Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tattoos as Self Mutilation

I read an article entitled Tattoos as Self Mutilation, which I thought was exactly my position on body art. The problem is the author said all the right things but never struck home to why I am anti-tattoo. "How will you look in 40 years" is just trite. It's your body do what you want with it that's my position. So why am I, how can I be against tats?

Well there is the pure aesthetics of body ink, I don't find it attractive. Just my personal observation, to each his or her own. I don't find many tats repulsive, stupid yes but actually repugnant no. 

Then I remembered an encounter with a good friend of mine who just happens to be young. At least young when compared to me. I noticed a new tattoo she had gotten since we last were together. It was a warm enough day to have that portion of her canvas out in the sun. I commented on the new image and she said: "Yeah, it didn't turn out the way I wanted, it was a mistake."

My mistakes I erase, shred, learn from and sometimes apologize for; she will live with hers on her body forever. I think I know why I am not in favor of tattoos. But then again I don't like cooked spinach or professional team sports either.

. . . and on the topic of tattoos I leave you with this video but be warned - all things can be taken to extremes or new lows.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quadrennial Political Rant - 2012

In America, through pressure of conformity, there is freedom of choice, but nothing to choose from.  
-- Peter Ustinov

Thus begins my quadrennial political plea to my friends far and near. In 2008 I was able to blog this piece for the first time. Before that I used email and back in the dark days actual letters were written and posted. In the past eight years I have substantially increased the number of my conservative friends, so even though my liberal friends will not be less offended this time around, they will have more company on the right, who I am sure will be equally miffed at my now thirty-six years of political naivete. Yes, my friends, it has been now ten presidential elections since I first began making the same point I once again put forward to you today.

The two party system in the United States is broken; has been broken and will remain broken until reasonable, thoughtful voters like you take it upon yourself to stop swallowing the patently absurd notion that the lies Party A offers you result in substantially different policies than the lies that Party B tells you.

The litany remains the same:

They both raise your taxes, increase the national debt and spend/waste more of your money. There is no “tax and spend” party. There is no “party of the people”. A belief in such epitaphs is not voter involvement; it is simple being complicit in your own brainwashing.

The Federal Budget never goes down. Both parties believe in big government. The very nature of being in power is to maintain power. The appropriation process with its earmarks, pork and special orders is structured to keep legislators in office. The budget process is big government, its use and perversion is the life blood of all federal elected offices including those in congress, who are charged with its oversight. The system is perverted beyond saving.

They both believe in welfare. One believes in it for big corporations, the other for disadvantaged citizens and big corporations. Your only decision is not whether you are for or against handouts, but which handouts you are for.

They both are in the pocket of multi-national businesses and these days they are bought via the campaign contribution laws and loopholes by these same businesses. Every purchase you make in this economy has a tax added to pay for lobbyists in Washington. Lobbyists who may be advocating for programs and policies you say you oppose.

Neither party has done anything about energy, jobs or education. We had gas lines over twenty-five years ago, yet overall fuel mileage on American made vehicles is less than it was after the first “oil shortage”. Health care costs have gone up 166% faster than the rest of the economy in those same twenty-five years and insurance coverage has gone down as a percentage of the total health care bill. I have no children and therefore assume most or all of you are better able to draw conclusions on the educational system.

They both wage war. And they both continue to wage wars started by the other party. Since JFK handed Vietnam to Johnson and he passed it on to Nixon, there has been this insane policy of making decisions about war and death based on some unwritten rule that you can’t just reverse the insane warmongering of a previous administration because what would that mean for future presidents powers to maim foreign nationals. Like making them believe they might be held responsible for killing thousands and destroying entire cultures would be a bad thing.

Now you are perfectly right in your righteous indignation about the “other” party. Only I have noticed that just like every other election 45% of the voters when they listen to the debates do not hear the words or issues but hear instead what will support their guy and condemn the other guy. Another 45% do exactly the same thing on the other side. These are not the actions of a thoughtful electorate but of sheep. By the way the book, A Nation of Sheep by William Lederer, was published in 1967 and is still worth the read, he also wrote The Ugly American.

So once again let me say. The only reasoned, rational solution is to vote for a third party. Only when tweedle-dumb or tweedle-dumber is elected with less than 40% of the popular vote will 'who cares' & 'don’t care' get the message that the voters actually are upset with same old, same old, same old crap. Haven’t you had enough of this yet?

