Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Politics As Usual

Nearly everyone agrees that we have to get money out of politics. Too many laws are bought and paid for. Hell, too many politicians are as well.

Take the legalization of marijuana. In the last week a new study came out that demonstrated the U.S. would save 9 billion dollars annually on law enforcement if marijuana were decriminalized. Another 10 billion would be saved on prisons and court costs. Not to mention the new revenue stream from a tax on marijuana and the local sales tax collected from legally operated marijuana distributors.

Furthermore, more and more regular citizens are coming to the conclusion that the war are drugs is a lost cause mostly because marijuana is included in the target products. Pot is less dangerous than alcohol - well you know the litany of reasons why we shouldn't be wasting our tax resources on pot. 

So why haven't the laws changed? Sure it's politics but do you know which lobbying groups have contributed the most to keeping marijuana illegal in the face of a majority of the voters being for legalization. Here's a list of the top five special interest groups spending money to oppose the legalization of marijuana:

1) Pharmaceutical Corporations
2) Private Prison Corporations
3) Beer & Alcohol Companies
4) Police Unions
5) Prison Guard Unions

Think about it . . .

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

On this forty second Earth Day I will be on the UCBerkeley campus for an interesting mix of Earth Day celebration and Occupy engagement. It seems that saving the planet may have added a new component this past year - saving ourselves. 

On the first Earth Day back in 1970, wind and solar power were being pushed as alternatives to petro-chemical fuels before the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 or the Iranian Oil Crisis of 1979. Recycling was a novelty in 1970, the Boy Scouts picked up newspapers but that was about it. But like today there were resources, here are some I came across over the past several years.

Earth Day official website, where you can learn about the big rally this Sunday in Washington D.C. and see how far we have come both in saving and destroying the planet.

A splash of eco-photos to celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day Movie 2012.

Insert hopeful inspiring message here, I seem to run low on these about this time each year.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Struggling isn't quite the right descriptor. More like mired, becalmed, stuck in the sargasso sea of existence. When one recognizes the flavors of life as either bland or bitter, well it's time to take notice. I wrote a 'life update' to a very old friend last week which I ended with this line: "I am much less depressed and annoyed than I sound." Lately I am beginning to wonder. Perhaps 'tis time to turn the psychological lens inward for a clarifying reevaluation. 

As chance would have it my current non-writing project is coming to a close and my friends up in northern california are preparing for another long road trip. Their house needs a cat-sitter and I need a change of scenery, so I am off next week for parts north. What better location to stir the psychic pot and dance with the nagas. 

This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I'll never tread
These are the dreams I'll dream instead
This is the joy that's seldom spread
These are the tears...
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel ?
-Annie Lennox

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Friend & Author

Given enough time the bits and pieces will converge.

First there was the cat. I've had that picture for well over three years but I was determined not to use it until it was integral to a story. Second, there are my friends. In this blog I use phrases like: "a friend told me" or "a good friend asked the other day" I do not identify anyone by name unless they have approved there public outing. This blog is about me and what emerges from my head, heart and other parts; I never seek to draft friends into meanderings that are uniquely my own. I figure everyone has the right to privacy and the absolute right to define their own limits of personal space, particularly in the unfettered world of cyberspace, social media and utterances like this blog.

Then today, while trolling one of those social media thingies I saw that one of my friends had publicly acknowledged a blog post about himself. At that moment all the pieces fell into place. The cat clearly was Birrell, though most folks will tell you he carries a dog persona. I have been wanting to write something about his most recent three books - I had the privilege of being the final editor on each. This means I got to read them just before they went to press - all commas corrected - it's like looking at the nearly birthed story but still able to suggest: "you know her eyes really should be green" or "I think you should change to dog to a ferret."

Here is the link to the original post about my friend, Dr. Birrell Walsh. You can find the links to Lulu, Amazon and Smashwords for all of his books in all sorts of formats. I really liked them all but I am prejudice towards my friend's writing. I do, however, want to highly recommend Sister Clare's Lover one of the strongest, tightly crafted stories I have read in a very long time. You can pick up a PDF copy for $5 or a Kindle version for $8. Even the $20 paperback is a steal for such fine writing and engrossing story telling.

To the rest of my friends - read Birrell and I promise not to mention you here by name.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bird in Flight

I was looking through my 'Blog Art' folder, enjoying the visual treasures I had accumulated to share with you here when I realized at my current pace I am several months nay years queued into the future. The solution of this minor dilemma - for the foreseeable future I am going to post an image each day when I have no words to share with you.   Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Best Game Apps (website)

This little blog gets about 1,000 hits a day, not bad for the hodge podge of interests and topics that float around in my psyche. One small but virulently dedicated group are the gamers. Though I don't play often myself anymore, I have been involved with gaming and virtual reality since my days at Fujitsu (WorldsAway) in the 90s. Now one of my dear friends, Leigh, has started a new website that rates, raves and rants about the Best Game Apps.

The site features "reviews and walkthroughs of the best free games and paid apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle Fire. From puzzle games to zombie apps, we’re playing them all so you don’t have to waste your time and money looking for your next addictive app."

Remember what Karen Blixen said: "I had a farm in cyberspace..."

Good Luck Leigh.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The "Truth" about Easter Eggs

Forty years of research which took renowned Creation Scientist, Dr. Daniel Cameroon, to 2 continents, 4 countries, and 3 states to gather the empirical, bible-based facts needed to reveal the truth about easter eggs to christian parents who can not afford his seminars!  

"To think this all started when I was 4-years old, painting easter eggs with my little sister (god rest her soul) in our kitchen," says Dr. Cameroon.  "And my grandpa came in, saw what we were doing, vomited instinctively onto both of us, kicked little Macel in the head (and sent her straight home to jesus) and beat the sweet and merciful love of the lord jesus christ into my wretched soul right there on the kitchen floor.  I dedicate this book to you, Grandpa Duncan, and to the lord jesus christ, through whom all things crazy are possible!"

I can't even attempt to parse that introduction for you but if you want to pick up a copy of the book - well you can't get it on Amazon but this website where you can get it is even more entertaining than a coliseum full of christians.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The American Spring

Last fall I told anyone who would listen that these now past few months would not be the American Winter that followed the Arab Spring. No, it was going to take longer here for the numbers to rise and be heard. But the spring is finally here, the American Spring. Join in and be a part of your life and your country again.

Read this call to action and then join up with your neighbors and friends to take back America from the greed of Wall Street and the complacency of Washington. This is not the time for inaction, this is not the time to say "Occupy was interesting but it's over." Change is finally possibly but not if we remain on the sidelines.

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
  1. Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
  2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
  3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.

Add you name and your hopes here: American Spring.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Stranger

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; 
I can't be sure."

A good friend mentioned last week that he missed the personal stories I have in the past told here. My political focus of late was 'interesting' to him but he kindly suggested that my voice was more engaging when not mired in the fallow fields of american politics. So today a story of the present and of a fine spring evening in 1966.

It was Thursday night of finals week. The campus was nearly empty, most students had already fled after taking early exams. A few stray pre-meds hung about the dorms awaiting the Friday lab finals. There were also several lingerers who had gone down to the penultimate night to finish a project or paper, I was one of those.

The assignment was straight forward - a paper on Albert Camus' The Stranger. The story was twenty years old in 1966, I was eighteen. The weighty tome stared up at me throughout that long night. The illustrated cover exactly as pictured above. I found three images on the web in that early paperback style; one for sixty-five cents and another at a dollar seventy-five but I remember the buck and a quarter edition. I remember because I had that same copy on my shelf for nearly thirty years. I never reread it until this week when I came across a copy while boxing books for a friend, it had been now forty-six years since my first encounter with Camus.

You see on that warm spring evening of 1966 I did not 'get' existenialism. I didn't get a lot of things. My first year of college had been a shock for me; so many possibilities rushing towards me all at once. And there was the inbred, midwest, just turned 18, need to be knowledgeable and right in the face of this tsunami of potential knowledge, I was lost.

So I sat in that empty corner dorm room. A single incessantly buzzing neon overhead crisping my brain as the night wound down. My single bag was already packed and stored in the closet. Both beds were striped, sheets were already turned in to laundry services, I didn't want to be tempted to 'just a short nap.' My roommate had left two days before, I was alone with Albert Camus and he was not speaking to me.

If you remember the story, early in the novel the main character spends a long night in a stark, white room holding vigil beside his mother's coffin. Inside the room is too warm, he and the few elderly mourners drift in and out of sleep. Outside an inviting spring evening beckons but demands of duty and fealty keep him locked in that overly bright, oppressive room.

The obvious parallels with my own situation that fine spring night were exactly the stuff Professor Bogart would have reveled in. But such fine observations on my own human condition were not within this eighteen year olds grasp. I took another ten years before I was able to openly contemplate that someday I wanted to 'be a writer' - someday.