This Week: Nygaard Notes #623: PLEDGE DRIVE PART 2

It’s been TEN days since I announced the Spring 2018 Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive.

So that means that it’s time for…



Some Reflections on

A number of you have sent in your Pledges, and I thank you very, very much!

As for those of you who have NOT YET PLEDGED your support for the Nygaard Notes Project, I am appealing to you, in this PLEDGE DRIVE PART 2 for Nygaard Notes, to please please PLEASE send in your Pledge today!

Repeat: Please Please PLEASE send in your Pledge of support today!

Or tomorrow, or something.

No, I mean TODAY, because it’s so easy to forget, or procrastinate, or just lose track of this email. How much easier to pull out an envelope right now and address it to

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406

All you would have to do then—which would take about 37 seconds—would be to put a check in it, made out to Nygaard Notes, in the amount of your choosing, and mail it in.

1. It’s easy.
2. It’s the right thing to do.
3. It’s really important to the project that you support it in a financial way.
4. It makes a statement that you support independent, empowering journalism and activism.

See below for more thoughts and ideas on the how and why. To make a Pledge, that is.

Thank you!



Thanks to all who have sent in your Pledges already! The rest of you may well be waiting for a reminder. Issue #623 is just the reminder you’ve been awaiting. I’m certain of this.

In addition to the reminder to actually send in your Pledge, this issue of the Notes includes a little selection of comments that I have made over the past few years, right here in the Editor’s Notes of the Notes. Almost every issue of Nygaard Notes includes a few words that begin with the word “Greetings,”. I call it these words the Editor’s Note, in case you didn’t know. Someone once commented that the Editor’s Note often contains some very important points. So I’ve included in this issue a few of the points that I think are interesting. See what you think.

And please consider making a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes. Now in its 20th year!


“Quotes” of the Week: Comments from Readers

Sometimes Pledgers take the time to send along a note when they send in their Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes. I LOVE it when you do this! Here are a couple of comments that came in last week:

“Thanks for another great year of writing the Notes. Your perspective is so hopeful AND REAL in a time when FAKE news is confusing us all (trying to, anyway!) Keep at it!
A big fan…”


“It is good to know we have plugged into an honest, no-nonsense source for our news.”

In Case You Forgot How to Make a Pledge

Here’s one way to Make a Pledge to Nygaard Notes: Make out a check to “Nygaard Notes” and send it to

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Here’s another way to make a Pledge:

Go to the Nygaard Notes website at There’s a “Donate” button at the top of the page. Click there, get out your credit card, and follow the simple instructions.

(If you care about such things, 100% of Pledges made by check go to support Nygaard Notes. When you Pledge electronically via PayPal, they take 3-4 percent of your Pledge as a fee.)

How Much to Pledge?

I gave some thoughtful ideas last week to help you decide how much to Pledge. Now, in contrast, here are some not-so-thoughtful ways to pick a Pledge amount.

1. Add up the number of letters in your name and send in that many dollars. Remember to include your middle name. So, for example, Emmanuel Abraham Knickerbocker would send in $28.00. If your name is Ed X, then send in your $3.00 and I’ll be grateful.

2. How about your house number? If you live at 4023 Folsom Street in San Francisco (as I did in 1976), then send in $40.23.

3. Pick a date that has particular meaning for you. The Black Panthers were founded in Oakland California in 1966, for example. $19.66 would be a good amount!

4. How about your weight in kilograms? I weigh $60.78. NO! That would be my Pledge amount. My weight is actually 60.78kg. As it has been since I lived in San Francisco, I think.

5. OK, I’m sure you can come up with your own ridiculous formula.

Whatever number you decide to use, I will greatly appreciate receiving not only your Pledge, but your explanation of how you came up with the odd amount!

Support Nygaard Notes – For Free!

If you don’t think that you can make a Pledge right now, consider supporting Nygaard Notes by TELLING YOUR FRIENDS, CO-WORKERS, AND COLLEAGUES about this newsletter. Tell them, in your own words, how their lives will be just a tiny bit better if they sign up to receive this newsletter called Nygaard Notes. Don’t forget to mention that it’s FREE, and remind them that it’s not always true that “you get what you pay for.” Sometimes you get a well-written, entertaining, empowering newsletter without paying anything. They might not believe it, so you’ll have to challenge them to subscribe and see for themselves.