[This paragraph is lifted unchanged from my 2008 rant, tell me I was wrong] Now, let me speak to each side separately. To my liberal friends. Yes, I know this guy really excites you, just like Slick Willy did. So I know you are not going to listen—again. But in four years when you are making up excuses for why with a “friendly” congress, nothing still has been done. Perhaps then? You really think that big business will allow congress to shift tax supports from big oil to wind or solar? Well maybe in 2012 you will give my position a fair hearing. I don’t really expect you to not vote for Barack this time, I mean there is a war on right? Need I point out, we had a war too. You do remember Vietnam? Or for my younger liberal friends—Lebanon, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq.

For my new conservative friends and most of my immediate family. Admit it - you are not a Romney voter, you are voting against Obama. Why not step up and vote against who you are really fed up with - both of them! Romney isn't going to create jobs, he is going to make decisions that benefit the rich and hurt the poor and no one I know is going to benefit one damn nickel. He ain't your guy. I know Obama isn't either. So why are you voting for either one of them?

You actually do have a choice. A vote for a third party candidate is not throwing away your vote. Furthermore, if you would spend as much time talking to others about the third party option, spend as much time as you do convincing yourself that the choice you are being offered doesn’t actually turn your stomach, well then something might actually get done. Stand up to whichever party does not represent you; the one that takes you for granted; the one you vote for because they call the other guy nasty names. Do you really want to be associated with the unmitigated lies when your guy “approves of this ad”?

Finally, I remind you of the line you have all heard from me at one time or another. ‘When you chose the lesser of two evils, you still get evil.’ I remind you that a rational, reasoning person like you will at some point admit to yourself that they truly do offer you only the choice between two immoral, incompetent evils. Change the system; change the future, vote for a third party candidate. There are more than two roads to the future and many of the alternatives have not been bought and paid for by people you detest.

Postscript: For those who have not received my Presidential Observations in previous election years. Let me assure you that the “tone” of my words do not indicate that I am “in a bad place” or “more cynical than you remember”. My political position has been firmly outside of the myopic two party system since 1968. My presentation has not varied because the system has not changed. Do rest assured that “they” are not more evil now, W. was not worse than Nixon and Barack only appears slightly better than Dukakis, Mondale or Hubert Horatio Humphrey. I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful fall. See you right here in four years, stuck in the same muck, tilting at the same windmills.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern

George McGovern 1922-2012

“Some cynics feel that decency in a politician is a handicap. But I think a sense of decency ... not prudishness nor sanctimonious self-righteousness but old-fashioned concern and love for others ... will be essential in the next presidents. That’s the kind of president I want to be.”  McGovern 1971

If you can remember 1972, if the names Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Daley crease your political soul than you have a place in your memory and in your heart for George McGovern. He lost the '72 election to Nixon in a massive landslide but the Children's Crusade or the Armies of the Night rose up and fought to stop a war that would continue to poison the country to this day.

Thank you George and rest in peace.

What was that definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Think About It

To be fundamentally fair to any progressive friends who are on the fence of Obama or Libertarian/Green. There is a compelling argument for holding your collective noses and going with the drone mad president. Here it is expressed eloquently by Daniel Ellsberg.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wrong Candidate Arrested

The Green Party candidate for President was arrested on Tuesday and held for eight hours for attempting to participate in the Presidential Debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates did not allow her to join the electoral process. The CPD is wholly owned and operated by the republican and democrat parties.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Liberal Brain/Conservative Brain

I admit it - I am fascinated by the newest and latest research on the human brain. We are learning so much, so fast about why we are, who we are, why we think, love, talk, walk and do so many things good, bad, brilliant and deplorable. Some of the latest research in this election year is about what might make us either liberal or conservative when it comes to both our politics and our social interactions.

Long term studies of preschool assessments are showing that children noted to be expressive, gregarious and impulsive were more likely to grow up to be liberals. While future conservatives were more inhibited, uncertain and controlled. A mixed bag assessment for both groups. Conservatives to be were also children who were more organized, stable and thrifty; while the emerging liberals were more impulsive, indecisive and often irresponsible. 

Ambiguity was not a troubling issue for the liberal youngsters but often troubled the organized conservative kids. A stronger more limited moral code was seen in conservative kids, while liberal youths were more open to a variety of interpretations of right versus wrong.

What does this all mean?

