Saturday, April 22, 2006
Among their guilt inducing efforts to reduce piracy, the movie industry now includes these short infoganda pieces on DVDs that start by asking you the question, Would you steal a car? Now I do not condone or support stealing or piracy. But, let's not mention the fact that both the movie and the music industries should be among the last to try to guilt someone with admonitions regarding stealing from artists. I mean the music industry was built on stealing from artists. How many artists died dirt poor and broke while the industry itself got filthy rich off their music? And even today how many million album selling artist are there who eventually end up broke after everyone in the industry takes their cut from them? The movie industry is just as guilty. And though you see the Tom Cruises and other superstars who make $20 million a picture, that's not the history of the business.
And also not to mention the fact that I have bought the same damn album in almost half a dozen different formats from vinyl to 8-track tape to cassette tape to CD to mp3. And the movies have had Beta, VHS, laser disk and now DVD. Still, it is bad karma to steal. Even if you're stealing from huge faceless evil corporations. So I thought about the question. And I had to be honest with myself. And I thought, well, if the car could be downloaded over the Internet in the privacy of my own home without anyone knowing, or if it could be illegally copied onto cheap media on my home computer, I would be very tempted. But it would an environmentally friendly Flex Fuel car or a gas/electric Hybrid car. I mean I wouldn't want the karma of driving a gas guzzling SUV on top of stealing.
On George Carlin's album, Jammin' in New York, he does a routine called the Planet is Fine. It is classic Carlin and by that I mean it is the kind of unique perspective on a topic you can only expect from George. The entire text of it is copied without, no doubt, permission, by this blogger so I don't have to. It is hilarious. I will warn those of you who care ahead of time, it contains language. Hey, it's Carlin. Here's an excerpt:
Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?Last night I was watching Now on PBS and the show's commentator said that author Kurt Vonnegut expresses a similiar conviction that the planet will eventually slough off the human race like dead skin, or some kind of virus.
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles...hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages...And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet...the planet...the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!
We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet'll be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.
You wanna know how the planet's doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet's doing....[Ellipsis mine] Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.
Ok, now that I've brightened your day with all those prognostications of doom regarding the earth, I'd like to inject a little earth doom humor. I mean this would be like some kind of universal karmic joke if it weren't for the fact that it's proabably true. Last Tuesday on Nova there was a special on Global Dimming. If you are unaware of it, the gist of it is that we are screwing up "the planet" (you'll see why I put "the planet" in quotes in the next post) in two ways that are actually cancelling each other out. Global dimming from pollution limits the amount of light and therefore heat that reaches the earth and is cooling the planet. In effect it is cancelling out global warming. The good news about that is there isn't any. It means that global warming is very likely worse than we thought because we couldn't measure how bad it was because of global dimming. And correcting global dimming, by correcting pollution, will only intensify the effects of global warming from greenhouse gases. Again, have a nice Earth Day.
Happy Earth Day to ya!
Happy Earth Day to ya!
Happy Earth Daaaaayyyyy!
-Stevie Wonder Paraphrased
Actually, I'm finding out that there are two Earth Days. One on the Vernal Equinox and one on April 22nd. But isn't every day really Earth Day? *sigh*. If you're going to spend at least part of your Earth Day weekend watchin' the teevee, you might want to check out these two specials on CNN - The most trusted name in news, We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis. Or on Sunday, Melting Point: Tracking the Global Warming Threat. After you watch the first one you might want to ask yourself how a country like Brazil, not that there's anything wrong with Brazil, could anticipate and develop a solution to their energy crisis based on Ethanol from sugar cane? Forty percent of their nation's cars now run on it. They are very near complete energy independence. Three-fourths (75%) of their new cars are Flex Fuel cars that run on ethanol or gasoline or any mixture of the two. Flex Fuel cars that are now available from GM in the good old US of A. How could they have such foresight and we, the richest, most powerful, nation on the blah blah, yada yada, are going to be paying a finger and a toe to fill our SUVs?
And after you ask yourself that you might want to ask yourself why it took so long to develop an alternative when one of the very first cars ever made, the Ford Model T, was a Flex Fuel car? That was 1908. Before that the first biodiesel car was awarded the Grand Prix at the World's Fair in Paris. That was 1900. You might want to ask why in 2006 we are still using fossil fuels at all? And why the President in his State of the Union Address can say with a straight face that America is addicted to oil? An oil baron from an oil dynasty family. That's like Tony Montana telling someone they snort too much coke. It's enough to overload your sense of paranoidar.
