Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Success: A Non-Fiction Writing Prompt on Douglass' 12 Principles of Success



A Study of the Twelve Principles for Success Mentioned in Writings by Frederick Douglass


1. Understanding that the Proper Use of Power is to Help Others.


Today I came upon Frederick Douglass’ famous speech “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”, given at Rochester, New York in 1852.  At the bottom of the page I found a link to another interesting digression, “12 Principles For Success Mentioned in Writings by Frederick Douglass” , written by Fred Morsell. 


A professional theater actor, Morsell has portrayed the infamous Douglass for more than 38 years on stage and events. He developed these 12 principles mentioned in writings by Frederick Douglass, and called it just that.


Being the middle of December, with half the country snowbound in the “Lake-Effect”, I noted this as having many possibilities for an interesting issue to revisit after the New Year for a mid-summer article, relevant to “Juneteenth”.


But the 12 Principles of Success stayed with me like a flea on a cat.  First, Douglass didn’t write a specific work on the principles of success (that I have yet to find.) Second, it is doubtful that Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist, was concerned about personal success as defined by twentieth century philosophers, theologians, and capitalists. Third, they were mined from the many works of Douglass by a third person, more than 100 years after their inception.  Fourth, his works have inspired generations of Americans of all races; and although his style is 19th century, it continues to be engaging and relevant. 

The list of “Success by the numbers” advice books is long, to name a few:  “Seventeen Principles of Personal Achievement; Seven Principles of Positive Psychology…”; "Success in 16 Lessons…”; “The Kobe Code: Eight Principles for Success…”; “Twelve Principles for Success…” ; “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success:…”; “The 48 Laws of Power…” and, the number one book of numbered success principles bestseller: “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. I read that one; I think it became a religion.


Easily found, my mind reeled at the running total of the number of steps it takes to become successful through these books, mostly written by someone who becomes successful after writing a book on becoming successful...hmmmm...which begs the question, what is success? How do we define success?   


Such is the premise of this inquiry into Douglass’ 12 steps to success as interpreted by Morsell.  Before any claim of steps to success can be made, we must first know how the author defines success. 


The FIRST step to success, as mentioned in the writings of Frederick Douglass is:


  1. Understanding that the proper use of power is to help others.


WRITING CHALLENGE and PROMPTS:  Explicate the first step.  Define it.  Is this a valid paradigm?  (<1000 words)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Case Against Cannabis Legalization

The Case Against Legalization:
           How Cannabis Taxation and Regulation Laws Further the Prohibitionists' Agenda
by Kimmarie Rojas


Cannabis Activists are a-buzz with excitement at the prospect of California’s “Tax and Regulate” campaign, as well as other “legalization” attempts about the Nation. The arguments seem favorable, and the current recession is but another tool in the arsenal of reasons why legalization, taxation and regulation would be the right thing to do.

Yet, lest we forget that “taxation and regulation” of cannabis is the main reason for the original early 20th century federal prohibition of cannabis, be reminded of “The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937” placed into federal law requiring only a $1 tax, but with unachievable and public bureaucratic record-keeping and inappropriate punishments for not following the tax act to the letter, ranging from a $2000.00 fine to LIFE imprisonment. Will a Marihuana Tax Act of 2011 reverse this language and "legalization" ruse or add to it? Will another tax and regulate act remove the legal and political bricks which have built impenetrable walls around the production, harvesting, use, transfer, and possession of Marijuana. 
Although California is the thankful forerunner of medicalization, let us also not forget that it was California that made the first law restricting, regulating, and criminalizing cannabis. It was not drugs that California was against then, however. Remember, Cocaine and Heroin were still legal in 1913. Alcoholism and opiate addiction were rampant. It was racism that doomed Cannabis, not a scientific study or a social necessity. Cannabis was smoked by Mexicans; and although they were the indigenous population of the state, closed white puritans minds, believing they were greater than and more entitled in all ways, used their superior political and media powers to spread reefer madness.

Mike Meno wrote the article Colorado’s Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Regulations in the current MPP Blog.. It was a glowing review about this important bill, and how Colorado can set the pace for other state models. It sounded as if this was indeed, a "groundbreaking" event, however after reading the comments, many Colorado caretakers, patients, and smokers, emotionally wrote that this bill is a disaster for MMJ and dispensaries. Read for yourself, and note my comments to the MPP Blog:

