Tag Archives: publisher’s note

From the publisher — You can’t always get what you want: 2014

by joe courter

The clichéd expression about living in interesting times has been in my head recently. These times certainly are interesting, full of highs (some) and lows (a lot) as things have been playing out.

The horribly predictable election results followed the historical trends nationally, as the 6th-year election of a two-term President is usually pretty dismal for their Party, but this one sunk lower with the rather horrid lack of fight over principles such as preserving Social Security exhibited by the Democrats. The type of folks who can afford to run for office, the consultants they hire, and the media happy with the system that enriches them leaves us with depressing choices for the most part, especially higher office. However, our little blue dot of a county ran strong though, so yay for that, and Medical Marijuana showed strong support at nearly 58 percent statewide. Let’s see if there is courage in the legislature; so many people will benefit so much. I got to see something for the first time in late October, and that was a very visible International Space Station pass overhead with the evening sun lighting it up brighter than any star, traveling from NW to SE, at a pace not that different than what an airplane appears to fly, but in actuality going about 17,500 MPH!! Couple that with the landing of a European space probe name Philae on a comet (!) named 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and you have just marveled at what humans can do. Both of these, for me, are real highs. But these same humans can also create some horrendous devices, practice barbaric acts on each other, and choose to deny or ignore science and empathy in favor of superstition, vengeance, and greed. When the space program sent craft to the moon decades ago, one of the bonuses was the pictures of our beautiful planet; browns, blues, white and greens, demarked not with artificial lines but rivers, mountains and coastlines. And now with the Cassini spacecraft, Earth can be seen as a dot of light as seen from beyond the rings of Saturn.

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Note from the Publisher

by joe courter

Okay, the primary elections are behind us, and come November the voting begins.

This election is pivotal on both the national and local levels. With the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP, this presidential race may be a referendum on how government should work in America; in the words of Ryan, individualism vs. collectivism.

This Ayn Rand inspired libertarian ideology has been bubbling, some might say festering, below the surface of American politics for decades. It opposed FDR’s New Deal from the get-go, and still seethes at the welfare system, and any thought of a national healthcare system. It hates regulation on business, be it banking, energy or commerce. It wants privatization of the public sector, from government programs like Social Security to drilling by corporations for oil and gas in our National Parks.

Its adherents have been very successful in using their money and connections to get their ideology into the mainstream, creating the Heritage Society and the Cato Institute and many other “think tanks,” which the docile corporate media has come to accept as the third voice in our political debate. It can generate huge campaign donations from the rich and corporations because its policies, if enacted, will save and make them even MORE money.

This is a wake-up call that brings to mind the old bumper sticker/button slogan, “If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention.”

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Weeding Through the B.S. – Note from the Publisher

by joe courter

Publishing a small news magazine in this age of information overload has its pluses and minuses. There is a lot to write about and report on, but sheesh, there sure is a lot to choose from. Do you write about things coming up, or things that have already happened? From an activist orientation, the Iguana wants to present information to inform and inspire, to try and convey that the struggle for a better world is long and slow, with bursts of hope that, when proved fleeting, should not be seen as defeat but as part of the process of change.

A good friend last week expressed to me that she wished the Iguana was bigger or came out more often, ’cause it is one media source she trusts. Well, as this publication is run both on volunteer time and on a shoestring budget, that is unlikely. So it is up to everyone, via libraries, selective use of the media, or their computer to get out and dig up meaningful stuff, and not settle for the mainstream BS that passes for news now.

Beyond that, there is also an ethic of solidarity, the common struggle. We see resistance to austerity measures around the world, a collective “NO!” to the demands of sacrifice that the rich and powerful impose on, very often, the ones with the least, but also on the compliant. Because they can. For now.

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If You Don’t Know, You Don’t Care – Note from the Publisher

by joe courter

I’m an admitted media junkie and probably wouldn’t be in the position of writing this if I wasn’t. But for me it goes beyond just trying to keep myself informed; I strongly believe in giving other people the tools to be more informed, too.

Back in 1977, UF Anthropology professor Dr. MJ Hardman drafted me into writing the monthly meeting announcement for the Humanist Society of Gainesville. That grew into a newsletter of sorts and was then rolled into the founding of this publication in 1986.

The early ‘90s saw the initial meetings that led to the founding of the Civic Media Center in 1993, and I was there, too, serving as its first coordinator, and still today am heavily involved as an active volunteer and Board member.

I jotted a quote from a speaker I heard on NPR last month on a piece of scrap paper I keep handy in my vehicle, which I found a couple days ago. I did not note who said it, as I was driving at the time, but I thought it captured something very basic to me and my efforts with both the Iguana and the CMC (two separate entities that share me, I remind you all). It was just seven words but it captured the heart of my motivation: “If you don’t know, you can’t care.”

We live in an information revolution of astounding proportions, and the responsibility is on each of us to pick from that vast menu the stuff we choose to put in our heads, the stuff that will shape our worldview and our interactions with the world. We still only have a limited amount of time to take in what we do, and the temptation to choose, shall we say, empty calories is great. Our mainstream culture spews a frightening array of crap at us that we internalize, as a number of surveys amply demonstrate.

This severely affects our role as informed citizens in the process of our participatory democracy. Especially now, with our political process so corrupted by corporate power, more and more people are looking to escape the bad news, and get sucked into all kinds of readily proffered distractions.

Folksinger Roy Zimmerman has a new song out which really resonated with me (find him on YouTube). Called “Hope, Struggle and Change,” in its very clever Roy way, it addresses how in 2008 we left out that middle word which is at the heart of how the process of making the world a better place happens. We need to know our history, recognize our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and do our bit.

The powers-that-be are happy to have us distracted, to not pay attention or know what’s going on, because there are a lot of us, and if we all started to care, they might not be able to just roll us over.

P.S. – Subscriptions or donations are necessary for the Iguana to continue; please show your support if you possibly can. We all really appreciate your support. Mail checks payable to the Iguana to P.O. Box 14712,
Gainesville, Fla., 32604, or visit the “About” page on our website at gainesvilleiguana.org for more information.

Note from the Publisher – April 2012


This spot will be a regular column going forward, and as with last month, I will
first address subscription support. We need it. This paper is produced with
100% volunteer labor; all the money that comes in goes to its printing and

To those who pick it up for free, it is the subscribers and
advertisers who make that possible (please patronize and thank!!). Please
consider a donation and help offset that burden, even if you do not want it
mailed to you. Think of this as an eventless fundraiser… You make your
donation, but then you don’t have to go anywhere!

To our  loyal subscribers: if you got this in the mail and are due to renew,
you should find a stamped envelope to reply. If you can’t afford the $15
request, less is okay. If you can do more, great.

Here is the reality of our little operation. The printing of 4,500 copies is about $750.00. The mailing to you all is approximately $350. That is about $1,100 per issue, and we do it eight or nine times a year. Our core staff of Jessica, Beth,  Pierce and myself donate many hours. We all believe a tangible paper you can hold in your hands, put in your bathroom, hang on your fridge, whatever you do at home, or one you can pick up while ordering a meal, or read on the bus, or in a waiting room, has value that a purely electronic publication does not have. Let’s keep this going.

There are now, with the Internet, endless sources of information. Each month we try and present a range of interesting and useful articles. Mother Jones, Common Dreams and Democracy Now! are sampled this month, and issues of corporate power and systemic oppression come to light from different angles. There are also events and activities to plug into. And of course, the censored Doonesbury comics. We’ll be out again in mid-May for a May/June edition.  Talk to you then.