Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Besides Iraq and Afghanistan on our karmic rap sheet, there's Gaza, where our proxy is doing the dirty work.

Glenn Greenwald has Gaza figured out. According to the latest polls, 71 percent of us -- nearly three out of four Americans -- don't want the U.S. taking sides in the Israel-Palestine War. But almost 100 percent of our politicians, Demolicans and Republicrats both, think Israel should just keep on with what they're doing, which is, as nearly as I can tell, turning the world's largest open-air prison into the world's largest open-air slaughterhouse.

In a democracy, Greenwald wrote yesterday, one could expect that politicians would be afraid to express a view that 70% of the citizens oppose. Yet here we have the exact opposite situation: no mainstream politician would dare express the view that 70% of Americans support; instead, the universal piety is the one that only a small minority accept. Isn't that fairly compelling evidence of the complete disconnect between our political elites and the people they purportedly represent?

Barack Obama included. So he wouldn't want Hamas rockets "falling on the school" where his daughters are enrolled? But if his daughters were killed in an Israeli airstrike, that would be different? Who does this guy think he's kidding?

Greenwald also points out that "overwhelming majorities of Americans have long wanted to withdraw from Iraq was completely dismissed and ignored by our bipartisan political class, which continued to fund the war indefinitely and with no conditions. But at least there, Democratic leaders paid lip service to the idea that they agreed with that position and some Democrats went beyond rhetoric and actually tried to stop or at least limit the war..."

But in the end, they did neither, after promising to do so.

It's clearer than ever that this political class, Republican and Democratic; liberal and conservative, has been bought out. AIPAC, the Israel lobby, is part of the corporate cabal that owns virtually all our politicians. They do not represent us. This is not our country. "Government of the people" is a lie.

Greenwald concluded yesterday by quoting a president who lived back in the day before the U.S. government became a whore. You certainly would recognize his name, since he was the country's first president. In his farewell address he warned us against taking sides in other people's conflicts, saying: (N)othing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.

It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. . . .
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Invisible Man Vanishes

Hiroshi Nohara arrived at Terminal number One of the Mexico City airport on September 2, and stayed there.

A Japanese citizen with a tourist visa, he dropped out of life's stream and disappeared in the anonymous mass of a place that is not a place. He stayed at the airport almost four months, sleeping in a chair and living on handouts. Then over this past weekend he disappeared completely.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bringing It All Back Home

The El Paso Times has news of an Army War College report which suggests that our current movie sequel we ourselves are starring in, Great Depression II, could lead to massive civil unrest, which in turn might necessitate regular Army troops being deployed to restore order.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Nobody wants to see the U.S. become an occupied country, but at least it would be one way to end the wars in the Mideast, and maybe all foreign wars for awhile. It would just be a matter of bringing the war home.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lou Dobbs is a Soplo Viente Gordo Grande

Uno dia los tres puercos chicos va de sus casa y dicen adios a madre. Ellos va en Los Estados Unidos se viva.

El primero cochinito, el muy joven, fabrica su casa de heno. Pero Lou Dobbs viene y soplan en la casa de heno, y la casa caen.

El cochinito muy grande miran, y dicen "Mi hermano chico es un tonto menso." Entonces, Lou Dobbs comen el joven cochinito con huevos y uvas.

El cochinito en medio fabrican sus casa de palos. Es muy bueno de la casa de heno, pero Lou Dobbs viene y soplan el tambien, y comen el medio cochinito con naranjas y tortillas.

Pero el cochinito mas grande no fabrican casa. Y cuando Lou Dobbs viene por come, el cerdo tira Lou Dobbs con una pistola de nueve milímetros. Entonces, el comen Lou Dobbs con cerveza y chips.

The Dubya Demon

Hating Bush is kind of pointless, since he's only the latest in a long line of predatory warmongering killers who have headed the government of the world's worst terrorist nation for the past 50 years. The list of blatant war criminals and habitual liars includes every president from Johnson to Bush II, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter.

The U.S.'s policy of bloody-handed global aggression has been aided and abetted by a corporate-controlled media which has performed the same role for the government as the state-owned newspapers Pravda and Izvestia did in the old Soviet Union. Their job has been easy, since the targets of their propaganda have been (until now) an overfed, over-entertained, undereducated population so hypnotized by shiny material goods and fantasies like Disneyland that they're incapable of acting in their own interest.

This may sound like some kind of radicalism, but it's really elementary and very easy to prove. However, in order to understand it, you need to look at the train of historical events we all know about with open eyes and an open mind. If you do that, and watch nothing more than the trailer of Norman Solomon's film "War Made Easy", you'll know the extent to which we've been deceived, and how you got to be as dumb as you are now.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mumbling, Stumbling, and Digressing All Over the Place

Long ago, in a universe far away, there was a website that had a political discussion board...but forget all that. What I wanted to tell you is, when anybody cites "The American Thinker" as a source, you should know that their logo is a picture of Uncle Sam sitting and thinking very deeply (or maybe taking a dump in an outhouse).

