Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dirty Wars


Have you seen Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars yet? This is a powerful, engaging, mind-blowing documentary, sure to get an Oscar for best documentary of the year. The cinematography is incredible, especially considering where it was shot. Scahill, like Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden, is standing up to lead us even if we don't follow. But if we love our country, follow we will! Until you've seen Dirty Wars, there's a very good chance you don't really know your own country. (You can stream it on NetFlix. Click here for other ways to see it.)

You won't believe how insanely brave Scahill is. He's constantly at risk of being blown up, shot, or kidnapped by one Afghan warlord or another. How he ever got a camera crew to accompany him into one insanely dangerous situation after another I'll never understand!

I hope that after you've seen this movie, you'll turn other people on to it!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Russell Brand: Revolution 2 Has Begun!

Have you seen this Russell Brand interview yet?  I was amazed by Brand's skill in handling Jeremy Paxman, a hard-core British interviewer. Just this one little 10-minute exchange has opened my eyes and actually changed my position on the chessboard a bit. It's actually transformative! What a surprise to hear Noam Chomsky-like brilliance from the mouth of Russell Brand. This former drug addict, former husband of Katy Perry, and actor in junk movies is amazingly articulate and a true revolutionary.


This is some evil king and queen shit: "Gingerbread White House" WTF??!!


Wow, this has got to be the best use of taxpayers money ever! It's like a king or queen having artisans make them a new crown or some jeweled eggs within eggs.

"We put together a time-lapse to show you how it came together -- and to get you in the holiday spirit."

Yeah, spending thousands of dollars to make a gingerbread White House that no one will even eat equals getting into the holiday spirit. Man, I fucking hate this. Barry sent me this link in an email today. He must think Amerika is a country of retarded people.


Check it out:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/gingerbread-white-house




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Japan, Guest at Your Party



I was walking around in Berkeley last week and an analogy for the Fukushima problem popped into my head. As I walked, I dictated it into my iPhone's digital recorder (and almost got creamed by a bicyclist riding about 30 mph on the wrong side of the road through a red light--he came so close to hitting me that his clothes touched my clothes!). At the time, I really believed in my idea--I thought it was a brilliant analogy. But I lost faith in it a few days later after I'd dictated it into my computer and edited it. (Macs have an awesome voice recognition capability, but few people use it. You just talk normally and say "period," "comma," etc. when needed, and it types what you say with almost perfect accuracy!)  It sounded too crude and stupid to use.

However, in an email conversation with a friend about Fukushima, I did use it, and I was pleasantly surprised that she liked it. She wrote, "I like your analogy. It really hits the nail on the head. It's crude and weird in a way that people can actually relate to. I think that is the problem. Fukushima is SUCH a big problem that no one can relate . . . can get their mind around the seriousness of it." So now I feel a bit more confident to publish it. It's not like many people read this blog anyway!

By the way, I just added a way (on the upper right of this page) you can sign up for email notification of new blog posts, and I plan to make this blog active again. If this post isn't your cup of tea, please don't give up on me. There are a lot more where this one came from . . .

I think about Fukushima every day. If you study Fukushima, you get more and more and more freaked out. It's like when Dorothy's dog pulled the curtain aside and you could see the Wizard of Oz for what he really was. Millions of people have been given a chance to see the soul of raw capitalism: what kind of human beings would stuff thousands of hot radioactive fuel rods in a swimming pool atop a flimsy little building on the beach of a country known for earthquakes and tsunamis? I've been looking at radiation maps, and I heard Canada's top nuclear scientist on the NBC Nightly News say that just one more sizeable earthquake "and it's bye-bye Japan. People on the west coast of North America [including Jeff Syrop and his family, who can actually see the friggin' Pacific Ocean from their back yard] will have to evacuate." So basically we're playing Russian Roulette. Japan's TEPCO is running around doing clown-car half measures while Japan and the rest of the world are pretending everything is hunky-dory.

I feel an urgency to somehow do my part in sounding the alarm. People need to wake up! The major countries need to work together on the largest scale project every attempted by humankind and solve the problem of Fukushima!

So, without further ado, here is my crude analogy:

Japan, Guest at Your Party

Japan is like somebody who comes to your party and shits in his pants, and the shit is dripping down his leg and getting on your carpet. Some of your guests are already stepping in it! The room is just beginning to stink. But the this Japanese guy is excessively prideful and he can't bear to lose face, so he tries to ignore the problem and refuses to do anything significant about it.

