Practical Solutions   (2017Aug25)


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Friday, August 25, 2017                                           2:55 PM

Ah, the beauty—the delicacy and iridescence of a lawn on a dewy morn, the awesome compulsion of a baby’s grin, the warm softness in the breast upon hearing soulful, nostalgic music—these are the moments that we are deprived of during a crisis. In an emergency everything’s business—get it done or someone may be hurt—no time for dawdling. Hurry, hurry—we don’t have time for nonsense.

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But face it—9/11 is really 9/11/2001—it was sixteen years ago—I think we can stop panicking now. No one can minimize the horror of the event—and I wouldn’t even want to try. But as far as how we live our lives in 2017—I think it’s long past time we calmed down, did some yoga breathing, and took stock of how many mistakes we have made.

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First of all, that Bin-Laden bastard planned more than the plane attacks—he hoped that the US would do exactly what it did—panic, overreact, start expensive wars that would increase division and hurt our diplomatic standing in the world, while they drained our coffers and goosed our national debt. And Bush-43 gave him more than he dreamed—a near re-run of the Great Depression, and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Besides all of that, we have this Putin bastard, who is the only world leader thuggish enough to be the first to invade sovereign territory of a neighboring country since Hitler’s defeat. Then he starts disruption campaigns against democratic countries—and I don’t think I need to remind you that democracies work badly enough without disruption.

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He scored big with a disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton so effective that even her supporters started to doubt themselves—and he got bonus points for opening the door to the most disgraceful president this country ever had the shamelessness to elect (collegiately—if it had been a majority vote, our disgrace would have been complete).

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Putin managed to cheat us out of another four years of Obama-like governance and a wily, strong opponent against him on the world stage—how that fucker must have danced when he realized he was getting to deal with Puddin-head Donny-John instead!

Of course, your internet feed may sell you a different story—a story wherein everything I’ve just said is a bunch of bull and I am a deluded snowflake. And that is the last mistake I’ll address today—all the governmental, judicial, administrative, financial mistakes will have to wait for some other time. We have made the mistake of letting ourselves become divided—the Internet’s business plan of ‘customized filtering’ has put each of us in our neat little pigeonholes for counting and sorting.

We need a focal point. And it’s not just the internet either—journalists in both print and television have been shunted into the for-profit side of printing and broadcasting. Or, it might be more straightforward to say that there is no longer any room in modern businesses for a non-profit section.

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Our present greed is too ferocious to allow such waste of business effort as to serve the public. Besides, nowadays, the whole point of owning a media empire is to become the iron fist that chokes off free speech to his or her own personal satisfaction—then lets the rest through, so you can’t tell anything’s missing.

So we have developed both the internet and the mass media in purely commercial ways so far—and they no longer serve the public, either. Plus, we have, on the one hand, made the internet increasingly important, to where our civilization might collapse without it, and on the other hand we freely admit that there’s no such thing as a secure internet—that a hacker, or group of hackers, could wreak havoc on the global community with a few buttons pushed. Now, I like online as much as the next guy—but there’s such a thing as ‘too good to be true’, too.

So, we have made a lot of mistakes lately. And even if we didn’t make those mistakes ourselves, we all still have to live with the consequences of the above mistakes. And we have to find solutions to those mistakes. But most of all, we have to start thinking, real thinking—not discussions and debates between two sides of trivial differences, but practical solutions to real problems.

You know, like grown-ups.

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Media Milquetoasts   (2017Aug24)


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Thursday, August 24, 2017                                               4:29 PM

Media Milquetoasts   (2017Aug24)

As we know, Trump has a fetish for “I know you are, but what am I?” During the campaign, Trump echoed every accusation HRC made against him: unfit, corrupt, collaborator with Russians, using charity for personal gain, etc. Every time Hillary described an aspect of Trump, he found some paper-thin rationale to throw the accusation right back in her face.

The media, instead of reporting on his fetish for “I know you are, but what am I?”, decided to run every statement he made, as if he had as much reason to say it as she did, even though he had never said anything about any of these things, until someone with a sharp mind had thought them up.

