BartBlog

April 17, 2015

Shut up and Obey!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

crop of hate man

Regimentation, conformity, and obedience have become not just commendable traits, but in the era of the Republican Reich can be considered as virtues for every citizen to cultivate. Hence the voices of anyone who dares to disagree is labeled as emanating from “a conspiracy theory lunatic” and considered anathema. A nation born out of rebellion has morphed into a stogy old country where innovation and creativity are considered worthy of (metaphorical alert) an abortion procedure.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists have selected April 18 as “National Columnists’ Day,” because it was on that day, in the year 1945, when Ernie Pyle died in combat during WWII. Since America’s much vaunted “Free Press” isn’t reporting that the situation in the Middle East is alarmingly grim and the pundits are not heralding the fact that for the first time in American political History, there is Presidential Candidate who can (opinions are covered by the First Amendment) be described as “frumpy,” this year’s column noting the arrival of National Columnists’ Day will not be on a columnist per se, but will celebrate the nearly extinct species of “unique voice in America.”

Sometimes, even a fascist dictatorship can be tolerant of voices of dissent.

Ernst Junger won an Iron Cross from Germany during WWI and wrote a very jingoistic book about combat (Storm of Steel) and became a popular author in his home country. As WWII approached he produced a new novel that some alarmists thought was critical of the Third Reich. The would-be advocates of extreme censorship brought it to the attention of the Chancellor for life. Hitler reportedly shrugged it off and said to let the writer alone because he was, after all, the Iron Cross winner. Junger, whose biography was (the last time we checked) available in only a German language version, became the only German to win an Iron Cross in both World Wars and was named the cultural ambassador to Occupied Paris.

In America, it seems, Conservatives have become über-enthusiastic about censoring all political opinion that is not enthusiastically very patriotic and since they control the media, the Congress, and have a majority in the United States Supreme Court, mouthing-off in a critical mode is not very healthy for any aspiring political pundits.

It wasn’t always like that, boys and girls. When the non-Christian heathen Warren era Supreme Court opened the flood gate for pornographers (in the early Seventies) Al Goldstein started a newspaper with reviews and news about the burgeoning Industry and became a star in the Pop Culture area of the American media.

Lenny Bruce said naughty words (that everyone used in private conversations) on stage in his comedy routines, became very famous, and died.

Recently we heard (or at least thought we heard) a woman CBS radio news reporter described a harsh boss with the colorful descriptive term “prick.”

What could Lenny Bruce, if he were still alive and grossing and grumbling in the media today that could possibly get him into hot water? How about: “Those f*****g electronic voting machines that have no means for verifying the results are rendering elections to the category of irrelevant!”? He’d be labeled a conspiracy theory lunatic and banished from the spotlight just like he was in the Sixties.

The conservative owners of media would banish him from any and all publicity and ignore his attempts to point out that in an era when no computer seems to be invulnerable to hacking, it is silly (insane perhaps?) to think that a security system that features a des key that is readily available on the Internets can do what the state of the art programs can not.

In Berkeley, a homeless fellow (according to a local legend) used to use the free speech explanation to deliver rants on Sproul Plaza which sanctioned hatred. He became a local legend that merits the term “Berkeley’s beloved hateman.” Go figure.

Hypothetically speaking, there maybe a voice out there on the Internets that is an extreme example of free speech in action, but without a publicity agent to make him (or her) a media fad, the position of “America’s best known voice of dissention” must remain vacant.

There are (as of today) 570 days left until the USA votes for the 45th President. It seems to be a strong likelihood that the contest will be a dual between two candidates who want to revitalize the concept of American Dynasty.

Yes, the Jon Stewart Show will feature some witty one-liners about JEB and Hillary and Saturday Night Live will do some acerbic skits at their expense, but will it be anything more relevant that seeing Richard M. Nixon go on “Laugh In” and asking: “Sock it to me?”?

Ernie Pyle and his associates produced a string of anecdotes about the ordinary G. I.’s that portrayed an image of Boy Scouts with guns hunting down mad dogs from other countries. They didn’t cover such interesting anomalies as the medal winning soldier in France who went AWOL and shacked up with a French chick.

Apparently the only thing the MP’s did was to round-up inebriated combatants on leave and put them in the slammer for a night so that they could sleep it off.

It’s not like the stifling of voices of dissent doesn’t serve a useful purpose. In the book “the Late, Great State of California,” the author examines how a California governor successfully used the issue of student dissent as a stepping stone for his bid to become the President. Apparently the sentiment that colleges spread communism has always been popular with patriotic voters.

In the hectic high pressure world of deadline journalism at its nerve wracking best, why bother to present both side when any imbecile can tell you that only one is correct?

Ironically, the need for a voice of dissent may never have been greater. The situation in the Middle East is shrouded in secrecy. Insightful commentary on the cauldron is MIA in the American media. An opposing point of view might qualify to be classified as treason so anyone foolish enough to mouth off might want to think twice before actually expressing a controversial point of view.

The prospect of dueling dynasties is too pathetic to merit serious commentary.

If, however, the United States Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative, compassionate, Christian Republicans declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it might be a very good thing if there are no voices of dissent which could be misconstrued as urging rebellion or fomenting and or inciting a riot in response to an unpopular decision.

If the Supreme Court declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it will be a case of “Game over” for the liberal advocates of that cause. At that point the liberals should be expected to display the good sportsmanship mode of conduct and be ready to shake hands with the opposing team and saying: “Good game!”

Sidebar story: Pauline Kael’s home in Berkeley is (reportedly) up for sale and some locals want it preserved as a historic site.

What makes a better news story: the NBA playoffs or a civil war between rival religions in a country you can’t find on a world map?

Mark Twain (reportedly) said: “God invented War so that Americans could learn Geography.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones’ “contractual obligation” album, Jimmy Buffet’s song “Let’s get drunk and screw,” and Pussy Riot’s Osvobodi Bruschatku (Release the Cobblestones [it’s on youtube]). We have to go see if we can find copy of the Berkeley Barb for this week. (Did they ever make a student protester doll?) Have an “abomination against nature” type week.

April 13, 2015

Zombie grandmas: How to make the most of getting old

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 3:04 pm

About three years ago, I made the big mistake of looking too closely into my bathroom mirror. Yuck! All I could see was wrinkles and gray hair. But wait — I was never supposed to have actually gotten this old. This was never supposed to have happened! But it did — at least to my body if not my mind.

“So,” I said to myself, “what the freak can I do with OLD?” I know! I’ll become an actor! And so I did.

Fortunately, there are several film schools in my city where student directors are always looking for talent to use in their films — especially talent that will work for free just to have an excuse to get out of the house. And so suddenly I found myself in big demand. I mean really. How many little old ladies do you know who are willing to throw themselves into an acting career? Not all that many. So I seemed to have pretty much cornered the market — because there’s really not all that much competition.

At auditions even for non-paying student-film roles, believe it or not, there are usually scores of child actors, ingenues and even beautiful leading ladies, all dying to try out for a part. But there just aren’t that many little old ladies out there to compete with, thank you very much.

And so now I have found one very successful way of taking advantage of the age factor that is currently barreling down on all of us like a steam-roller with no way to avoid. And there are also bound to be other ways to make the most of our “senior” years too (such as finally realizing that “war” is a racket, an obscenity and a con-game, something that most people apparently have not reached the age of having finally acquired enough wisdom to realize at all — and then working our suddenly-senior hearts out to stop all “war” from ever happening again).

In the past three years, I have been in over one hundred student films, playing all kinds of grandma roles — sweet loving grandmas, for instance. And society grandmas, dying cancer patient grandmas, cowgirl grandmas, evil grandmas, war-correspondent grandmas, psychotic grandmas, ghostly grandmas, college-professor grandmas and corpse grandmas, as well as grandmas who are doctors, lawyers and judges.

But my favorite grandma role of all time is playing a grandma zombie!

PS: Let’s face it. Getting old sucks eggs. Nothing fun at all about having creaky joints, being mostly ignored for not being sexy enough, having trouble sleeping, facing possible dementia, living on cat food, facing multiple surgeries, having one’s teeth fall out, etc. So we gotta always be constantly looking for ways to make growing older more fun on some level or another.

Turning into a grumpy frump, believing the lies and hatred being constantly broadcast on Fox News, and/or just plain giving up on life are definitely three ways not to have fun!

PPS: “Some will rob you with a shotgun, some with a fountain pen.” Elders these days are being targeted as victims by bad guys in several different ways. Street thugs may mug elders for their pocket money — but probate thugs can mug our elders for their life savings as well. http://marygsykes.com/2015/03/27/in-chicago-what-does-a-nursing-home-do-when-its-understaffed-break-out-the-chemical-restraints/

In Chicago, for instance, probate sharks seek out rich widows, get them declared incompetent, throw them into stark “assisted care” institutions where they are medicated into submission, clean out their safe deposit boxes and then throw them out into the streets to die when there is no money left. “Target, isolate, medicate, drain and eliminate” is their mantra. http://marygsykes.com/about/

Or else your sleazy relatives rob your rightful heirs of their rightful share of your estate after you’re gone: http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2015/04/probating-family-feud-authors-note-this.html

But nobody messes with zombie grandmas!

IMG_1374 - Copy

April 10, 2015

More of the same in Berkeley

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Bob Patterson @ 12:32 pm

good crop of NK clipped neg

During the Great Depression there were so many writers and photographers chronicling the trials and tribulations of the poor and oppressed workers that a book could be written about their vast and varied efforts. “Documentary Expression and Thirties America,” by William Stott did, in fact, attempt to provide a definitive guide book for the literary avalanche inspired by the bad times. It seems that the Great Recession has failed to spark the imagination of modern journalists enough to inspire a modern equivalent effort.