It's a pity, too, because there are several professional janitors at your party, and there are some workers from a professional laundry here as well; their laundry facility is right across the hall from your apartment! Also attending are some of the best doctors in the world. But this fucking Japanese guy won't say anything about his obvious problem. Instead he insists on talking about his favorite subjects: cars and high tech. How shiny my Toyotas are and how sleek are my Lexuses! As surreptitiously as possible, he uses tissues to dab his shoes off each time more shit drips on them, and he keeps hiding the used tissue in his pockets and up his sleeves. It's really fucked up.

Clearly Japan is distressed. People at your party are losing interest in Japanese cars and game stations, and they're all considering canceling their invitations to the big sporting event Japan is having soon at his house (the fucking Olympics!).

The host and the other important guests at the party know that Japan is very distressed, but they are too busy and too greedy to help him because they don't want to impede the flow of conversation and fun at their party. They're making all kinds of deals with one another and enjoying the pretty girls and good scotch! Hardly an offer of help for poor inconvenienced Japan can be heard!

It's likely Japan has food poisoning, which might cause every organ of his body to shut down. He might die! Stupidly and selfishly, the host and the most important guests aren't acknowledging this. If Japan dies, it could destroy the livelihood and safety of all the guests at your party; almost all of them do business with him. And some of the guests are already getting sick! Soon Taiwan and the Philippians might start shitting on themselves. Maybe next it will be your good friends Hawaii, Alaska, and California! It's possible that if he doesn't get treatment soon, Japan could infect everyone in the room with his disease!

Why won't Japan make a serious effort to help himself? Why won't we make a serious effort to help him? What the fuck are we waiting for?

Please click on the comment link below and let me know what you think we can do to get our country seriously involved in this project. Also, are you personally worried about it or is it not a concern for you? A panel of UC Berkeley scientists recently published a paper stating that not much radiation has actually reached us yet, and while they didn't try to diminish the seriousness of the problem, they found that at this point, we're not in any danger of ingesting or breathing dangerous amounts of radiation. Still, every time I eat a tuna sandwich, I think twice now!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Joni Mitchell Sings "Woodstock"


Joni!

Have you ever heard Joni sing "Woodstock"? I think people are more familiar with the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young cover of Joni's song, which is awesome in it's own right.

Even if you're familiar with her popular version of this song, this is a version you've probably never heard, recorded in 1970, Joni at the piano with no accompaniment. It's beautiful. What cool chords she comes up with!


Yesterday I showed this video to my 14-year-old daughter Eileen, who plays piano and practices on an electronic keyboard in her room, after listening to her tell me about how great Lady Gaga's new album is. I said, "When you have a moment, I'll show you somebody who is really great."


She totally dug it and thought Joni was beautiful inside and out. While listening with Eileen, the phrase that stuck in my head was, "We've got to get ourselves back to the Garden."


When Joni Mitchell wrote this song in 1969, I think millions of young people and progressive people of all ages believed that it was actually possible to get back to "the Garden," that is, to live in harmony with our beautiful Eden-like all-providing planet and at peace with one another.


I went for a long walk and pondered what getting back to the Garden would actually entail.


Speaking simply, it would be wonderful to quickly change the world so that everybody had enough to eat, decent shelter, access to healthcare, quality kindergarten-through-college education for girls and boys, and even fast Internet for all! War would be taboo and peacemakers heroes. But when you think about the real world, how could it possibly work? People are at so many different levels of cultural development. Hundreds of millions of humans are barely past the Stone Age, while literally billions still function with Iron Age or medieval mindsets. Look at this map of clitorectomies! This is happening right now!




I think each new generation will be more and more open to socialism. But World War 2 vets, who saw it in person, Russians who suffered in the Gulag or lived in fear of being sent there, and the generation of Americans who came of age during the Cold War, have what I think is a healthy fear of socialism and communism. How does it work? Why, in our lifetimes, does it always seem to require a police state, heavy propaganda, and curtailed freedoms in order to function? Why are China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam such crappy places to live?

If we suddenly, by some miracle, had progressive, charismatic leaders spring up in powerful countries worldwide, and if humans really did ban war and redistribute wealth and resources, what would the fucking idiots who are stuck in Iron Age or medieval mindsets DO with these resources? Have more kids? Raise them to believe that Iron Age "holy" books (Bible, Koran, Bhagavadgita, etc.) were actually written by God and hate people who believe in the wrong book? Continue to perform clitorectomies on their daughters?