So after that you might want to ask yourself, hey! what is up with all the dang questions about alternative fuel? I get it. Big oil is evil. Jeez. It's Earth Day. Chill.
Friday, April 21, 2006
This was forwarded to me by a friend. Another forward I could rant on forever, and probably will at some point. In any case an interesting piece about where your food comes from. Some surprizing information too, such as just how far your free-range chicken gets to range. Stuff everybody who eats should want to know. Here's an except and the whole piece is here.
On the long trip from the soil to our mouths, a trip of 1,500 miles on average, the food we eat often passes through places most of us will never see. Michael Pollan has spent much of the last five years visiting these places on our behalf. "Industrial food," as Pollan defines it, "is food for which you need an investigative journalist to tell you where it came from." We have been eating such food for so long that most of us have no memory of the much shorter and less complicated food chains that once tied people to the land. We need someone, in other words, to tell us where food of any kind comes from. A longtime writer on food for the New York Times Magazine and author of the bestseller "The Botany of Desire," Pollan is a good man for the job.
In his new book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals," Pollan traces meals across four different food chains, or, if you prefer, markets, arranged in order of popularity: a McDonald's drive-through meal, a Whole Foods dinner, a meal raised on a "beyond organic" pasture farm in Virginia, and what Pollan labels the "Perfect Meal," one whose ingredients he hunts and forages for himself. In the course of his investigations, Pollan comes across an unlikely collection of people -- from Iowa corn farmers, Kansas feedlot managers and food processing scientists, to rebel farmers, San Francisco Bay area gourmands and fanatic mushroom foragers -- yet manages to approach all of them with a common sympathy. As he sees it, the corn farmer dumping nitrogen on his fields, the veterinarian loading corn-fed cattle with medication, and the hog farmer snipping pigs' tails to prevent stress-induced chewing in close quarters are all driven by the same pressures. He lays the blame for our destructive and precarious system, if at all, on those in Washington and on Wall Street -- at the USDA and Archer Daniels Midland -- who set the rules of the game. But then they too, he knows, are responding to a set of pressures that come from all of us and our appetites.
Whenever I hear the words Bubonic Plague, it makes me think of the, "Bring out your dead!" scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I can't help it. Random surfing this morning, well, actually I followed a recommended link from blogger.com to the LA Fire Department blog and happened on this piece of news:
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County health officials have confirmed a case of bubonic plague in an adult woman. This is the first human case of plague in a Los Angeles County resident since 1984. The affected individual resides in the Country Club Park area of the city of Los Angeles. The woman, who came down with symptoms one week ago and remains hospitalized, may have been exposed to fleas in the area around her home. The investigation is continuing. "Bubonic plague is not usually transmissible from person to person," says Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H, Director of Public Health and Health Officer, Los Angeles County. "Fortunately, human plague infection is rare in urban environments, and this single case should not be a cause for alarm in the area where it occurred." "Plague is characterized by fever, muscle aches, nausea, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and swollen, tender lymph nodes associated with the arm or leg that has flea bites and is treatable with antibiotics," added Dr. Roshan Reporter of the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program. "The disease often causes illness serious enough to warrant hospitalization, but if treated is rarely fatal."Just one more thing to worry about along with Bird Flu, SARS, the ebola virus and the list will undoubtedly go on. Have a good day.
Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.I'm not sure when he said this, but I'm sure they didn't have Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS News back then. So I think one could safely substitute any source of news above in place of "newspaper" and the statement would still be true. It was hard to pick just one quote from Orwell, as it is often hard to pick one from most people worth quoting at all. I used two from Bob Marley and rather than make a habit of doing that I will use him another day. But it is especially hard to pick one from Orwell because of the times we live in, with the Bush Administration in the White House and the newspeak and deception they used to justifiy the Iraq war. There are dozens of quotes that apply, but this one relates best to another post I plan to write shortly. So, there it is.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Ok, I'm going to say something you might find repulsive. I'm going to congratulate the Bush administration on the immigration arrests of the past few days. I'm not congratulating them for all the arrests, just the arrests of the 9 IFCO employees. Please don't tell anyone I said something good about the administration. If you do, I'll deny it. It's not like I believe the administration's hype when they say that this raid is not in response to public pressure regarding immigration reform. Or that I believe this operation has been "in the planning stages for months," as Homeland Security officials claim. Those kinds of statements set off my paranoidar (paranioa + radar).
