Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Energy

The (current) Energy Policy Debate

I've been aware of Peak Oil since Bush II , incredibly, invaded Iraq.
I had heard of this before...but placed it in the "Interesting Tinfoil" file...along with UFO's, etc
When Lil' George conflated Iraq with Al Quaeda, with tortured "reasoning", I went to my big map of the world...armed with colored thumb-tacks...
I placed a red one wherever the US military was, a white one wherever there were drugs, or drug transits...and blue where the oil and Natural Gas (methane) was located..and pipelines/refineries.
Yellow went wherever there was a brushfire conflict, "terrorism" or other unrest.
It was amazing to see how those little pins coagulated.
That set me on a research frenzy...and Peak Oil was where it led.
I'm not gonna lay out the case....the info is abundant....and you're either honest to yourself, or you're not.
You do the work.
What I'm on about is the current Energy Bill...and all the rhetoric surrounding it.
Taking as given that PO is real..and that oil shale, tar sands, and other "unconventional" oil do not possess a positive EROI...(energy return on energy invested)....we, as a planet, have a huge problem.
We simply cannot continue Business as Usual.
That's reality.
The Perpetual Growth way of doing things is OVER!
But we have never done anything, except in that way.
For 10,000 years, since we took the first tentative steps toward 'civilisation', Humanity has been all about Perpetual Growth.
We don't know how to do Negative Growth or Steady State....we have never needed to.
Very soon, however, we will be forced to learn how...or suffer the fate of the deer on Plum Island.
It's not simply a matter of fueling our cars with alcohol (negative EROI)'s much more fundamental than that.
What is required is a wholesale reordering of how we do everything.
There are many things standing in the way of even realising that there's a problem.
Not least among these is Big Business.
Especially Oil Companies.
For a long time, these monsters have driven our foreign and domestic policy.
And to add shit to their record, they have been fully aware of PO since at least the 70's.
This is more of that TINA I'm on about so often.
(There is No Alternative)
A new, Post Oil world means much less power and $$$ for them.
So they obfuscate...purposely muddy the waters.
Po was relegated to Tin Foil.
Republicans are the worst when it comes to being bought by big Oil...but Dems are just as guilty, having lay down for fear of being called...well...being called a lot of things.
Now I hear R's bemoaning the current Energy Bill...that it will kill the economy, hurt oil companies, that it sets up a Nanny State...forcing us Plebes to buy fancy lightbulbs...that it will tax energy.
All these are true, to an extent.
To wit:
1 Economy: News flash! Without cheap, abundant oil...the economy will never "recover" to the place it was at in the late 90's.
We've run up against the edge of the petrie more 'perpetual' growth...remaining resources must be allocated to preparing for a Post Oil matter what that does to the Giant Corporations.
2 Oil Companies:.....will suffer will almost every other Corporation.Long run, this is a Good Thing....these Artificial Immortal Monsters have a weakness, after all.(Yay).Short run, it'll be painful for everyone.Everything we do relies on cheap, abundant hydrocarbons...and the last 30 years can be viewed as a desparate attempt to deny the reality of the Oil Age's books on a Global scale.Ponzi Schemes as National and International "Monetary Policy"....Hidden Inflation...Petrodollar Recycling.....
All this to delay the inevitable.
And it Failed.

3.Nanny state...I'll only mention, briefly, the hypocracy of this statement: Drug War...Anti Queer Crusade...the inherant Racism of the Right (even though the 'opposition' politely looks away)...
Republicans must get off that horse before it throws them.
&4...A Nanny State is exactly what we need.
Energy tax! Europe did this 20 years ago....and they are as ready as they can be (despite our constant meddling)...railroads everywhere...public transportation that actually works.Overall a much more sane energy policy.

We must be forced to get up off our collective asses (literally) and get out and dig up our yards for gardening.The 3000 mile tomato is an insult to farmers everywhere.
We must be forced to put in efficient appliances, light bulbs,etc.We waste more energy, unnecessarily, than many countries use in the first place.
Corporations must be forced to build more efficient, fridges, etc (same way they were forced to put seat belts in cars)
They ain't gonna do it on their own.If they can't compete in the new world of less energy, so be it...I thought that was one of the tenents of Free Market-ism, anyway.
We must be forced to drive that we may clamour for much more public transportation....and, hopefully get past NIMBY (not in my back yard) regarding rail, wind turbines, etc.

I don't like the idea of forcing (even nonviolently, with tax policy) anyone...I am a Jeffersonian Liberal, after all...
But reality intrudes.
We are not Good Thomas' informed public.
We have become a mob of fat, lazy, whiny idiots.
Prove that statement wrong, if it offends you!
If Republicans (and Democrats) really, truly give a good God damn about the fate of this country, it's inhabitants, the environment, and even the long term survival of Humanity...they must leave off the fear mongering that amounts to defending the paradigm and get right with reality.
The clock is ticking.

If anything, this Energy Bill does'nt go far enough.
We should end the de facto prohibition on home and neighborhood-scale energy production.
Look up Hydraulic Despotism....that's what we have now, with, fuel, toilet paper.
Every time you take a crap, and the product finds itself in a bacterial soup, in a processing plant or a septic tank, it ends up giving off copious amounts of Methane....that's Natural gas.
The vast majority of this is simply allowed to escape to the atmosphere...thus contributing to Climate Change and doing no work.
I found a company in Georgia, 10 years ago, that made "home/villiage scale" a septic tank that captures the Methane for use in cooking/heating/electrical generation.
This company was selling these things, in Tanzania, for around $800...but I couldn't buy one.Never got a good reason why I was not allowed to purchase this device, thus saving $700-1000/year in Propane costs...but I reasoned that that last bit was the reason.
The "Regulations" had been tampered with at the behest and for the benefit of the Propane/ NatGas "Industry"..
When you set about trying to do these things for yourself, you find all manner of such roadblocks in your' way.