The results of our uncle's exertions are displayed on the pages within, in articles such as Andrew Walden's "The Unitarian Church and Obama's Religious Upbringing." It reveals that Obama's "choice" for his recently-departed grandmother Madelyn's memorial service was a Unitarian Church, which may seem strange and somewhat subversive until we learn that she was a lifelong Unitarian who once worked at the Unitarian seminary in Berkeley.

So it wasn't so much Barack Obama's "choice" as what she would have wanted.

My mother, whom I assisted, along with my two sisters, in departing this earth on December 7, was also a Unitarian, and a born-again atheist. That was a decision and a choice she made, guaranteed to her by Uncle Sam's very own Constitution. Nonetheless, it indicates that I share with Obama what Walden characterizes as a "leftist religious upbringing," something of which the thoughtful or possibly defecating Uncle Sam apparently disapproves.

Mom made us promise that there would be no prayers at her memorial, and no mention of Jesus, although I did secure her permission to read from the opening lines of chapter three of Ecclesiastes. As an atheist, she had no use for such concepts as "intelligent design," the idea that God deliberately, neatly, and quickly made all things the way they are, including us.

Like mom, I'm a lifelong Unitarian, but unlike her I have no problem with the notion that all life on earth was deliberately engineered by a power greater that us. As the novelist JM Coetzee explains, "I continue to find evolution by random mutation and natural selection not just unconvincing but preposterous as an account of how complex organisms come into being. As long as there is not one of us who has the faintest idea of how to go about constructing a housefly from scratch, how can we disparage as intellectually naive the conclusion that a housefly must have been put together by an intelligence of a higher order than our own?


"It does not seem to me philosophically retrograde to attribute intelligence to the universe as a whole, rather than just to a subset of mammals on planet Earth. An intelligent universe evolves purposively over time, even if the purpose in question may for ever be beyond the grasp of the human intellect and indeed beyond the range of our idea of what might constitute purpose."

Now that guy is a real writer. I admire real writers, and maybe I'll get to be one when I grow up. Or maybe I'll be a rock star, chased by pretty girls. But I digress...(I knew I would).

The American Thinker is a website for simple and straightforward fascist ideology, which is not necessarily a bad thing. When I use the word "fascist," here or elsewhere, I'm not calling people a nasty name. Fascism is a legitimate philosophy with a rationale and a worldview. Its adherents believe that those in authority know best (some even believe those in authority are divinely sanctioned), that legitimate governments revere and honor a people's traditions, that race and ethnicity are part of a person's identity and not to be taken lightly, that war presents an opportunity for a citizen to "fight gloriously and honorably for one's country" (in the words of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch), and that above all a citizen's first duty is to obey authority. For to oppose authority is to invite anarchy, or possibly even to oppose the will of the authoritarian and paternal God all fascists instinctively believe in.

Barack Obama, as a centrist seeking national reconciliation, is attempting to make peace with the fascist elements of American society, whose strength lies partly in their strong religious convictions. This is what motivated him to invite Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, but the intellects of The American Thinker are having none of it. As Andrew Walden's above-cited article concludes, "Obama's political needs as President have led him to invite Rick Warren, Pastor of Orange County California's Saddleback mega-church, (and a favorite of Oprah Winfrey) to deliver the inaugural invocation... Many on both left and right wonder who is co-opting whom? Given Obama's life history, there really should be little doubt."

Mushroom Soup

Lately I've seen numerous discussions around the internets tubes started by posters who believe that December 21, 2012 is the date the world as we know it will end.

I hope whoever is elected that year, be it Obama or Sarah Palin or someone else, will be ready for that.

I believe the Mayan cosmologists are trying to tell us something we need to know.

Now eat your mushrooms.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Solutions, pt. I

German architects are building a new type of house so airtight it doesn't require a furnace to stay warm inside, even during the cold Baltic winters.

They stay warm mostly by utilizing the body heat of their occupants.

See today's New York Times for more.

Note on a Bad Day

No posting today, because I'm reading JM Coetzee's "Diary of a Bad Year," which my sister gave me for Christmas.

I've never read Coetzee before, but he's a profound writer, and profoundly disturbing. Both his content and his technique are geared to upset and challenge readers. His work inflicts pain, but anyone seeking truth and integrity won't be able to put it down.

Anyone serious about writing today needs to disturb, if he or she is to be taken seriously. The purpose of art is not to decorate the world with extravagant, elegantly-wrought, virtuoso curlicues, but to address real life. And the reality is, most of what's going on in the world today is profoundly disturbing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Civilization and Government

Civilization crawled out of the mud and realized it would not survive without government. Cooperation, hence productivity and wealth, could only be maximized if everyone pulled in the same direction. Without the threat of collective force, a densely populated agrarian community would always be in danger of unravelling into what Karl Marx called "the war of everybody against everybody else."

What is there to prevent a rich and powerful financier from defrauding investors of 50 billion dollars? What is there to prevent a strong man from taking his weaker neighbor's crops, animals, and wife? Only the threat of the community seeking justice through state-sanctioned violence.