But I do believe it is time the government focused, not on the illegal immigrants themselves, who are the exploited in this scenario. And who are the people least economically and politically able as individuals to do much about it. Immigration enforcement is now at least somewhat focused on the corporate employers who are the exploiters. I don't expect this to become a trend or anything, but if it does you are going to see illegal immigration drop to almost zero in no time flat. Which won't necessarily be good for the people who want to immigrate. Unless, of course, it is accompanied by good jobs either in their own countries of origin, or by legal immigration and good jobs here.
I wrote a post about Tank Man, the Tiananmen Square massacre and China's abysmal human rights record last week. I think it is important to remember those things now as President Bush meets with President Hu Jintao today. A woman protester interrupted President Hu's speech to remind us of China's squelching of religious freedom. It would be a good time to check out the PBS Frontline report online if you haven't already. If we're really the country we say we are and if we are really in Iraq to assure the human rights of the people there, how can we in good conscience deal with China without insisting that they treat their people better? Not only our government should insist on this, but also companies such as Microsoft and Boeing who also met with President Hu. And that doesn't even get into how trade with China affects our markets, it is not an equitable deal we have right now. And how it affects the job market in this country with all of our manufacturing outsourced to third-world countries. What is the difference between the human rights abuses of a country like Cuba and those of the Chinese? The Chinese may well be worse. The hypocrisy sometimes is absolutely staggering.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slaveryThe 25th anniversary of reggae singer, activist and Rastafarian prophet, Bob Marley's death is May 11. There is an interesting post and comments at the Huffington Post about his legacy. The "fear of atomic engergy" lyric may have some relevance vis a vis the Iran nuke controversy. Maybe. I found this quote below when I had nearly finished this post. I had to add it, so it's a QOTD two-for.
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them can stop the time
-Bob Marley from Redemption Song
Babylon System is the VampireYes brother Bob, I and I got to rebel. Be irie, mon.
Sucking the children day by day
Me say the Babylon System is the Vampire
Sucking the blood of the sufferers
Building church and university
Deceiving the people continually
Me say them graduating thieves and murderers
Look out now
Sucking the blood of the sufferers
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth right now
Come on and tell the children the truth
'Cause we've been trodding on
The winepress much too long
Got to Rebel, Got to Rebel Now
-Bob Marley from Babylon System
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.Another second hand post from This Modern World reminded me of the passage above from 1984. The main character, Winston Smith's job at the Ministry of Truth was to rewrite documents to make the past version match the current "truth" the party expected the populace to believe. A truth that changed constantly. TWM links to this article from the NY Times Opinion Page about the CIA and Air Force conspiring to gather up and reclassify documents from the National Archives, some dating back as far as the 1950s.
-From Chapter 7 of 1984 by George Orwell.
And this one also from the NY Times where the FBI is attempting to examine and reclassify documents that may have been leaked years ago to columnist Jack Anderson who died in 2005.
And under the terms of two disturbing agreements - with the C.I.A. and the Air Force - the National Archives has been allowing officials to reclassify declassified documents, which means removing them from the public eye. So far 55,000 pages, some of them from the 1950's, have vanished. This not only violates the mission of the National Archives; it is also antithetical to the natural flow of information in an open society.
As time passes, the need for secrecy, which should always adhere to a very strict standard, usually diminishes. Apparently the C.I.A. wants to turn back the hands of time.
The new director of the National Archives, Allen Weinstein, rightly put a stop to this nonsense as soon as he heard about it. But he will need to do more than just abrogate these suspect agreements with the C.I.A. and the Air Force. He will need to figure out how they came about in the first place. The former director, John Carlin, has said he knows nothing about them. They appear to have been signed only by the assistant archivist.
What makes this all seem preposterous is that the agreements themselves prohibit the National Archives from revealing why the documents were removed.
More evidence of the Bush Administration's efforts to turn back the clock to a time of increased government secrecy and surveillance and the abuses of governmental power that resulted from them. I am going to get tired of hearing myself say how much they love the idea of freedom of information in Iraq, but don't much care for it here....
The F.B.I. is seeking to go through the files of the late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson to remove classified material he may have accumulated in four decades of muckraking Washington journalism.
Mr. Anderson's family has refused to allow a search of 188 boxes, the files of a well-known reporter who had long feuded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and had exposed plans by the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Fidel Castro, the machinations of the Iran-contra affair and the misdemeanors of generations of congressmen.