Consider all those wires...high-voltage transmission, stepped down to regional, stepped down again to neighborhood level...
Fully 40% of what's generated is lost from these miles of wires, to the atmosphere.
Add in the fact that the American Engineer Society (or something, don't remember...look it up) said a few years ago that the "Grid" would require several years of GDP (ie: Trillions of $$$'s) to just maintain at current levels.
Perhaps, instead of spending all that Jack to fix a system that wastes almost half of what it generates (When Working As Designed!!!)...perhaps we should go the other direction...and encourage (and help pay for) home/villiage/neighborhood-level power generation.
No more tree-branch-across-a wire= several states w/out power.
Cheaper, and more efficient, in the long run.
Once again, we are not gonna do this on our own initiative...Look at the folks around you...sorry. Not Jefferson's Informed American.
Too, the power companies are not, out of the goodness of their hearts (Corporations don't have hearts...) remove their "hands" from our collective throats...willingly.

If you think you see a developing "theme", here...good on ya'.
Democratisation of Everything.


Centralisation is an artifact of Cheap, Abundant Energy...and Perpetual Growth.
It is OVER...and the sooner we, and our "Leaders", get our heads around that, the better.
We need Decentralisation...of everything from food production, to shoe making, to energy, to Government.
Need to "Create" jobs?
There lies the means...

If anyone ever reads these missives,(Hello??) I expect to hear why none of this can be done...
I welcome such comments.
I am merely stating what is painfully obvious, to me...after much research, and after trying mightily to prove all this wrong, myself.
This is NOT about some Hippy-dippy Utopian Paradise...well, it is, kinda...but is an answer to a very real collection of problems that are looming over all of us right matter how assiduously the Machine tries to convince us otherwise.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Quest

The Quest

Seeking the Trancendant among the mundane

As I've said...I've spent my life inadvertantly reinventing the wheel...rediscovering the World.
At a young age, I came to the realisation that things were not as they seem...that Authority could not be trusted...that the pat "answers" were inconsistant, internally incoherant and (often) outright fabrications.
So off I went, seeking answers to the most Fundamental Questions.
Building a workable, more consitant Model of the World.

It began, in retrospect, with my folks..and their misguided attempts to shield me and my brother from the stupidity, avarice and malice of the World. Too, there were attempts to protect us from their own shortcomings.
We didn't find out about the divorce till it was a done deal. We never heard a word about sex, drugs or any of the other sordid realities of life until we were already well versed in them, of our own volition.
So from the beginning there was mistrust of that most basic Authority, one's parents.

This basic mistrust inevitably (?) transferred to other forms of Authority.
As I've covered in the other Blog, 5th grade teacher's over-the-top scare-mongering about Marijuana...equating it with PCP, Coke and Heroin. The strange disconnect with what we were told about alcohol, and what we saw and experienced in real life.
Cognitive Dissonance...Fundamental Dishonesty as Policy.
I, almost alone among my peers, never forgot this unintentional lesson.
When the Lutheran Pastor at the church we were dutifully attending (even though it was obvious that my folks weren't "True Believers") was caught w/ his hand in the cookie jar...another lesson learned...start looking for inconsistancies there, in religion, as well.
All Recieved Wisdom, all Authority, was be taken with a whole shaker full of salt.
In 6th grade, when my budding genius made the teacher (Mrs. Doris) uncomfortable...when I asked too many questions, and wouldn't be satisfied with the equivilent of "because I said so..." or "That's just how it is..."...I was taken to the hallway and told that I was a "basic thinker" (something I knew to be false, LOL) and to "sit down and shut up."
Even then, what I can only describe as my Empathic qualities were quite functional....I could see right through her...she was afraid of the kid who was smarter than her. That's the first instance I remember of this "Empathy"...being conciously aware of subtle cues...facial expressions..body language...quiver in the voice...
To be honest, it kinda freaked me out.
It was the first time I encountered the Fear of Tall Weeds.
This woman intended to hammer me into shape...put out my Light....mow me to a more managable level.
(This idea was given flesh when I saw Pink Floyd's "The Wall" a few years later.)
More and more evidence was, accidentally, gathered.
To be clear, I didn't go looking to be be a freak...
I just noticed things.
And remembered.
7th grade...(seems like i had pneumonia, etc every year) I was excused from PE, a lot.
This was alright with me...I spent the cold, rainy days in the library...occasionally glancing out the window at the "Real Men" running in circles in the sleet.
I hated PE.
I quickly learned that if I wasn't "excused" for illness, all I need do was "forget" my shorts...and I'd be excused (and ridiculed) from participating in the testosterone poisoning.
I learned contempt for Jocks...for "Real Men", this period.
They, it seemed, hated me...I was a" sissy"..a "fag" (?)...I had to look that last one up.
But i noticed that the most 'Manly", most "Macho" among them were the first in line to get my help with homework...wanted to cheat off me on tests....
And these were the folks held in the highest regard by the entire social structure of the school.

Lip service to brains.But that was about all.

Dishonesty, inconsistancy, Cognitive Dissonance... as Policy.

The Myth was more real than the Reality...and woe to him that saw this, and actually said something about it.

