30 April 2023 NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday: Jake’s Takes

30 April 2023

1.    What China’s growing role on the world stage means for the U.S. We engage in all kinds of struggle as though we could predict the future. And, the rate of change for many situations is gradual making it somewhat possible to see what the next day will bring. Without this capability, what would the world become? Without the linear progression of events, how would we have any control at all? The situation with China seems to be one of these slow-moving world changing events. Is there the possibility for us to become allies? Do we have common interests? Will Russia and China become adversarial towards us? Or, will we become a more globalized culture without as much difference between nation states?

2.    Small banks are dealing with the ripple effects of two prominent failures last month. The banking system needs many reforms, so this new surge of attention is not necessarily a bad thing. The smaller banks are better positioned to serve small businesses, and together they make up the great hope of our nation. We need to make banking as transparent and fair as possible and stoke the fires of local and small business and banking together to defend against global catastrophes. When we are strong on a local level, we become less dependent upon the whims of large banks and corporations.

3.    5 years after the teacher walkouts, Oklahoma’s GOP has changed its tune. Oklahoma barely even exists in my mind, but that should change, and this may help me to begin that process. I’ve been biased my entire life against the GOP. In my youth, I bristled against perceived bigotry and prejudice. In many ways, I was prejudiced against them. So many of the messages that the GOP projects are offensive to my sense of what is good. When I was younger, they were the just say no to drugs, give tax cuts to the rich, war loving, heteronormative, white supremacist, anti-art contingent of our culture. Since then, I have learned to see people beyond their ideology. There’s no way that I would allow Marjorie Taylor Greene to represent one half of this country. I’m curious to learn what exactly has changed in Oklahoma, and I’m opening my mind up to the potential that conservatives are not all the same mentality that made slavery what it was.

4.    Calls to shut down Shein, a Chinese fast fashion company, are growing. Fashion is going to be such a big sector of change in the coming years. The climate is warming, and the storms and fires are driving the point home. The toxic industries, fashion foremost among them, are going to have to change. This will create opportunities for those who figure out better ways of making clothes.

5.    How having a daughter with a disability changed one woman’s relationship with her body. Daughters change everything. My entire life is different and better because I have daughters.

6.    What’s behind the rise of free, ad-supported streaming channels. This is simply a matter of competition. Netflix ushered in the era of streaming, but quickly other platforms sprung up to join the party. Now, we will see the next evolution of this trend with advertising paying the bills instead of the customer. The pie is going to get divided whenever it is possible to do so.

7.    A rarely revived Lorraine Hansberry play comes to Broadway. I love plays. Live theater is one of the best art experiences in all of existence. There is no way to replace that magic. Film can do other things better, but nothing is going to pull you into a story like the performance that happens on stage. Lorraine Hansberry was a playwright who died tragically early and it is nice that her work is being revived.

8.    A new bill aims to protect children from companies with a track record of exploitation. How do companies with a track record of exploitation even exist? There must be more to this story, but we need to start holding companies accountable for their crimes. If a corporation has the same rights as a person, they should have the same responsibilities.

9.    A former teen farm worker on new bills that threaten to weaken child-labor laws. Farm workers are one of the most important and invisible categories of workers in the nation. The more we pay attention to them the better. They are also a sector of the economy with little protection against exploitation. Many farm workers lack citizenship or work visas and are effectively illegal immigrants. How can we have people growing our food without documentation? They are exposed to the brutal conditions of large industrial farms. At the very least, we should change our farming methods to all organic to protect them from the hazards of pesticides. This is a very important story and we should pay close attention and get very loud in support of the rights of farm workers, especially children.

10. Politics chat: Biden jokes about his age at White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I guess that’s all you really can do at this point. What else is there to do? It is funny but also very much not funny.

11. Parents and teachers are talking to kids about the homelessness they witness. The innocence of childhood is becoming more and more difficult to preserve. It is a tricky thing to manage: when do you tell your kids about the harsher realities of life? With the rise of homelessness amplified by the pandemic and the opioid epidemic combined with failing policies and a general tendency to scapegoat the most vulnerable, it is increasingly difficult to avoid the topic. What we say to our kids about homelessness is going to shape future attitudes about what we invest in as a society. If we want to have people who are homeless, we will. If we don’t, we won’t.

12. Toni Morrison’s diary entries, early drafts and letters are on display at Princeton. Toni Morrison was one of the great novelists of her generation. She inspired millions of people with her writing and this selection of her private materials should prove to be a boon for literary scholars interested in learning more about the process of crafting her work.

13. Critics say Florida’s historic monuments are under threat with a new bill. Monuments are generally boring and ugly. I’m all for public art, but history needs more than a statue to come to life. I don’t think that it is necessary to remove monuments, but if they do, so be it.

14. Claire Dederer on her book ‘Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma’. The premise of this book is an important one: much of the artwork we love was made by people who did horrible things. How do we reconcile our consumption of the products of “monsters” with our own ethical code. I for one throw the artwork out with the bad behavior. There is too much other art to experience to waste time on so-called masterpieces crafted by horrible people.

15. Remembering Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’. This looks like a great article, and I am eager to learn more about this thinker. Some of the hardest things to understand in life are the misfortunes that seem to be undeserved.

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