Many of the earliest civilizations revered the bull. The first farmers, grubbing about in the mud of some delta, encountered the wild bull and realized that to prosper, they needed to somehow steal or appropriate the bull's immense muscular strength. The problem was how to get this dangerous and irritable animal to cooperate without getting killed, and the answer was to turn the bull into an ox. A castrated and docile bovine animal has the same muscular strength as a wild bull, but it's governable.

Jefferson was wrong when he said "(T)o secure these rights (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," because he knew as well as you or I that the first concern of any government is to make sure its subjects (or citizens, as they're called) are governable. The South-African writer JD Coetzee explains, "From the moment of our birth we are subject," offering the birth certificate itself as the certificate of subjugation, for no person today is recognized as a living human being unless the government has certified that he or she was born.

Coetzee adds, "Not only may you not enter the state without certification; you are, in the eyes of the state, not dead until you are certified dead, and you can be certified dead only by an officer who himself (herself) holds state certification." This process makes it possible to render each citizen's life a statistic, is the equivalent of castrating the bull, and makes modern citizens into subjects, for our very existence goes unrecognized, and we have no legal identity unless it is conferred on us by the state.

This is why conservatives see government as basically a force for evil. But could civilization exist without government? Could we cooperate peacefully just because it's the rational thing to do, without the threat of government coercion and subjugation? It's a subject worth debating.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wonder Bread, Mortgage Derivatives, and Thermonuclear Destruction

Consider the supreme irony of our age. The best minds of modern times have labored ceaselessly to supply comfort, security, and immortality to everyone, but ultimately succeeded only in creating universal suffering, mortal danger, sickness, and death.

My earliest memory of television involves Buffalo Bob Smith telling his audience that Wonder Bread builds strong bodies eight ways (later expanded to "12 ways"). But he neglected to mention that it destroys them 15 ways, since adding a few nutrients back into the end product doesn't compensate for destroying nearly all of wheat's nutritional value in the white-flour rolling and refining process, leaving only a stripped-down starch which converts to glucose immediately upon entering the body.

Dubbed "the original fast food" by Michael Pollan in his brilliant "In Defense of Food," white refined flour, along with its brother, high fructose corn syrup, is the main culprit behind the associated plagues of obesity, diabetes, and coronary-vascular diseases. It's what happens to food and to human health during our enlightened age, an age of "progress," for an Industrial Age finds itself incapable of producing anything other than industrial food.

Likewise, the immense power of industrial monopoly capitalism, so extraordinarily creative and beneficial in some ways due to its capacity to generate wealth, has proved itself in the long run an engine of our destruction, and an infernal machine that demolishes the economic security of millions. With its historically established cycle of boom, mania, panic, and collapse, the American variety of Big Capital has proved itself a particularly virulent form of the illness, having caused two world-wide production and employment catastrophes in the last 80 years, both of which made smoking, stinking ruins out of most of the world's economies for a protracted length of time. Here again, that which the prophets of the Industrial Age promised would free us from poverty and the soul-crushing burdens of continuous toil have only made the situation worse than it was before.

If you can understand the relationship between Industrial-Age food and Industrial-Age capitalism, you can understand the relation of both to Industrial-Age warfare, which may literally destroy us all. For in seeking a weapon which would make war impossible, industrial warriors, like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, unlocked secrets forbidden since our time in Eden, and as a result we are now threatened with being burned alive.

We know it can be done, because it's been done.

For a look into the profoundest horror of Industrial/Thermonuclear Age, read David Samuels' "Atomic John" in the December fifteenth New Yorker. It profiles the work of John Coster-Mullen, an ordinary citizen who wrote a book describing the technical inner workings of the bombs dropped on Japan, including much information kept secret until now. Not an anti-nuclear polemic, Coster-Mullen's work is a detailed, deadpan technical analysis of Little Boy and Fat Man. Written accurately and brilliantly by an author who lacks even a bachelor's degree, "Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man" shows how the best intentions can produce the worst results, and do so with ordinary nuts-and-bolts-type hardware, a modern-day energy source, and a severe misunderstanding of the natural limitations on human existence.

The natural limitations on human existence! Consider that for a moment, and then consider the prophecy, delivered by our own race of prophets:

"God gave Noah the rainbow sign;
No more water; fire next time."
--Antebellum spiritual,
Quoted by James Baldwin

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can't Do It, Man

Right. There's an article in today's NY Times which credits the origins of the "Obama is a Muslim" veshch to a political mope in Chicago named Andy Martin.

He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases.

Mr. Martin, in a series of interviews, did not dispute his influence in Obama rumors.

“Everybody uses my research as a takeoff point,” Mr. Martin said, adding, however, that some take his writings “and exaggerate them to suit their own fantasies.”

As for his background, he said: “I’m a colorful person. There’s always somebody who has a legitimate cause in their mind to be angry with me.”


I guess he's been getting a soapbox from Fox News lately. No surprise there.

But ye gods, I just can't do it any more. I just don't have the energy to get angry.

