Democracy and business interests are at odds because democracy tends to decentralize power while business interests seek to centralize power (and government) around the interests of business. No kidding. Labor unions and the right to free association are tools the common man has to combat the personified interests of businesses. The government would like to make everyone feel like they are getting what they want by manufacturing consent while protecting their profits.

I listened to how The Donald has taken over Reddit and campaigned to disrupt the conversation. I think I know people like that. That's not the type of people I would want to bear my name as their moniker.

So, as I think back to a few years ago when I brought my kids to this country's capital, and told them about the time I was in the Navy, and how they ought to be proud of where we live...it seems strange. My kids are sort of in disbelief that this guy got elected. At least there is that.