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Showing posts from January, 2020

The Opposite of Slavery

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"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" is one of the best autobiographies ever written. In that book Douglass doesn't have a list of the things that support slavery, but there are some things that definitely stick out as important. What if you just did the opposite? What if instead of doing the things that were important to keep slaves in slavery, you went the other direction?


To a large extent, that is what Douglass did. He freed himself by doing the opposite of what a slave was supposed to do. (A number of other people were instrumental as well, of course. And Douglass himself acknowledges that Providence played a large part.)

An important note before we dive into what led to his freedom. He didn't go from being a slave to owning slaves. He might have been able to, he was a very resourceful man. And, others did it. There were black slave owners, traders, and breeders. It's an odd piece of history that's largely ignored because peop…

Toward a Free Hong Kong

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It's one of the great questions. One which has determined the fate of human history, and will determine our destiny in the future. When and how is freedom earned?


Hong Kong is home to one of the most intelligent and highly educated populations in the world. They understand that they stand at the center of a turning point in history. The difference between liberty and oppression is a decision contained within each individual's head and heart. It's an answer that rises up from a person's innermost soul. Their future stands upon how courageously they will not yield or bow to the violence and intimidation used against them by the Chinese government.

This is not the first time that a proud people have fought for their freedom, and it will not be the last.

The protests in Hong Kong did not start when millions of people took to the streets to demand that their rights be restored. It did not start with students being gassed and shot in their universities by police. It started …

Stacy and Overcoming Hesitation in Writing

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Stacy is an 11 year old Russian girl that has kind of wanted to do some writing. She didn't say it, but I could tell over the last few weeks that she's just been a little hesitant to get started. We've mostly been talking and reading so far.


I emphasized that it would probably be a good day for writing. I said I would begin.

She was wearing a unicorn outfit, so that's where I started. She was quite uncertain how to continue the story, and at first the parts she wrote were small, but they grew over the course of this hour of writing. I encouraged her to take the story in any direction that she wanted. And, I purposefully made it obvious that writing can get wild and that is fine. She had never heard of Lewis Carol, although she saw an "Alice in Wonderland" movie once. This story reminded me a little bit of that spirit.

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"I don't think this is the right way." Susan said again. "We've been walking and walking, and nothing is e…

Writing a Story with Masha, and What Kids Know About Religions

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Masha and her mother specifically came to me to help her work on writing skills.


We've written a few interesting things, and there is a story further below. But first, I've been asking kids in China and Russia what they know about different world religions. I've been a little surprised by how little they know. And, really, for the most part they just don't care.

Here are some of the different religions that I've been asking if they know: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christian Orthodox, Christian Protestant, Christian Catholic, Islam, Judaism, Ancient Greek, Ancient Norse/Viking, Zoroastrianism, and Druze. I realize some are more philosophy than religion, some are dead religions, and that some are obscure. What I've found is that most kids seem to know a tiny bit about one or two, and have heard of another one or two. That's usually it. (Carrie is a 14 year old in China who is an exception because she likes studying history on her own.)

Often, t…

Americanism

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Sometimes the true spirit of what America stands for is forgotten or ignored.


Sometimes America is thought of as the land of the free and the home of the brave. More often, it's thought of as a land of prosperity. And that prosperity rests on its greatest moniker, the land of opportunity.

Opportunity does not spring from nothing. It takes a certain type of society to protect the possibility for individual initiative. It is that culture that truly sets America apart. It is that culture that has changed history and the world, and set a higher standard for what all people should demand from their governments, their representatives, and themselves.

A few nights ago, just before I was going to sleep, I decided to set down in as few lines as possible what the true essence of the American spirit is. The core of the culture. In a beautiful leather-bound notebook that my cousin bought me this past Christmas, I inscribed these lines.

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America is an ideal.

It's an idea held …

I Went to a Writing Group Today - January 22nd, 2020

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Analiese often comes up with creative prompts for the group. I like to think that I generate some creative responses. This one is good.


A small slip of paper released from her fingertips and softly floated down to rest upon my open palms, pressed together and waiting to gently caress the prompt from destiny. Here's what it said.

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Dream-catcher:
Write something inspired by a recent dream you had.

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I dream every night, but I don't usually write them down. They evaporate as if they are only a mist receding before me upon awakening. I've written a few articles on dreams. Mine can be quite detailed, including reading well put together fictional and non-fictional books right in the dreams themselves.

I allowed myself some artistic license with this and didn't base it specifically off of a dream.

When we share in the group we often state our name and something about ourselves. It was suggested that this time we share what we want to be when we grow u…

I Went to a Writing Group - January 8th, 2020

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Last week the writing prompt was inspired by the new year.


Here's the prompt that we received.

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Happy New Year! It is now 2020 which has brought up the roaring '20s from 100 years ago.

For this week, the prompt will be twenty.

This can be anything from the year 2020 or 1920 or even 3020, or you could use it in reference to age, or just use the number anywhere. If you don't want to use the prompt, as always, you can write whatever you want.

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I've never worked with a countdown mechanism before in a story. So, I thought that might be interesting to try.

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20
This was the moment he had dreamed about since he was 8 years old and saw a missile launch with his dad.

19
They hadn't even gone to the launch, it was just on tv. But Jason could still remember his father's enthusiasm.

18
His father didn't usually watch tv, and he didn't usually spend time with Jason. It was just Jason and his mom. But that day, that day his dad t…

How Pervasive is Political Corruption?

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In 2019 I encountered corruption. The local farm that I get some of my food from was attacked. Hidden Creek Farm’s neighbor Ken Wentworth sued the farm on the same day as Dalton Township, under the orders of Supervisor Tony Barnes.


Not only was this unethical, but they also broke several laws. The farm is protected under the Michigan Right to Farm Act. The farm was informed the morning of their court date in an attempt to win by thwarting due process. And, the township had neither approved nor discussed this action at a meeting, which is a violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

This attack was menacing enough, and hit close enough to home, that I decided it was my moral obligation and civic duty to do what I could to help protect the farm and fight my local government corruption. I now have a 14 article series called “Fighting Local Government Corruption” on JeffThinks.com.

When I started writing these articles a failed state representative by the name of Tanya Cabala attempted …

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