Monday, December 24, 2018

This Year’s Annual Seasonal Reflection: It Rhymes (But Not With "Reason" or "Season")

From our Thursday, December 24, 2009, A Christmas Eve Story of Alternative Realities: The Fight Not To Go To Pottersville (Or Ratnerville),
It seems almost as if we are back again where we started.  That's not because history repeats itself, but because history, as they say, rhymes. 

Every year since 2009 Noticing New York has engaged in the tradition of a seasonal reflection post as we reach the cusp of the new year.

When I first started, we took the example in "Its' a Wonderful Life," of what could happen if one greedy man, the banker in that story, Henry Potter, took over and owned everything in the town of Bedford Falls.  That was to compare how everything in Brooklyn was being handed over to Forest City Ratner in Brooklyn (hence the visual above).  It was only a small town in that fictional story.  And it was only the Borough of Brooklyn in our comparison. . .

. . . Now, similarly, with much of the mechanisms repeating, Amazon is set to take over a swath of Queens.  See: Amazon Headquarters Lands In Long Island City: What Happens When Our Elected Officials Hand The Task of Governing Over To A Private Sector Corporation, Monday, December 23, 2018.

But that story has broader swath.  Amazon is taking over everything, and it is doing so nationally.  It probably is never more evident than during this season when the packages pile in to everybody's lobby.  But if you read the article linked to above, there are free speech and preservation of public discourse concerns that accompany that Amazon takeover.
Sermon about Amazon at First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Brooklyn
A recent sermon at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Brooklyn by Minister Ana Levy-Lyons was about what it means for Amazon to be taking over.  Last night we watched "A Christmas Carol" again, the definitive classic version with Alistair Sim.  "A Christmas Carol" is among the several classic seasonal tales I've written about this time of year in these reflections.  They are all thematically related, like the Grinch tale.  Reverend Levy-Lyons' sermon echoed the lessons that we heard all over again as the spirits teach Scrooge in their visitations; the lessons that human beings and the value of life is rich and multi-dimensional, and that we are not fully human if we allow ourselves to be a hammered down to the thinness that, in the Amazon, world defines us as merely consumers looking for bargains at the cheapest possible price.  Its confusing: The pre-transformation Scrooge was abstemious. . .  And what are we supposed to be doing when confronted by Amazon?:  Meditate on this and it might become clear– It has to do with our connection to other people, our connection to the general community and its welfare.        
Corner of Monroe and Pierrepont- The luxury tower replacing the library, no about two-third complete, is rising up as seen behind the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

What else is going on this season?   The luxury tower that is replacing the Business, Career and Education Brooklyn Heights Library, the central destination federal depository library in downtown Brooklyn is going up now.  At two-thirds complete it is getting to be evident how readily it will be seen from many parts of the neighborhood, like, for instance, it is now visible from the corner or Monroe and Pierrepont streets.  Monroe Street was a focal point from which the push to sell the library emanated.  Meanwhile, we held community meetings at each end of Monroe to prevent that sell off.

View from DUMBO waterfront of the luxury condo replacing the library, now tall enough to be seen above the nearby elevated roadway.
As of this of this solstice, the semi-complete building was also casting long shadows onto Cadman Plaza Park.  See: In This Winter Solstice Season, Long Shadows Being Cast By The Not-Yet-Complete Luxury Tower Replacing Brooklyn Central Destination Library

Just weeks ago we lost a library defender who fought along side us to prevent the destruction of that library, Justine Swartz, also known as Ambrosia.  See: A Beloved Library Defender Is Gone, But Not Forgotten: Justine Swartz, Our Ambrosia.

Christmas Day 2015, we ran into Ambrosia (in the seat of honor) on Montague Street.
Another concern that is very present this year is an accelerating censorship and control of information.  I had a chance to start writing about it here in October:  On The Media Interview With Dean Starkman: The Difference Between "Access Reporting" and "Accountability Reporting" Explains How Very Important Things DON'T Get Reported- Plus Consider The Censorship Crisis, October 4, 2018.

But, I have not been writing fast enough to keep up to write yet about Facebook's more recent censorship binge done coordinating with Twitter.  So much censorship like that and suppression of information in our society suppresses the things that are anti-war, critical of the military and that might lead us in the direction of greater world peace. . .  It's something to think about especially in this season when we sign cards to each other about "peace on earth."

Since censorship is about control of information there is one part of this story that is huge in a meta-way, and that is how the Facebook censorship binge, abetted by the actions of other social media giants, has, itself, gone largely unreported or misrepresented, especially in terms of the censoring of anti-war and anti-authoritarian sources of information (including police violence accountability sites).

That brings us around again to the subject of Amazon and the frightening thought that Amazon, with its origins in and ongoing ties to the military and CIA, now sells about half of all the books in this country, plus it is taking over as a key supplier of all the old and classic films we once rented from video stores.  It's also scary how much Amazon, busily collecting data, knows about each of us, plus scary how little we, conversely, know about Amazon.

Here are links to the prior Noticing New York ventures into seasonal reflection where you can read:
•    Thursday, December 24, 2009, A Christmas Eve Story of Alternative Realities: The Fight Not To Go To Pottersville (Or Ratnerville),

•    Friday, December 24, 2010, Revisiting a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville,

•    Saturday, December 24, 2011, Traditional Christmas Eve Revisit of a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville, the Real Life Incarnation of the Abhorred Pottersville,

•    Monday, December 24, 2012, While I Tell of Yuletide Treasure,

•    Tuesday, December 24, 2013, A Seasonal Reflection: Assessing Aspirations Toward Alternate Realities- 'Tis A Tale of Two Alternate Cities?.,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, Seasonal Reflections: No Matter How Fortunate or Not, We Are All Equal, Sharing a Common Journey

•    Thursday, December 24, 2015, Seasonal Reflection: Mayor de Blasio, His Heart Squeezed Grinch-Small, Starts Gifting Stolen Libraries To Developers For The Holidays
•    Saturday, December 24, 2016, Noticing New York's Annual Seasonal Reflection
•    Sunday, December 24, 2017, This Year’s Seasonal Reflection: Yes We Are Now Living In Ratnerville, Locally and Nationally, And Yet We Hope And Work Towards Something Different

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