Fast foreward... a brief note on High School.
I aced every class...up until the time I ceased to care.
HS was all about social status...cliques.
I found that I was outside of all of them.
I was a "Band Fag" (there's that word again)...and I was in AG (FFA)...and in "Accellerated Classes"...
And I didn't fit with any of them.
By 11th grade, I was a Stoner, as well...the lies about Weed laid bare.Here was a group that would at least tolerate me.Got a kick out of "blowing their minds"..

All this time, I'm reading...above and beyond what I was supposed to be reading.
By the time my class got to "Red Badge of Courage"...and began belaboring it, wallowing in the "average" student's inability to grasp the simplest of concepts...I was at the back of the class, reading the Bagavad Gita (sp-2)...or "Howl" or Blake..or Neitzche.
Passed the tests, turned in homework (often before class was let out)...and was failed for "not participating".
Senior year, an English teacher ( she was hot! but I don't remember her name) counted me "tardy" one too many times...she said, to teach me a lesson. She was mad that I "wasn't performing up to my potential"...meaning, it seemed, that I refused to slow down and help the idiots along.
So to detention I hour after school, for 3 days.
Sat there and read whatever Graduate School- level book I had to hand...homework was long ago finished...
Apparently, this was insufficient punishment...I was fine with sitting there reading..
They tacked on more D-hall...7 days.
So i quit going to D-hall at all.
I was already on the "watch list" due to my hair-length (a subject I'll go into great detail about in the future)
More and more hours of Dhall were tacked on...160 hours, at the end...that they "had" to send me to "In School Suspension".
A week's worth...
Again, this was required work was finished within an hour, and i spent the rest of the day reading.
More required work was given...punitively, I think...and was finished with.
So the Powers that Be hauled me to Cosmetology...held me down, and cut my hair...then sat me down, all 3 Vice Principals to threaten and cajole and feign concern.
I was told that if I continued to ignore Dhall, I wouldn't graduate.
By this time, my Antiauthoritarian Rebelliousness was at an apex...
I told them, Thanks for the concern...then I told them that they were fired.
I quit..right then....But I didn't tell anyone.
I was suspended, in absentia, for a month.
This was in April.
I hung around town...went to the library...generally fucked around...and avoided the redneck cops.
On the very day that I decided to formally quit school, I intercepted the mail and found the letter saying I was formally Expelled..
Big shock to my Dad (I was living with him at the time)...he had no idea this all was going on.
So I got my GED...took the 2 % of the Nation...
Looked foreward to a Liberal Education at University.
Big, Gigantic Disappointment, there...I found more High-School...No philosophical discussions over coffee and beer...nothing but boring classes, institutional mazes, and carreer-track grubbing...
Profound disillusion, on my part.
College was not about learning...about using one's mind.
It was more BS about getting a carreer and getting by with the least thinking possible.
I spent most of my time in the library.
Turned in homework, aced all the tests...
Turns out attendance...and "participation"... was of greater import than growing my mind, or the accumulation of knowledge.
I should have read the handbook more carefully...
And I most likely should have insisted on attending Brown or Oberlin...instead of Sam Houston State.
And i'm certain I should have insisted on keeping my Major in Philosophy...instead of changing to a "more reasonable' radio/television/film....Jobs, ya' lnow...
So, at the end...after retaking my first year's a community college...I'm hauled into the Dean's office...and told that I must retake those classes AT THIS institution, where I had failed them....the communuity college didn't count.
Fine Print!...
So there I was, certain I would be disowned... the Military didn't want me (interesting story)...
And I resolve to be a Chef (I had been cooking for a long while, now)...and educate myself...and run off to Austin to pursue music....and hopefully find an environment more in tune with my , by now, inherant antiauthoritarian rebelliousness.
Leave the suits and ties,commingled with the shitkicker boots, of East Texas and remove to the nearest Liberal Enclave.

Of course, as it turned out...Austin was already well into it's attempt at Respectability...
The Armadillo had closed down...the hangover was raging.
The Weird Legions of Redneck Hippies were on the retreat, their energy spent, before the onslaught of "Yuppies" from California...high tech corporations...all the pretensions associated with leaving the unruly past behind.
A Crusade of Conformity was underway...with a patina of the good old Austin Weirdness kept around for the Tourists.
But it wasn't real...
The music and art scene was being codified and regulated and hijacked by corporate interests...
Pot was still plentiful, and was smoked at bustops throughout the city...
But the anti tobacco brigades were on the laws forbidding public consumption of beer, permits for uniquely Austin things like Eyore's Birthday...and omnipresent Cops...
Palpable repression of everything that made Austin Cool...
They cleaned out the Drag...ran off the Drag Worms...street musicians needed expensive permits...taxing the street vendors out of existance....
I lasted almost 3 difficulties got the better of me.
To the Hill Country I the Family Farm that had been moved, a few years back, from East Texas to West Central Texas...

That was 16 years ago.

My folks, of course, remember all of this altogether differently...
Their own role in my crazy life-course has never been acknowledged...
It was me, and my own stubbornness and drinking and dope-smoking and lackadaisical behaviour...
To me, I dealt with the World as I found best I could, given the aforementioned inconsistancies and mythology...
Turns out, from my point of view, at least, that I wasn't meant to "fit" in this world they had fashioned.
Integrity, though it was much ballyhooed, was not , really, all that welcome.
I found that I couldn't lie for a buck...sales was out.
I couldn't work in a "corporate environment", I caused too much trouble', continually pointing out inconsistancies and generally stupid, wasteful ways of doing things...I made waves where none were wanted...nevermind all the rhetoric at the "pep rallies" about striving for excellence.
Something inside me, after all of the above, made it impossible for me to function in a world that was built on lies and was more and more obvious, to me.