It appears when both potential life styles show themselves early but are influenced by parents, schooling and other societal influences. Once set, however, the viewpoints tend to solidify as do other "adult" traits. Yet when viewed through the lens of brain research we can perhaps see from whence we evolved and consider the choices we made and those that were made for us by others.

The potential for growth and change resides in each of us but often is held rigidly by decisions made long before we were able to reason as an individual and make the choices that caste us as who we want to be rather than who others wished us to be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

and for President of the United States

Dr. Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee for President in 2012. She is a mother, housewife, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate.
She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports,  In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, andEnvironmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009.  The first of these  has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide. The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats.
Her "Healthy People, Healthy Planet" teaching program reveals the links between human health, climate security, and green economic revitalization. This body of work has been presented at government, public health and medical conferences, and has been used to improve public policy.
Jill began to advocate for the environment as a human health issue in 1998 when she realized that politicians were simply not acting to protect children from the toxic threats emerging from current science. She offered her services to parents, teachers, community groups and a native Americans group seeking to protect their communities from toxic exposure.
Jill has testified before numerous legislative panels as well as local and state governmental bodies. She played a key role in the effort to get the Massachusetts fish advisories updated to better protect women and children from mercury contamination, which can contribute to learning disabilities and attention deficits in children. She also helped lead the successful campaign to clean up the "Filthy Five" coal plants in Massachusetts, an effort that resulted in getting coal plant regulations signed into law that were the most protective around at that time. Her testimony on the effects of mercury and dioxin contamination from the burning of waste helped preserve the Massachusetts moratorium on new trash incinerator construction in the state. 
Jill has appeared as an environmental health expert on the Today Show20/20Fox News, and other programs. She was also a member of the national and Massachusetts boards of directors of the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her efforts to protect public health has won her several awards including: Clean Water Action's "Not in Anyone's Backyard" Award, the Children's Health Hero" Award, and the Toxic Action Center's Citizen Award.  
Having witnessed the ability of big money to stop health protective policies on Beacon Hill, Jill became an advocate for campaign finance reform, and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law. This law was approved by the voters by a 2-1 margin, but was later repealed by the Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote.
In 2002 ADD activists in the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party approached Dr. Stein and asked her to run for Governor of Massachusetts. Dr. Stein accepted, and began her first foray into electoral politics. She was widely credited with being the best informed and most credible candidate in the race.
She has twice been elected to town meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is the founder and past co-chair of a local recycling committee appointed by the Lexington Board of Selectmen.
In 2003, Jill co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization that addresses a variety of issues that are important to the health and well-being of Massachusetts communities, including health care, local green economies, and grassroots democracy.
Jill represented the Green-Rainbow Party in two additional races – one for State Representative in 2004 and one for Secretary of State in 2006. In 2006 she won the votes of over 350,000 Massachusetts citizens – which represented the greatest vote total ever for a Green-Rainbow candidate.
In 2008, Jill helped formulate a "Secure Green Future" ballot initiative that called upon legislators to accelerate efforts to move the Massachusetts economy to renewable energy and make development of green jobs a priority. The measure won over 81 per cent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Jill was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. Jill enjoys writing and performing music, and enjoys long walks with her Great Dane, Bandita. Dr. Stein lives in Lexington with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. She has two sons, Ben and Noah, who have graduated from college in the past few years.
VOTE GREEN in 2012!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Racism: On the Right and the Left

"Everyone knows that right wing conservatives are more racist than any other group."

Do you know the one thing wrong with that statement? There is absolutely no evidence to back it up. In fact, it is factually wrong and now there are several studies that prove it to be false.

Let me say it again - there are studies that demonstrate that racism is not associated with conservative political activity. In fact, racism is spread throughout the political spectrum. Unfortunately the usually reliable website of The Economist magazine has chosen to report on this with one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read from them. If you want to wade through it here is the link

I decided I had to go read the original research because if The Economist authors could write so poorly, who knew if they might have misinterpreted the data. They did not. While there is a tendency for people to slide towards racist attitudes as their income increases and there is the same tendency to move towards more conservative political positions as one climbs the wealth ladder; neither of those factors influence more than a very small minority of citizens.

Racism tends to be a product of upbringing both cultural and family influences. While a strong and direct liberal upbringing does indeed produce far fewer racist tendencies, as adults those who harbor racist sentiments are spread nearly equally between the two major political parties that dominate politics in the U.S.