How would you control family size and population? How could you stop people from polluting? How would you compel people to do the less pleasant (but nonetheless important to maintaining a good planet) jobs? How would you keep humans from having wars, something that, especially men, seem to need and love. Humans can't seem to get enough of wars!


To all but the most stubborn Cold War holdouts, it's quite clear that the economic reality of each country isn't as simple as black-and-white, as either communism or capitalism. Every country has it's own unique balance of socialistic and capitalistic aspects to its economic behavior. There are thousands of shades of gray. For example, in America, the present balance goes something like this: socialism for billionaires and neo-feudalism for the rest of us.


A recent paper by astrophysicists says that there are approximately 8.8 billion Earth-like planets in the known universe. I think the point of trying to get back to the Garden is to see if we can be one of the only planets to get it right. I think the intelligent beings on most inhabited planets probably nuke themselves back to the stone age again and again. The reason for fixing our world is that we have to live here anyway. Not fixing it is like sitting in a house with a leaky roof and allowing water to drip on your head, when you have the option of fixing the roof and being comfortable.

I hate to think of my dear daughter Eileen trying to raise a family someday in a world with poisoned water tables, poisoned air, radioactivity everywhere, and rife with corruption, violence, poverty, and war, a world where people live in sadness and fear. Perhaps even a world where, as Nikita Khrushchev said, "The living will envy the dead." Think about fracking and about building new nuclear power plants, and think about how eager our president is to do both!


Here is the popular version of Joni's song, which you're probably familiar with, played on electric piano with a little vocal accompaniment, to listen to, and here it is for you to download and keep.



Saturday, June 01, 2013

Why Are Liberals So Rude to the Right?

This article brings up an interesting question and makes some good points, but I sure don't like its conclusion. It calls for more civility from liberals toward conservatives, but the writer forgets that it is rude to kill millions of people, rude to steal their resources, rude to destroy the environment, rude to fleece taxpaying citizens, etc. When someone voted for Bush Jr a second time, or voted for McCain or Romney, they were committing an act of rudeness that would persist for decades and result in immense suffering for millions of people. It's not like cutting me off in traffic or stealing my parking place at the supermarket or interrupting me in the middle of a sentence, something that's over in a moment.

After becoming aware of how Bush Jr and his administration twisted language, lied, and manipulated the public in order to create a "war" against a pathetically weak and broken country (which happened to be sitting atop vast pools of oil), a country that had nothing to do with the 19 Saudis who supposedly perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, to have voted for him a second time was an act of profound rudeness. I would go further and say it was an incremental war crime, each Bush vote a grain of sand weighing down a lever that re-opened the White House door to a bona fide criminal, a mass murderer and thief.


My Libertarian friend Tony of course will argue that I was just as rude to vote for the war criminal Barak Obama. But that wouldn't be fair. There were no good choices in 2008, but there were a lot of less-crappy choices that at least weren't acts of BLATANT rudeness. When I voted for Obama the first time, he wasn't yet a war criminal. McCain, who supported 95 percent of Bush's policies, represented the status quo, the elite .001 percent, not we the people. He was the chosen figurehead for the most dangerous and destructive enemy facing our nation: the transnational oligarchs who now rule and oppress us. So to actually have voted FOR that clown was profoundly rude and selfish, not to mention stupid and evil. But to have voted for Ron Paul or Obama or not to have voted at all--those were at least tries at ameliorating a bad situation that was statistically guaranteed to happen if some action wasn't taken. And while I have zero respect for non-voters, at least they didn't (directly) have blood on their hands from choosing one of the two corporate-stooge war criminals set out for us in a rigged election, an election, it has now become clear, the elites couldn't lose.


By my own arguments, though, Tony would have some grounds to be rude to me for voting for Obama the second time. Still, it was only voting for Romney that was BLATANTLY rude, because Romney was so blatantly emblematic of everything that is wrong in our world today. Romney the billionaire was a symbol for capital being more valuable than people. If given a choice between Nixon and Stalin, anybody in their right mind would chose Nixon.


Should we exhibit our best manners to rapists? To thieves? To murderers? For thousands of years humans have shamed, shunned, and made fun of bad rude humans.