So here I am, almost 40...a crippled, bisexual, autodidactic extreme Jeffersonian Liberal...unused to, and unwilling to edit or dumb down my thought for the benefit of the unthinking, fragile minded herd...brutally, painfully honest..about politics, and the shape of the World as I see it...
None of the qualities that I think of as my best traits, hold any value to the world I find myself embedded in.
The incurious masses fear and loath me (the empathy, again...)
And my anomalous-ness that I have clung to and cherished from the get-go...only separates me further from the rest of the species.
Indeed, I feel, most days, like my own subspecies...
Homo Sapiens Amfortii...

What is the lesson...what was gleaned from all this rediculous chaff??
That the World...this "Civilisation"...this Machine that we, and our Forefathers, have constructed over milennia...
This edifice has, at it's foundations, numerous falsehoods and assumptions that have been built upon, repeatedly...and these have, in turn, been built upon..and so on...untill the whole quaking mass is unstable...
We have tacked on "solutions" to every "problem" that reared it's head, haphazardly adhering various and sundry "fixes" and "patches" to the heap...untill the entire thing is now swaying dangerously.
It is unthinkable, for most folks, to question the value of this edifice.
To do so would open too many doors in the minds of men...and the whole thing would hafta be torn down....or it would simply collapse under the weight of it's integral absurdity.
So everyone spends his days ignoring the Dissonance...and quite a few endeavor to "hack at the branches of Evil..."... but none dare "strike at the root".
To do so, and to be honest about it, would require the destruction of it all...and a thoughtful rebuilding, into something more, if not Good and Just, at least more sustainable.
I fear that we, as a species, are not up to that task.
We have (most of us) grown to love our chains...our absurdities.
And, above all, we have grown too lazy and complacent to be so honest.

Thus, the Machine "selects" for dishonesty....for Psychopathy...
For Willful Blindness and for those who are able to look away, and truly believe that "There is no Alternative".

My Hope, thin raft that it is, is that someday...100 or 1000 years hence...some surviving Fire Monkey will be sifting through the rubble of the World That Was and come across my Library.
And that the Spark will Glow in the Darkness.
I fully believe that we are already in the beginnings of a New Dark Age.

My Purpose, such as it is, is to be St Benedict...or one of those Irish Monks...a new Monasticism, Secular in nature...preserving the Light of Reason, in the Vain Hope that we can do better next time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GOP's Healthcare "alternative"

GOP’s health “solution”

So I’ve been surfing the news channels this AM, as is my wont.
Caught part of Rep. Camp (I think) on a few…and most of his exposition on CSPAN’s Washington Journal.
Mr. Camp seems like a nice man…but what he presented was no solution at all.
The only actual policy I heard out of him was a proposal to include college students in their parent’s insurance for a longer time than is now currently done.
Everything else was either platitude or raggin’ on Ted Kennedy and the Prez.
Using the words “Obviously” and “Clearly” a whole lot does not constitute an “alternative “ Plan.

The GOP’s fears regarding single-payer/universal/”government run” – healthcare seems to revolve around how bad it would be for Corporate interests….although they will never be honest enough to just come out and say that.
The Party Line is:(my response is in parenthesis):
1 Any Government “solution” would “cause” a “Two-Tiered” system to evolve…in which the rich would flee the country for their health needs, leaving the poor to languish in long lines.
(This is already the case, of course…except that the rich can stay home while the poor (and other non-rich) are left with lines at the ER or no healthcare at all.)
2 Medicare” ain’t free”-ergo Medicare for everybody would be terrible.
(Strawman! (Where’s my lighter?)…Medicare is expensive, by this dude’s own example, due to stupidity rammed through by the bush II administration.)

3 The Poor, Poor Insurance Companies! Why, they would be at a disadvantage!
They couldn’t compete w/ the “Socialised Menace”! The People would flock to Socialism!
(This is an unintentional argument FOR “Socialised” medicine. The current system is so bad, that almost anything is better…and if given an alternative to For Profit Health, folks would vote with their feet and abandon it.)

Meanwhile, while we’re arguing inanities w/ GOPers, I’m in a wheelchair, today.
Managed to be a blacksmith for 2 hours, yesterday…then feed and put up all the critters…and I’ll pay for it, today.

Can’t wait to read the GOP’s “Plan”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Intelligence' and a Free Country

On “Intelligence”…the CIA and a Free Country

One portion of the “Machine that I think needs to be done away with is the so-called “Intelligence” apparatus.
All that secrecy and “classification”…just has no place in a free country….and is , in fact, inimical to a truly free society.

Our country was founded on openness and honesty and truth…not lies and deception.. The latter are products of fearful men.
Fearful of what the other guy is doing, fearful that they might not measure up, afraid that when the shit hit the fan, they won’t really have what it takes to make the grade.
These feelings are projected onto the institutions that these fearful men make.

Sure, there have been spies since there have been polities.
But we were supposed to be different…a break from the past.
That’s like arguing for the need for a King….we broke with all that, at our Founding.

The “Intelligence” apparatus, hereafter lumped under the term:”CIA”…(I don’t care if it’s not entirely accurate.) The CIA hasn’t made us any safer, in my opinion.
They missed 9-11….or helped make it possible.
They fucked up Iran, in ’53…leading directly to all the bullshit w/ that country since.
They got the whole USSR thing horribly wrong.
Turns out they weren’t as big of an existential threat as they had been telling us.
All the coups and assassinations and assorted meddling in countless other countries, throughout the world has made us hated, distrusted and feared.
The downright Evil shit, like torture, blacksites, MKUltra , “experiments” where they gave LSD to unsuspecting folks to see what they would do…
On and on and on….
And this is just stuff from the public record.
Nobody knows the extent of their activities…it’s all below board…black.
I’ve read that they invented Crack Cocaine.
It’s interesting that everywhere the Military/Intelligence portion of the machine sets up shop turns into a Poppy/Coca Farm, or a shipping route.
All of this shit, I submit, does more harm than good.
It doesn’t belong in a Free Country.
We should be above board…open in our dealings with the world, and especially the dealings of “OUR” government with the American People.