Then, after those countless PR ‘gimme’s, they had to report some facts about Trump lying. Then he, of course, called them liars and ‘fake news’—and, instead of filing a slander lawsuit against him, the media reported on his ‘fake news’ statements, as if he had as much reason to say it as they had, even though he had never said anything about any of these things, while the media had been playing for his side.

Today I felt the assholery peaking at maximum—Trump isn’t just mirroring his critics anymore—his latest psycho-reversal: explaining stupid to smart people. He and his cronies are following up his recent word-salad public statements with commentary about how it all makes a sly kind of sense, if you look at it from Trump’s point of view. Sorry, BLOTUS—‘five dimensional chess’ is just a buzzword, meaning: you’ve crawled so far up your own ass that you can’t back out.

Yet, still, the media hops onboard with the agenda-setter-in-chief—never mind the real actions and consequences happening behind the scenes of this apocalyptic presidency—let’s just keep re-tweeting him and his friends. Sure, that sounds about right…yeah, sure. Besides, real journalism has that pesky ‘work’ element to it—eh?

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Time To Start Shouting Back (2017Aug23)


Beatrice

Wednesday, August 23, 2017                                           1:25 AM

Time To Start Shouting Back   (2017Aug23)

We need to come together and work as one to defeat the forces arrayed against our future—and people are usually rallied by the naming of an enemy—by putting a face to our misery and fear. Politics just is that way—no matter whether it’s an election, a tax, a new law, or a war—you have to name the devil if you want everyone to join you in condemning it.

It doesn’t have to be one person—you can point the finger at a group—that’s actually more effective, because it makes a scarier image in our heads. Or you can name an idea or a sub-culture as the dangerous menace—those are handy because one can twist them to include anyone who annoys you. But I have never held by that—I have always seen individuals as more or less good, and without any great deal of time being spent on the judgement.

People talk about the importance of first impressions—and then mention a hat or a pair of shoes—which I think misses the point. When I first meet someone, we look each other in the eye, we exchange names—speak to each other, probably even shake hands. While we do this, we take in the totality of each other—height, build, posture, clothing, body language, voice, vocabulary, and on ad infinitum. I believe you can meet someone, then spend a few years with them, and not know much more about their character after those few years than you did at that first meeting.

Thus I snap to quick judgements about people’s characters—not that they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people, necessarily—I don’t mean to sound crazy. I’m talking about the things that stand out on a person—the things that can’t be faked or hidden by any average person. Studious people present as studious—irritable crab-apples present as irritable crab-apples—naïfs cannot be mistaken for sophisticates, nor dull folk for wits. The vast majority of people are not even a little mysterious.

It’s a two-way street, too—other people have sized me up in the blink of an eye, all my life—and why not? I talk and act exactly like I am—my only problem is most people disapprove of what they see in me—a bookworm, who’s quick to criticize others and slow to examine himself. Hey, no one’s perfect—and my book-larnin’ does come in handy, every now and then. The truth is, I dislike being disliked for being an egghead—it’s just sour grapes—it’s not like I was born to love reading and learning just to show up other people.

But enough about me. We were discussing naming, as an enemy, a public figure or a group or a sub-culture. And I was trying to say that I think such primitive reactionism is beneath us—we should be able to see people as the individuals each one of us clearly are.

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There are not more good people than bad in the world, there are not more smart people than ignorant people—there just aren’t. We have always gotten by with having enough good, smart people to talk the rest of us into doing the right thing—and, up until now, our President was hoped to be one of those people.

And our dark-side president is not a fatal blow—just a fever symptom caused by a lot of dark-side, doggedly ignorant supporters voting for him, and a dark-side, win-‘though-the-country-fails Congress that still supports this human insult of a president. Evil has been shouting at the top of its lungs since the 80’s in this country—while good people have quietly tried to maintain peace and stability.

Well, peace and stability are long gone—it’s time for good people to do a little shouting. If your dander isn’t already up yet, get’er revved—the most important lesson of Hitler was that there’s a time for people of good will to get angry, and to act—and the sooner it comes, the less blood will spill. Waiting until it’s a World-War-sized problem is just bad business.