Reflections on Nygaard Notes

A Pledge Drive, I’ve always thought, is a good time to reflect on the nature of the publication to which I’m asking you to donate money. As I was looking through some issues of the past five years, I looked for an interesting thing that a reader once had alerted me to: Some of the most revealing comments were to be found in the Editor’s Notes that appear in every issue I publish. So, I’ve collected some of the more intriguing comments, and I present them here. I’m hoping that, taken together, the following excerpts may offer a good sense of what Nygaard Notes is all about.

Remember, these are excerpts, so they can be a bit of a tease as they reference things that are not here. So… At the start of each of the following excerpts I’ve given the Issue Number from which the excerpt was taken, so you can go look. Issues #1 to #597 can be found on this web page. Issues #598 to the present can be found by going to the Nygaard Notes home page, clicking on “Search” and typing in “Issue #598” or “Issue #612” or whichever issue you choose.

Let us begin.

In Issue #524 I wrote:
I continue to be fascinated with the various ways in which the structures of our media system affect how we think about issues. And that includes the things about which we do not think. I know from experience that I am an unusual person in that I spend a good part of my day seeking out good sources of news and analyzing poor sources. Most of us, if we pay attention to news at all, are very passive about it. We take what is given us, for the most part. So, if something is on the front page, we assume it is “important.” If we haven’t heard of something, we don’t worry, since it must not be important. Or we would have heard of it. Lately I’ve been noticing a pattern that appears to explain, at least in part, how and why our news system pays so much attention to certain things and so little attention to others.


In Issue #525 I wrote:
Next week I’ll attempt to draw some lessons about how an intellectual system works, at a very deep level, to shape the thinking of all the people who are part of the system. That idea itself—that there is something called an “intellectual system” that works to indoctrinate all of us—is an idea that’s hard to think about. Why is that? That’s what we’ll talk about next week.


In Issue #606 I wrote:
The U.S. intellectual tradition of looking at things individualistically gets us screwed up in many ways. One of the ways is to get us to focus on news of the current president’s statements and actions in hopes of understanding what’s going on in the world. A bad idea. As I heard someone say recently, “Following the daily news to find out what’s going on in the world is like trying to tell what time it is by watching only the second hand on a clock.” Back up. Slow down. Understand.

With that in mind, I focus this week on longer-term historical trends—diplomatic, economic, informational, and military—to illustrate just how much of what is going on in the world has little to do with the current president. Or any president, for that matter. The U.S. Empire, or what’s left of it, is declining. That’s a tough idea to grasp, so that’s why this issue of Nygaard Notes is longer than usual.


In Issue #608 I wrote:
Back in the 1980s I used to have arguments about Ronald Reagan that had to do with trying to decide if his reactionary policies were motivated by indifference or ill-will (or, as a friend of mine would put it, “Is he evil? Or crazy?”). Now I know better, because I am more able to stay oriented to a “systems” approach to the world. People who think systems are much less concerned with intentions than they are with outcomes. So, whether it’s Reagan or Trump, I’m more interested in what will happen as a result of their actions than I am with what they think they are trying to do. For one thing, how would we know, really, what they are trying to do?

This week’s essay about the Trump revival of the War on Drugs illustrates the point. Whatever he—or his benighted Attorney General, who is leading the charge—think they are doing, the predictable outcome of their planned crackdown will fall most heavily on people of color. And my point is that they should be held accountable for this outcome, regardless of whether or not they plan or desire such an outcome. It’s much easier this way; no need to be a mind reader, after all.


In Issue #611 I wrote:
Is Nygaard Notes “journalism” or is it “commentary”? Well, since Nygaard Notes is totally independent, I can blur the lines. This issue, for example, gives a bit more of the history and context needed to understand the importance of an off-hand comment made by a Trump-appointed member of the Interior Department in late May. I could simply report the comment, which would be journalistic. Or I could tell you what I think of the comment, which would be commentary. But what I do instead is to report the background and context necessary to understand the comment. Journalism, or commentary? In fact, that line is always blurry, as the decision to talk about one thing and not another is a commentary in itself.


In Issue #616 I wrote:
This issue of the Notes examines one small example of how propaganda creeps into our media system as a result of the various forces at work in an increasingly freaked-out social order such as we have in the United States of the 21st Century. This little example is doubly timely, as it not only illustrates how home-grown propaganda works, but it’s also about the Internal Revenue Service. Just as the reactionary Right gears up to pass “the largest tax cut in our county’s history” (per Mr. Trump). Coincidence? Probably not. Timing is also a facet of propaganda worth considering.