The only arguments I’ve heard to “justify” these critters, when I bring it up, are purely based on Fear.
Fear that we won’t measure up.
Fear that without playing dirty, we’ll lose.
And Fear that if the Truth of all these shenanigans ever comes to light, many heads will roll.

I say “Fuck That”.
We’re supposed to be the Home of the Brave.
We call ourselves the beacon of light in the world, etc etc…
We should live those Ideals.
We should strive to make the world a better place, even if it hurts…because that’s what a Good and Just and Idealistic Nation would do.

Open ALL the books.
Air out all the secrets.
What are “they” afraid of?
What are they hiding?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Left/Right Dichotomy

I love his site:

But read the comments under this article....
Seems "liberals" are just as kooky regarding "Ideological Purity" as "Conservatives".
I've encountered this a at least.
The Purity thing from the Left is irksome, but what really gets me' goat is the idea that L?R, Conservative/Liberal, etc, are non-existant...mere divisive ploys to divide us, set us each against each.
I come to my own beliefs about such things from the Briar-Patch of "Reinventing the Wheel"...My folks, when I was growing up, were all but apolitical.
I think they "leaned Left", and still do..(vote Dem,etc)...but politics was never dinner-table fodder.
I accidently discovered the Libertarian Party in high school...( this was during the end of Reagan/beginning of Bush I).I was a "stoner",a wanna-be hippy/beatnik/radical.
The idea that Dem/Rep were 2 sides of the same coin made a lot of sense to me..and still does.So my first presidential election, I voted for Ron Paul.
Eventually, in my 30's, I abandoned the Libertarian Party...they equated Corporate Capitalism with Adam Smith-style "free-market-ism" , and that just didn't fel right to me.
W/ the advent of Lil'George,9-11, and all the pseudo-fascist weirdness that ensued...I was left w/ no alternative but to support the Democrats. I made common cause with the only organised bunch that seemed to oppose the violent swing to the right.
But they were weird, in their own way.
Coming into my own, politically, I never grokked "ideological purity".
Left or Right.
It's myopic, and leads one to ignore real problems.
To wit...the whole "conspiracy theory" meme, in which every one who finds a grain of truth in "theories' regarding thr Federal Reserve, Main Stream Media,Powers that Be, Etc, is automatically shit-canned as a nutcase.
The comments to the above post are a case study in this.
Way I see it...there IS a R/L dichotomy...just that Democrats are hardly of the Left.
R/L goes waaaay the Enlightenment and before.
Right is "for" status quo...maintaining the current power-structure...because it's the current power-structure.To accomplish this feat, it has, over the years, coopted the language, and the thought-processes it stands in for.
Consider...early 20th century...suddenly Marx is no longer a "fringe' character, stuck in academic and economic corrals.Lenin, Trotsky, et alia catapulted him, (and a waterd down, corrupted version of his ideas) into international consiousness.
"Capitalism" (here read "greed" and it's maintenance) had a rival.
Those who had landed at the top of the eonomic and political heap were scared shitless that these ideas (Proletariat, worker's rights) would gain traction...and their own position at the top would be challenged.
How to justify their priveleges?
A conundrum...they couldn't rationally justify them.At leats not on an even playing field.
The answer, was to demonise.
Hence, the Red Scares, Palmer Raids, Fascism in Europe, and even things like the "drug war"...all the way to McCarthyism and the Cold War....
Union Busting...the list goes on, and is still being added to.
Heaven forbid that the "serfs" wake up and find that they are powerful...that they outnumber the "elite" 10000 to 1.
During World War 2, the Government, the Industrial Base, and the new "Intelligence" apparatus, learned that they could work together.
They learned that they had a common purpose in defending the Paradigm.
Fascism fit right in with this...but "we" had just fought a terrible war over it had to be rebranded.
Two dudes really go into this whole thing in greater depth than I can...


They make a good, almost irrefutable, case that the language of politics...the political "spectrum"...HAS been coopted.

I think it was , originally, intentional...but it has ,since, taken on a life of it's own.
Kinda like the "singularity"(
, except that this is not about computers, or technology...
Matrix...Machine...these are words I use for it...but they arent really sufficient, either.
"Corporate" means "having a body" and is used to refer to artificial business entities that "we" endow with "right and priviledges" usually reserved for flesh and blood humans.
"Corporations" over the last 100 years, have gained,IMO, status as "lifeforms'.
Doesn't matter who the CEO is, or who is "on the board", the Entity itself has it's own logic and operates for it's own preservation.
I see the Machine/Matrix the same way...
Indeed, the Machine includes well as "Organised religion".

Some peon, or group of peons, start making noise about the injustices of this Paradigm...and they are eliminated, outright...or marginalised...or,more common since the '60's, coopted and absorbed by the Machine itself.
Alternet, Democracy Now!, etc etc...are blow-off valves.
The 60's scared the "Machine"...couldn't counter it (it could never win in a fair fight of ideas...who, in their right mind would support it?) it "learned" to incorporate it's opposition.Folks who, for whatever reason,don't swallow the Paradigm whole, are provided with an approved outlet.
"Grass Roots!"
The "Two-Party System."
Those who don't fall for this ruse ( and I love Amy Goodman,et alia) are marginalised...lumped in with "conspiracy theorists", code for "crazy".
"Tin Foil Hat Brigade."