I expect to hear from my conservative readers and friends on this one. I told you I am not on "their" side but you seem to miss that point whenever I stand up for you. Comments and emails will suffice, I don't expect cash or liquor.

Monday, October 08, 2012


Two of my very best friends continue to make arguments that drive me just a bit crazy. The first was making an point about southern Nevada 'taking' more water from northern Nevada to fill the needs of Las Vegas.

Her argument was that "they are draining the northern basin of water needed for both animals and humans who live in that region." I wasn't really upset by the blatant prejudice she holds against Las Vegas, lots of people don't like Vegas. I do object to the use of "they" as some catch-all designation for doers of evil.

My other friend works in the educational system and has each and every year gone on and on about how "they are cutting another X dollars from the educational budget." Again, the use of the evil "they" to demonize a nefarious group of people.

Here is what bothers me. Those "theys" being referenced are us. We are the taxpayers who can't afford those educational funds, we are those thirsty people who want and need a glass of water when we are in the desert.

Now I am not saying that educational priorities shouldn't eclipse some of the other expenditures of state government, nor am I saying that building a tourist attraction in the middle of the desert was such a good idea. What I am saying is that there are no evil "theys" out there. As Pogo is often quoted as saying: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

What I want to say is - please stop the "theying" it only divides us and misses the point by a margin of at least one person.

[First known use of the phrase "we have met the enemy and he is us." Earth Day poster 1970 by Walt Kelly creator of Pogo.]

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Romantic Fatalism

Fatalism has gotten a bad rap in our lexicon. Literally it suggests the belief that events are predetermined. All events - good and bad. But since we all like to believe in free will, fatalism has come to be identified with the sense that bad things will happen.

Romantic fatalism then is the looming predestination of your relationship to crash and burn. Nothing lasts especially not love. All less than interesting from a Harlequin romance point of view but not my point. 

Romantic fatalism also refers to the sense of self-righteousness that comes over some people when they take on a support role to the fatally ill. I encountered this strange mindset back in the late 80s when I was heavily involved in the AIDS epidemic in Los Angeles. Some people seemed to glow with pride while helping a dying friend or relative. I don't really want to complain or castigate because romantic fatalism swells the pool of potential volunteers to support those with terminal diagnoses. I simply marvel at the seemingly reverse reaction to making a voluntary commitment to be with the dying.

Personally I never got any sense of 'lift' or 'joy' from my participation in the care of several AIDS patients. I struggled as did many with the random fatal virus striking down our family and friends. I wonder if a sense of romantic fatalism supports some of those medical professionals who work in hospice, if so then let it be. Such individuals have my greatest respect for their daily commitment to terminal patients.

For me I will continue to grapple with romance and fatalism as well as romantic fatalism.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Far Off Image

The moon Phobos partially eclipsing the Sun. A shot taken, of course, from the surface of Mars.

More Curiosity Rover photos here.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Defending My Position

Like so many others I made the Citizens United decision my #1 political priority for the last year. The unregulated influence of money on politics is simply unacceptable in a representative democracy. Lately I have begun to realize that this focus may well be distracting us from larger issues. One might even think we are being duped by some enormous supreme court bait-and-switch tactic. So today I going back to my #1 political concern, the same one that has been my personal #1 for nearly forty years - the defense budget.

In 2010 the DoD budget was $664 Billion, that's the number represented in the graphic above. This number does not include those military related items outside of DoD accounting, such as: pensions to military retirees and families, the debt on previous wars, Homeland Security, Veteran's Affairs, counter-terrorism by the FBI, military intelligence gathering at NASA, nuclear weapons research, maintenance, production and clean-up and all foreign aid that is military related.

When all of those items are correctly added to the defense budget the number balloons to $1.3 Trillion for 2010. These numbers are unaudited because the Government Accountability Office was unable to provide an audit because of 'widespread material internal control weaknesses' arising from 'serious financial management problems' at the DoD. 

We spend more on defense than the next 12 countries combined. Let me say that again - the 2012 Defense Budget for the United States of America is more than the combined defense budgets of: China, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea and Australia.

What threat is it exactly that requires such a huge drain on our national resources? How many of the threats we fear arise only in opposition to our monstrous defense budget? Why do we have twenty times more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined, enough to destroy the earth several times over?

Money in politics is a problem but money to wage war has only led to war and more war. Name a time in your lifetime when this country was not at war. We must stop.