I have a dream—a dream that one day, Trump will hold a rally—and thousands and thousands of people will come—but not one of them will go inside the venue, they’ll just be picketing outside. I just love the image of that blowhard trying to bullshit an empty stadium.

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Fate Steps In (2017Aug19)


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Seneca lunching across from Danny Glover

Saturday, August 19, 2017                                                3:07 PM

Fate Steps In   (2017Aug19)

The media has a bad habit of equalizing two ‘sides’ of an issue, even when it is pretty clearly a matter of right vs. wrong being the two ‘sides’. But fate continues in its old, natural way—as time passes, those on the left tend to rise in our esteem, and increase in dignity—those who most vocally support the far right tend to fall to scandal, or even criminal charges and prison sentences. This is such a common occurrence on the right that there have been cases of Republicans running for office while standing trial, or even serving time.

Thus the media can equalize all it wants, and muddy the waters of public perception, if they must mock true journalism in this way. But fate will ultimately deal with either side as it has always done. Evil never rests—but that is the beauty of it: evil disrupts everyone, including the unethical. As they fight to enrich themselves through the sacrifice of others, the same amorality bedevils their efforts—just as it does our own. Ain’t that a pip?

The champions of love and inclusion and acceptance—these people naturally attract supporters, and are keeping their eyes on a prize other than their bank accounts . The hate-group members live in such a way as to narrow their community and repel sensible people. And we humans are such silly people that it is a lucky thing that the universe works in this way. Look how we totter on the edge of disaster—even with everything in our favor (except the present government, perhaps).

8 years of suffering under Barack Obama


An excellent look back at what all the Tea Party whining was really about:

Teri Carter's Library

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3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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The Art of the Lie (2017Aug19)


SimonLegree

Saturday, August 19, 2017                                                2:17 AM

The Art of the Lie   (2017Aug19)

You have to give the alt-right credit for being creative liars—even unto what the science-fiction writers refer to as ‘world building’, where they create a planet that is like Earth, but with some major differences.

In the same way, the alt-right is heavily invested in trying to get us all to perceive reality through their own special filter (which removes pesky ideas such as inclusion, human rights, the dignity of the individual, etc.) and simplifies everything down to ‘us vs. them’ and ‘the one with the most money makes the rules’.

Take Steve Bannon—on leaving the Administration he boasted that they had achieved the Trump presidency they wanted, and that from now on, it would be a ‘different presidency’. Would that it were true. The truth, however, is that the presidency is the mess is started out as—and nothing changed except that Bannon lost his job.

But nothing beats Trump for lying. He invented the term ‘alt-left’ during his Tuesday nazi-rally/press-conference, in a stunning attempt to both equalize the Nazi marchers and the counter-protestors—and to pigeonhole any of the vast majority of good Americans who dare to speak against white supremacy, with a dismissive nickname. The truth is, there is no ‘alt-left’—it was an inspired piece of lying by the president—but the 90% of Americans who understand the character of our nation do not call themselves by that label—nor does anyone else.

Thus the question arises—which is crazier: to suffer from delusions or to make a career out of attempting to delude the public? And we can add to that another question: With Trump’s brain so busy churning out moment-by-moment revisions of reality, isn’t it likely that he may himself be sadly unclear about what is real and what is the lie?

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Xper Dunn plays Piano (2017Aug18)


XperDunn's Poetry Graphics

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Xper Dunn plays Piano

I tried to make it fine

And liquid and heartfelt—entrancing.

I tried to make art out of nothing—

Easy to do, if I just knew how.

But it gets harder with age

Like make-believe—or playing—

There is no easy way backward

When it’s all about mobbing forward.

I threw my fingers off the cliff

Hoping that they would fly,

That a genie behind my brain

Would take the wheel—

And I would try to spur him onward,

To drive what I couldn’t hold or see,

Afraid to disturb him, but afraid to

Leave him unattended.

The camera captured the output—

The monster I’d made with my own hands.

It’s trapped in there now,

Waiting for me to press ‘play’,

Waiting for me to unleash the judgment

Of digital precision, finding me guilty

Of hubris, of failing to be a magician.

Or not.

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