The very recalcitrant, who won't go along with this marginalisation, are "eaten by sharks"...or "fall out of airplanes", "commit suicide", etc...(lots of examples,BTW)

I'm not saying that this "Machine" has conciousness in the conventional sense...only that "it" operates within it's own logic.
To be successful in the Paradigm, one must swallow (at least on the surface) the Paradigm.
Red Pill/ Blue Pill, in the Matrix movies.
This has become self-perpetuating.
"TINA" "There is no Alternative".
Unions, Universal Healthcare, and all kind of other things that would really help the "little guy' are rebranded as "Left"...which equals "Communist".

Sometime around 1979, the Right..who embraced this nonsense out of fear, or real affinity, depending on income and status....decided that they no longer needed the "left", anymore.
The whole "good cop/ bad cop" ,One Coin stuff was tedious.
Enter Neoconservatives.
The "left" was progressively (pun intended) demonised...ruthlessly.
Rush..Newt..all the "conservative" ideologues and "pundits" grew ever more unapologetic and extreme."Kill a Commie for Mommie" is something I heard on the damned playground in 3rd grade....
The Bush II era was the pinnacle of this break from "Bipartisanship".
"Liberals" (the "big government", pseudo Communist kind .LOL) were painted as traitors...evil...monolithic.
And we swallowed it whole.
Even the "opposition" got on that wagon.Wouldn't do to be seen as "weak" or "unamerican"...

Well..."they" overreached..we are told.
A new era has dawned (Morning in America?)
We are to be a just, moral superpower...
And it's just another ruse...another absorption.
Things haven't really changed all that much.
Obama is a part of the machine...otherwise he'd not be where he is.
( remember a coulpla dudes named "Kennedy"?)
Machine wins, again.
And if anyone reads this, I'll be consigned to "TinFoil Hat Land" and marginalised.
Really, kinda hope I do...
I don't care for sharks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"We Don't Take Cash"

“We don’t take cash”

I’ve been all over the intertubes, today, looping for another Bone Doctor.
Looked in San Antone, Austin, San Angelo….
Many, on their webpages, had buttons that said “click here to make an appointment”.
When I did so, I was redirected to another site…that wanted $$$ to continue.
Wouldn’t give me a phone #, address, etc, w/out first ponying up.

I also kept getting the same tired-sounding girl…turns out that there’s a new (to me) “service” that Doctors use: The Appointment-Making Service.
I guess the Doctors are pretty busy…Jut strange and new to me.

Hopefully this “new” service has cost-saving and/or efficiency benefits…

What floored me was being told by many of these Appointment Setters (is there a proper title??) that the Doctor’s Office in question didn’t take cash.
This shocker came when they wanted my insurance information….I don’t have any, of course….so I said “cash”.

Long ago, when I was 13, I happened to be in Toronto when I needed stitches removed.(unfortunate machete juggling accident;almost removed my thumb.)
I was vacationing with my Grandparents at the time.
We located a clinic, had the procedure done, and Papaw was looking for someone to pay…running around with his wallet held before him like a baby bird.
The folks there kept saying “ we don’t need any money…it’s paid for”
It was as if they were speaking Hebrew….he was truly amazed.
Took longer to get the non-payment issue sorted out to Papaw’s satisfaction ( he tipped a nurse $5) than the procedure itself.

This is a wholly different critter. They apparently “don’t take cash to weed out the po’ folks. One can pay with all manner of credit card and through an insurance company middleman…but not with the coin of the realm.

I hafta wonder if this adds cost to the provision of healthcare.
Don’t know ,really…just wonder.
What I know it does is exclude folks like me..who don’t have insurance and don’t use plastic.
I’ve heard the word “rationing” used as a bludgeon by numerous (mostly) Republican politicians, this last week. Seems they are afraid (in a less than truthful manner) that a Single Payer System, or any other Government funded creature, will have the effect of “rationing” healthcare.

I have shocking news!!

We already have rationed healthcare. It’s called the For Profit Healthcare System…and is the most expensive and inefficient system in the First World. And it IS rationed.
Only the rich and those lucky enough to get “benefits” get served.(and folks on Medicare/Medicaid). Those of us who are not rich, not employed, and not destitute enough to qualify (my wife brings in just over $1000/month, and we make too much jack), we are left to make do.

This is known, I believe, as “Falling Through the Cracks”.

The Doctor I finally got an appointment with…or rather the girl who finally let me through the filter to get an appointment (at the end of July!)…couldn’t give me a ballpark figure. Just didn’t know.
Said to start with $250, and “go from there.”
I can only guess what an MRI of my hip is gonna run.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Conspiracy" as a Slur

"Conspiracy"...from Latin..."Breathing together"

A NutJob commits an act of Terrorism, and everyone rightly condemns him, and his actions.
Problem I have, is the use of the word "conspiracy" as code for "not swallowing the conventional wisdom". I apply reason to events and trends, and see massive problems with conventional wisdom. From 9-11, to Israel's(not Jew's) actions in Gaza.
If we can't question the CW, we might as well resign ourselves to an Orwellian world.
Even the most heinous NutJob may have some small grain of Truth, buried in their craziness....but we will never dig it out if we must adhere to Politically Correct wholesale condemnation.
This guy had a problem with "banks" do I. But he linked the problem with banks, especially the Federal Reserve with real antisemitism and various, disproven ideas about the shape of the world.(ie:Protocols)
In the media frenzy that follows, anyone who has problems with the Fed, and/or Israeli policy in the Middle East is lumped in with ALL of this guy's ideology.
False connections. Question the fed/Israel/etc = hate Jews.
This is dishonest.
It's part of the larger problem of Fear in this country...
We fear standing up and calling "Bullshit!" when there are obvious inconsitancies and omissions in the CW.
The Israel thing is one of the most pervasive.The Eleventh Commandment seems to be "Thou shalt not criticise Israel"...and that's just wrong.
This dude didn't help in ending this prohibition on criticism at all...he handed a great coup to those who want it to continue.
I'm rambling...I'm tired...I'm hurting.
I'll stop.
"Fear not the Path of Truth;Fear the lack of people walking on it"-RFK

Wednesday, June 10, 2009



I grew up with a sense of hope.
My Dad worked at NASA, at the Johnson Space Center, during Apollo and Skylab.
I still have boxes of “real NASA pictures”(!) and paraphernalia that they were ,presumably, gonna toss.
Amazing pictures, of Neil Armstrong looking out the window of the LEM on Apollo 11;
Lots of Lunar rocks and craters; and (my favorites) pictures of the Earth from the Moon.
This led to a lifelong interest in Science…and Science Fiction…but, more importantly, to a certain “Onward!” outlook, a hopefulness, regarding the Potential of Mankind.
The Universe was out there, waiting to be explored.
Our little planet still had myriad mysteries to be rooted around in.
And the concurrent SciFi led to a Roddenberrian worldview that fit perfectly with what I was gleaning from Jefferson, Da Vinci and Einstein (my other 3 great heroes):
That Man was perfectible.
That Mankind is capable of overcoming his faults and superstitions…
Of becoming nearer to Gods.

This Optimism, the very center of the Enlightenment, has taken quite a beating in the intervening years. As I gained political awareness, I ,more and more, saw the Lies.
The Willful Blindness of my fellow Americans.
The growing Fear of the new, the different, the open.
More and more, the folks around me built their Walls and entrenched themselves behind them.
Folks stopped looking up!
Stopped reaching Further.
This period had it’s beginnings with Reagan, and the Conservative Revolution.
I didn’t know this, then….but as my awareness of the World grew, I did know that something was wrong with us.
At the same time that we were hearing about “Morning in America” and all it’s attendant faux shiny-talk, we were giving into the Fear.
Fearmongering is nothing new (pope Innocent?)…but Reagan and his movement made an Art of it.
Now, after 29 years of this, after all the suburban castle-building, the home-entertainment-center frenzy, the ever increasing isolation ,homogenization, and paranoia about all manner of “The Other”… and 9-11 as a gruesome cherry-on-top….
Where is the country that separated from the tired old traditions of 5000 years?
Where is the Nation that kept on expanding the Franchise…even in the face of violence from within?
Where is the country that went to the Moon?!

I still hold Hope, deep inside, that Mankind can rise above the stupidity, ignorance and violence that seems to be our inheritance.
That we are not just Fire Monkeys, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, until we finally destroy Everything in a paroxysm of radioactive light.
That, somehow, the Fear can be cathartic. That we can one day set it aside and grow up as a Species.
I owe that Hope to my sons, and whatever progeny they manage.
Without just a little smidgen of Hope, the Fear-sellers will have won.
And then there can be no hope.

bootstraps and healthcare

I sent this letter to both "my" senators, and my "representative", today:

"I am 39 years old. Almost 20 years ago, I had a wreck…broke my right hip, left ankle messed up my knees and my left eye. I had insurance at the time, and was rebuilt. I learned how to walk again and returned to work and attended college.
The insurance company soon “dropped” me and I haven’t had insurance since. With “preexisting conditions”; it is either too expensive, or simply unavailable.
I have known for almost two decades that I would need certain procedures at this time in my life. However, I could find no way of preparing for this eventuality, myself.

Now, the time has finally arrived. I am disabled.
A cripple.
A new hip is needed…as well as an ankle fusion, laser surgery on my eyelid to remove eyelashes that “grow the wrong way”, and (my doctor tells me) a new knee in the near future.

The nearest hospital informs me, cheerfully, that the “estimated” cost is somewhere north of $80,000…not including the cost of a hospital stay, the anesthesiologist, and all manner of “incidental” fees that no one seems to be able to predict.
Physical therapy, to help me learn to walk (a third time) was never mentioned…I assume that I’m on my own, there, as well.

I have been out of work for 3.5 years now…I was a chef/cook, and could no longer handle the job. The pain was too great.
Since then, I’ve been a marginally effective house-husband and stay-at-home dad.
This is not without its rewards, but they are intangible…and the welfare of my family suffers with me out of commission.

I applied for Disability 3.5 years ago, when it became clear that this was not a temporary condition, and that the long awaited date of reckoning had arrived.
I have been denied, repeatedly, in this process. Sent to a psychiatrist (?), and “their” orthopedic doctor, who took x-rays of my back and left knee, and pronounced me healthy. My back, left knee and mind have never been at issue.
I borrowed money, and went to another “bone doctor”, who said I was, in his words, “screwed” and in need of a hip and ankle-fusion immediately.
This was more than a year ago.
In November of ’08, I had a hearing with a Judge, by video. I received the decision, in April,’09…denied.
This Judge, obviously harried…overworked, understaffed…spent two out of nine pages denying that I was “mentally disabled”, (due to my honesty on a form.I am depressed but this was never at issue..) and denying the rest…based on “their” bone guy, and a whole host of non-doctor “bureaucrats”.
My doctors, with the exception of a guy I saw in ’05, were dismissed.
Also, it seems that since a doctor never “ordered” me to use a cane, or the various braces and supports I use every day, or to elevate my legs, that I am somehow not genuine.
From the beginning of this process, I have been made to feel, by turns, as if I were a liar, a cheat, a traitor and a bad person, in general.
There has been no compassion, no sympathy given me. Just interminable waiting and procedures unrelated to the conditions I allege make me “disabled”.

The system is broken.

For profit healthcare is a colossal failure.
The disability system is a catastrophe…as a direct result of budget cuts and the resultant staff reductions.

I will lie here, disintegrating, while you people argue about “socialism” and “bootstraps” and “rationing” and the poor, poor corporations who designed this horrid system having to “compete” with a public system.

Meanwhile, I am expected to pay, even if my “share” is negligible, for your’ own excellent healthcare.

My “bootstraps” were boiled and eaten years ago.

If/when my final appeal fails, I will be left with no alternative but to try to borrow more money and go to Cuba…where the same procedures cost less than one third of what I was quoted here.
You can be certain that should that come to pass, my entire experience will end up on You-Tube, for all to see.

Please, try to remember who you supposedly work for.
I am not a corporation.
I am not rich.
I don’t “contribute” to anyone’s campaign.
I am an American, a fifth generation Texan.
And I need a hand up.

Thank you,

I expect nothing to come from this...unless I end up in Cuba.Then they'll be REALLY interested.
Ya hafta be a Fetus to get these folks to care about your health.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ProLife Terrorism

What a bunch of nut-jobs! I guess she's on the hit-list, too? Doesn't figure into their "calculations" that she appears to be prohealth.
As was Dr. Tiller, whom their Fellow Traveller so brutally murdered this week.
I find several things wgong, here.
First, aren't we supposed to be having a "War On Terror"? Doesn't this fit the bill? Or is this somehow exempt because the psycho was a "Christian", and attached to the same Right Wing Nut-job movement that brought us the War On Terror, in the first place?
Seems to me that by the Right's own definitions, this guy (the triggerman, NOT the dead Doctor) should be on his way to Gitmo, or a Black Site, or something.
I guess White Christian Terrorists get a trial...and all their rights, intact.

Second, How is the obvious baiting and encouragement perpetrated by Fox, et alia , somehow not responsible for a piece of this?
I mean, look around Operation Rescue's site. Look around some of the others that call themselves "Pro-Life". Hatred, fear and loathing.
Sometimes, the veil of "restraint" falls away, and they are found to be actually encouraging such acts.

Lastly....the idea that these folks call themselves "Pro-Life", in the fist place, and with all seriousness.
Same bunch that advocates starting Nuclear Armageddon.
Same bunch that advocated preemptive warfare.
Same bunch perennially on the side of the death penalty...even to the point of calling for vigilante firing squads and lynchings.

And I have always wondered at the inconsistancy of these people....all hail the Fetus! But as soon as they're past the labia, they're on their own!
I don't see 'em advocating for CHIPs, or Food Stamps,or universal Day Care....let alone education.
Not a word is said about Military Recruiters in schools.
Seems a mite hypocritical, to me.

And what about abortion?
I've known, and helped, several women in my time make this terrible decision...then act on it.
Not once was it considered a "choice".
Girls don't sit around, bored, on Friday night...and say," Hey, I know! Why don't we all go get abortions?!!It's the cool thing to do!"
It's a choice, yes...but not a choice that's made lightly.
And those who push this mythology, do a great disservice to women by coloring this choice as a casual one.

And! If we all want less abortion...(and I think we all do)...whay can we not have real, honest sex education?Condoms galore?Birth controll widely available?
And a morning After Pill, w/out all the damned stigma?
Fundies want it all their way.
There can be no compromise, I guess...
Even though their stupid "Abstinance Only" is a misrable failure...totally unconnected from reality....and totally disregarding the perfectly natural "biological imperative" that ultimately drives sexual conduct.....for them, there is no alternative.

Monday, June 1, 2009


«Ξέρω ότι είμαι ευφυής, επειδή ξέρω ότι δεν ξέρω τίποτα.»

“I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”


When I was 19, I stayed for a while w/ a buddy who had turned his folks’ house into a crash-pad for youthful malcontents and rebels. His folks had moved to California…he stayed on till the house was sold.

When I fist moved in , into the room he had had as a boy, he warned me…in all seriousness…that the house was haunted. He told this to everyone, and we all, to a person, laughed it off.


Time passed…lotsa partying on the weekends…the weeknights were relatively quiet.

The room next to mine contained a self-styled “witch”…candles,incense…chanting….

We were very egalitarian…

One night, late, I was awoken by the closet doors, rattling furiously…as if something (an animal?) was trying to get out. I got up to investigate…opened the doors…and…nothing.

Empty closet.

This happened a few times, with me getting steadily more concerned.

Strange things began to happen.

Keys would go missing, only to turn up in the freezer.

Balls on the pool table upstairs would move by themselves…even jumping off the table, and down the stairs…

The Witch suggested that I (it seemed to “live” in my closet), that I try and “talk’ to whatever it was.

One night, when the doors rattled, I did just that.

Spoke to whatever was in my closet.

Told it hello, that I wasn’t necessarily afraid of it…and asked it what it wanted.

A feeling ,and that’s all it was, came on me…a boy..obviously Native American…smiling in sunlit, East Texas woods.

That’s it.

He was lonely, it seems.

I moved on a month or so later…not because of the ghost…we had become somewhat inured to each other, I think…I left because it was time for me to go..

I’ve had lots of strange experiences in my life…before and since…but I’ve never met another ghost.