Monday, November 29, 2010

Next time you want to fly somewhere......

Consider the situation you may encounter....take 10 minutes or so and watch this video first.

"Safety" often serves as the excuse for the arbitrary exercise of petty tyranny. Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller for alerting us to the video.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Ronnie Raygun "revolution".......

When Reagan won the presidential election I remember thinking that things were going to get worse. I was amazed that some people (a majority of voters apparently) were willing to anoint such a dismal example of humanity as their "leader".

Thirty years later, there is no doubt that this country has been in a downward spiral. A very interesting article appears to confirm this....using graphs. Worth a read if you don't mind getting spooked and disheartened. What is even more astonishing to me is that things have become so bizarre that Reagan now looks like a moderate compared to the yahoos ending up in elected positions.

Those of old enough to remember the "credibility gap"  are now treated to instances of lies treated as examples of knowledge that "everybody knows" on a routine and ongoing basis.

One of the things I overheard the other day from some college students was that social security would be non-existent for them by the time they reached retirement age. This is simply a lie and rather easily refuted (thanks to Old Feminist and Wild-Eyed Liberal). I am always astonished also when this particular stupidity is voiced that the person(s) saying it seem to be oblivious to the fact that whether social security is extant or not is up to the citizens. Rather this canard is repeated as if such a thing was a law of nature or something rather than a situation entirely under the control of the voters of this country.

Over at I ran across a quote that I tend to mostly agree with:  "We live in times that demand that we rise to the occasion, and yet as a country we are mired in apathy, delusion, and impotent anger. I really wish I could just stand at a distance and laugh."

I think I might be more prone to cry than laugh, at least part of the time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

America, land of the ?...............................

One of the blogs I regularly check is Every once in a while an interesting item turns up. Here is an excerpt from a recent post about the Arizona immigration law:
The law was conceived by lobbyists for the private prison industry. They want to build more prisons and charge the government for housing inmates, and so what they need is more potential prisoners, and illegal immigration is one source of such prisoners. So they worked with the Arizona legislature to make it happen. This is what evil looks like.
The post references an article from NPR that details their investigation into the source(s) of the immigration law.

Create demand for your product...."defense" corporations need wars, "corrections" corporations need prisoners.....and so on. Ah America, land of the ?..............

Monday, October 18, 2010

Social psychosis..............

Quite an interesting post by Douglas LaBier. He argues that delusional thinking predominates in our culture in 4 areas.

1. Personal Values and Conduct.
2. Political/Economic Ideology
3. Public/Social Policy
4. Science/Factual Knowledge

For instance, concerning the delusions in the Science and Factual knowledge areas he writes:
The delusion here is that a society can progress -- or even hold it's own -- by embracing an anti-science position and glorifying ignorance. The delusion consists of the belief that denying scientific evidence or knowledge of facts in general is a good basis for making decisions that affect the public. Whether in the halls of Congress, in the media or on Boards of Education, the delusion of the anti-science/pro-ignorance crowd have increasing influence and impact, as polls indicate. It includes denial of evolution, rejection of the evidence  for human-created rise of carbon emissions that creates ongoing climate change, and a general embrace of ignorance as a virtue; that it trumps the usefulness of empirical facts.
Interesting although I would add that what seems to be mystifying about the area of factual knowledge is not so much the rejection of such knowledge as the overwhelming nature of the sheer volume and detail of such knowledge.  Sources for accurate and trustworthy summarization without distortion could perhaps serve to remedy knowledge rejection......this is as opposed to the "spin" practitioners who pick and choose bits of knowledge to support a position while deliberately ignoring both context and meaning.

I think what I am driving at is that too much information can be as ignorant making and delusion nurturing (in a different way perhaps) as not enough information. There is some sort of Goldilocks principle at work here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oklahoma, Native Americans and Columbus......

In Oklahoma today (10/11/2010) is officially noted as a celebration of Columbus and his "discovery". Only one state, South Dakota, has been enlightened enough to change this day to something honoring the victims of Columbus. In South Dakota, today is Native Americans Day.

Oklahoma, which proudly displays Native America on the state automobile license plate, continues to recognize this day as Columbus day even though, as the author of this article notes:
If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

Question: Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?
Oklahoma insults all Native Americans, and all beings that oppose and detest oppression, theft, murder and slavery by continuing the shameful "honoring" of this disgusting individual.

A further excerpt from the article:
Columbus wasn't a hero. When he set foot on that sandy beach in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered that the islands were inhabited by friendly, peaceful people called the Lucayans, Taínos and Arawaks. Writing in his diary, Columbus said they were a handsome, smart and kind people. He noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. "They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no," he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kind-hearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.
Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.
Columbus deserves no honor and Oklahoma dishonors itself by continuing this sham "holiday".

As long as we human animals continue to believe lies and misinformation, as long as we confuse historical or current myth with reality......we will continue to be oppressors and torturers and murders of the innocent.......and deniers of our behavior and our crimes.

I oppose and detest oppression, slavery, torture and matter what species the victim happens to be.

I deeply and sincerely apologize for this travesty of a holiday to all victims and all the ancestors of the victims of this monstrous being named Columbus. (this entry is crossposted on the veganelder blog)

Friday, October 8, 2010

On the tea party movement..........

The moaning and groaning of the tea party yokels has meant less than nothing since beginning. To take these folks seriously would have required them to have began their "protest" years before when George Bush was trashing the country. To rail against the inheritors of the lunacies of Bush is both grotesque and disingenuous. Matt Taibbi is often worth reading, his recent article on the t.p. movement notes:
Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them................
The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about —  ...................
After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.
The serious problems faced by the country are nothing that will be cured by the half-baked notions promoted by these people. The oligarchy likes nothing better than to see this sort of circus occupying center stage. The spotlight there keeps it off of the wealthy and the corporate interests that are cheerfully looting the country.

Over at Harpers, Ken Silverstein is signing off as Washington editor, due to his exhaustion and numbness from dealing with DC politics. He notes:
The current GOP is truly a scary party, but if not for that it would be impossible to care about the midterm elections. When you’re reduced to rooting for soulless hacks like the current Senate majority leader—and he’s typical of today’s Democrats—you’ve lost something fundamental at the core of your humanity.
After watching Clinton dither around and not go after the wealthy and now to watch Obama avoid the same necessary steps needed to begin some sort of reversal from the decline........begun when the buffoonery of Reagan was confused with seriousness.....well, who can blame Silverstein for hanging up his spurs.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some quotes...................

George Saunders has been writing for some time but I just now discovered him.  It is always a delight to run across an author that is sharp and skilled at writing.  I highly recommend his works, I've only read a collection of essays titled: The Braindead Megaphone, which is terrific.  The first essay, named the same as the book does a great job of elaborating why the current pap that passes for "news" exists.  Here is a quote from another essay that knocked me out:

…….Huck and Tom represent two viable models of the American character.  They exist side by side in every american and every american action.  America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will the the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck.  The United States of Tom looks at misery and says:  Hey, I didn’t do it.  It looks at inequity and says: All my life I have busted my butt to get where I am, so don’t come crying to me.  Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege.  Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around.  Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders.  Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes.  Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies.  These two parts of the American psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.

P. 204-205, in The United States of Huck (essay), part of The Braindead Megaphone (collection of essays) by George Saunders
Excellent stuff.  Mr. Saunders is the recipient of one of the "genius" grants from the MacArthur Fellowships.  He deserves it.

A final quote from a different essay in the book:
...The British are, it would appear, allied with us Americans in the “War on Terror.” I found something rousing about this sense of shared purpose --- this sense that they too were fooled by spurious intelligence; they too were, while in a state of fear, too quick to believe what they were told by their leaders; they too are willing to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of an endless war against what is essentially an imprecise noun, a war that is, semantically speaking, analogous to a War on Patriarchy, or the Very Energetic Siege of Narcissism. 

P. 94, A Brief Study of the British (essay), from The Braindead Megaphone (collection of essays) by George Saunders.
 If you haven't read anything by this fellow, get to your library pronto and be prepared for a treat.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Symphony to the insanity of humanity..........

This link goes to a little film, with accompanying musical tones, that pinpoints every nuclear explosion from 1945 to 1998.  Listen and watch with astonishment.  It takes around 15 minutes to compress 53 years of derangement.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A small history lesson....................

The annual narcissistic and self-congratulatory orgy known as the "4th of July" is essentially finished for 2010, except today (July 5th) is the work holiday for many employees since the actual day of July 4th this year fell on a Sunday.

Most of us would have a difficult time reciting language from the declaration being celebrated.  Here is a quote from that declaration (the He refers to King George of England): 
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
 Hmmm......such language makes a different sort of July 4th observance or viewpoint understandable.

The local newspaper distinguished itself by running multiple "stories" (propaganda disguised as news) about heroic servicemen, etc.  A replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall was in town for July 4th, no stories referenced the needlessness of that tragic conflict (Ho Chi Minh was as likely to present any threat the the United States as was Saddam Hussein).  Nope, jingoism and self-congratulation characterized what passed for "news".

Now we have arrived at my favorite part of this holiday, the ending of it (until next year).  Oh, by the way, a number of the celebrants seem to be perplexed about certain factual details.  For those unsure why there might be a question about the appropriateness of the holiday, this post might provide some enlightenment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Koyaanisqatsi…..from the Hopi language

I wanted to name the blog Koyaanisqatsi, but decided that appropriating a word from the Hopi might simply be another instance of taking from Native Americans that has been typical of the white European way of behaving.

The word itself is rich in meaning…..according to Wikipedia one Hopi language dictionary defines it as: “"life of moral corruption and turmoil (re life of group), life out of balance". It is the opposite of suyanisqatsi "life of harmony"”.

Life out of balance succinctly summarizes my take on the majority of the culture of the United States and most of the hierarchal, free reign capitalistic societies on the planet.  Many (not all) of the Indigenous cultures of the world seem to embody  ways of living much more conducive to sustainable and life satisfying existence than do “modern” cultures.

It actually wouldn’t take much to do better than any society that appears to have as its greatest measure of success that of being most effective at satisfying greed.

I plan to use this blog as a repository of information and thoughts about society, politics, education and whatever else might occur to me.

By the way, there is an excellent film, documentary sort of, called Koyaanisqatsi, that is scored by Phillip Glass which does an excellent job of visually and aurally capturing some of the spirit of what is meant by the notion of Life out of Balance.