Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Am.

I could write a few paragraphs about where my focus has been directed lately but posting this video expresses it alot better than my words could. He's so much more animated than I imagined him to be from reading "I Am That".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Scary Menace

This is hard to add to but can we all just be honest for a second and admit that as Americans, maybe even more specifically, White Christian Americans, there is something in our cultural DNA that needs a Scary Menace? Without a "them" we start to get a little insecure about "us". Without a constant focus on all the bad shit "they" do we might accidentally encounter an opportunity to confront or acknowledge all the bad shit WE do. And we couldn't have that. Maybe the very fabric of civilization would unravel without the constant threat of the Scary Menace, some intrinsically evil group of sub-humans who are obsessed with destroying everything we consider good and holy. If that Scary Menace can be associated with an opposing religious group all the better, as any shred of rationality or reason is guaranteed to evaporate as soon as religion is brought into the discussion.

Maybe as individuals we need a Scary Menace to feel more comfortable with our place in the world and maybe that explains why whatever group fills the role of Scary Menace is interchangeable. Whether that be Japanese-Americans, Communists, Black Welfare Queens, Illegal Mexican Immigrants, or Muslims makes no difference. The point is that "we" have someone to hate, and most importantly, to fear.

Or maybe all of that is complete and utter bullshit. Maybe it's our corporate and/or military industrial overlords who ensure the perpetual existence of a Scary Menace. A scared population is an obedient population. Who can question our own physical security? If powerful people (and the media they control) are constantly ensuring us that our safety is at risk, it must be so. Right?

Nothing works more effeciently to destroy reason and logic than emotion, and no emotion is more powerful than fear. Nothing divides human beings and blinds them from recognizing their common interests more than fear. And, I would argue, nothing scares those in power more than the prospect of solidarity among people who recognize their common interests. For those in power the status quo must be preserved at all costs and in the absence of a status quo that promotes the well-being of everyone in society, there is no better way to preserve the status quo than a Scary Menace!

At this point we can only imagine what life would be like without The Scary Menace. We can contemplate whether it's existence meets an intrinsic human need or whether it's just a cynical tool of manipulation created and promoted by the powerful. I would argue that it's primarily the latter. And as long as the agenda of the powerful is at odds with the overall good of society and/or that agenda conflicts with our basic human morality, the Scary Menace will be with us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Choice

Ben's Theorem No. 876:

We can either discipline ourselves or life will do it for us. The second approach is much more painful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Variations On A Dream

So the question is: how do we make it all work? The beauty, the bliss, the agony, the ecstasy, the love, the hate, the sublime, the grotesque; heaven and hell on Earth…there is no way around, over, or under it. Right? The only way is to go through it. Is it just passing scenery or does it shape, mold, and scar us along the way? Do we add it to our suitcase and carry it for the remainder of the journey and if so does the load eventually become unbearable? Does accumulated experience make one stronger, wiser, or just plain tired? In a cosmic sense, what does being more agile feel like?

Have we traveled this path before? Will we travel it again? If so, is it significantly different each time or just superficial variations on a theme? It feels familiar, no?

Are these kinds of questions best addressed over a glass of Chilean Merlot, a sixteen ounce can of beer, or a hot cup of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange tea? Or would the presence of a beverage just further complicate matters?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Forbes discusses the misinformed Tea Party Movement.

It's hard to explain this divergence between perception and reality

Um, no it's not really that hard. There's a very popular cable "news" channel and a nationwide cartel of talk radio that exists for the sole purpose of creating that divergence between perception and reality.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

American Values

From the nice folks at AlterNet

In 2009, the worst economic year for working people since the Great Depression, the top 25 hedge fund managers walked off with an average of $1 billion each. With the money those 25 people “earned,” we could have hired 658,000 entry level teachers. (They make about $38,000 a year, including benefits.) Those educators could have brought along over 13 million young people, assuming a class size of 20.

So if this miraculous economic model of ours is indeed allocating scarce resources in the most effective and efficient manner (as advertised), 25 individuals who gamble with rich people's money - with an implicit taxpayer backed insurance policy should things go wrong - are more valuable to society than over half a million school teachers. Riiiight.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Myth Of The Free Market

From Dean Baker:

The current rules were not given to us by a deity or by nature, they were written by the wealthy and powerful interest groups who benefit from them.

I’ve long said that there’s no such thing as a “free market”*. Well, that’s not completely true. The black market, the drug trade, the prostitution business – these are the only truly free markets. Somalia – which should be an anti-government zealot’s paradise – has a free market. There really aren’t many other examples.

A functional market can only exist within the framework of a government. Without the laws that allow contracts to be enforced, agencies to enforce those laws, a stable currency to make trade possible, a highway system for the transport of goods and an education system to provide a competent labor force, there can be no market as we understand it. And these are only a few examples. The ‘free market’ only exists because government and the citizenry allow it to.

As Dean Baker points out, when conservatives talk about free markets what they really mean is government involvement that protects the wealthy and the powerful. Unfortunately those protected elites have an incredibly slick and well funded propaganda machine that obscures this fact and manages to convince a large swath of the working population that what is good for the elites is good for them also.

*Well, at least as long as I’ve been saying these kinds of things anyway.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


iPad Madness!


Saturday, April 3, 2010


Something that seems clear, both from personal experience and observation of others, is that the act or feeling of want has an addictive quality. It feeds on itself. The more attention that is given to the emotion of want (it really is an emotion at it's core), the more powerful the emotion becomes. It takes on a life of it's own and in the extreme it can take over the life of the individual. And giving in to want - by acquiring the object of one's desire - leads not to satisfaction but to more want. The object of desire is an interchangeable thing, quickly replaced by something else almost immediately after it is acquired.

Some might argue that this is a good thing, that this insatiable drive is the engine of economic stability, maybe even the glue that holds human civilization together. Maybe the obsession with acquisition is a hidden hand ensuring that we all behave like good little boys and girls. Even if there is some truth to that there's also a carrot and stick aspect to it that (I would argue) detracts from one's quality of life. Some very wise minds have said that the 'secret' is not to want. That state of being is probably difficult for most of us to imagine but it is worth thinking about. And how free or happy can any of us really be if we are in a perpetual state of want?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hoarding Not Hiring

"Cash is piling up faster than companies can figure out what to do with it," said David Bianco, head of U.S. equity strategy at Bank of America.

In the throes of a Great Recession with massive unemployment and people losing their homes and livelyhoods in record numbers, how are America's corporations faring? They have more cash than they know what to do with! What an amazing little system we have here.