Mr. Anderson's son Kevin said that to allow government agents to rifle through the papers would betray his father's principles and intimidate other journalists, and that family members were willing to go to jail to protect the collection.
"It's my father's legacy," said Kevin N. Anderson, a Salt Lake City lawyer and one of the columnist's nine children. "The government has always and continues to this day to abuse the secrecy stamp. My father's view was that the public is the employer of these government employees and has the right to know what they're up to."
Press Secretary Scott McClellan resigned this morning. You know if there's anyone you could possibly muster any sympathy for in the Bush Administration, it would have to be the Press Secretary Scott McClellan. This guy has to stand out front more than anyone and try to explain all the mistakes this administration has made and try to put a good face on them. It really has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Especially for a president who rarely does his own news conferences, he's held the fewest of any president in the television age. Not to mention a VP who shoots someone in the face with a shotgut and waits nearly 24 hours to inform anyone of it. Scott handles the sharks in the White House Press corps while the President and VP take softballs from hand picked Republican audiences at staged appearances. As I've said before, Republicans love the idea of free speech in Iraq. But they're not so fond of it here in America. The only one available to shoot is the messager in this case. Could you blame Scott for, only figuratively of course, putting himself out of his misery?
What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.Amen sister. I recommend we start at the top. I heard Ms. Davis speak several years ago on the campus of Cal-State, Dominguez Hills. At that time she spoke about privatization of the prison system and how communities who have lost their economic base are vying for prisons to be located there to restore their economies. She called it the Punishment Industry, which has never had rehabilitation as its goal. At the same time, especially in California, tougher laws are providing the raw "material" to make those prisons economically feasible. These new laws put people behind bars for longer stretches of time for non-violent offenses they would not have served time for in the past. Crimes such as simple marijuana possession. And of course it is no surprise that the majority of those incarcerated are black and Hispanic. It is a system built on an economic model doomed to fail because the revenue to support it comes from state and federal taxes, not from something that generates real income. It is a literal warehousing of the poor for the crime of being poor.
Now Ms. Davis advocates for the complete abolition of the prison system. A system that does not, as I said above, rehabilitate, but serves as a training ground for criminals. If a person does not go into the system a hardened criminal, they will almost certainly come out as one. The prison system is, she informs us, a form of institutionalized racism. Hers is a radical position, but no more so than the advocating for the abolition of slavery was in the 1700s. Or for the abolition of Jim Crow in the early 1900s. She sets forth her well-reasoned argument, as well as the need for a humane and moral alternative to the prison system, in her book entitled, Are Prisons Obsolete?
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Ok I got this from This Modern World too. Sorry I don't want to make this all second-hand TMW, you might just skip this altogether and go straight there. All 10 or 15 of you. But this one is too good not to pass on. Warning: if you're sensitive about language, don't visit this site. If not, check out ITMFA.com.
At the risk of sounding like a newbie, I learned about Godwin's Law from Glenn Greenwald's post. It is:
Apparently blogs as well. A law I will keep in mind should I get any comments (hint) on any of my posts.
- As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.
It is considered poor form to raise arbitrarily such a comparison with the motive of ending the thread. There is a widely recognized codicil that any such deliberate invocation of Godwin's Law will be unsuccessful.
Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet discussions, the law can be applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, and so on.
Speaking of justifying violence in the form of war, I got this second hand via This Modern World from a post by on Unclaimed Territory by Glenn Greenwald. Tom Tomorrow's post is Time For A New War. Mr. Greenwald's is Fighting All The Hitlers. If you have the time the full Greenwald piece is worth reading as well as several of the comments (I didn't get through all of them, but there are some good ones in the first dozen or so.) Here's the except from Greenwald that Tom used:
As Bush followers gear up for another election year campaign to start a war, they are using exactly the same rhetorical tactics and are revealing precisely the same mindset to which we were subjected during the 2002 campaign for the Iraq War. What is starkly apparent from this repetition is that their awareness of history and knowledge of the world is sadly confined to one singular event, which is all they know and which, rather bizarrely, they have a need to live over and over and over again.
To pro-Bush war supporters, the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don't like is Adolph Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany.
From this it follows that every warmonger is the glorious reincarnation of the brave and resolute Winston Churchill. And one who opposes or even questions any proposed war becomes the lowly and cowardly appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. For any and every conflict that arises, the U.S. is in the identical position of France and England in 1937 - faced with an aggressive and militaristic Nazi Germany, will we shrink from our grand fighting duties in appeasement and fear, or will we stand tall and strong and wage glorious war?
With that cartoonish framework in place, war is always the best option. It is the only option for those who are noble, strong, and fearless. Conversely, the sole reason for opposing a war is that one is a weak-minded and weak-willed appeaser who harbors dangerous fantasies of negotiating with madmen. Diplomacy and containment are simply elevated, PC terms for "appeasement." War is the only option that works.
From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence - and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified.
I'm not sure when she said this, but it is certainly relevant today. The condemnation and justification are made almost in the same breath with absolutely no irony. It is startling how similar the rhetoric is on both sides of a conflict. Any conflict today or throughout history. With one side accusing the other of being evil, claiming that they themselves are righteous and have god on their side. And that the other side's violence justifies their violent response. In that way the violence perpetuates itself and it rarely ever settles any issue for good.
Monday, April 17, 2006
I saw a picture of the mother earth from space. I studied her face. I saw no borders. None between the United States and Mexico to make one person legal and another illegal. I saw no border between Christian, Muslim or Jew to justify terrorism or war. None between Protestant or Catholic. None between Buddhist or Hindu. No division between Sunni, Shiite, or Kurd. Between black or white or red or brown or yellow people. None between a rich man or a poor man to justify one being treated better than another. All I saw was a blue true sphere. A mother who nourishes her children. No matter how her children treat each other over differences you can't see from not so very far away. I saw. One world.
One night a man danced himself to death at Harvelle's. Laurie said she held his head in her arms as he died. The paramedics came and worked on him a long time. But he was gone. His wife came in after. She said she was glad he had gone that way. Dancing between two women. She said he must have been happy. He was dancing as hard as he could, Laurie told her. He was dancing so hard between those two women and then he fell. I came in after all of it. After the dancing with the two women. After the paramedics who worked on him so long. After Laurie held his head in her arms. After the wife. After he was gone. Laurie told it all to me when I asked her how it was going. She said it had been a rough night. I said to her, if you have to go, that's not a bad way. That's not a bad way at all. Dancing to death is dancing to life.
I ran across a pack of matches from Harvelle's and it made me think of this incident.
Oh and one other thing while I'm on the subject and this is for one of the two girls who just can't seem to get along on the show (don't make me quote Rodney King up in here). I have just one word for Pumpkin. Flats. That's right, flats. When you know you're coming on a show where a crazed black woman from New York is going to be on your ass like white on rice, you can't count on moving out of the way fast enough in heels. I know big Rick is there to protect you. And that's one big Negro. (Ok, I can say that because I myself am a pretty fairly sized Negro, though not as big as big Rick.) But that crazy bitch could slip right between big Rick's legs and your white ass would be grass girlfriend. Wear flats so you can run girl. I would have been up in there in some Blackspot sneakers myself. Yeah boyeee!
Cory Maye Update:
For those of you who are wondering what is going on with the Cory Maye case, from what I can determine, he is petitioning for a new trial and has been granted a 60 day continuance. There is a lot of information on Maye, his family, the town he's from and the case at The Agitator. Frankly there's quite a bit there and I haven't read through all of it. I skimmed through to get the info above. More after I've had time to read through it.
Here at A Revolution of One, it's not all about us. We give deserved recognition to those out there in the blogosphere fighting for the cause. Two Blogs worthy of Revolutionary mention.
Red State Son is superbly written. Deeply conscientious and courageous. He says the things many more should have the courage to say. Such as taking liberal bloggers to task over their silence regarding the masacre of innocent Iraqi citizens by the American military. I got pointed in his direction by a post by one of the contributors to This Modern World. Sadly its author is going on hiatus to finish a book he is writing. Blogging don't pay the bills for many. It's ashame it doesn't for him. http://redstateson.blogspot.com/
Brethren and sistren, Burning Spear is the righteous blog of an old Rastaman who entreats, "Yes come let us yada out of Babylon system" and asks us, "Where is the love gone?" Where indeed my Rasta brother. I found his blog by following the Blogs of Note link at Blogger.com. Big ups to him and may he keep the spear burning. Jah Rastafari. http://burningspearmessage.blogspot.com/
I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
-Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.This one is for the President, neocon bloggers, and anyone else who says that wanting to end the war now "gives aid and comfort to our enemies." How much aid and comfort does an ill-concieved, ill-advised and badly executed war give to the enemy? The war hawks love the idea of democracy and free speech in Iraq. They're just not so fond of it when it's exercised in America.
-Edward R. Murrow.