I can't even muster the adrenaline to get mad at the talking heads of Fox News, or at this guy Martin either. I guess contemplating the short career of Caribou Barbie took all the piss and vinegar out of me.

FN is kind of like what the Buddha said: "You don't get mad at a fire because it's hot, do you?"

No, you don't. And I don't get mad at, uh, household refuse because it smells like...well, you know.

But sometimes I wonder why it is that most of the Fox News crew -- Neil Cavuto and Gretchen What'sherface and O'Reilly and the rest of 'em look like the kind of kids that, when they were in high school and eating lunch in the cafeteria, nobody wanted to sit with 'em.

In fact, they didn't even want to sit with each other. But somebody had to.

As for the Obama/Muslim thing and the "terrorist fist pump" and all that, I look at Obama and I see a very articulate and talented salesman, a conformist and organization guy at heart, politically timid and looking reflexively for that deep rut that runs straight down the very middle of the range of political opinion. That's indeed a change from the superhuman crew we've lived under for eight years, who went out of their way to see how outrageous they could be, and laughed at any of us who bitched about it.

So what I'm saying is, I'll bet people who believe all that stuff about him being a Muslim or a terrorist or a Muslim terrorist have a lot of brain hemorrhages, chronic diverticulitis, perforated eardrums, gastric ulcers, and blood pressure problems, not to mention high cholesterol from all that red meat and all those bacon omelets. I'm grateful that I'm not one of them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


After 40-plus years living with colitis, diverticulitis, and the kind of intestinal disability that makes life unlivable, I'm happy to say that finally, somewhat late in life, I'm enjoying optimal intestinal health.

I'll spare you the disgusting details, in the hope that you'll take my word for it.

I'm not cured, but this debilitating cluster of illnesses is in remission as long as I follow a few simple rules which consist mainly of (1) staying out of restaurants and (2) eating the right things. The cornerstone of this diet is the fruit, the daily orange and banana, and frequently half an avacado, along with a dose of metamucil. In the morning, a couple eggs with whole wheat toast. In the evening, some kind of beans or legumes cooked with a green or yellow vegetable and a trace of meat. That might be accompanied by some cheese and whole wheat crackers. Sometimes there's a baked potato.

Organic produce is best, when available.

I still drink too much coffee, and still take a little refined sugar in the evening (any of that stuff is too much), but I've cut way back on straight carbs, especially refined white flour carbs. The result of that major change? Goodbye gas.

I need to finish Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." I'd already begun changing my dietary life before I started reading Pollan, but he's conveniently vindicating everything I've done and that I continue to do. The book in a nutshell says "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

The dietary changes have been accompanied and strengthened by a personal yoga practice which ought to be daily but isn't yet (at this point it's about half time). So I'm going to remedy that by assuming the position right now and commencing pranayama, the breathing exercise that's the prelude to the asanas or postures.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Snow

It's snowing here again, really hard this time, with dry, medium-size flakes. This is going to be our long-awaited blizzard.

It started about three and will continue through the night. I just hope the flakes stay dry and not too big. It's wet snow that causes serious problems.

Weathermen disagree about how many total inches we'll end up with. Some say four to six. Others say 12 to 22. I say I wish it would stop. The thing that really scares me is the possibility of a power outage, which is a very real danger over here because of all the trees. The branches above powerlines become laden with wet, heavy snow, then come crashing down, and presto! Your all-electric house is now a cave, with a fireplace and some firewood in it, if you're lucky, and I am. But that's the kind of luck I'm hoping not to have to cash in on.

This is only my second day housebound and I'm already dealing with cabin fever. I think I'll be stuck here about two more days, with the inevitable warmup possibly beginning on Tuesday. If the roads are reasonably bare by then, even if it's raining, I'll probably burn about a tank of gas, shopping, running errands, and just driving for the hell of it, because I can.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I took this shot of the view through the suite of three panoramic windows in my mother's bedroom to show how beautiful it is here today. The sun is strongly shining, and even though it's bitterly cold the water you see in the photo isn't frozen because it's salt water (Puget Sound).

Last night, very late, I heard a plaintive cry from down below, like that of a water bird in distress. But this morning there was no evidence of any creature in trouble.

The biggest problem with this is that everything is covered, under an inch of snow, with a layer of hard ice, and as much as I enjoy the scenery, I don't like being housebound. It causes me to reflect on how dependent we are on our modern forms of mobility, and I don't like that much either. I got desperate a couple hours ago, warmed up the car and tried a trial run up an unsanded hill about a quarter mile away. Slid backward, got myself straightened out, and made it safely home.

Maybe tomorrow some of this glare ice will melt, or the road crews will have enough stuff de-iced that I can escape captivity. But there's a fresh, even bigger storm coming tomorrow night. Then after that it's supposed to warm up, slightly.

Donkeys and Elephants: Endangered Species

The two major parties, despite their stranglehold on political processes in this country, are dangerously close to sliding into the oblivion of total irrelevance. Consider:

Obama, after promising to end the Iraq war, has shown himself more than willing to continue the war (because it's all one war, after all). By downsizing and rebranding Iraq, and pumping up the Afghan segment of the so-called Global War on Terror, he'll placate the currently-overstretched Pentagon while leaving them a sandbox to play in, at the same time throwing a sop to fascists, warheads, and Republican ethnic cleansers.

I admire his deftness at the old bait-and-switch routine, but keeping the war machine fat and happy rather than confronting it gives a country desperately longing for peace none of what it actually needs. We'll only achieve peace by adopting a pacific attitude, and Obama's Middle East schemes prove that the donkeys, when push comes to shove, are as belligerent as the elephants, if a little more realistic about the scale of our imperial adventures.

And while Obama has avoided outright lying about his war policy, his choice of a homophobic fake Christian to deliver the invocation at his inauguration shows that he's willing to lie down with dogs and eat Alpo. Seen by some as a conciliatory gesture, a more honest appraisal of this boneheaded move reveals a willingness to tolerate liars, thus fostering a spirit of dishonesty in the political process. Warren, a Californian, declared during the recent election that if Proposition 8 were to fail, he would no longer be free to speak out against gay marriage from the pulpit. I pity anyone gullible enough to swallow such obvious and crude deceit. Is this really anybody's idea of legitimate "dialogue?"

The capstone of this hypocritical and duplicitous Democrat-dominated political season is Caroline Kennedy's candidacy for one of New York's Senate seats. With virtually no discussion of her qualifications or lack of them, the party higher-ups have decided that the family's name and deep pockets guarantee her the right to that seat, even though she's never been elected to anything in her life. Is a supposedly intelligent electorate really expected to approve of this sort personalities-as-politics, which might have been designed by and for Oprah's TV show? But I have to be careful here lest I cast a slur against Oprah that's untrue and unfair.

After eight years of Republican misrule (or 20 of the last 28 years, actually), the donkeys have galloped to our rescue, only to reveal themselves to be as completely corrupted as those they're replacing, if a little softer spoken. They all swill at the same trough, they all subscribe to what Atrios calls "The American Hegemony Project," and to my eyes, the donkey and the elephant appear to be wrapped in an obscene embrace of the type sometimes crudely referred to as "69."

To hell with these donkeys and elephants, who pantomime combat while lustfully grappling with each other under the blanket. Neither party is addressing our real problems, because neither is willing to challenge the status quo, whence our problems originate. We desperately need another political animal. How about a giraffe, or an anteater?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Revolution Begins at Home

With his choice of fundamentalist ideologue Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, Barack Obama has destroyed whatever credibility his administration might have had with progressives, even before he takes office. As Atrios accurately sums up, Warren "Doesn't believe in evolution, equates gay marriage with child rape, and, frankly, is a fucking idiot."

I fully expected Obama to do the usual, silly "move to the center" routine, but I never expected him to be lying down with dog meat like this. It pretty much signals the end of any viability for two-party politics, not just for me, but for a lot of other people.

What's becoming obvious, as it was 40 years ago, is that revolution begins at home. Anybody here want to live life? Experience Liberty? Do we all want to pursue happiness? Then make sure nobody stops you.

But believe me when I say that we're going to have to make our own damn future, and that means not allowing ourselves to fall into the hands of the generals and Americans -- General Electric, General Foods, AT&T (American Take and Take), and ABC. High fructose corn syrup is to food what Fox News is to information.

Want a healthy mind in a healthy body? Then avoid the twin conspiracies of refined white stuff and refined public "education;" Insist on real food and real thought instead, and on real food for thought as well. We're entering an age of home cooking and home schooling.

Speaking of food, the best is always produced locally. The shorter the time and distance it travels before getting into your mouth, the less intrinsic value it loses. And almost needless to say, food you grow yourself is best of all.

If you want a house that harmonizes with its earthly environment rather than resisting and opposing it, you'll probably have to build it yourself.

These are all things I've known for 40 years, and I keep asking myself, now drawing toward the end part of life, why I've wasted so much time chasing the illusions sold by dying institutions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Random Thoughts and Stray Observations

Highly Recommended

"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," says Michael Pollan in his "In Defense of Food." In fact, he admits that's the highly condensed version of the book, but the rest is also worth reading, especially where the author channels the work of the eccentric 1930's-era American Dentist Weston Price, who travelled around the world studying the dietary habits of so-called "primitive peoples" and wrote what Pollan calls an "ecological critique of industrial civilization."

Price's critique gained some notoriety in the thirties, but disappeared after World War II, only to reappear among the hippies in the late 60's.

We knew a lot of valuable things in the late 60's -- examples of what might truly be called "wisdom" -- which we later forgot, and are only now having to recall.

Among movies I've stumbled over in the past ten years or so, I can't decide whether "The Thin Red Line" is the best war movie I've ever seen or just a bunch of pretentious, sophomoric, deliberately low-key philosophizing by a director (Terrence Malick) who apparently thought of himself as some kind of a latter-day Zarathustra (he did a disappearing act in 1978, only to reappear 20 years later to make this movie, then disappear again). Maybe it's some of both; the sections by Sean Penn seem a little wooden compared to what this gifted actor usually does, but I sure like the parts played by Nick Nolte and Elias Koteas.

It's worth seeing and evaluating because it's unconventional and makes an effort, and also noteworthy in that it hasn't been seen much, since it was released in the shadow of "Private Ryan."

I haven't read "The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition" by Michael H Shuman, but I saw him interviewed on PBS early this morning, and this title is definitely now number one on my "to read" list. This guy might provide some good companion pieces to the work of Jim Kunstler, who's generally right, but always depressing.

Plans and Schemes

I'm beginning to wrap up my mother's affairs, and have no idea how long it's going to take. I'll be here a matter of months, but how many? Two? Six?

After that I'll be living in Seattle for a while. I'm signed up for a yoga teacher training class that runs from February to November. After that? Who knows?

I'm thinking of living no place in particular, and staying free to travel about as the urge strikes. That entails having very few possessions -- a few clothes, very few cooking utensils, a blanket, and a rug. I'd probably give up playing drums, as I don't want to be stuck hauling a kit around, so my musical future would be all acoustic -- guitar, doumbek, and Egyptian frame drum, a.k.a. tambourine.

I'd try to live in places where day-to-day driving is mostly unnecessary, and save that fuel allotment for the long-distance jumps. This will take some planning, but in 2008 alone I've had enough of being cooked in the summer and frozen in the winter, and I've seen too much of the benefits of easy mobility.

The painting, "Vertumnus" by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) is a portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and is composed entirely of images of fruits, vegetables, grains, and flowers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They Call Him the Fireman

...Except we meant "somebody who'll put the fire out," not the arsonist.

Jon Schwarz reminds us that just last March, Hillary Clinton suggested we should deal with the foreclosure crisis by appointing "an Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures" to be headed by "eminent leaders" like Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Robert Rubin.

Jon comments, "This is a great idea, and I hope it can be implemented as soon as we've established my proposed High-Level Emergency Working Group on Preventing Cannibalism headed by Jeffrey Dahmer."

Presumably, it doesn't matter too much that Jeff's dead. And be sure to read the comments over at Jon's place. Some of the best blogging these days is in the comments sections.


It's not exactly news, but Tom Tomorrow notes that Sean Hannity is "a lying scumbag."

(I)f you only listened to Hannity’s show today, you would know that Obama is delaying the release of his report about his campaign’s contacts with Blagojevich for a week — and you would have heard Hannity’s commentary about a Christmas week document dump, which he finds verrrrry interesting, the sort of thing you do when you have something to hide, blah blah blah.

What you would not know is that Obama’s delay is at the request of the prosecutor himself.

While you're there, be sure to check out Tomorrow's latest cartoon, the first installment of "2008: the Year in Review."

Climate Control

When it comes to things like changing over from oil to other sources of energy and making a genuine effort to deal with global climate meltdown, Obama's cabinet appointments look pretty good to me.

Joining the group will be Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics whom Mr. Obama designated to lead the Energy Department.

Imagine that, putting a scientist in charge! Maybe now we'll have an Energy Department that actually does something, other than just getting paid and taking up space.

One things is for sure: Even as Obama made these appointments he was "Acknowledging that a succession of presidents and Congresses had failed to make much progress on the issues." Still, some of us anyway can feel a little better about these critical issues, because we're at least anticipating a government that actually addresses problems that truly exist in the real world, rather than one that's living in some greed-driven fantasy.

And that, my friends, is change you can believe in.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bad News

The toughest thing we have to do right now is honestly acknowledge the brute facts of our changed existence.

The era of perpetual, endless growth is done. We have now entered an era of perpetual contraction. This is because the supply of endless growth's fuel -- cheap oil -- is bound to contract in both the short and long run.

In recent years we've had only two major industries left in the U.S. which employed millions, car building and suburb building. One has vanished, and the other is about to.

Americans are generally not mentally prepared to face the tremendous economic dislocations now occurring. Whether the new administration is prepared to face facts remains to be seen. If Obama and his underlings carelessly start throwing around the word "growth," we'll know they're not engaged with the true state of affairs, and that will make things worse.

"Worse" means "disorderly." Food and fuel riots, general strikes, sectarian, racial, and ethnic violence. An administration that won't face facts won't have a handle on anything.

The three-bedroom, two-bath tract home as a standardized totem of the typical family life in this country is vanished, and the old model of the family farm (or hippie commune), with its vegetable garden, goat and chickens, wood stoves, and water supplied by a well or springbox, is destined to be the new standard. Land distribution and use will soon become very hot topics.

For much, much more on these and related subjects, read this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished Sans Election

I got into a discussion on a political forum elsewhere which turned interesting, as the conversation evolved into the topic that about half of what's said in political discussions everywhere addresses, namely, why is our country so fucked up, considering that its government is elected, and how did we get into this mess we're in now?

My personal opinion -- and I can't really prove any of this -- is that the ruling class (another name for it would be "the very rich") have had an iron grip on political discourse at least since Reagan took office nearly 30 years ago. They've controlled the conversation mainly through two means:

a) By manipulating a system of Congressional bribery ("campaign contibutions"), the corporatocracy controls national legislation and buys only the laws it wants, at the same time eliminating any public safeguards or benefits it hates; and

b) Through its ownership of the corporate media, especially network and cable network TV outlets, the corporatocracy controls and "frames" the national political debate. That's why it's "terrorism" when they do it and part of "the struggle for democracy" when we do the exact identical same thing.

Fortunately, the iron grip of this ruling class is now broken, and not beause we elected Obama, a corporate tool if I ever saw one. It's because the ruling class has done us the favor of committing economic suicide, and the way of life we've lived for 60 years, a way of life which brought us the pleasures of excessive affluence, but which benefitted mainly them, this way of life is finished.

So thanks, ruling class! You've made our daily lives for the near and distant future much, much materially harder, but at least we won't have to put up with you any more, and maybe we can even go back to being rational, self-interested, independent citizens again, with actual minds of our own.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Around the Blogs

Photo from Greenasheville.

At A Tiny Revolution, Bernard Chazelle explains why Americans have the world's best health care -- not.

Blognigger. This guy is totally awesome. I'll put up a link in the sidebar and read this sucker every day. Thanks to the miscreants at the Reciprocal Crap Exchange for turning me on to BN.

Gracie is back, and treats us to an odiferous bouquet of the lamest, most unconsciously forehead-slapping predictions of 2008. All these 180-degree-off prognostications were made by experts in their fields, of course, which is, as Grace notes, "Why they're paid the big bucks."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Modern Times, Pt. II

I've offended some people lately because of my inflexible and intolerant attitude toward an administration that hasn't taken office yet. And since some have found my tone "ignorant and insulting," I'll say no more about Obama and the war for the next six months or so, but rest assured I'll be back early in June to remind my critics that I told them so.

There are times I'm tempted to just forget politics altogether, but I can't seem to shake the obsession. Maybe if I was as pessimistic as George Orwell I'd stop arguing politics, since we only continue to debate and argue if we think we have a chance of convincing someone to change his or her mind.

The thing is, I know the things Orwell knew, and there's no way to dodge them. I know those things because he told them to me, which was the purpose of "1984," to communicate reality. It was the most prophetic book of the century recently passed, because Orwell understood the pathology of modern industrial societies. He sliced through the propaganda of fascism, and Stalinist communism, and liberalism and saw what they all had in common -- the role of perpetual warfare, its economic and psychological necessity in the modern state, and the ability of modern citizens of all political persuasions to both enthusiastically endorse the war and at the same time deny that they are doing so.

Orwell, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx -- here were three of the deepest thinkers of modern times. Each of them had flaws and weaknesses, being human, but together taken together they reveal the essence of the human dilemma as it unfolds under the radically changed conditions of modern times, as different from pre-modern times as pre-modern times were from the age of the hunter-gatherers. What these three thinkers had in common is the capicity to reveal truths about ourselves that are disturbing and disquieting, but which we ignore at our utmost peril.

I'd be much better off if I was apolitical. My life would be tranquil, but I don't know what I'd write about.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin had modern times figured out. He knew we live in an era that basically sucks, because everything is too complicated and goes too fast, and that we're surrounded by lunatics because lots of people are driven totally nuts by this speed and complexity. But he also knew there are things about these times that are fun.

Yesterday my cell phone stopped working, but not completely. I couldn't hear anybody who called, and callers couldn't hear me. However, I could still hear the phone ringing, and it still made that little chiming sound when I turned it on or off.

By degrees, I discovered my phone still worked, but only when I had the dorky-looking earpiece in. That meant I had to leave it in all the time, and walk around like a stupid earphonehead, disguised as a schizophrenic muttering "Tall Quayle, outta Quayle" to himself.

It was an electronics problem/malfunction. I would take the earpiece out, and the phone still thought it was in, aparently. It's a real binary thinker, that cell phone.

Now the problem is fixed, but I don't know how. Either the device repaired itself, or I fixed it when I dropped it on the pavement as I arrived home last night. There's just no telling.

Modern life can be so frustrating it can make us scream, but it has its advantages as well. For example, I'm at this very moment using the wireless broadband connection at Whack in the Box while I wait for the programs for my mom's memorial service to be printed at Kinko, right across the street.

UPDATE: Whack in the Box is apparently a concerned citizen-type of fast-food corporate entity. While surfing the net using Whack's wireless router, I was blocked from visiting James Wolcott's blog at A "site administrator" put the kaibosh on my access to Wolcott, noting that Vanity Fair's site contains morally questionable features like "swimsuits" and "nudity." And let's face it, if you're sitting there surfing while eating bacon cheeseburgers, you might have a heart attack, and if that happens it could be worse if you also had an erection at the same time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Everybody Poos

Schnorred from Atrios.

Heiress, Apparently

This will make a nice, neat sequence. As Hillary Clinton departs the Senate to take over the State Department, Gov. Paterson of New York will be easily persuaded by the high priests of the Democratic Party that Caroline Kennedy is the only logical choice to slide easily and seamlessly into Mrs. Clinton's Senate shoes.

As the New York Times points out, the Kennedy family's deep pockets put her in an excellent position to run against and easily beat the weird and personally creepy Rudy Giuliani in 2010.

Mr. Kennedy’s message, according to Democratic aides who were not authorized to discuss the conversations, is that Ms. Kennedy — backed by the Kennedy family’s extensive fund-raising network — would have the wherewithal to run back-to-back costly statewide races without having to seek help from Mr. Paterson or Mr. Schumer. The ability to raise significant money is a key concern for Mr. Paterson, who has been deluged from every direction by politicians interested in the seat, which the governor is expected to fill early next year. Whoever is chosen will have to run in 2010 and again two years later.

I have nothing against Caroline Kennedy, but I'm a little appalled when I reflect that high offices in this country are frequently treated as hereditary fiefs, and maintaining them largely dependent on the financial resources available to the designated heir. Put it this way: a familiar family name may qualify someone for a high office, and a huge bank account certainly enhances one's suitability to fill the position.

This is exactly, precisely the sort of circumstance our founders sought to avoid.

Thanks to the Crooks and Liars blog for the heads up, and see also, Al Giordano's blog, "The Field"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Downsize This

He hasn't even taken the oath yet, but there's plenty of evidence already that Obama is just another political phony.

We've been fooled and betrayed by the Democrats again.

But...but...he was a young, good looking, intelligent, articulate BLACK guy, so easy and eminently correct to love. How could we have gone wrong?

And would it really have made a difference if we had ignored the election, or even chosen McCain/Palin?

Obama has announced he's rethinking his position on the Iraq War, or as the New York Times put it, undergoing an "apparent evolution" in his approach to this egregious crime and national disgrace. Jeremy Scahill (via John Caruso at Jon Schwarz's blog) supplies the necessary corrective to our wide-eyed naivete and idealism, and our national infatuation with Obama: Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric of "change" and bringing an "end" to the Iraq war realized early on that the now-president-elect had a plan that boiled down to a down-sizing and rebranding of the occupation.

Caruso adds, I particularly appreciate the Times' choice of headline: "Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality." This is an extremely useful principle I'm sure we'd all like to employ at one time or another: "Unfortunately, Tom, my promise to pay back that money you loaned me has now been muted by reality—namely, the reality that I never had any intention to. Sucker!"

Also, as usual, Dennis Perrin has a few choice words for the Democratic wolves in sheeps' clothing, whose hypocrisy is abundantly revealed even before they grasp the levers of power.

We are not getting that pony for Christmas after all.

Of course, the war will continue, and since it's endless, and pursued for its own sake, it makes little difference whether we're dropping napalm on farmers and water buffalo planting rice in "enemy enclaves" in the Mekong Delta or shredding little kids in Anbar Province with cluster bombs. It's all the same, and now that Americans have been lulled out of their collective anxiety by the stock market's ceasing to drop like a stone while gas prices continue to do so, we can all go to Disneyland while the war continues. Is there a better definition of moral depravity?

Remember that after the Seventh Seal was opened, it was quiet in heaven for the space of half an hour.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dorothy Marie "Dotty" Talbott Brice, April 26, 1920 -- December 7, 2008

Our mother and long-time Pacific Northwest resident Dotty Brice passed away yesterday evening at about 7:40, after a short but intense struggle with lung and liver cancer. She was 88.

Born in Western Kansas early in the last century, Mom grew up poor, in a rural hamlet with the unlikely name of Radium. None of its residents had running water or electricity in their homes, and she always told us that as a child she believed the houses couldn't be electrified because the light bulbs would break if a truck carrying them attempted to pass over the railroad tracks on the outskirts of town.

She was nine when the Great Depression began, left home for the big city (Kansas City) to seek clerical work at 18, and was 21 when World War II began. She met and married our father, Don Brice, a U.S. Army sergeant at the time, in 1943. I was born in 1944 and the twins, Christine and Susan, in 1949.

Don and Dotty lived for ten years in Youngstown, Ohio where he worked as a broadcaster and she was a homemaker. In 1957 the family moved to the west coast, settling in Seattle. Don died in 1983.

Mom moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 1992, and was the longest-residing homeowner in her area at the time of her death. She was well known for her talent as a dancer, and for teaching a weekly country line dancing class at the Port Ludlow Bay Club, until March of this year.

Besides her children, she is survived by seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and by her sister, Florence Scott, 96, of Lawrence, Kansas.

David Brice
Christine Warmedahl
Sue Burke

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crossing Over

It's time for a soul to cross over, from this side to the other side.

She will need to have a coin, to pay the ferryman, Charon by name.

Charon will take possession of this soul to convey it to the other side, across the dark river called Styx.

She is crossing the river peacefully and with great dignity and tranquility, even as you read this.