Some cynics might say that the conservative capitalists who run the various media involved in communicating information and ideas don’t want to bankroll any such work because they believe that if the Great Recession isn’t recorded on tape, filmed, and/or written about, maybe the public won’t notice that not everybody is singing “Happy Days are Here Again.”

There was an anecdote we encountered in the past that described the time a very wealthy woman was told about hunger in America. She responded with the question “Why don’t they just ring the bell?” Since she could ring a bell and have the servants bring sustenance at any time of the day or night when hunger pangs annoyed her enjoyment of life, she just couldn’t conceive of anyone else not having the same remedy available. Apparently the concept that the servants couldn’t do that and the poor couldn’t either (not even Jean Valjean? [Wasn’t a great and joyous musical written about that thief?]) was just too vexing a task to attempt.

Berkeley spawned the Free Speech Movement in the Sixties and in the late Sixties became a major source of news stories about opposition to the American military aid to

South Vietnam. These days it seems as if Berkeley is fast becoming ground zero for the homeless issue.

The local, regional, and area news media may soon have to send a desperate call to the media in NYC to send backup. (Just as they did in the Sixties.)

A citizen journalist (moi?) may pick up some amusing tidbits of information in the interim but most people understand that a blogger can not be in two places at one time.

The World’s Laziest Journalist can not go gallivanting off to the latest city council meeting, the meetings of the Berkeley Police Review Commission, various protests, and be sitting in a well lighted room banging out a report on the laptop at the same time.

A disjointed and convoluted report on the plight of the panhandlers in Berkeley, even from a columnist who attempts to exemplify and perpetuate the three dot journalism style, might, written under similar hectic circumstances, be a bit more fragmented than usual for the regular readers.

We did learn that the traditional “Spare change” challenge in Berkeley has lately been countered by a claim that the citizen has no cash and has only plastic but, in a preemptive strategy move, Ninja Kitty is spearheading an effort to make it possible for the panhandlers to take donations via various major credit cards. How long will it be until some company can claim: “There’s an app for that!”?

Our columns have made frequent suggestions that the audience should make an effort to read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel.” You could read the book or get the general idea by listening to the song “We’re not gonna take it any more.”

We strongly recommend that assignment editors in NYC make an effort to obtain and read the aforementioned “Documentary Expression and Thirties America.”

Is it a “scoop” if an audacious assignment editor doles out a directive to cover a story that the owners of the competing mainstream media consider too verboten and too anathema to let their wage slaves expend precious time scribbling out “soap opera” news articles? Aren’t such attempts to evoke sympathy in the audience called “sob sister” stories?

Doesn’t the word scoop apply only to a story that the other guys have missed and not be applicable if they are just ignoring it?

Some new tactics in protesting seem to be developing in Berkeley. When was the last time you saw some news coverage about a quiet, peaceful demonstration at 3 a.m. on a workday? If protesters want news coverage and if nothing else is happening at that hour, will such an unorthodox protest strategy get massive response from the various assignment desks and would that not spawn a reason/inspiration for the innovation to “go viral”?

This just in: An overnight vigil promoting an “inter faith solidarity with the homeless people” was being staged on the night of April 9/10. It drew the attention of a KPIX Channel 5 news crew (just a cameraman) and the effect of the effort was not known as this week’s column was in the “on deadline” mode of being prepared for posting. Perhaps it will be summarized in a future installment of our weekly reports.

The assertion that at any hour of any day, in Berkeley, a protest against something is being conducted may be an example bit of hyperbole but soon that may become just a chance to add the old “and that’s a fact” declaration to the trend spotting updates that may soon be filed.

Will the homeless issue debate provide the local political activist known as Ninja Kitty with a foundation for building an image as the new Mario Savio?

Due to the heavy workload at the World’s Laziest Journalist New Organization headquarters we will have to postpone reading and reviewing “A Renegade History of the United States,” by Thaddeus Russell and get back to it later in the year.

In an effort to keep up with technological advances, the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to go to the Berkeley Community Media studios and get the training (an introductory course is starting next week) needed to expand the activities of the WLJ news operations to include a cable access TV show.

Ignoring the renewed uproar over medical care for America’s military veterans while concentrating on Berkeley’s treatment of vagabonds may seem to be an example of poor judgment of news value, but if the mission statement for the World’s Laziest Journalist New Organization should be compared to the job Indian scouts did for the U. S. Cavalry back in the day, it may then make sense to do brief trend spotting items rather than ones that resemble the concept of a trench warfare soldier in WWI. (Was the expression “doughboy” meant to convey the concept of the unquestioning conformity subtly provided by the image a cookie cutter in action?)

Should we try to start an online topic that goes viral by suggesting that the potential of televising the (possible) execution of whatzizface in Boston as a way of discouraging youngsters in the future from avoiding responsibility for their choices in life? Where are Getty and Armstrong when we really need them?

Is a backlash against political correctness brewing in the land of Free Speech? That does seem to be happening in the Frisco area.   Will some “shock jock” grab headlines by spouting some terms that are “politically insensitive and incorrect”?

In an era when a faulty tail light can get (some) drivers killed, it may be time to use this closing quote by Hermann Goering (from page 825 of Bartlett’s): “Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes, I will protect you.”

Now the disk jockey will play Bob Segar’s “Still the Same,” “Brother, can you spare a dime,” and the new song, by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, “It all goes to Pot.” We have to fact check the fact that some folks in Berkeley who protested the execution of Caryl Chessman, will be back in action to urge that Joker Sir Nieff’s life be spared. Have a “the governor just issued a stay of execution order” type week.

 

April 7, 2015

Survivors, serial killers & our pre-September-11 brains

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 8:37 pm

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading books lately — and learning a lot from them too.

First I read a book by David J. Morris entitled “The Evil Hours: A Bibliography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” — and my main takeaway from it was this: People are more susceptible to PTSD if the way that they were traumatized involved an act of injustice.

Knowing this, it came as no surprise to me the other day when I was wandering around the buildings and grounds of that massive VA hospital complex in San Francisco and got yelled at by a young Iraq vet who obviously had PTSD. “Injustice!” he screamed. “The Iraq war was unjust? The whole freaking world is unjust!” And that’s the way this vet saw the world, post 9-11.

However, this guy looked hauntingly like he might have been a young post-Vietnam-era vet, just stepped out of a time machine from the 1960s. And there was certainly lots of injustice back in Vietnam too — wherein only the poor jerks in the Mai Lai massacre got caught while all the higher-ups such as Henry Kissinger and various weapons manufacturers just made money on that Tonkin Gulf scam.

Next I read Nicholas Carr’s book, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” all about how human beings think and how our brains’ working structures are constantly being influenced by stuff in our environment. Even learning to read has changed our brains. Even clocks did that too. And from this information, I concluded that hate changes our brains too. Jesus was right. Hate is a slippery slope.

After that, I read Steven Gore’s new murder-mystery, “Night is the Hunter”. Steven Gore’s books always keep us on the edge of our seats — and also teach us stuff about power and its ability to corrupt those who hold it as well. http://www.amazon.com/Night-Is-Hunter-Harlan-Donnally/dp/0062025090

Then I read a book by murder-mystery author Chelsea Cain, who I had heard speak in her home town of Portland last week. “Even as a child I was always on the look-out for dead bodies.” Boy, she should go off to Yemen right now — where the U.S. and the Saudis are bombing women and children there like there was no tomorrow and charred corpses of babies are just lying around like driftwood on a beach. http://chelseacain.com/

Cain mostly writes about serial killers. And apparently, according to Carr’s POV, serial killers’ brains can get stuck in a groove where, “If you are a hammer, all the world looks like a nail.”

“I’m also always looking for good places to dump bodies,” said Cain. And apparently the American war machine is too! She should try checking out Afghanistan or Libya or Gaza. Lots of places for mass graves there for sure.

Then I decided to take a break from books and watch some old seasons of “Survivor” on Roku. And while watching a season that had been taped in June of 2001, I noticed that all the contestants were really friendly and sweet to each other. Is that really what life was like before 9-11? Season 23 of Survivor is far more merciless and cut-throat. Or is it just that they cast more villains in the power roles?

Have Americans become so much more immune to violence these days? Have our brains simply stopped caring that over a million people in the Middle East have died directly or indirectly by our hands since 9-11? Or that for every American killed in the 9-11 tragedy, approximately 40 innocent women and children have had their bodies burned, their heads blown off or their intestines spread out all over the sidewalk by American weapons, bullets, bombs and brains? http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/03/24/us-government-us-military-became-murder-inc-paul-craig-roberts/

The internet may have changed the way that our brains now physically function, but our so-called leaders’ post-9-11 thinking has certainly changed our hearts into cold inhuman stone.

In any case, please remember just this one thing during the 2015 Easter season: Our American brains clearly have changed since September 11, 2001 — and even though Christ has risen, Americans have sunk.

DSCN0330

April 3, 2015

Going to the Gates of Hell and back

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm

crop of gates phot

Traveling to the Gates of Hell (a work by Rodin, which is on display in the sculpture garden at the Stanford University campus), taking a selfie, and then returning to Berkeley only to find that a homeless protest will have to be covered for use in the Easter 2015 weekend round-up, which, in conjunction with a missed installment of our weekly writing chore, caused us to do some reevaluations of the weekly effort to grind out a column. Once a columnist has traveled to the Gates of Hell, what can he possibly do next week as an encore?