The Power to Regulate is the Power to Destroy

Anytime a democratic people must convince the government to stop enforcing unjust laws through mechanisms such as "tax and regulate", that government has succeeded in extorting its citizens. We talk of MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION as a panacea, the end of a war, a freedom. Yet this freedom IS ALREADY OURS, simply because the “laws and regulations” that make possession or use of marijuana a punishable offence are indeed UNJUST laws. It is not “legalization” that will make cannabis free. Legalization implies the inherent right to tax and regulate, to govern the growth of a natural indigenous plant for which our bodies were designed to receive (see “cannabis receptors”), and to exact taxes from the sick, or from the fruits of the earth and human labor, that which was grown by ones own hands. Decriminalization, the repeal of those laws and loopholes in Federal Interstate Commerce laws, and all other administrators and administrations that knowingly or unknowingly created a police state. Just give back what you took one hundred years ago, and let us go on about life. Already, citizens hungry and overdue for medicalization are willing to pass initiatives that give up their right to grow their own cannabis, in return for a highly regulated cannabis medicalization plan. Giving up the right to grow a plant from a seed in one’s own soil with ones own hands is a slippery slope that gives away the very ability to survive. Imagine those sweet tomatoes in the garden being taxed. We may be willing to let the government extort money from us through taxation and legalization, but how many inherent human rights will we allow the Government to take before we realize we have a DUTY to make things right?

c 2010 MariesRun
The Green Association for Sustainability

Thursday, April 8, 2010

If You Don't Agree With Your Benefit Decision

Agency Hearings Vs. Court Trials

The recession and double digit unemployment has forced many once stable middle class families to apply for Unemployment Benefits, Food Stamps, Medicaid and other public benefits, many for the first time. If benefits are denied, discontinued, or lowered, and you disagree with the agency's decision, you can appeal the decision. When appealing decisions from a government agency, it is important to know the difference between agency hearings and court trials.

Agency hearings and court trials are both adjudicative proceedings, yet court trials are likely, but not necessarily, to be more formal. A judge or a jury may adjudicate Court trials, but administrative law judges (ALJ) decide administrative proceedings. Some believe that administrative agencies should not adjudicate because the primary purpose of an administrative agency is to carry out the statutory rules as set forth by Congress; however, administrative agencies can take on quasi-legislative and quasi-adjudicative characteristics in addition to the administrative duties of implementing statutes.

Critics of administrative hearings argue that agency adjudication usually involves privilege disputes, not rights violations, and as such, the matter could be handled best informally. In Goldberg V. Kelly (397 US 254, 1970), the Supreme Court upheld the administrative hearing process, citing that the test of hearing or trial is not whether the matter under adjudication involves rights or privileges, but the extent to which the litigant “could or has suffered a grievous loss.” In 1984, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Freeman v. Hittle (747 F.2d 1984) that liquor licenses could be taken away because they are a “privilege, not a right”. This decision is usually ignored by the Supreme Court and other adjudicative institutions, and act instead on the Goldberg decision.

The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 sets out specific rules and uniform standards for conducting hearings. In addition, the courts try to pressure agencies into “reasonable fairness” by imposing their own rules of adjudication on administrative hearings. Critics site the lack of a uniform agency procedure for conducting hearings. With over 200 different procedural codes in place across administrative agencies, judges believe that administrative hearings should be more like court proceedings, claiming that on a court appeal of the informal hearing decision, [court judges] can not tell if due process has been achieved.

Particular aspects of judicial trials versus agency hearings are related to the rules of evidence. The main point of the Rules of Evidence in the context of administrative adjudication in a democratic society is “evidence employed to justify conclusions in trials or hearings should be gathered, presented, and evaluated” in a manner consistent with principles of fair procedure. “Unreliable Evidence” is usually in the form of hearsay or “he said she said” second-hand testimony. In hearsay testimony, the person giving witness did not directly experience the event described or is relating conversation second hand. Court proceedings have specific rules of hearsay exceptions and exclusions to allow hearsay evidence to be used; administrative agencies may use hearsay evidence without exceptions, and it is up to the ALJ to decide if the testimony is reliable or not. Due process is another key aspect in determining the rules of evidence. The purpose of presenting evidence is to have or provide the opportunity for the opposition to challenge the evidence and to show it as unreliable (Davis). The ability to provide and challenge evidence is an important aspect of due process.

Others believe that agency hearings should not be more like court proceedings, although their “quasi-judicial” standing should be maintained. Agency administrators and Administrative Law Judges prefer to keep these hearings simple, and as long as they do not remove life, liberty or property (a line that is often crossed in agency hearings), informal procedures are adequate. If the issue is of serious consequence, the case may eventually end up in front of a judge, and all of the time on agency grievance procedures has been spent for naught. At this point, it may also be a fair bet that the complainant no longer has the resources (emotionally, physically, financially) to go on to a trial court, which will generally uphold the administrative decision requiring the claimant to proceed through the judicial appeals process. By this time, this issue originally adjudicated has become irrelevant, and the issue has already done damage that may no longer be easily remedied.

Author and attorney, Kenneth Warren advises that administrative disputes may best be handled by contacting one’s congressional representative, than through the informal adjudication process. You should contact your representative first, regardless of your intent to follow through with the appeal process. There is often a 60 day limit for filing an appeal of your benefit decision. These are often held by conference call, between the agency ombudsman, the administrative law judge, and the complainant.

The Green Association for Sustainability

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Digital Media, The I-Pad, and Bloggers’ Copyrights and Protections.

1 27 10 Apple released the I-Pad, allowing us to “hold the internet in (our) hand”. What affect will this have on print media? Are current media laws adequate for a paperless society?How will the ability to “hold the internet in your hand” affect writers’ protections under current copyright laws?

Apple announced the release of the ½” thick digital reader and internet, the I-Pad, said to be “as transformative to culture…as the printed book” (  ) . With wide applications for use in education, business and government, how can content contributors monitor and maintain the ownership and usage rights to their internet published works?

At the start of the computer revolution, a debate raged as to the effect that computers and the internet would have on print media. Although we have not yet seen the “paperless” society foretold by analysts, the publishing industry has changed dramatically, from the cancellation of “evening edition” newspapers to the ability for anyone to self publish both written and audio-visual works for digital download via the internet.
With Steve Jobs’ dream to “hold the internet in your hand” becoming reality with the popularity of I-Phones, Blackberry’s, and other emerging smart phones, the I-Pad, in some version, will no doubt have a great impact on media production and publishing. With touch screen technology the I-Pad will be mostly an information retrieval and storage system, and not an alternative to a fully functioning computer. It also does not use Flash or Adobe applications, which are both entrenched in digital multimedia. David Carr of the New York Times, writes about the unveiling and agrees that the I-Pad is a device for consuming media, not creating it, and asks “are media companies ready to deliver?” Carr points out that although book publishers appear to be on-board, magazine publishers have not yet embraced the I-Pad. Still, Carr believes that the I-Pad may “open up a whole new frontier for developers and publishers”, depending on the success of the business models used to present the content. CNN also notes that the I-Pad may even save “old” media, should newspapers and magazines develop models that will drive both people, advertisers and content to the screen. Primarily, it appears that the media industry is still searching for ways to make money by displaying on the I-Pad.

Price and availability to the device will be a determining factor in the success of the I-Pad, and also how it will change media. As a separate and new application apart from I-phones and computers, it will not replace either, but be an additional method of retrieving media. In addition to the practical issues of transmitting and consuming media digitally, there are also many legal and rights issues surrounding digital media, and with each new application, new regulations to protect content producers must be examined. While print media has the advantage of being permanent, information contained in blogs and other digital sites is often transitory, and while it may be available at one time, unlike printed books, the information can disappear into cyberspace as quickly as it appeared. The success of the I-Pad will depend on this ability of the content producers to profit by presenting media that advertisers will be willing to invest in and that consumers will be willing to pay for.

©Kim Rojas

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DIGITAL MEDIA: Literacy Without Books?

HOME LIBRARY ATTRITION: Literacy without Books?

DISCUSSION: Is printed media in danger of becoming obscure in the wake of computers and digital media? Is a transition to digital media a slippery slope to illiteracy?

Before I became a writer, I was a reader: The two are unavoidably connected. As a child I spent my summers at the public library; as a teen I devoured the entire JRR Tolkien Trilogy (plus The Hobbit) at least three times; and even in College, I found most of my texts to be as engrossing as the latest chick-lit page-turners. I always had a book with me, that I would pull out while standing in line or riding the bus. I collected books, old ones, new ones, texts and fiction, biographies and novels. I’d find books at library sales, used book stores, and garage sales. I received books as gifts, ordered new releases, and cherished signed copies. Dog-eared pages, tattered volumes, and dusty texts remained singly valuable to me, a lover of words, and to part with even the most obscure publication would be heretical! I hoarded books, and dreamed someday of having a large library of my own, with wooden bookcases, collector’s editions, a comfortable reading chair with the perfect lighting, and the comforting aroma of published pages and hardbound covers filling the room.

Unfortunately, a disparaging realization has manifested: Rather than expand, my personal library has dwindled over the past ten years.

Frequent moves across the country often forced me to choose only the most imperative works, a choice often impossible to make and filled with regrets and misgivings. I never returned a single text at the end of a college semester, because “I might need it someday”. I had quite a collection built up after Grad School…but my obsession blinded me to the fact that I would have to pay by the pound to move them all! Those hardbound books are heavy, indeed.

Still, this doesn’t account for the lack of new, or even used, additions to my library. Although rough financial times have reduced my trips to the bookstore, to say that the economy has kept me from collecting more books would be a fallacy, an excuse, because as any true booklover knows, the number of works collected has nothing to do with the amount of money spent. As I examine this attrition of literary works in my own home, I wonder if the same is true around the Country, across race and class, and through education levels.

As I started some preliminary research on literacy rates in America, I became more intrigued with the idea of a world without books, remembering Ray Bradbury’s book burning scenes in Fahrenheit 451. It is a scene that both frightens and saddens me. I have so many questions and so few answers! But they are questions that need to be answered. This debate is not new, and has extended to other forms of media such as music and video.

Is printed media in danger of becoming obscure in the wake of computers and digital media? Is digital media as effective as printed media in educational settings? In marketing or consumer settings? How can access to digital media become equal across social and financial classes? Is a transition to digital media a slippery slope to illiteracy?

To begin this discussion, I thought of several things in America’s culture that may be contributory:

1) 32 million people speak a language other than English

2) The Technology Revolution, as seen in day to day life.

3) The creation of the Internet, and it’s growth, especially in Social Media.

4) Technology in education, requiring new paradigms for teaching.
2010 is a National Census year, and think-tanks will churn out new reports on American life including how many toilets in the average U.S. home, and hopefully, new reports on literacy in the first decade of Social Media. In the meantime, while the data is being collected and analyzed, do you think that LITERACY can exist WITHOUT BOOKS?

©Kim Rojas

The Green Association for Sustainability

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Of the many diagrams for maintaining the global ecosystem, the term "Sustainable Development" has often erroneously been used to refer to all environmental ideologies, when it is in reality a single discourse. Out of the many solutions proffered for saving the world, the concept of Sustainable Development has risen to the top of viable ecological discourses. Why? What is it about Sustainable Development that has made it the buzzword of these environmentally unsure times?

Sustainable Development grew from the work of the World Commission on Environmental Development (WCED)[i], at a 1987 conference mandated by the United Nations to accomplish three objectives:

1. Re-examine critical environment and development issues and formulate realistic procedures for dealing with them.

2. Propose new forms of international cooperation on these issues; and,

3. Raise the levels of understanding and commitment to action.

Contemporary definitions of Sustainable Development are mostly a product of this conference and their published report, Our Common Future (1987), a document promising a combined prescription to issues of ecology, economy, development and growth, social justice, and intergenerational equity. According to these definitional benchmarks, Sustainable Development requires that poverty and global inequalities be eliminated before environmental issues can be resolved.

Growth is an essential concept of Sustainable Development. Economy has become inextricably connected with ecology. As it becomes increasingly apparent that environmental problems have global effects, this interdependence effectively eliminates the old political systems of national compartmentalization. According to the WCED, social, economic and political inequalities among nations are the main culprits of environmental problems. In light of these concepts, the WCED proposed the following prescriptive:

1) global democratization;
2) effective limits management;
3) population growth in harmony with the productivity of the ecosystem;
4) global equalization through “fair-sharing” of resources; and,
5) management on an international civic levels rather than the local or state level.

Most importantly, the WCED cautions that Sustainable Development requires global cooperation—not hierarchies and competition.

Sustainable development concepts are also based on the premise that the economy and the environment can be brought into global harmonic cooperation. As the World Commission on Environment and Development reported:

…We have in the more recent past been forced to face up to a sharp increase in

economic interdependence among nations. We are now forced to accustom ourselves

to an accelerating ecological interdependence among nations. Ecology and economy

are becoming ever more interwoven—locally, regionally, nationally, and

globally—into a seamless net of causes and effects.
The recession of 08/09 has made clear global economic interdependence. An example of how Sustainable Development theories are congruent with economic theories is apparent in the issues of dependence on foreign oil supplies and Western societies unquenchable thirst for oil. Under the Obama Administration, this has prompted the creation of new regulations regarding fuel usage and alternate fuels in the auto industry. New regulations, such as a 35mpg minimum requirement on new vehicles within the next few years, are not only important to the economics and future in the global market for US automakers, but also addresses all related environmental issues of procuring, processing, storing, distrubuting, and consuming gasoline. At the same time, it encourages the growth and development of sustainable industry and a sustainable world.

Works Cited in this blog:

[i] Copyright © World Commission on Environment and Development 1987. Reprinted from Our Common Future (1987).

Retired Generals, Admirals Consider Oil Dependence A Security Risk

c 2009 kimmarie rojas
Reprinted 1/2010 krojas

01-06-10 -- KOLO covers NSML introduction of ballot initiative language | Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws

Detractors of sensible marijuana laws still have their logic backwards and need to learn the basics of Ven diagrams: That all "hard drug" abusers have used marijuana does not mean that all marijuana users are "hard drug" abusers. (All poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles.)

01-06-10 -- KOLO covers NSML introduction of ballot initiative language Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws