Saturday, June 30, 2012

Some Writin' To Do

I have mentioned recently that I have a writing project to concentrate on and because of that I was going to back off on my blog posts. In fact, I am writing this post nearly three weeks ahead and spending the rest of today stocking my queue for the remainder of the summer. I really hope to resist the urge to comment on the current twists & turns of the society and the planet until at least September.

Be assured this little grey blog space will not be blank, I am going to crawl through my image folders and toss you a visual every day for the next two months. A random collage for July and a special month of far flung felines for August.

And yes for those who know which projects I have been struggling with, the picture above is a blatant hint at my decision.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


-looking forward to seeing the Monet exhibit in August at Bellagio in Las Vegas

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Occupy is Here to Stay

“Elections are something that Occupy needs to continue to avoid, the Obama-Romney debate is not a discussion of the concerns of the American people." Kevin Zeese

About the utter futility of the American election, I couldn't agree more Mr. Zeese and I know how that infuriates my liberal friends. Those same friends who justify every election by pointing out the reactionary evil of the "other" choice: Romney, McCain, Bush, Dole, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon and on and on. I have been arguing for nearly forty years that the two party system is the death knell of authentic reform. Well finally there is an alternative.

For my few loyal conservative readers: Obama, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter. It really does work both ways.

I want to recommend a truly inspired article by Chris Hedges Occupy Will Be Back. He not only makes the historical point about the power elite's attempts to suppress true reform movements but he also speaks to the "Enforcement Structure" - the real roadblock to the country you have yearned for in your progressive dreams. 

I will say it again - we must abandon the system that shackles justice, integrity and freedom. The democrat (republican) party is not the answer. Occupy Is!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Best House in a Bad Neighborhood

As you know I have been trying to wrap my head around what it is that leads me to the "less than optimistic" side of the existential aisle. How is it that bright, intelligent people in this country, this state, this city . . . how can they deeply and passionately hold opinions that represent what I feel are the very essence of greed, prejudice and ultimately nation destruction?

Is the United States of America simply the best house in a bad neighborhood?

The bad neighborhood would be most of existing humanity. Yes, we are better off than if we lived in Iran or North Korea. Even if we apply sensibilities existing in places other than the western developed world; this is still a better place to live most of the time. 

I understand we are indoctrinated with principles of western democracy, individuality and personal freedom tending towards consumerism, ever expanding expectations and extreme privilege. Got it, this system is far from perfect and from the perspective of Gaia, we really ought to be extinguished.

But we are not about to commit universal seppuku, if only because the "other guys" would then be in control.

What I am saying is that the country with the most wealth, a high level of "freedom expression" in its very nature and a whole knot of baby boomers taking over the reins - this nation should be able to lead the world past this current clump of unknowing. 

No, I don't want to say we "should" be able to lead because my feeling is that we "could" do it and I wish we "would" do it but I see no single path in the woods while we are so clearly divided into two camps that more and more project hate and despair towards what should be seen as an inclusive circle.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Doctors Die

Of the few inevitables in life, we are least prepared for the final one. In our culture we resist death, grandparents do not die at home, children never see death and for just that reason we make tragic mistakes when faced with the demise of a loved one.

The doctor asks: "What would you like to do?"

And we inevitably answer: "Do everything possible to keep Aunt Mary alive."

The majority of the time that is the wrong answer. The person making the decision is often condemning their loved one to days or weeks of needless suffering often against the expressed wishes of the patient.

But how can we know, at that heart-crushing moment, what to do?

There is only one good answer but it now comes with some powerful expert information. The answer, of course, is to talk about death now. What do you want near the end? Put it in writing in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and be sure the person you designate to make your decisions if you cannot, be sure they understand your wishes and are capable to actually pulling the plug.

But here is the information you and your loved ones need now. What kind of decisions do doctors make when they are faced with such end of life choices for themselves. The answers will shock you, they almost never take the extreme measures available to them. They have seen how hundreds of people die in the hospitals while being "treated" for the inevitable end and they make other gentler choices for themselves.

Read How Doctor's Die and get your close family members to read it as well. Then talk with them and get your health care documents in order.

"Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain, and dying alone. They’ve talked about this with their families. They want to be sure, when the time comes, that no heroic measures will happen."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why (and Why Not)

From this point forward our little blog will have fewer words. (At least that's my plan) I still have a backlog of images and art I will share but for the near future I am saving my word-smithing for the next book. (Though politics does tempt me every day) I have finally committed to one of the three potential projects I have going and hope to remain heads down on that work until it is finished. (Banishing the blog temptress is not easy)

I am not going silent here - I still need to vent periodically, but I may use the words of others and visuals to make my point more often than I sift through my own thoughts to put words to cyber paper. (Like I said that's the plan)

Thanks for listening. I hope you continue to stop by. (Oh Hell, even I don't believe I will actually shut-up)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hope for the Hopeful

I realize my own internal political discussion has been tumbling out here for the past several weeks. I would not argue if someone were to label my current position as cynical. I prefer to think of myself as semi-mired in a period of existential angst over the direct of the country in political terms. 

I cannot in good conscience shift this blog completely away from the political, at least without offering some lights at the end of the tunnel. Here are several sources I think would buoy up any sagging political conscience.

The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century by Carne Ross is by no means a pollyannish approach to political change but rather a blueprint for individual involvement in the system. His main point - government is an inadequate answer to the problems we face today.

We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley. Former Senator and NBA player, Bradley itemizes the problems and suggests step-by-step how each one of us can contribute to solutions both local and national.

The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It by Timothy Noah. A truly eye-opening litany of how big and how destructive the financial inequality gap is in the U.S. Even if you think you know how bad it is, I assure you that it's much worse and much more dangerous than you believe. The "What We Can Do About It" part of the book is less than satisfying but the articulation of the scope of the inequality and where it will inevitably lead is worth the read.

Finally, one of my favorite and most thoughtful blogger friends has expressed the depth of my disenchantment with the political system far better than I have. Plus she managed to come out of the dark tunnel still engaged and hopeful. It is my own hope that you might do the same. Read her excellent piece - The Impasse and be uplifted.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Many Sides of Occupy

Yes your voice needs to be heard. We should all speak up. There does come a point, however, when everyone is talking and no one is listening. Occupy seems to have been overwhelmed with a multitude of issues and a cacophony of voices.

Adbusters were the folks who started the Occupy movement, you remember a couple of tents in Zuccotti Park and the single phrase - Occupy Wall Street. They put out an excellent article titled the Battle for the Soul of Occupy. Now their fight is with the "remnants of the old left" as they state it but the dilution of the Occupy message is at the heart of the issue no matter who is putting yet another noun after "Occupy _______."

I spent time in the Occupy Oakland camp and Occupy Berkeley as well, here the problem was a multiplicity of causes and the tactics being employed. An article the Cancer in Occupy speaks to the local issues.

"Occupy Oakland anarchists, economic homeless, psychologically homeless and dangerous, street kids without cause or purpose, foreclosure occupy, education, occupy, native american occupy complete with their separate teepees and cloaked secret rituals whitey can't participate in."

Silence is complicity with evil but noise for the sake of noise is just that - noise.

Occupy Wall Street was attempting to address the income inequality and the greed and government sanctioned theft that Wall Street has become. But Is It (Still) Occupy is a question worth asking. I am not advocating for message purity but remember early on the media tried to dismiss the entire Occupy movement by asking: "but what is your message?" Now it appears they are too many causes, needs and special interest groups. All the while Wall Street lumbers on pillaging pension funds, draining homeowner equity and lining their pockets; all blissfully unregulated by the talking heads in Washington.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Economist Covers

The Economist is my favorite magazine. Somehow in an era of declining print media they have managed to produce a product that is better than it was in the past and successful at the newsstand. Crisp writing with less than a left or right wing lean makes for a great read each week. I am also very fond of their cover art, here are some recent examples:

31 March 2012

6 August 2011

18 June 2011

10 July 2010

6 February 2010

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


If you are a regular Fox News viewer than I welcome you here. I am betting there are not a lot of you who regularly stop by this little corner of the internet but welcome. For those Fox viewers and others who sometimes stop by or who think that Fox News is just the opposite of CNN, I would ask you to read this summary of seven studies done on viewers of various news providers.

It's one thing to agree with a political position, it's completely another to do so because you have been fed distortions and half-truths.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Global Warming

 "It’s in the interest of some of the most powerful players on earth to prolong the status quo."

If you don't believe in the science behind the theory of global warming I would ask you, oh faithful reader, to read this.

If you are convinced that global warming most certainly exists and is killing planet, then please read this.

If you are perchance on the fence over rising sea levels, more destructive hurricanes and increased flooding, then please read this.

But if you are simply incensed that almost nothing is being done by most governments to face the impending devastation of global warming, then by all means read this.

Friday, June 08, 2012

My Political Hero

My most admired politician is not Dan Quayle neither is it Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George McGovern or Ron Paul. My singular political hero is Lee Atwater who died of brain cancer in 1991. 

You may or may not remember Atwater, he was an advisor to Ronald Reagan, assistant campaign manager in Reagan's reelection bid in 1984 and the head of the George H.W. Bush presidential win in 1988. He is infamously known as a "dirty tricks" political operative having masterminded the Willie Horton ads against Michael Dukakis in 1988. He also was responsible for earlier attack ads involving real and fabricated leaks against democratic candidates that alleged mental illness, homosexuality and marital infidelity.

So, why do I like the guy?

After his terminal diagnosis he found religion, which I don't much care about but he also apologized to the politicians he had run his vicious campaigns against. In particular he cited his "naked cruelty" in the 1988 campaign against Dukakis.

One would hope that up and coming political attack dogs would take a moment to consider the history of such questionable behavior and see the light earlier than did Lee Atwater. Perhaps then we would have fewer creatures like Karl Rove polluting the political environment with their lies and distortions.

One final note on Atwater and his disease driven conversion. Several close friends and political operatives have written that he did not really come to regret his earlier actions but he was in fact "spinning the story until the very end." This part of the story completes the circle for me because "political hero" really is an oxymoron.

Monday, June 04, 2012

In Honor of the Queen

In the States we don't have a truly moving national song. Oh I know some are inspired by the Anthem, which unfortunately is unsingable by most of us. American the Beautiful is really God Save the Queen. No, I am just not moved by what we have here in the U.S. in terms of inspirational tunes. Not like Oh Canada, Rule Britannia or even The Internationale.

But the true leader, in my very humble opinion, is the UK's Jerusalem. Many of my generation first encountered these William Blake lyrics when Emerson, Lake and Palmer recorded a rock version of the hymn in 1973 on their album Brain Salad Surgery. True the lyrics have huge Christian overtones but I have no trouble overlooking the implied message that Jesus may have stopped in England on his way to America to found the Mormon Church.

Just turn up the volume, click here and enjoy.
(the ELP version can be found here for old stoners)

Jerusalem Hymn

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear O clouds, unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire

I will not cease from mental flight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem 
In England's green and pleasant land

                       -Lyrics by William Blake

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Central & Western U.S. plus East Asia, Australia and the Pacific will be able to see a partial lunar eclipse tonight. The eclipse peaks at 4:04 AM PDT (11:04 GMT) when about 37 percent of the moon will be in shadow. Check this NASA site for viewing times in your area.

Friday, June 01, 2012

If Not Us, Who?

Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
                      -- Jerry Garcia