A video of a homeless person being beat-up was going viral last week and caused some local TV stations to send a news crews to Berkeley to investigate and report. The video caused the local homeless citizens to protest and respond: “There you go again!”

Mike Zint, the political activist has made the assertion that the use of Downtown Ambassadors to do clean up and perform some aspects of crowd control is actually a preliminary move in an attempt to privatize police work. A great deal of fact checking could produce a piece that alerts the public to a complicated topic and an alarming possibility regarding the “privatize it” trend.

The Republicans are loudly pro police and adamantly anti- union; so how do they stand on the question of police unions? Would they surreptitiously support an attempt to slowly start to replace union member police officers with lesser paid non-union workers?

Is that what’s happening now in Berkeley?

If the poor will still be a vexation to society long after this columnist goes to the great newsroom in the sky, why bother to write yet one more column on the eternal problem?

After building up a small core audience of regular readers, the best that the World’s Laziest Journalist can hope to do with these columns is to have certain items come to the attention of a mainstream media editor or freelance journalist who can bring greater awareness of the problem to his audience and then hope the topic “goes viral.” Why bother at all? Isn’t that question a fabulous chance to quote what the scorpion said to the frog: “It’s in my nature.”?

To hold on to a loyal core audience, a writer has to try to develop a unique voice which asks some obvious questions that have never before been asked. Such as? If a vampire’s image does not appear in a mirror and does not register on film, does that mean that vampires are immune and exempt from the selfie fad? Are their images absent when they take a selfie?

Some time ago, we learned in a course at Santa Monica College, that it takes about a month of work to produce a well written magazine article. That, as they say, is above the World’s Laziest Journalist’s pay grade. We knock out a three dot journalism style column each week and if our words inspire someone else to take up one of the items and do a great deal of extra work to turn it into a magazine article, we wish them God’s speed.

The military situation for the United States forces in the Middle East has become so convoluted and weird that it defies rational and perceptive analysis, so we are gradually abandoning that topic.

The Election desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization has projected a winner (JEB Bush) in the 2016 Presidential Election, and so any subsequent analysis of the event is irrelevant.

Speaking of speed, we have not had any feedback on our attempt to solicit help from a wealthy car owner to do a column describing what makes driving a Ferrari a much better experience than tooling around Santa Monica in a 1968 Chevy van.

Did you know that the Rent a Wreck firm was spawned by Bundy Rent a Wreck in the Santa Monica/West L. A. area? Rumor was (as reported in People magazine) that folks like Paul Newman would drive in one of their “beater” vehicles as a way to avoid being recognized as a world famous movie star.

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist spent some (futile) time fact checking the existence of some super low cost airfares from Oakland to Europe. If we encounter some other travel bargain, a week without a column may mean that we are busy crossing a trip to New Zealand off the bucket list and not an indication that we pleased our harshest critics and croaked.

Maybe we will get the chance to write a column with a hed that reads: “From the Gates of Hell to Christ’s Church” or “From Fremantle to Freemont.”

If some young, energetic, and enthusiastic freelancer want to write about the assertion that “they” are trying to privatize police work, you can go to the “First they came for the homeless” page on Facebook to track down the aforementioned Mike Zint to get some good quotes and thus get the project started.

While we were on our Gates of Hell excursion, we chatted with people who were attending a symposium at Stanford on the subject of Artificial Intelligence. We learned that a person who pretends to be much wiser and more leaned than they actually are (moi, pseudo-intellectual?) are not examples of Artificial Intelligence, but are actually classified as examples of synthetic intelligence. (“I didn’t know that!”)

Are all the police shootings of blacks just a long series of coincidences or is the first American President of African American heritage, participating in a nationally coordinated program? Again, providing perceptive and insightful comments on either scenario is above the World’s Laziest Journalist’s pay grade.

Berkeley CA is in a congressional district that may well be classified as America’s most Liberal Congressional District. Why, then, are the homeless in Berkeley consistently complaining of mistreatment and why is the city trending towards claiming the title of having the most anti-homeless laws of any city in the state (or country?)?

The topics of war and poverty will be the subject of analysis and commentary for many years to come and so to provide an assortment of topics in our weekly effort to inform, amuse, and delight (?) our faithful readers, we may, given the proper circumstances, impulsively take a week or two hiatus to avail our self of a travel bargain as a means of doing some fact checking for non-political punditry columns. (Where did we put our copy of “Europe on $5 a Day”?)

Over the course of recent years, we have failed to get any publicity for our efforts from any nationally known fellow travelers, but the advantage of that situation is that we have carved a niche that permits us to develop a unique style that permits us to range from “verboten” topics, such as predicting that a Conservative Republican majority United States Supreme Court will certainly declare “an abomination against nature” to be unconstitutional to other esoteric and arcane bits of information such as “you can’t manufacture mayonnaise during a thunder storm,” with an air of impunity that is not available to wage slaves in the mainstream media.

Is the uproar over the new Indiana law actually a stealth way to measure the vitriol level potential if Gay Marriage is determined to be unconstitutional? Do the people who believe that peyote is a sacrament get any legal acknowledgement of their religious rights and beliefs?

Speaking of the movie “Double Indemnity,” did any of your usual sources address the topic of increased liability if an airplane crash is a suicide with numerous counts of murder attached rather than just an accident? Don’t cha just love a news source that proclaims: “Lies, exaggeration, or propaganda? We deliver and then let you sort it all out.”?

Again, we wish to thank our regular readers for their continued support and hits.

Maintaining an image of uncontrollable columnist errant is one thing, but the reality is that isn’t how it is. Our closing quote for this week is a Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) line: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Now the disk jockey will play Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Lenny Bruce’s “song” “Non Skeddo Flies Again” (It’s on youtube.) and the Rolling Stones song “Flight 505.” We have to go find the gin-mill that epitomizes the expression “old school bar.” Have a “don’t even think of watering the lawn” type week.

tight crop gates plaque

 

Gun Guns Guns: More news from Portland’s murder-mystery convention

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:58 am

I just read an article stating that despite what we constantly see advertized on TV, the three major hot-selling commodities in the world right now aren’t sexy new cars, cool new clothes at the mall or even hot new apps for your iPhone. They are guns, steel and oil.

China has almost a monopoly on steel production, the U.S. and Saudis are currently fighting over who can undercut the price of oil the most, and America has been getting all piss-y lately because its monopoly on gun production is being challenged by Russia. http://journal-neo.org/2015/03/25/the-global-crisis-of-exports-oil-steel-and-guns/

Guns or butter? Looks like guns are surely winning out. But just tell that to your kid the next time she asks for a piece of toast. “Let them eat RPGs!” you can shout. Nothing but dry toast for you, Missy.

Which nicely brings us to the subject of social justice and a panel discussion of it that I recently attended at a murder-mystery readers and writers convention in Portland, Oregon http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/. But right before the panel started, a bunch of us went off on a tour of southeast Portland, which is famous for its food carts, strip clubs, craft breweries and vodka distilleries. Who knew that the New Deal distillery produced vodka made from wheat, not potatoes? http://www.newdealdistillery.com/our-products/ “Vodka is the name of a process, not an ingredient.”

Then we finished the tour with lunch at Lardo, a BBQ joint, and got back to the convention just in time to attend the panel on the role of crime novels as instruments of social justice.

Author J. David Osbourne was raised in a trailer park in Oklahoma. “And as a result of my upbringing, I always try to humanize the lives and motives of societal scum. I don’t write about the lives of the rich and powerful because, like most other Americans, I don’t even know how that works.” So he writes about the hard-scrabble anti-heroes that he does know about — and their victimization by the larger criminals behind that victimization.

Then author Mette Ivie Harrison gave me a free copy of her audio-book, “The Bishop’s Wife” — about being a Mormon in Utah. She said, “I became an atheist for years because after my sixth baby died, people in my church kept saying, ‘When bad things happen, it’s because there is a lesson to be learned,’ thus putting all the onus on the victim. That’s where religions go wrong.”

Author Lisa Brackmann speaks Mandarin and spends time in China, writing about the inner workings of China’s rich and powerful. I love, love, love Brackmann’s books. Her sense of timing always has me on the edge of my seat. Read “Rock Paper Tiger” and see what I mean. I was also lucky enough to score a draft copy of her next book, “Dragon Day,” coming out next August. http://www.randomhouse.com/book/250619/dragon-day-by-lisa-brackmann

“If you are writing crime fiction,” stated Brackmann, “you can’t be didactic. The larger issues that you want to bring to your reader’s attention need to be woven into an exciting story. And I myself always need to understand what drives things like the Iraq war or the prison system before I can explain it to others.”

And I myself also need to understand what drives Portland before I can explain it to others as well. Basically, Portland appears to be a city that doesn’t take any crap! Portlanders fight climate change, have a fabulous transportation system, are pro-choice and anti-war and against napalming babies in the Middle East, don’t fluoridate their water, actually smile at strangers, don’t give a damn about Fox News and do yoga in the park in the rain.

Next, I attended an interview with Timothy Hallinan and won a copy of his book, “The Fame Thief,” in a raffle. And, OMG, speaking of guns. There are a hecka lot of shots fired in this book. But it is quite humorous too — when the hero isn’t dodging bullets that is. But Hallinan loves to write. “I write and I eat and I talk to my wife. That’s all I do.” Sounds like my kind of guy.

And Hallinan also has a hard time finishing books. Me too! I’ve been editing my historical novel, “Pictures of a Future World,” for over ten years now. But Hallinan has an app for that on his website. It’s called “Finishing Your Novel” http://www.timothyhallinan.com/writers.php So who knows? I may even finish my novel about the present, past and future at some time in the nearer (not farther) future, thanks to him.

PS: Here’s another mystery: When that young Airbus co-pilot (allegedly) seized control of a airplane and flew it into a mountain last week, he (allegedly) took the lives of all of the passengers of that plane with him as well — and everyone who read this news was horrified by this (alleged) mass murder! http://www.sott.net/article/294482-Germanwings-crash-Not-the-full-story#

Yet when the elite and uber-wealthy co-pilots who have (actually) seized control of our planet, (actually) locked themselves into the cockpit of Airbus Earth, and are (actually) trying to fly it into an even higher mountain of murderous destruction by way of their greed, climate-change denial and unnecessary wars, almost none of my fellow passengers on this Airbus Earth seem to hardly even notice or care.

PPS: Just to make it perfectly clear that, even though I’m currently having trouble getting to places like Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt and Gaza, I still haven’t forgotten about all those other guns, guns, guns, the ones being constantly being shipped to the Middle East from America — and here are two links on that subject to prove it.
First there’s this link: “Saudis, Allies plan massive invasion of Yemen: 150,000 Saudi Troops, Unknown Number of Egyptians Mass on Yemen Border.” http://news.antiwar.com/2015/03/26/saudis-allies-plan-massive-invasion-of-yemen/

And then there’s this link: https://medium.com/@SumerRising/anti-shiism-western-media-foreign-policy-islamic-state-and-blatant-lies-122cd5742afb The author of “Anti-Shiism, Western media, the Islamic State and blatant lies” states:

“I am a Shiite. I am an Iraqi. There is no single group on this planet who has as much to lose from ISIS as myself. Christian men are asked to pay jizya or leave, Yezidi men are given the opportunity to ‘repent’ and convert, but Shiite men are actively hunted out, tortured, and executed with no other option on the table. Even the choice to convert — as disgusting as it is — is not offered.

“What makes it worse, however, is that the rest of the world seems to go on a victim-blaming tangent of how Shiites should be held responsible for their own oppression. Throughout this conflict, I have maintained my position: I am not anti-Sunni, I am anti-sectarianism, I am anti-exploitation, anti-oppression and anti-destruction.”

Sounds like this author has social justice in mind too. And it’s still a mystery to me why so many psychopaths keep trying to kill him in real life — not in just crime fiction.

And if any newspaper editor out there wants to pay my way to the Middle East as a war correspondent, to report on Yemen as well as on Portland, then I’m your person!

PPPS: And then of course there are all the guns, guns, guns that are currently loose on the streets of America. And as for the police needing all those new weapons to control their cities and towns, “If the police don’t have the confidence of the community, they will fail no matter what they do or don’t do,” to quote one survivor of The Troubles in Belfast. http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/7-biggest-reasons-america-screwed?akid=12956.1838163.k5KfIP&rd=1&src=newsletter1034088&t=5

DSCN0232

March 25, 2015

My trip to Portland: A crime convention, donuts, tunnels & rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 7:28 pm

I’ve had a really good time in Portland, Oregon, this week — even though it rained almost every day. But even the rain in Portland is charming. I’d never been to Portland before and wouldn’t even be here now if it hadn’t been the site of a convention for murder-mystery writers and their fans. Murder-mystery fans? That would be me! http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

“But why are you such a fan-girl, Jane?” you might ask. That’s easy. It’s because you can always count on justice being achieved by the end of the book — which is a good thing, especially if you are an American and currently living right here in the very belly of the beast of injustice itself.

Whenever I think about our corporate gollums in Washington, all those huge bankster bailouts on Wall Street and America’s phony endless wars on the Middle East and the Middle Class, then seeing justice achieved every time becomes huge. http://news.antiwar.com/2015/03/17/european-nations-join-chinas-world-bank-alternative-in-blow-to-us/

A lot of my favorite crime-fiction authors are attending this convention, including Lisa Brackman, Johnny Shaw, Lee Goldberg and Catriona McPherson, but there are also some writers here that I’ve never even heard of before — but need to.

Phillip Margolin, a famous crime-thriller writer, was a featured speaker at the convention and he said, “Before I was an author, I was a defense attorney and I’ve represented over 30 murderers at trial.” That’s clearly a unique way to get insights into the criminal mind.

“But I like writing better than being an attorney because you have the ability to change the outcomes — which you never can do in real life. Plus the difference between reality and fiction is that fiction is supposed to be credible. And you also have the obligation to tie things up. Sometimes real life makes no sense whatsoever.” http://www.phillipmargolin.com/books/

And Margolin’s method of writing? “I never write a word until I’m sure of the ending. Then I write a very detailed outline, fill in the missing pieces and then refine it and refine it. And I always read my dialogues out loud in order to test their validity. But basically, when writing, I need to find an idea that I can get excited about.”

I know exactly what he means. Nothing gets me more excited about my own writing efforts than the thought of getting to rail against injustice, especially against injustice paid for by American taxpayers — such as that mess in Ukraine, that mess in Syria, that mess in Palestine, that mess in Libya, that mess in the CIA, that mess in the District of Columbia, that mess in Ferguson, that mess in Wisconsin, that mess in [fill in the blanks]. http://thesaker.is/nemtsov-maidan-failed-evgeny-fedorov-eng-subs/

After Margolin’s presentation, I got a chance to talk to him personally — about our similar experiences in the Peace Corps in Africa. Geez Louise, the Peace Corps was such a grand idea. But now it seems like all that Americans are clambering for these days is a War Corps. http://www.legitgov.org/Plane-drops-ammunition-helping-reinforce-ISIS-reports-earlier-munitions-had-English-language-marking

Then, after attending a few more excellent panels at the convention, it was time to climb aboard the #8 bus and go off to tour Portland. All those stereotypes of Portland residents are true — almost everyone here wears plaid and most of the guys look like lumberjacks. And of course the first place that you gotta go to in Portland is to Voodoo Donuts. There were 80 people standing in line, but I played the sympathy card (just had an operation on my knee) and managed to cut in line. Unjust, I know, but I was desperate for a “Portland Cream,” the city’s official donut (glazed, cream-filled and frosted with chocolate). Delicious. Went back and got another one the next day.

Next, I toured Portland’s famous Shanghai tunnels, built in the 1870s, where approximately 3,000 kidnapped men had been warehoused at one time or another before being sold off to sea captains for $50 a man — and where kidnapped women were locked into tiny lightless cells until they were broken enough to be trafficked by white slavers. That tour was spook-y!

Next came the requisite tour of Powell’s Books and then back on the #17 bus to go home to the Walking Liberty Guesthouse where I stayed. I love Portland!

PS: Portland is also one of the few cities in America that isn’t forced to pour industrial-strength fluoride from China into its water supply, figuring that its citizens are smart enough to make that fluoride-use decision on their own and/or that they already get enough fluoride from other sources such as tea, tooth paste and pesticides. http://www.slweb.org/ftrcsymptoms.html

And another thankful result of Portland’s non-fluoridation policy is that we can all rest assured that Portland’s world-famous craft beers do not contain fluoride like other American beers do — and thus if you drink a six-pack of Portland craft beer, you don’t ever have to worry about OD-ing on fluoride, which is more toxic than lead (but slightly less toxic than arsenic). http://fluoridealert.org/issues/health/

So if you really want to limit your fluoride intake to a reasonable amount, just drink Portland beer!

DSCN0265

March 23, 2015

Let’s stop treating war criminals like Disney princesses!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 11:41 am

Scientific fact: You are either a war criminal or you are not. The Geneva conventions and the Nuremberg trials have set out specific definitions of what a war criminal is. How do you spot a war criminal? It’s not rocket science. You just look at the list of war crimes that has been drawn up for our convenience and then check off the boxes. A fifth-grader could do this! https://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter44_rule156

Yet how come so many war criminals these days are being treated like Disney princesses by the American people?

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama have so many checks in their “war criminal” column that it’s pathetic. Torture? Check. Illegal invasions of other countries? Check. Bombing innocent civilian populations? Check. Check. Check. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41297.htm

And yet these four war criminals are being treated like Tiana, Jasmine, Arial and Pocahontas instead of like Ursula, Maleficent and Jafar. What’s with that?

Netanyahu is a war criminal by any definition. And that neo-Nazi guy who NATO installed into power in Ukraine is such a war criminal that both Hitler and Stalin would be proud of him. Yet Americans treat these two evil men as if they were Belle and Mulan. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2015/03/triumph-of-checklist-comparing.html

Sisi in Egypt? Total bad guy! And we all know that the Saudis are so evil they give little kids nightmares about Saudi pilots flying into buildings. And wasn’t Osama bin Laden also a Saudi? Yet Americans talk about Sisi and the Saudis in the same reverential terms that little kids use when referring to Aurora and Snow White.

Turkey, Jordan, Israel, America and Britain all fund and support ISIS like ISIS was Tinkerbell and not Captain Hook. http://rt.com/news/241573-isis-plane-drop-ammunition/

The Pentagon and the CIA use Al Qaeda to do all their dirty work — like Al Qaeda was Cinderella or something. That’s crazy! There are absolutely no glass slippers involved in the Al Qaeda fairy tale.

Americans need to get a reality check. Evil men are not Disney princesses. They are evil men. I mean, seriously? Would Anna and Elsa ever throw their support behind evil men? I think not. But Americans still seem to be constantly mistaking evil men for Prince Charming.

IMG_4492

March 20, 2015

American Geniuses

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

crop of Mik Zint

“Magician, the Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles” is a new documentary film that tells the story of the fellow who made radio history and classic films, and was very much underappreciated while doing those things. Welles was a very innovative movie maker and is credited with inspiring the creation of the wide angle lens for “Citizen Kane.”

By pure coincidence, the additional material on a DVD of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” had alerted us to the fact that Howard Hughes had many things in common with Orson Welles. Hughes was born fabulously wealthy and he never developed a reverence for money and the need to budget wisely. Welles never seemed to have had a conservative approach to fiscal matters. He claimed that on his first night in Dublin Ireland, he spent all his travel money on a lavish meal. Embellishing a story for dramatic effect seems to be a likely modus operandi for a fellow who was noted for a great sense of theatricality.

Hughes was (perhaps) the only Hollywood film director to be honored with a tickertape parade down Broadway in New York City. He received that honor for setting a record for an around the world flight.

Welles was given a lifetime achievement Oscar.

Both men were notorious for their love lives.

Hughes was an aviation pioneer and a celebrated film maker but he also was responsible for some very practical achievements such as introducing retractable landing gear on airplanes. It was an innovation which dramatically increased their speed. His companies made technical innovations which had a beneficial effect on weapons and thus he improved the quality of America’s ability to wage war. His contributions to technology and aviation, which made modern drone strikes possible, was not fully communicated to the American public which dwelled on his flamboyant public image and his impact on that facet of society that thrives on gossip column items.

Welles burst on the New York theater scene already a legend. He had barely passed voting age when he feuded with Hemingway over the narration of a documentary film about the Spanish Civil War.

Part of the Welles legend is that his radio broadcast based on H. G. Wells’ (no relation/different spelling) novel about an invasion from Mars caused mass panic and traffic gridlock. Newspaper articles stating that fact are plentiful but skeptics who wonder if that was just an example of Hollywood ballyhoo are hard pressed to find some citizen who can provide eyewitness descriptions of the alleged example of mass hysteria. Skeptical reporters are advised to always avoid fact checking the legend.

Back then, people were encouraged to get diverse points of view. People who tuned into the Welles broadcast and switched stations to get a different set of facts quickly learned that the other radio networks were presenting the usual Sunday evening smorgasbord of comedy.

A column about American geniuses must note that this week, in San Francisco, it was reported by KCBS news radio that St. Mary’s Cathedral would have to pay to remove the sprinkler system it had installed to soak the homeless sleeping in their doorways, because they had made the “improvement” without getting a building permit. Wouldn’t it have been quicker and more efficient if the bishop had just gone out and urinated on them?

To cynics, it seems that America’s “War on Poverty” has become a war on the poor.

When we asked the Berkeley homeless activist Ninja Kitty if a (formerly) homeless person had ever been elected to Congress, didn’t he respond by saying: “There’s a first time for everything!”?

It used to be that exit polls were credited with pin-point accuracy, but lately they don’t seem to be very reliable at all. Time after time results contradict the exit polls. With that in mind, we predict that Karl Rove’s greatest behind the scenes achievement in American Politics is yet to be achieved. Wouldn’t the reestablishment of the Bush Dynasty be Rove’s greatest triumph?

“Magician” is a Cliff’s Notes style documentary film that will inform the people who are not aware of Welles’ story about the life of a genius and it will also give established Welles fans a new chance to hear his voice and see film sequences which give tantalizing hints about his magnetism and charm.

Clifford Irving wrote a book about a fellow who was very successful painting and selling counterfeit works of art. Irving also wrote a bogus Howard Hughes autobiography.

One of Welles’ many film projects was “F is for Fake,” which included a segment about Clifford Irving.

Now the disk jockey will play Orson Welles’ rendition (it’s on Youtube) of “I know what it is to be young (You don’t know what it is to be old),” Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame, Boys” (conspiracy theory folks assert it was dubbed) and the theme music from “The Third Man.” We have to go fact check the rumor that the Pacific Film Archive will open its new Berkeley home with a tribute to the films of Orson Wells. Have a “Rosebud” type week.

 

 

March 17, 2015

St. Patrick, Belfast, war, peace & me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 5:08 pm

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the month of March every year. And so is Julius Caesar’s infamous Ides of March. One is spozed to bring good luck to people and the other is spozed to bring bad luck. Which will it be for you and me? We’ve probably both already found out.

The Minster of Finance for Northern Ireland was spozed to speak in Berkeley this week, but that’s not going to happen because he had to stay home in Londonderry in order to deal with a current legislative crisis involving welfare reform. The DUP (protestant) party wants to cut off welfare and the Sinn Fein (Catholic) party does not. Sounds familiar — except that in America the Democrats never protect the poor of this country no matter how viciously the Republicans attack the most vulnerable of us all (50% of all American children live below the poverty line and most welfare recipients live in Red States). http://www.u.tv/News/2015/03/15/McGuinness-pulls-out-of-St-Patricks-visit-to-US-33589

St. Patrick would never approve of any of these cuts to the poor in order to give (even more) money to the rich. And neither would Jesus. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about now is my trip to Belfast and Londonderry, back in 2003. I had packed up my then-teenage daughter Ashley and gone off to live on the Falls Road for a while. And then wrote about it on my “Travels with Amy” blog site. It’s a long read for a blog, but worth every moment if you ask me. http://travelswithamy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2004-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2005-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=10

Let’s just cut to the high points, however. The woman we stayed with in Belfast had this to say about The Troubles:

“We were young when The Trouble began. I was only 18. We only wanted to peacefully protest injustice; call a little attention to it. And they came down on us with everything they had.”

We were sitting in Mary’s front room just off the Falls Road. She was smoking a cigarette. It was 11 pm. “Had we known then what our next actions would lead to….” Her voice trailed off. “War is a terrible thing. We had no idea. We were young and we weren’t going to let the Loyalists get away with it. My husband spent 18 years in jail. He was in every major prison in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. I always say that jail was our contraception.”

Mary loved the Good Friday Agreement. “We must compromise, cooperate and give-and-take. I think the other side sees that too. Having known war for 30 years…people just have no idea what a terrible thing it is. You talk, you dialogue, you negotiate. You do whatever you can to keep the Good Friday peace.” She reminded me of the Bob Dylan song, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” Mary is active in building a community from the ground up now. “Before no one knew how to work a government. Not even the Orangemen. Neither of us had people on the Council. Now we do. We started from the bottom up. When the British do leave, we will know how to govern ourselves.” That’s what we are doing in America, I told her. We’re stepping up against the “Stealing of America” by Wall Street and War Street — stepping up to the plate one city at a time. One person at a time.

The one thing I learned in Belfast and Londonderry back in 2003 was that War is to be avoided at all costs — and never to be taken lightly. Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chile, Panama, etc. have tolled death-bells that can never be un-rung. None of those dead millions can ever come back to life again. And all those dead trillions of dollars spent on War can never come back to life again either.
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/03/13/401670/US-seeks-to-recolonize-Mideast

So. Beware of Caesar’s Ides of March — and listen to St. Patrick instead. Then get to work driving all of those evil, greedy and power-mad snakes out.

PS: A few years later I went off to Palestine and wrote about that too. And there is such a strong comparison between The Troubles in Northern Ireland and The Troubles in Palestine, including Gaza, that it is scary. It’s the same old story of evil, greedy and powerful men oppressing those who are weaker than them — for fun and for profit. That grim and brutal occupation of Palestine should also be avoided at all costs. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/09/03/898842/–The-men-behind-the-wire-Comparing-Belfast-Gaza

And any future wars on Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran should be avoided too — for the same reason. If you too knew what it is like to be living in a war zone, you would never support another war either.

Black Taxi (2)

March 13, 2015

A bruin in bear country

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm

Alfredo at de Young

 

 

 

[Note: This column is an attempt to achieve humor by supplying a hypothetical answer to the question: “What would it be like if a Leprechaun celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by writing a political punditry column?”] 

Technically it is still winter, but Berkeley has switched to using the summer clock set for Pacific Daylight Time and for some, it’s time to start spring cleaning. The decision about which team to support in the annual UCLA vs. USC football match-up has been made and we are not about to let any facts play a role in a decision to reconsider our choice.

To some that may seem a tad illogical but the sad fact remains that some people make their political decisions in the same uninformed blind prejudicial manner.

The implications attached to the fact that most of the conservatively owned media is not paying much attention to the long term implications of the Republicans communications with Iran is another subject that will also be ignored by the so-called journalists in the USA. If the Democratic politicians dared to question any move that George W. Bush made while he was president, their patriotism and sanity would have been subjected to immediate and unrelenting ridicule and derision, but it the President happens to be a mulatto Democrat, well then, anything the Republicans do in response to Obama’s program is portrayed as an example of partisan politics at its best.

If, as with the Iran-Contra affair, a Republican President ducks providing material with the potential of being incriminating, well then, the conservative press moguls just have a good laugh but God forbid that a measly (have your kids been inoculated?) Democratic woman should not provide full transparency regarding her e-mails.

If the mainstream media is ordered to ignore Operation Stingray, why should the World’s Laziest Journalist spend Tuesday, March 10, 2015, doing some fact checking and collecting background information on the news potential of that topic, when, instead, it was a perfect time to go see the new Botticelli to Braque Masterpieces from the National Galleries os Scotland exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco? The fact that the world class museum is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the North Beach area where a fantastic Italian cuisine lunch was available at a very affordable price just made the choice to have a great time in Frisco seem so much more preferable to wasting time on something that Fox News deems to be a topic that appeals only to conspiracy theory lunatics.

On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, the World’s Laziest Journalist attended the regularly scheduled meeting of the Berkeley Police Review Commission and we realized (opinion alert!) that they were given a “myth of Sisyphus” task when they were assigned to investigate the events that occurred on the evening of December 6, 2014. They decided to hold a special meeting next week and invite the Berkeley Chief of Police (or his designated representative) to come back.

The Berkeley Police Review Commission faces a myriad of difficult problems that only become more complex and baffling when they are examined. For example, the topic of getting video equipment that police officers can wear while on duty seems to be a popular idea this week. However, as it was pointed out at Wednesday’s meeting, the cost of obtaining the equipment and providing security for the hardware is insignificant when compared with the cost of providing storage for the digital material, which would also be required.

During this week, CNN seemed (opinion alert!) to have had a Cronkite moment when the talking head noted that the USA is sending citizens to fight and die installing the American Way (i.e. Democracy) in foreign countries, while the perception in Europe is that the government in the USA is fast approaching a point of complete gridlock, which means Democracy ain’t working. Could avid Republicans conclude that CNN just doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Hilary’s e-mails, the Logan Act, and local politics in Ferguson Mo. are just some of the distractions intended to entertain and amuse the workers in the media while staunch Republicans (opinion alert!) eagerly await the inauguration of President-elect JEB Bush. Some preliminary events are scheduled but the inevitable inauguration of JEB and the restoration of the Bush Dynasty is (for them) a sure thing that will happen faster than you can say “Broward Federal Savings and Loan.”

Hilary or JEB? If you don’t know now who will get your vote, why not just flip a coin?

After a happy-go-lucky columnist, who covered the Oscars forty years ago, passes his 28th birthday, there comes a day when he is bound to assess the process of running around to things like the Berkeley Police Review Commission meetings and say: “I’m getting too old for this ****! Perhaps I should just join a group at one of the conveniently located Berkeley Senior Centers and settle down and learn to sew and do some book reviews.” Life could then be like living a Beach Boys song.

Speaking of writing movie reviews, the Employees Recreation Committee at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory gave a standing ovation following a screening of “Conspiracy Theory,” starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts . . . but then they called for an immediate investigation into why the main stream media seems to be willfully ignoring this ahead of its time bit of Hollywood magic.

The most popular joke at the Conspiracy Theory Factory this week was: “What’t the difference between the airplane that Harrison Ford crashed on the golf course and the one that crashed into the Pentagon? Answer: The NTSB found more debris to use for a subsequent investigation at the Penn Mar gold course than it did at the Pentagon crash site.”

Maybe if CNN just had a Cronkite moment, it’s too early to abandon the online political punditry game. Then, again, perhaps we should just write a novel about a life-long IrishCatholicDemocrat, who (on a lark) decides to run for Congress as a Republican in one of the nations strongest Liberal Democrat districts and . . . wins.

Fukushima, polar icecap meltdown, and Civil War in Syria might make it seem like the golden age of pessimism has arrived..

Good sportsmanship is important and no matter which team wins the game this year at Thanksgiving, the captain of the loosing team will shake hands and say “Good game!” to the captain of the winning team. Good Republicans (opinion alert) might consider that the Supreme Court could both literally and figuratively speaking, see these two decisions as a chance to “win one for the Gipper!”

With that in mind, and being aware that Liberal punditry is becoming extinct, if the United States Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare and/or declares the concept of gay marriage as unconstitutional, we can only hope that the disappointed Democrats will greet the decisions with a spirit of good sportsmanship and that they say in unison: “Good game!”

In Berkeley, where the University of California’s local team uses blue and gold colors and an image of a resident of bear country, it is relatively easy to show a preference for the outcome of the annual UCLA vs. USC game because the one participant in America’s greatest cross town rivalry features blue and gold and graphics that depict a bruin.

Would “St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin” make a good column headline? Does Dublin California celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

If the Republicans won a majority in Congress and the Senate by promising to end political stagnation and the end result is complete legislative gridlock will that have a deleterious effect on JEB’s inauguration in January of 2017? **** NO! ! ! Thank God for the electronic voting machines that leave no way to verify the results!

The closing quote was said by Knute Rockne: “Show me a good and gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Beach Boys “Be true to your school,” “Shut down,” and “God only knows.” We have to go buy an Irish Rovers’ album. Have a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” type week.

March 10, 2015

Where has all the money gone? Savings bond values take a nosedive

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 10:45 am

I just had a talk with a friend of mine who was all pissed off because he had purchased a Series EE savings bond for his little kid way back in 1998. “I paid $500 for it at the time and, at that time, the bank promised me that the bond would mature in ten years and then be worth $1,000.” So? Well? Did it? Is it?

“Eh — no,” sighed my friend. “When my kid cashed it in last month, she only got $850 back.” What? You mean after accumulating over 16 years of interest, the bond had only gained $250 in value? Even after all those promises of doubling its worth after just ten years? That’s whacked.

But, according to the Treasury Direct website, it is also legal. “Series EE bonds issued from May 1997 through April 2005 continue to earn market-based interest rates set at 90% of the average 5-year Treasury securities yields for the preceding six months. The new interest rate for these bonds, effective as the bonds enter semiannual interest periods from November 2014 through April 2015 is 1.49%. Market-based rates are updated each May 1 and November 1.” http://www.treasurydirect.gov/news/pressroom/currentibondratespr.htm

What the freak does that mean?

It means that Series EE savings-bond-holders have been (and can continue to be) legally ripped off. Government agencies now under the happy control of the top 1% can legally make the rest of us little guys any promises they want — and then just take them back.

“Buying government savings bonds is practically like loaning the government interest-free money,” I told my friend. “But on the other hand, if you had bought $500 worth of gold back in 1998 instead of that bond, it would have cost you $296 an ounce — and an ounce and a half of gold would now be worth $1,808, a net gain of one thousand three hundred and seven dollars.”

However, if you had spent that $500 on baseball cards, you might be pretty much out of luck.

But what if, instead, you had purchased $500 worth of stock for your kid? If you had bought stock in mortgage companies like Countrywide, for instance, you would have kissed your $500 goodbye. http://politicalblindspot.com/the-food-stamp-capital-of-the-u-s-is-white-and-republican/

But if you had bought stock in pharmaceutical companies that produce products like mercury-laden vaccines, psychotropic drugs and male sex-enhancers, or bought stocks in weapons factories or bought stocks in oil companies or WalMart, you could have practically put your rugrat through college with your capital gains by now! http://foodrevolution.org/blog/john-oliver-big-pharma-doctors/

Or suppose you had invested that $500 in buying part-ownership in a Congressman — like the big boys on Wall Street, War Street and K Street do? Apparently you would have gotten an average of a 5000% return on your investment. http://www.deliberation.info/barb-weir-interviews-moderate-syrian-rebels/

Or if, like your government in cahoots with its sleazy bankster friends, you had invested your $500 in loaning money to college students instead? Then you would have been able to collect 6% interest from said college students’ loans for decades to come — and owned their souls for the rest of their lives too! http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/28828-ill-believe-the-gop-cares-about-the-middle-class-when-i-see-it

But, no. You had faith in your government and bought savings bonds instead — never dreaming that your government would invest its resources in war and corporate welfare instead of in you. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/06/greece-injured-by-eu/

However if it’s any consolation, you and your kid are not alone. China made that same mistake too.

PS: Remember back when our founding fathers wisely designed our Constitution to include having three different branches of government? Legislative, executive and judicial? Well, just over 225 years later, America’s government still has three different branches — except now those three branches are Wall Street, War Street and K Street. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369052/-New-Jersey-Sen-Bob-Menendez-to-face-criminal-corruption-charges

PPS: A Manhattan jury just awarded a $218.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority for damages done to Israelis with American citizenship by Palestinian suicide bombers. Do you know what this means? A new precedence has just been set. A new Pandora’s box has just been opened.

Now everyone affected by anything like this can now also use American courts to get recompense for damages done by acts of “terrorism” on American citizens abroad! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/nyregion/damages-awarded-in-terror-case-against-palestinian-groups.html?_r=0

For instance, were any Chilean-Americans killed in the CIA coup against Allende in Chile? Their relatives can now sue Henry Kissinger — but of course they will have to stand in line behind the Cambodian-Americans killed by him.

And what about the bunches and groups of Palestinian-Americans, Yemeni-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Ukrainian-Americans, African-Americans, Grenada-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, Haitian-Americans, etc. who have been either killed out in public for all to see by America’s overtly-evil war machine — or else killed on the sly by those covertly-evil CIA troublemakers at Langley?

Or, hell, what about all those dead American-Americans too for that matter? Does this mean that American soldiers killed or wounded in Vietnam, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Afghanistan, etc. can now sue the Department of Defense in American courts for “terrorism” too — as well as for fraud, creating dangerous conditions, willful negligence, breach of promise and entrapment as well?

Hey, Uncle War Street! See ya in court!

PPPS: And speaking of money, I’m off to Portland (Oregon) this weekend March 11-15) to attend a convention — while trying to spend as little $$$ as possible. Might anybody know any exciting things I can see and do in Portland on the cheap? http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

IMG_0724

March 6, 2015

Hemingway, O’Reilly, Murrow

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:29 pm

better crop poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to legend, Ernest Hemingway arrived in Paris three days before the Allied Armies did. A trip to Paris in 1986 seemed like a great opportunity to do the fan’s attempt to conjure up the spirit of the famous writer but we did not anticipate a chance to do any serious fact checking. While visiting Harry’s New York Bar, an old fellow caught us off guard when he said that he had inherited the place from his father and when he, the present owner, was a child, he had sat on Mr. Hemingway’s lap while the famous writer told stories. We were so engrossed in his descriptions of the repeated encounters with the young but already famous writer, that we missed the chance to ask him if Hemingway had actually arrived before the Allied Armies. The Liberty Valance rule made doing any fact checking seem like heresy. When facts and legend contradict each other, always print the legend.

Recently Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had become a subject for fact checking by his associates and the consensus opinion seems to be that there is a credibility gap being generated which, in turn, tarnishes Fox News’ reputation.

Brian Williams has been suspended from the anchor chair at NBC Nightly News because he claims that he rode on a helicopter in a war zone that received enemy fire. The account has been challenged by others who are qualified to confirm or refute the specifics of Williams’ story.

Since Williams works for a news organization that is perceived as “pro-Liberal,” the conservatives are making the assertion that Williams has rendered NBC’s credibility to the nil level.

If Charles Manson (hypothetically speaking) were to deliver a news report that provided undeniable evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was not working alone when he shot JFK, would the fact that most people do not approve of Manson’s ethics and personal conduct be sufficient to invalidate the remarkable report?

There is a certain amount of irony to be derived from noticing that the two different reactions to the veracity of the two journalist comes at the same time that CBS will mark the sixty-first anniversary of what many consider to be the high water mark for American Journalism: Edward R. Murrow’s report on Sen. Joseph McCarthy broadcast on March 9, 1954. (Google: “See It Now” McCarthy report)

During WWII, Murrow risked death and infuriated his bosses by going on a bombing mission over Berlin. (Google hint: “Edward Murrow orchestrated hell”)

Conservatives assert that Brian Williams has committed “stolen valor” with his bragging. They give full and complete absolution to O’Reilly and ignore the long list of war correspondents that died covering various wars over the course of history.

The conservative tendency for holding two opposing points of view simultaneously (called “double think” by George Orwell) can best be illustrated by the old axiom: “My wife’s married, but I’m not.”

Would Gerda Taro, Robert Capa, and Ernie Pyle be inclined to blithely dismiss the idea that O’Reilly is stealing valor from the list of war correspondents who were killed in action?

Speaking of war stories of valor and daring, we wonder how General Douglas McArthur got the nickname “Dugout Dug.”

Once, on NPR radio, we heard the story of a fellow who was assigned to defend a pass where an attack was expected. He had a machine gun and was credited with single handedly killing more than 600 enemy soldiers in one night. Some people think the guy should have gotten a Medal of Honor.

The fictional character Baron Munchausen was renowned for telling absurd stories that had an extreme flavor of outrageousness to them buttressed by a thread of logic that made them seem (theoretically) possible.

In a bookstore in San Francisco, earlier this week, we noticed a new book which promised to teach the art of storytelling to sales reps.

St. Ronald Reagan was a superb story teller. He told one story about campaigning for President in Iowa. He knocked on a farmer’s door and when the fellow was flabbergasted by his famous caller, he had a senior moment and couldn’t think of the former actor’s name. St. Reagan gave the baffled fan a clue: “Do the initials R R help?” The fellow broke into a large smile and turned and shouted into the interior of the home: “Momma, come quick and meet Roy Rogers!”

Misleading people for fun and votes might seem a tad misguided to some journalists. The philosophy that “we report; and let you decide” is a bit deceptive because it assumes that everyone in the audience is capable of doing their own quality analysis. “We distort and let you jump to wrong conclusions” would be a more ingenuous slogan.

Here is an exaggerated tale of why that isn’t a good policy: A person you know slightly tells you that your business partner is having an affair with your wife and is cooking the books and robbing you blind. Fair enough? Just suppose that the rest of the story is that the guy was setting you up. You killed your business partner and then while you were in prison the tell all Good Samaritan marries your now ex-wife and you learn that your business partner was an innocent bystander. The guy who filled your ears with lies had an ulterior motive. You leaped to some erroneous conclusions and took action. Would you have acted differently if you knew the “reporter” was trying to trick you?

The fact that most high-school graduates don’t challenge the logic of “we report; you decide” is a preposterous situation. The results could be just as bad as they were in the hypothetical story above. Who doesn’t love being the butt of an old fashioned practical joke?

Doesn’t Bill O’Reilly work for an organization that went to court and established that it has a legal right to tell lies in the guise of supplying facts for citizens to make informed judgments?

After hearing a stream of news reports about bad snowstorms causing all kinds of closures and disruptions of service for people living on the USA’s East Coast, we were a bit disconcerted to hear news reports that during the same time frame new car sales were good and that new jobs were created. Has skepticism earned a place on the endangered species list?

On Friday March 6, 2015, the Getty and Armstrong radio show reported that the “hands up; don’t shoot” meme was inaccurate and had not actually occurred.

Hemingway was boastful and may have exaggerated some of his accomplishments. His fans don’t want to be burdened with the odious task of doing some precise fact checking to separate the hard facts from the legends. Brian Williams worked for a liberal news organization and is being punished severely. Bill O’Reilly is getting the rich kid pass from an indulgent father responseto what he has done. “Now run along and play!”

[Note from the photo editor. A montage image is the best we could do this week.]

Here is the quote of the week. When the woman combat photographer Dickey Chappelle complained about mosquitoes buzzing around her while taking pictures on Iwo Jima, a Marine corrected her misperception: “Those wasn’t mosquitoes, ma’am, they was Japanese bullets.

Now the disk jockey will play “Who shot Liberty Valance,” “Do not forsake me,” and the theme from TV’s “Gun Smoke.” We have to go start our own urban legends. Have a “good night and good luck” type week.

March 2, 2015

Triumph of the checklist: Comparing Netanyahu, ISIS and Hitler

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 6:23 pm

Gee, I hate to keep pointing this stuff out all the time because a whole lot of people get really ticked off at me every time that I do — but the truth is the truth. ISIS, Netanyahu and Hitler really do have a whole lot in common. But as true as this statement may be, still almost nobody these days wants to hear that their favorite emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Why? Perhaps because it makes people feel bad that they have been so completely suckered, had, duped and used.

However, like it or not, the three emperor-wannabes listed above are still not wearing any clothes. So to speak.

And here’s my checklist to prove it:

1. Received a lot of their financial support from the weapons industry: http://www.globalresearch.ca/u-s-helicopter-delivering-weapons-to-the-islamic-state-isis-shot-down-by-iraqi-popular-forces/5434230

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

2. Founded their empires (reichs, caliphates, promised lands, whatever) on invasions, blitzkriegs, preemptive wars, guys-just-wanna-have-fun, terrorism, whatever — with the goal of eventually taking over all geopolitical territory within thousands of miles of their empire’s original borders:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

3. Committed mass genocide based solely on religion, race, land or resource ownership, language usage and/or nationality:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

4. Used illegal weapons, including chemical weapons such as napalm, white phosphorus and noxious gases, and/or landmines, cluster bombs, biological weapons, etc. on civilians:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Not really sure. Are broadswords considered illegal weapons if used to behead journalists? Probably. Okay, check.

5. Bomb the freak out of civilian targets:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Do RPGs and car-bombs count? Yes? Then “check”

6. Routinely terrorized civilian populations to the point of said populations thinking they were living inside a horror movie, a police state or ‘Stalag 17″ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKc2GJk2OLQ:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

7. Used lies, snappy slogans, false-flag operations http://yournewswire.com/mikhail-gorbachev-assassination-of-boris-nemstov-is-a-false-flag/#sthash.5isb7TEp.dpuf and “1984″ types of propaganda, threats and the deliberate generation of irrational fears to get their own populations to back their criminal activities:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

8. Wore snappy uniforms designed to intimidate and impress:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

9. Supported by rich industrialists, corporatists, recipients of corporate welfare and opulent dictatorships in the Middle East:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

10. Had a huge destabilizing effect on Europe, the Middle East and America that ended in tragedy, economic chaos and the further spread of war http://cityworldnews.com/native-american-amnesty/:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

11. Pretends to be of a certain religion but never practices their religion’s goals, ideals or concepts:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

12. Steals resources and valuables from the countries and territories that have been illegally seized: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_great_game_in_the_holy_land_20150227

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

13. Has absolutely no tinges of conscience whatsoever after having caused thousands of families, scores of ethnic groups, an unknown number of combat veterans and even whole countries to suffer from shell shock, battle fatigue and PTSD http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/serious-upsurge-post-conflict-trauma-gaza-says-un:

Hitler: Check
Netanyahu: Check
ISIS: Check

14. Is invited to speak before Congress:

Hitler: No way.
ISIS: Not a chance.
Netanyahu: Roll out the red carpet!

IMG_2170

February 27, 2015

Sealing wax, cabbages, and kings . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:26 pm

betteer crop pizza box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class,” by Scott Timberg, paints a bleak picture of the future for bright-eyed and bushy tailed young folks who have assumed a ship load of student debt to go to college and get a head start on a life in the realm of Art.

Are Rebel Artists, who mock capitalism in the hopes that their work will make them independently wealthy, hypocrites?

Society’s real rebels, such as Lenny Bruce, the staff of the Berkeley Barb, and the pioneers of porn, provide a symbolic metaphor for the spectacle of seeing Christians being devoured by lions because Society knows that when an artist becomes too outspoken, the Establishment will seek revenge. Its sorry news for the hippies, but the fact that the counter-coulter has been destroyed by The Establishment means that the old ploy of making rebels impotent by absorbing them into Society’s “in crowd,” is no longer necessary. An artist either gets a corporate sponsorship deal or is a trust fund bohemian; otherwise in a capitalist society the rule is “Ya gotta go along to get along.”

Sure, it’s good for a few laughs to start calling JEB “President-elect JEB Bush” at this point in the election process, but the sad fact is that’s all a liberal pundit can hope to get . . . a few laughs. It’s the Fox pundits who get to echo Liberace’s sentiment: “I cry all the way to the bank.”

So, why should a pundit let himself be exploited so shamelessly? “Culture Crash” makes a solid case for believing that extortion is being used to gain the power to censor the artists.

Maybe a pundit could get an unfair advantage in life by writing a column on a revised Bucket List that asks his audience for a chance to scratch off some of those lofty goals. For instance, if a happy-go-lucky fellow, who wishes he hadn’t gotten rid of his 1968 Chevy van, would like to write a column about always wanting to drive a Ferrari, perhaps a reader would be able to offer the writer a chance to have that experience for a day . . . or a week? . . . or longer?

Perhaps a former co-worker could get the adventuresome Berkeley resident an invitation to this year’s Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion? Could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly hitch a ride from Frisco to New York City on a private bus? (Does Willie Nelson read our columns? [Willie Neslson anf Family will play the UCB Greek Theatre on July 23 – tickets on sale now!])

We’ve always wanted to experience a real Hollywood “pitch session,” even if it actually occurred at Bo Zenga’s office in Santa Monica or at George Miller’s headquarters on Orwell Street.

Scott Timberg wouldn’t be surprised to learn that we stuff some rather mundane and innocuous items into our columns. Why? Because we can. Do we ever come up with something on our own that we haven’t learned elsewhere?

(Buried lede alert!) Did you know that the poster boy for Rebels, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, wore a Rolex watch?

Felix Rodrigez, the CIA agent who “caught” (killed?) Che Guevara used to wear a Rolex watch, which, he told co-workers, he had personally liberated from Che Guevara, “according to our reliable source.” When our assertion was challenged, we found back up online when we Googled “Che Guevara Rolex”

[Do you believe the urban legend that asserts Che’s life was sparred, and he was put in a prototype of the witness protection program in exchange for some valuable intelligence? Some versions of this story suggest that he relocated to a university town in the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually became a member of his new hometown’s city council.]

The Berkeley student newspaper, the Daily Californian, edition for Monday, February 23, 2015, contained a front page story by Ishaan Srivastava stating that a study done by the UCB School of Law that found urban policies pertaining to the homeless are getting tougher on that group of citizens.

We suggested to “Father Mike,” the political activist leading the protest of the sale of the Berkeley Post Office building, that perhaps since many J-school students are fans of Hunter S. Thompson, the local protest group should invite a member of the Daily Cal staff to spend a week with the protest group and, after doing the fact checking, turn in a Gonzo style story on the experience.

When we were vagabonding about in Australia, we learned in Sydney that a local urban legend asserted that Errol Flynn had slept on the grounds of the downtown cathedral during a homeless phase in his life. That caused us to wonder if Flynn was the most famous example of a success story for a homeless person.

Who, we asked the people at Fort Zint, would be eligible for an annual induction ceremony at the Homeless Hall of Fame and where should such a hypothetical operation set up its operations? What if a philanthropically inclined corporation purchased the Berkeley Post Office building with the stipulation that it be used to house the Homeless Hall of Fame?

New attempts to provide an official definition of who qualifies to be called “homeless” are being made. Since Erneto “Che” Guevara was part of the rebel encampment in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba, could he be eligible to be included in the Homeless Hall of Fame? Would the current owner of his Rolex be disposed to grant permission for it to be exhibited at such a hypothetical tourist destination?

Isn’t there a very wealthy financier who lives in a series of posh hotel suits and is called the homeless billionaire? (Google hint: “Nicholas Berggruen”)

If a benefit concert for the Homeless Hall of Fame were to be held, what famous artists would be qualified to perform if only formerly homeless people were permitted to provide the entertainment?

Isn’t being homeless very similar to being a member of the United States Marine Corp? They say that once you become a Marine you will always be a Marine even when you are no longer “on active duty.” Is becoming homeless an irreversible experience similar to loosing one’s virginity?

It seems to this columnist who stayed in a succession of hostels while touring Australia, that the situation in Berkeley is being manipulated into a status seeker’s issue. If a person has always had a home, does that make him (or her) a better citizen in a country that (ostensibly) believes in equality or would the friendship of a (formerly homeless) world famous celebrity be something to inspire selfies galore? Is there any aristocrat in Berkeley who would not want the inventory of their personal possession sullied by the inclusion of Che Guevara’s Rolex on that list?

If Scott Timberg is accurate with his prediction that the era of corporate subsidized artistic creativity will eliminate spontaneity and serendipity from the pop culture scene altogether might be an example of predestination, but until that happens, the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to be a rogue champion of arcane, esoteric, and idiosyncratic bits of information.

Is this a good time to insert a plug for Michael Parenti’s newest book, “Profit Pathologes and other Indecencies”?

After learning about the Daily Cal story, we sent a link to some interested parties. We later learned that while we were sending a message to Berkeley’s Ninja Kitty, he was getting busted for sleeping. Would it then be safe for us to assume that a kid can be arrested for sleeping on Shattuck Ave. in the B-town business district, but a student who sleeps in a UCB classroom is safe? Isn’t that discrimination?

[Photo Editor’s note: If the columnist can be serendipitous in the selection of items for the column, then the selection of the photo to illustrate a column must also have the latitude to be a tad impulsive, eh?]

Singer Dean Martin was the source for this week’s closing quote. After the music group The Rolling Stones were featured on his TV variety show, he asked his audience: “Would you want your sister to marry a Rolling Stone?”

Now the columnist will direct the disk jockey to play all the tracks on the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks double album, all the tracks on the More Hot Rocks album, and all the tracks on the “Exile on Main Street” album. We have to start compiling a list of celebrities and business executives who were homeless earlier in life. Have a “sundowner” type week.

War correspondent: Why a war zone in America is THE place to go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 1:01 am

Back in the day, I was always trying to fly off to report on international combat hot-spots like Iraq and Afghanistan — always hoping that if the American people back home read my horror-stories of war, they too would somehow become war-resisters and that my stories of brutal, grim and unjustified death in far-away places might even help escalate a strong anti-war movement here at home, one that would finally stop the heartless killing of women and children by American tanks, rockets and drones. But now? Now I’m thinking that I should be doing something even more important than traveling to combat zones far away — that I, like some modern-day Jonah, should actually be going down into the belly of the American beast itself instead.

Plus it’s always cheaper to go to North Carolina or Washington DC or St Louis than to fly off to Syria, Gaza, Haiti or Ukraine.

The main question that I would be asking in these particular American war zones, however, would be, “What makes America tick?”

What has made us become the most dreaded and hated country in the world — a country that has more weapons and more money to spend on weapons than any other country anywhere, ever? What gives us the right to call ourselves “patriotic” and “brave” and “democratic” when, in reality, it is America that has killed, maimed, tortured and mutilated millions of people all over the world — and trampled any survivors’ chances and their children’s chances of ever ever having a decent life again.

Why do Americans support dictators in Ukraine, Palestine, Honduras, Congo, etc. with such enthusiastic glee? And also why do Americans applaud so loudly when elections here at home are stolen and our infrastructure and school systems die and “Christianity” becomes just another excuse to kill, rape, torture and maim God’s children both at home and abroad? http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraqi-army-downs-two-british-planes-carrying-weapons-for-isil-terrorists/5433089

And what makes Americans bitch and complain so much about what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria — when what Americans have done there in the past and are doing there right now is so much much much worse? ISIS fanatics behead hundreds of people. American troops level whole cities and leave them contaminated with radioactive detritus that will kill children and other living things there for the next 500 years.

Why do Americans fight so hard against trying to end climate change? Why are Americans so set against preventing nuclear holocausts both at home and abroad? Why do Americans cheer and get all teary-eyed and proud when our cops turn into robo-cops and spray peaceful protesters with tear gas? And then actually buy tickets to go see women tortured? http://womensenews.org/story/media-stories/150219/fifty-shades-grey-eroticizes-torture

“What makes Americans tick?” I need to know what is going on right here in America before I can possibly understand what the freak is going on in all those American-financed war zones throughout the rest of the world.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to go out and see America first. Ukraine and Gaza and Baghdad will just have to wait — while I, like Jonah, go deep into the belly of the American beast instead.

Despite all the nightmares I have seen in the last decades, I continue to be an idealist and to dream of a better world, a world that Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad would be proud of. Most Americans, however, apparently dream of cruelty, torture, injustice and ruling the world vicariously.

We are the protagonists of our own dreams.

Americans (and all other human beings too for that matter) need to finally learn that it is far better to die with love in our hearts than to live with hatred in our eyes, fear in our guts and evil in our souls.

PS: A Manhattan jury just awarded a $218.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority for damages done to Israelis with American citizenship by Palestinian suicide bombers. Do you know what this means? A new precedence has just been set. A new Pandora’s box has just been opened.

From now on, relatives of Americans killed in any foreign country, not just Israel, can also use American courts to get recompense for damages done by acts of “terrorism” on American citizens abroad! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/nyregion/damages-awarded-in-terror-case-against-palestinian-groups.html?_r=0

For instance, if any Chilean-Americans were killed in the CIA coup against Allende in Chile, their relatives can now sue Henry Kissinger in American courts — but of course they will have to stand in line behind the relatives of any Cambodian-Americans killed by him.

And what about the bunches and groups of Palestinian-Americans, Yemeni-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Ukrainian-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Somali-Americans, Haitian-Americans, etc. who have been killed by American tanks, rockets and drones?

America? You can no longer pretend to not know what you are doing. See ya in court!

PPS: On March 11, 2015, I’ll be going off to Portland, Oregon, to attend a convention — and can start my exploration of American war (and peace) zones there. http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/

121_1322

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress