Monday, November 29, 2010


My body has become a long-term miniature ecology experiment which has yielded a gradual comprehensive healing, and I'm convinced the same principles applied to earth herself would produce similar results.

If a person with a sick digestive system stops eating industrially-produced and -processed "food," and begins taking only real and whole nutrition, the afflicted organs gradually heal themselves, unless they're so degenerated they can't recover. Recovering from inflammatory bowel disease and everything that goes with it, right down to the hemorrhoids, is the most important facet of positive dietary changes, but there are others, including psychological effects.

Much of the world's arable land is sick from petroleum-based "inputs:" chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. But diseased ecosystems, like diseased people, can recover by going on a diet which eliminates industrially-processed nutrients and substitutes the proper, organic constituents that will enable depleted soil to regain its vitality. This consists mainly of composted human and animal wastes which are currently flushed, sometimes treated and sometimes not, into the hydrosphere rather than recycled into its naturally life-sustaining end product, a rich humus.

As with drastic reductions in our petroleum consumption, these changes in our approaches to agriculture will happen when ruling elites recognize they have no choice, as sooner or later all of them will. The transition to a sustainable future will be difficult, but the survivors and their descendants will be better off for it than we are now.

Copperplate engraving by Robert Fludd, about 1618.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

taxes & deficits

Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America's Future has a tax plan. Here are just the main features of it. They all get fleshed out at the link. Catfood (Deficit) commissioners -- are you taking notes?

1) Restore pre-Reagan top tax rates. We didn't have massive deficits until we reduced the top tax rates. (Note: Johnson is in error here; the deficit created by World War II dwarfs anything that came after up to and including the present. It was paid down over time, however.)

2) Income is income. No more reduced capital gains tax rate.

3) Income is income. Inheritance income should be taxed as income, except there should be a "democracy cap."

4) Businesses...shouldn't be able to...operate out of P.O. boxes in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands (in order to avoid taxes).

That's a pretty good start. If we instituted those measures tomorrow along with ending all our various wars over there in all those various -Stans, our troubles would soon be over.

Graffiti by Banksy. Click on the image to read the whole message.

Friday, November 26, 2010


The Phinney-Greenwood unicyclist braved the snow and ice this past Monday evening to take a ride in the neighborhood on the traffic-free main drag.

He lives here in the nabe, where he leaves a faint carbon footprint and a distinct memory.

Heather took this shot and posted it at the Phinneywood blog.

Thanks to Dian, my Facebook friend for alerting me to it.

And thanks to the Phinney-Greenwood unicyclist for doing his part to address the global climate change crisis in a fun and photogenic way.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

sorrows of empire

I've been picking up that the latest right-wing grunting point blames Obama for perpetuating the policy of endless war. This must be some kind of joke.

It's very strange for anyone to try to hang responsibility for the perpetual war policy on one president when every president since Roosevelt has supported and actively promoted it, with only one possible exception -- Jimmy Carter. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and hard-asses, all of them have bowed before the five-sided temple of the war god, and happily sacrificed the hundreds of billions of dollars in annual burnt offerings this hungry deity demands.

I don't mean to place all the responsibility for our endless wars on our leaders, however. A concerted and determined anti-war movement originating among the people might have at some point pushed itself up from below and influenced decision-making at the top. But starting during World War II, the mass media, particularly the medium of TV, has been an eager conduit of establishment propaganda. Television appeared on the scene shortly before 1950 to hypnotize the masses and feed them a steady stream of bullshit, which most of us happily swallowed (until now), since it was flavored to taste like minty chocolate.

Propped up by the mythos of American exceptionalism, by which we convince ourselves that no nation in history has been so righteous or deserving of fortune as this one, we continue with blind hypocrisy down the murderous path of empire and pillage, the world's most blatantly terroristic nation, and one whose inmates are convinced they've done nothing wrong. I suppose it's what you'd expect from a political leadership which has sold itself to bankers and weapons dealers, and a lobotomized populace which has allowed itself to be dumbed down like a herd of steers.

Even Jimmy Carter, the least guilty of the rogues who have presided over us for the past 65 years, was unable to make the strong turn toward peace when Iran presented the opportunity to us in 1979. But we still had plenty of money to fortify our belligerence in those days.

It will be interesting to see who gets scapegoated for this idiotic and destructive 65-year policy now that the bankers and their employees, the politicians, are beginning to realize we can't afford it any more.

You know, Thomas Jefferson had a dream of an educated population of independent yeoman farmers, whose knowledge of history and economics and politics would enable them to act in their own self interest. It's way past time for us to wake up from that dream and smell the gunpowder, and acknowledge the true state of affairs. We might start by acknowledging that there never were any WMD, and that we were taken in by a crude and ridiculous lie.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

dancing with the stars

Tom Delay, former pest exterminator, Republican congressman from Texas, and speaker of the House can now add a new bullet point to his resumé -- convicted felon.

From the New York Times today: AUSTIN - A Texas jury Wednesday found Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader and Texas political powerhouse, guilty in a money-laundering trial involving contributions to political campaigns.

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before they came back with guilty verdicts against Mr. DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

There's a school of thought that says "Justice delayed is justice denied," and this verdict comes very late. But I subscribe to the adage that says "Better late than never," and considering how little justice there is in this country today, I'm grateful this dinosaur of a judicial and legal system produces any at all.

I learned something surprising from that article, namely that Texas has one of best campaign finance laws in the country. Since 1903 state law has prohibited corporations from giving money to political candidates either directly or indirectly.

Delay, a notorious and unapologetic influence pedlar, took money from corporate lobbyists, ran a big chunk of it through the RNC, and then directed the RNC to distribute among seven of Delay's hand-picked Texas congressional candidates. That's what led to the money-laundering charge.

Six of Delay's little Republican soldiers won, creating the first Republican-majority congressional delegation in Texas since the Civil War, consolidating DeLay's power in the House of Reps, and enabling him to gerrymander the state in his famous redistricting scheme which ensured Republican control of the state's politics.

He had everything his way, and assumed he was the law in those parts, like Judge Roy Bean. But he ran roughshod over a lot of people and alienated anybody who didn't want to genuflect before his little throne. So there probably is something to the charge that Democrats brought him down.

But they were able to bring him down because he overreached his power and broke the law a little too openly and blatantly, even by Washington, D.C. standards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the life you save

"I told you you could hang around and work for food," she said, "if you don't mind sleeping in that car yonder."

"Why listen, Lady," he said with a grin of delight, "the monks of old slept in their coffins!"

"They wasn't as advanced as we are," the old woman said.

--Flannery O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"

Listening to right wingers and libertarian ideologues carping about the evils of government, it occurs to me that limitations on human behavior are ultimately imposed by the government of the earth herself.

We might fool ourselves into thinking we have some inalienable right to fly back and forth between San Francisco and New York, until the price of jet fuel places the illusion out of reach and we discover that nobody disobeys the law of gravity for very long.

Expanding the idea of natural restraints on behavior gives a glimpse of where our fast and loose relationship with the planet has taken us. "The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility to life," says environmental activist Bill Mollison.* "If we become extinct because of factors beyond our control, then we can at least die with pride in ourselves, but to create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claims to consciousness and morality."

The ecosystem, however, might be the last element of life to fail in the systemic collapse that's coming already started. Even now the flatlined housing market and paralysis of the banks shows that our system of money, wealth, and value assignation is in a process of slow collapse. The banks, their vaults choking with enormous piles of the rotting corpses of collateralized debt obligations, are insolvent zombies primed to set off the next phase of the Great Fail. The crisis most likely won't happen all at once, but will occur piecemeal and spread out over years or decades.

After the money system has failed, the next meltdown will necessarily occur in all systems of production and distribution, and our pretensions of maintaining an overseas empire will end. If those things happen soon enough, we may be able to avoid the most deadly consequences of our industrial-age consumptive lifestyle and our abusive relationship with our mother, Terra Bella.

But no matter how that turns out, we're now definitely already down the rabbit hole of Jim Kunstler's Long Emergency. And as it happens, Kunstler devoted some space this week ( answering criticisms of his negativity, his supposed absence of a "positive vision" and his supposed failure to "offer solutions." But it's hard to be sunny and cheerful about systemic collapse, and Kunstler proceeds with more of a "forewarned is forearmed" attitude. For starters, after the collapse of the money and banking system, money will once again be hard, and legal tender will consist of silver and gold. Other than that, billions of exchanges now involving money will happen on the basis of barter. These kinds of conclusions are commonsense.

Over the longer run, Kunstler says, "Basically, we're looking at a re-set to a lower-scale type of economy and smaller, more local, autonomous units of governance," and tells how once our complex global distribution system is gone, agriculture and food production will return to the center of daily life for most citizens. These also are intuitive predictions, requiring only honesty and courage, not oracular vision. Massive changes in our daily lives are coming, and these days only the obtuse and frightened deny it.

And considering that our way of life has committed treason against the government of earth, the collapse of that way of life, hard as it will be on those who live through it, is ultimately a good thing. So save your silver dollars, and try growing a couple cabbages and maybe a rutabaga this winter.

*Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designers' Manual. (Tyalgum, Australia; Tagari Publications, 1988), p. 1.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

tea, anyone?

So many people are writing so much about Ms. Mooseburger these days I hesitate to add another word. But after reading Frank Rich's outstanding explanation this morning of why and how she very likely will be the next president, I almost feel like I have no choice.

Like it or not, Sarah Palin is what's happening, baby.

If Michael Bloomberg decides to run as an independent in 2012, and he very well might, that would be the end of Obama and simultaneously the dawn of Teabag Nation.

We might dismiss the baggers as idiots and lunatics (and I say they're both). These are people, as Matt Taibbi points out, who get all their information from Fox News and talk radio, so everything they know about anything is totally whacked out. But that doesn't mean they can't win elections, and indeed they've already proved they can, given the right circumstances.

Sometimes during my weaker moments I suffer under the delusion that at some point Americans are going to wake up and face their real problems, and begin to resist the people and institutions robbing and oppressing them. But then I realize that we're too far gone for that -- too far gone on Hot Pockets™ and Big Macs™, too far gone on American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, too far gone to Disney World in our Cadillac Escalades -- a nation of overfed clowns.

It's the rising tide of resentment, scapegoating, and mindless violence that will win out, not the angels of our better nature. Palinistas are the vanguard of the proletariat! If you're thinking that the worst we have to offer, the lowest common denominator, can't prevail in this country, all I can tell you is that it's happened in other times and other places.

Frank Rich observes: It’s anti-elitism that most defines angry populism in this moment, and, as David Frum, another Bush alumnus (and Palin critic), has pointed out, populist rage on the right is aimed at the educated, not the wealthy. The Bushies and Noonans and dwindling retro-moderate Republicans are no less loathed by Palinistas and their Tea Party fellow travelers than is Obama’s Ivy League White House. When Palin mocks her G.O.P. establishment critics as tortured, paranoid, sleazy and a “good-old-boys club,” she pays no penalty for doing so. The more condescending the attacks on her, the more she thrives.

Palin's stupidity, petty meanness, and cracked articulation are her greatest assets. And she knows that. She may be a policy moron, but she's a political genius, and her greatest weaknesses are conversely her greatest strengths with the tribe of teabaggers now poised to step into the political vacuum left by the collapse of the Obama movement.

So where are you going to go, you with your liberal ideas and master's degree from Harvard and habit of reading the New York Times? I wouldn't advise staying here if and when this mob returns to power, 'cause they're loaded for bear and out for blood.

P.S. -- speaking as a fastidious feline, I find that guy's sign personally insulting.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

a date

I went on an actual, real date today, with someone I barely know, an internet acquaintance.

We met for coffee and conversation in the early afternoon. I found myself sitting across from an attractive woman in her early sixties, and wondering if I had anything interesting to say. I'm a little out of practice, not having done this for what? 30 Years or more?

It's certainly not like it used to be. At this stage of life there's no edge of excited anticipation, and hence no emotional roller coaster. Impetuousness is not on the menu. There was also no touching or kissing, and we parted pleasantly after making tentative plans to meet again soon, probably for dinner somewhere, maybe Japanese.

If this was typical of what dating past sixty is like, it's unfamiliar but I could learn to like it. It proceeds in a slow, cautious, dignified way; nobody's in a hurry and there is no specified goal, destination or objective. That gives the concerned parties time to be more fully human.

I never realized before now the extent to which we were all, when younger, bound to our animal bodies.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The stock markets could do no better than to eek out a small gain today, with the Dow Jones Average closing up 22 points.

Yes, I know it's not the correct spelling, but I like it better. It's onomatopoetic.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

soul food

I led a group of people through a yoga sequence today, and it was good.

Good for the body, good for the breath and the mind, good for the soul. I think I could do this every day and not get tired of it.

Practicing yoga doesn't take us out of this world, as the practice is of this world. But it can take a person out of time, for the yoga postures, breathing, and mind set are classical and timeless.

It helps to have a fully-written-out and drawn-out sequence in hand. You can always change it if you need or want to, changing circumstances to respond to changing conditions.

This is much easier than teaching high school English was. You deal mostly with adults who want to participate and enjoy it. There's no paperwork or discipline problems, and if there's a student who's not "getting it," there's always enough time to gently and unobtrusively help that person along without resorting to threats.

I've now settled on my final career. I hope to teach yoga until I die.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the high priests

On Good Morning America today George Stephanopoulis interviewed teabagger Republican Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, and asked her how she can support extending tax cuts for the wealthy while opposing extending unemployment benefits.

Ignoring the back half of the two-part question, she replied (in part) “This is a job killer if we raise taxes on the job creators.”

Bachmann is not lying, but expressing a Platonic philosophy like a lot of Republicans do, which relies heavily on theory. Tax cuts for wealthy people always create jobs -- that's supply-side theory, which is always true. If you introduce her to evidence that contradicts the theory, it must be the wrong evidence.

Anyway, evidence doesn't matter that much, since conclusions in Platonic thought are drawn philosophically speaking on an a priori basis, from pure logic unsullied by messy "things," rather than proceeding a posteriori and drawing conclusions after examining tangible evidence.

Tax cuts for the well-heeled produce prosperity, the markets are self-correcting, and the essence of the bread is transubstantiated into the body of Our Savior, even though the evidence (i.e., the outward appearance and physical attributes) of the bread itself doesn't change.

The messy "accidents" of the real economy -- unemployment, lack of demand. deflation -- have nothing to do with Platonic theories, which are drawn from spotless models cooked up by high-priest economists in ivory towers, models which are unspoiled by contact with the degraded economics we have to deal with here on earth.

Of course, you can demolish that silly theory of hers into a chaos of disoriented atoms by simply asking why the country has lost millions of jobs since the Bush tax cuts for the superrich were enacted nine years ago. But I doubt Michelle would waste any time worrying about such mundane considerations as what's happened to the actual lives of millions of actual people. She lives on a much more refined and elevated plane -- the plane of theoretical oligarchic self-righteous self-justification. Don't even try using evidence; she's got her a priori stuck way up her a posteriori.

Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury -- raise the double standard (Mike Franti).

In theory, theory and practice are always the same, but in practice they're always different (Yogi Berra).

Photo: gold casket cover for the Egyptian general and high priest Wendjebauendjed, 21st Dynasty, about 1050 BCE

Monday, November 15, 2010


In last week's New Yorker (which bears today's date), television critic Nancy Franklin reviews the upcoming reality series called "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Putting the former half-term governor of the largest and emptiest state aside for a moment -- always a merciful thing to do -- Franklin spends a few sentences reviewing the cable channel that will carry this dubious fragment of reality, TLC, or The Learning Channel.

For one thing, the show was going to be on TLC, whose initials used to stand for The Learning Channel but which I like to call The Leering Channel. Among its recent and current shows are “Make Room for Multiples,” “The Little Couple,” “Strange Sex,” “Obese and Pregnant,” “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant,” “Mermaid Girl,” and “Paralyzed and Pregnant.” Then, there’s the supersized Duggar family, whose show was first called “17 Kids and Counting,” then “18 Kids and Counting,” and is now idling at “19 Kids and Counting.” (At some point it will probably be called “But Who’s Counting?”) The show that TLC is most famous for is “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” which by now needs no introduction except a quick reminder that it was about that awful couple with the twins and the sextuplets.

TLC’s approach to programming is, in a nominal way, educational; if you don’t know any little people, or kids whose legs are fused, or families with nineteen children, you don’t really know what their lives are like. The shows are extremely invasive, though; TLC’s programming is all about babies, weddings, and families in extremis, and yet there’s something inhumane at the center of it all. It panders to our curiosity, allowing us to gawk at its subjects for as long as they are willing to be gawked at—which may be longer than is good for them.

The Learning Channel used to have pretensions of living up to its name, putting on a few programs with historical or technological topics. But apparently it's devolved into one of the oldest and most sordid forms of mass entertainment -- a freak show.

What does this say about the former half-term governor?

I'm missing a lot by not owning a TV. Thank God!

Illustration: still photo from Tod Browning's 1932 film "Freaks"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

worth quoting

"(A)mple empirical evidence, some of which I’m citing here, proves that America’s ever-widening income inequality was not an inevitable by-product of the modern megacorporation, or of globalization, or of the advent of the new tech-driven economy, or of a growing education gap. (Yes, the very rich often have fancy degrees, but so do those in many income levels below them.) Inequality is instead the result of specific policies, including tax policies, championed by Washington Democrats and Republicans alike as they conducted a bidding war for high-rolling donors in election after election."

--Frank Rich in yesterday's New York Times.

"It’s no mystery what has happened on the deficit commission: as so often happens in modern Washington, a process meant to deal with real problems has been hijacked on behalf of an ideological agenda. Under the guise of facing our fiscal problems, Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson are trying to smuggle in the same old, same old — tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net."

--Paul Krugman in the New York Times, 11/11/2010

"At this point, my best guess is that when push comes to shove in Europe, the left will actually win in most nations. They aren’t wimps, they are willing to fight, they are willing to clash hard with the cops and they are willing to directly attack the interests of the ruling class. Unlike in the US, where the people willing to risk violence are right wingers, in Europe more are on the left wing side."

--Ian Welsh at his own blog, 11/13/2010

Guess we're too far gone from overdosing on TV, and Big Macs™, plus got too whacked out on Budweiser and Xanax to be able to help ourselves. That's not a quote, that's me talking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

la ventana

How I love Salvador Dali, especially his great and disturbing paintings from the late twenties, the Persistence of Memory (limp watches), the Lugubrious Game, and Christine O'Donnell's favorite, the Great Masturbator. So I was surprised to discover that Dali, who always touted himself as a genius, had a long and not particularly distinguished embryonic period during which he imitated other painters and struggled to find a style of his own.

He did a lot of imitative paintings in the manner of* Claude Monet and other impressionists. Sometimes he mines a style derivative of Van Gogh, sometimes Picasso, even the styles (and subject matter) of Americans Winslow Homer and George Bellows.

This went on longer than I would have expected for someone who had several periods over his career during which he produced works of stunning originality. But Dali was always a hard worker with an abundant output, and maybe he simply left more evidence than the average painter.

But then in 1925 Dali suddenly broke out with his own vehicle of expression, especially evident in this painting, La Muchacha en la Ventana. The rumpled, wavy curtains are identifiably Daliesque as is the handling of the girl's gorgeously-rendered backside. The model is Dali's sister Ana Maria, looking out on the Bay of Cadiqués where the family spent their summers, and in this period of early fluorescence the artist discovered his surest touch painting family members. His portraits of his father and mother from around the same time as La Ventana are intense and unsparing character studies, rendered with an intimate but detached analytical eye.

Click on the image for a larger view.

*At the provided link, click on "ART GALLERIES" at the bottom of the page, then from the pulldown menu "Galleries," select "1029 Paintings."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

pushing back?

Yesterday the Pentagon floated a rumor which a number of news services picked up and ran without investigating. Here it is as it appeared on the McClatchy D.C. site:

The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.

Please note that there is no attribution of sources there, just un-named "administration and military officials." After the article had appeared in newspapers and was picked up by broadcast media, the White House responded with this:

The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. "The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.

Is Obama pushing back against the Pentagon's usurpation of Constitutionally-mandated presidential powers as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces? Seriously?

If so, it's the first time since Truman fired MacArthur that any president has, that I'm aware of.

This might be large and great news, more significant than it appears on the surface. Since the Johnson administration, the US has steadily evolved into more and more of a military dictatorship. If Obama actually has a spine after all, I applaud yesterday's events as change I can believe in.

Got this information from Crooks and Liars dot com.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the frogs

Miners working underground used to use canaries in cages to warn them of imminent danger from poisonous gases. The tiny bird was vulnerable to even trace amounts of deadly gas. If it stopped singing and keeled over, the miners knew they needed to get out of the shaft as fast as they could.

Amphibians are "the canary in the coal mine" for the entire earth, and their rapid decline over the past three decades is telling us we need to address our environmental crisis quickly and decisively. Unlike the coal miners, we can't exit the danger zone, which is now everywhere. A global amphibian assessment published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2004 reported that 32% of amphibian species were globally threatened, at least 43% were experiencing population decrease, and that as many as 122 species were extinguished entirely between 1980 and the turn of the century.

This is happening because, like the canary in the mine, amphibians are more sensitive to environmental changes than other creatures. Their unique life cycle includes both aquatic and terrestrial stages, making them vulnerable to changes in either the water conditions of their habitats or those on land. Their skins are more permeable than those of other creatures, making them more susceptible to toxins in the environment. Exposure to common pesticides and herbicides dramatically increases mortality among tadpoles. Ozone depletion and the resulting increases in ultraviolet radiation are also factors in the world-wide die off of frogs, toads, and salamanders.

The golden toad of the Costa Rican rain forest used to be a favorite subject for scientists studying the relationships between fragile environments and the creatures who thrived only in those habitats, until its population crashed in 1987 and the species disappeared entirely two years later. This little toad is "the canary in the coal mine" for the entire earth.

In Aristophanes' play The Frogs, written and first performed in 405 BCE, the god Dionysius is rowed across the River Styx by the ferryman Charon, who will convey all of us to the land of the dead sooner or later. It's here that the frogs make their only appearance in the play, chanting "Βρεκεκεκέξ κοάξ κοάξ" (Brekekekéx-koáx-koáx), and Dionysius idly sings the refrain along with them as Charon's boat glides silently over the black water. We're in that exact same situation today, and like the long-departed god of ancient days, we'll know we've reached the other side when we can no longer hear the song of the frogs.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

good call

Every once in a while that sorrowful remnant of a political party known as the Democrats does something that warms the heart of everyone who knows that two plus two doesn't make five.

Buried near the bottom of one of Media Matters' endless waterfall of articles critical of Fox News (this one uses an anonymous "staffer" and an anonymous "contributor" as sources), we find this little nugget:

Asked about the potential candidates who frequently appear on Fox, the staffer responded: "Our bookers are begging Democrats to come on, we bend over backwards to get them and they won't go on. It is ridiculous and unfortunate. I don't think it is a valid reason not to go on, but they feel that way and it hurts our credibility if we can never get Democrats to go on."

From this we can draw two elementary observations:

1) The network, an unapologetic propaganda mill despite its slogans, can't hurt credibility it doesn't have;

2) The Democrats appear to be acting spontaneously as individuals rather than on orders from above. It's nice to see they're finally wising up, and no longer allowing themselves to be abused and kicked around in the fascist manner.

Is there hope? Don't count on it. I still don't see Democrats doing what they need to be doing to prove they're serious about opposing the military-industrial-surveillance-pharmaceutical-financial plutocratic oligarchy, for example seizing empty foreclosed houses from the banks and inviting the homeless to occupy them, and getting arrested for doing so. But refusing to be kicked shows they still have blood, if not hearts.

I'm indebted to Kos for this information.

Monday, November 08, 2010

violet rays

To see this ad full size, click on the link below.

Violet rays cured anything from asthma to colds to corns and pimples. You name it!

From the blog Modern Mechanix. Source: Physical Culture Magazine, March, 1922.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

tourist destinations

I'm reading a back issue of a U.K. daily paper, the Globe and Mail from this past August 13, which has a wonderful article on sexual and/or scatological English place names.

The people living in these places sometimes have a trying time dealing with the the ways tourists react to the names of their villages and streets. For example, residents of the English village of Shitterton had the sign welcoming visitors to their tiny town stolen so many times that they finally had the name engraved on a piece of granite so large and heavy that it would be hard to steal.

Shitterton's name derives from a creek that used to be used as a latrine and bisects the town.

Likewise the people living on Butt Hole Road in South Yorkshire got so tired of tourists taking pictures, and sometimes having themselves photographed while mooning in view of the street sign, that they successfully petitioned to have the name changed to Archers Way.

Other interesting English place names include Sluts Hole Lane in South Yorkshire, the village of Penistone, also in South Yorkshire, the town of Crapstone in Devon, the very old village of Bitchfield in Lincolnshire, the town of Nasty in Hertfordshire, and a hamlet called Golden Balls in Oxfordshire, whose name derived from its association with a pub that doubled as a pawnshop.

There's also a Busty View, Chester Le Street in County Durham, and my own personal favorite, Titty Ho, Raunds, in Northamptonshire.

I've never lived in a place with a name as interesting as any of those, and don't know if I'd want to.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

one-day recovery

It's nearly 530 in the pm and I haven't left the house today. The weather's pretty crappy and I'm still recovering from last night --and I don't even drink!

Last night was the nonpareil -- possibly the most memorable show ever. It left me floored, but I have all weekend to get my equilibrium back. Meanwhile, the players and performers who put it on have to move 90 miles north and do it again tonight.

This isn't from yesterday eve, but it's the same crew doing an earlier edition, in May of last year at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Appended without further comment, The Crow Quill Night Owls and the Indigo Dance Company performing Le Serpent Rouge.

Friday, November 05, 2010

reverse zombieism

I used to work for a living, but now my days are mostly occupied with keeping three diseases at bay: inflammatory bowel, Parkinson's, emphysema.

Far from being a burden, this three-headed monster has given me remarkable opportunities, as I've found they can only be tamed by my adopting the kind of lifestyle changes I should have made long ago anyway. By forcing me to change my way of living, the unholy trio has improved my life immensely.

Diet, of course, is a key weapon in neutralizing inflammatory bowel disease, but carries equal significance in adapting to Parkinson's Disease. A lot of people don't know that.

Daily exercise of two kinds, strength and flexibility training, for which yoga is ideal, and cardiovascular workouts, which I get by riding a bicycle, help control Parkinson's symptoms and alleviate the disability brought on by emphysema.

Then there are natural supplements, none of which is covered by any sort of insurance or by Medicare. These include but are not limited to enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, a fungus, and marijuana. A non-prescription pharmaceutical, the nicotine patch, helps me stay away from cigarettes which would exacerbate the emphysema, and my last remaining prescription drug, the Combivent inhaler, relieves its symptoms.

Plus, all these conditions are mitigated when the sufferer maintains the proper attitude, and ceases thinking of himself or herself as a sufferer and a victim. I'd be trotting out a tired cliché if I said that when life gives you lemons the best thing to do is make lemonade, if I didn't add that you should also squirt your enemies in the eye. The enemies in my case and most likely in yours too are legion, from McDonald's to the American Tobacco Company to the AMA. You may not threaten the existence of any of them, but I've found it's fairly easy to cause their minions some discomfort, and I sleep better at night just knowing they're sleeping worse.

When you add it all up, what choice do I have? I can either do what I'm doing or slide into gradually becoming a whacked-out zombie, like the young ladies in the picture. Zombieism might present opportunities to make lots of money (those two undead bims model for Versace), but I'd rather have my life than cash it out. And today I'm farther from being a zombie than ever before, and most of the people I meet would never guess that I'm anything other than a paragon of optimal health.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

missile anius

an election pome

I believe...4 every drop of rain that falls, a raindrop falls.

I believe I'll go out 2 nite and get my ashes hauled.

I believe, with voters polled, alas, a Boehner.

I believe if U R Mexican, U should steer clear of Arizoner.

I believe all T partiers are icky and gross.

I believe right now Barack Obama smells like burnt toast.

taylor swift doesn't like him either

Former President George W. Bush says he resents the things Kanye West said about him on TV during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

that ball had eyes as it went thru the infield.

Patty Murray was clinging tightly 2 a slender margin last time I checked.

That slender margin had her fingerprints all over it.

Meanwhile, Dino Rossi is falling apart like a cardboard box in the rain, looking for all the world like a cardboard box who has seen 2 much and forgotten nothing.

3 expensive races into which he sank quite a bit of his own money and three losses is what he's seen. And right now would not be 2 good a time 2 go back into real estate.


The party of unchanging hopelessness won big from coast to coast last night, not realizing that they themselves are agents of change, much less how their anger and desperation provide hope for a sane minority.

Pay no attention to the lunatics behind the curtain. The price of crude has crept up to $85 a barrel this morning without anyone noticing. We need to do something quickly. The clowns and villains of D.C. are not going to do anything to help us, as they are only capable of getting in the way.

But what should we do? We have every reason to give way to despair in the manner of James Howard Kunstler, but despair violates my religious principles. Into the breach steps Jeff Vail, a Colorado business litigation and personal injury attorney, with a presentation at a conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas called "Re-Imagining Suburbia."

Vail offers hope, and I'm still trying to figure out after thinking on it for a couple days if it's what Barack Obama would call "realistic" or Mr. Kunstler would call "a pipe dream." Vail is certainly right about one thing: having built suburbia (which Kunstler calls the greatest squandering of resources since the world began), we're stuck with it. Then he asks what we can do to make it better.

I don't doubt that the "commuting problem" could be largely remediated by van-pooling and mass transit, and that those things will play an increasingly significant role in mitigating if not solving our energy resource crises in the near future. It's likely that suburbia could become a net energy exporter rather than an energy drain if we were to work toward that goal. Marin County, King County, even Orange County, could even become net food exporters rather than remaining the enormous food importers they are now. And while Vail doesn't mention it, a combustible cash crop might conceivably go a long way toward helping with the financial crisis in which millions of suburban dwellers now find themselves entangled. None of this would transform the disaster of suburbia, early 21st-century style into Utopia, but an approach such as he outlines would help a great deal.

The problem with Vail's presentation is that he never asks how likely any of this is. For example, he addresses the issue of centralized versus de-centralized modes of distribution without ever bringing up the abolition of single-use zoning regulations that would be necessary to enable accomplishing what he has in mind, other than to mention that such things are "too expensive" for the national and local authorities to maintain into the future. Likewise, he airily dismisses the nation-state as a thing of the past, asserting that it's being replaced by a "market-state." But I think he should talk to Sarah Palin about that.

What I'm saying is that determining whether Jeff Vail's proposals are "reality" or a "pipe dream" is a political question -- profoundly political. Politics in this country ultimately comes down to us; will we continue to participate in our political charade, assuming we have no other choice, or are can we imagine a life built on implicit rejection of it? Are we capable of that?

When Jim Kunstler looks at Americans he sees a nation of tattooed, "overfed clowns" mindlessly hunting for bargains at WalMart. When Jeff Vail looks at us, he sees I know not what -- something other than what Kunstler sees though.


In 1510, exactly 500 years ago, Martin Luther made a pilgrimage on foot from Germany to Rome, where he encountered swarms of atheistic priests cynically exploiting believers for as much loot as they could carry off. Seven years later he nailed a manifesto containing 95 theses condemning key church policies to a cathedral door in Wittenberg. Catholics in Germany were desperate at the time for something they could believe in. Some agreed with Luther, that it was time for a re-formation of dissipated old Mother Church, but others didn't, believed instead that they needed to "hold that line," and many died in the offing.

I think Jeff Vail should walk from Colorado to Washington, D.C.

I used to teach in a crappy high school district, with more than its share of half-assed, lazy teachers, and run by an incompetent, highly politicized administration. Naturally, most of the students were pretty crappy too. But I used to look at them and see people with abilities they didn't know they had -- the ability of easy bilingualism, for example. And I would tell them, "Look, you're capable of doing much better things than what you're doing now." Some of them took it to heart, and a few of them did eventually do themselves a favor and unlocked a bit of their untapped potential.

What I'm saying is all it takes is a few.

Monday, November 01, 2010

ms pea tart

It looks to me like a lot of us have been seriously misunderestimating Sarah P. I think she's cagey as hell.

She may not have academic smarts -- what edumacation bureaucrats call CALPS (cognitive academic language proficiency skills) -- but she's sure got plenty of what they call BICS (basic interpersonal communication skills). She knows how to work a crowd.

She's smart enough to know that in this political climate it pays to sound stupid.

She announced on Entertainment Tonight rather than a news interview show. Mary Hart has a bigger audience (not to mention shallower) than David Gregory ever dreamt of. And her announcement was a non-announcement. "Oh, I'll (run) if there's nobody else...tee hee."

She's been playing her hand like a poker genius ever since the day she lured a boat full of National Review pundits on an Alaskan cruise to the governor's mansion in Juneau. Siren-like, she tempted them with salmon and crab cakes, and then when they got there gave 'em the old leg show. That twit William Kristol got so aroused he spent the next six months talking her up on Fox News, and when McCain was looking for some way to revive his sclerotic campaign, Kristol jumped in and did the sales job on him.

That was the opening she needed, and she hasn't made a wrong play with it yet. She's the candidate from Wal-Mart, where everything is discounted every day, including the knowledgeability of the electorate.

Intellectuals can make fun of her all they want, because Palin's America never listens to them anyway. She's a real populist, through and through, and we might be looking at the most skilled American populist politician since Huey Long, who also knew that most voters vote according to strong feelings, not according to their estimation of facts, not even the facts that have an impact on them personally.

I wouldn't sell her short and say "Oh, that will never happen." It could, and stranger things have.