December 11, 2014

Here’s a look at ISIS and its future outlook…from the BBC.

This piece once again points out the ideological ties between ISIS and the Saudis’ own beloved fundamentalism with its paternalistic and authoritarian view of women and individual freedoms, not to mention art and music.


December 8, 2014

24/7 Wall Street has just listed what it calls the ten best run states in the U.S. Clearly these folks have dollar signs on their bathroom mirror. They call North Dakota the best-run state in the union. Read about it by clicking here.
What North Dakota has done as well as Kuwait is sell its future for profits right now. The energy industry essentially owns the state as it does West Virginia. What will be left when the extraction and exploitation are over? A very cold depository of waste materials.
Of course, it has high wages and low unemployment because of all the extraction jobs. Laying waste to any place requires lots of work and workers. Meanwhile, there is the meth problem, the fallback of many unhappy, exploited workers…and the state probably leads the world in per capita contribution to global warming. Way to go, North Dakota.


December 7, 2014

Here is insightful essay from “Atlantic” that explains the Catch-22 of President Obama, the first black man to be President of a nation long run and owned by white men.
Sadly the writer essentially points out that violence leads to reform. Only when the powerful are afraid will anything be changed. In one of the best-armed nations on earth it may well be that our social and environmental problems cannot be solved rationally, ethically and peacefully. Our police are encouraged to keep order no matter what the cost. Business as usual must prevail. We nationally refuse to change anything important…even though New Orleans and the Jersey shore will once again be wiped out by another big hurricane, we insist on re-building. We seem to learn nothing.
Now that gasoline prices are dropping for the time being some Americans are running out to buy bigger vehicles. And one scary study of drivers found that those with the most expensive cars never stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk while those in the cheapest and oldest cars ALWAYS stopped. Onward to the gated community with armed guards all around. The rest of the population can live in a “Blade Runner” world. Bring on the “Hunger Games?”


November 13, 2014

Football has been the gladiatorial combat of the last sixty years. Widely sanctioned violence of men against men in a packed arena before screaming, often inebriated fans. Unlike the old Roman games modern American football, like soccer elsewhere, has become a mega-business. It dominates media schedules in season and garners huge wealth for owners and those who market the product and its merchandise. Some players even get rich, though we now see they’ve been unwittingly (had to use just that word) trading away their future health for fame and game.
Is football the next boxing? Due to sink out of the mainstream into a macho enclave where violence can be deeply admired but not shown on prime time? Is it the next hockey? A niche product for the blood-thirsty cognescenti?
One critic calls it an outrage. Presumably somewhere lower on the scale than the next school massacre, or suicide bombers in any of the many troubled nations of the Mideast and North Africa, or Guantanamo and official American torture, or Japanese whaling, or Putin’s next self-aggrandizing annexation plan.
We will know the times are achangin’ when some major university finally shuts down its big name football program, and we are many years and miles away from that. No board of curators would even suggest such a thing when football coaches make CEO level salaries and the programs are worshipped as the source of huge alumnus donations. What football does in a university is educate the observant to how brutal and relentless big capitalism can and must be. All bow before the golden idol.
Or, as an “NYT Mag” article suggests, is football the next tobacco? Due to be hounded and sued and restricted and ostracized from most of mindful society so that it shrinks in size, power and wealth to become much less than what it is? Could football ever be replaced by tennis or golf or badminton or bowling or some other non-violent sport where few die and fewer bleed on camera? Or will we go toward bull-fighting, bear-baiting or more horse-racing as substitutes? Hurt the helpless because they can’t sue? How strong is the blood lust in American culture where killing Native Americans has definitely lost favor, and even hunting bear or deer is becoming less popular but the need to hurt or kill seems to linger as it does in almost every human society on the planet?


November 9, 2014

The on-going strength of the Confederate States of America has little now to do with having lost a bloody un-civil war but everything to do with racism among whites.  There are deep beliefs in the south and among Republicans [click here for data and explanation] everywhere that blacks are poor or in jail because they just aren’t smart or honest or hard-working enough.  Slavery, apparently, never really mattered…and discrimination and poverty is judged not relevant.  I can only pity the next generations who will have to cope with the mess we leave behind because one American white party hates non-whites and won’t allow compromise.  No wonder the South Miami mayor wants to secede from North Florida and try to deal with rising sea levels before his city disappears. Click here for that story.

But Republican won’t hear of that.  Surely global warming is simply some liberal-black conspiracy to take away white people’s right to drive gas-guzzlers to the furthest Wartmall.


October 8, 2014

Do you have a friend at the Pentagon? Well, next tine you’re out golfing together put this modest proposal into his, or her, shell-pink….
No weapon or military capable equipment should ever leave the U.S. without a two-way, trackable communication chip that cannot be removed. Build each tank, rocket or rocket launcher, grenade launcher, armored vehicle, drone, Toyota pick-up with such a chip imbedded. If the chip is removed or tinkered with, the device or vehicle stops functioning altogether. We can do this. Toyota? Pay them an inclusion for each truck and they’ll put whatever you want inside. Can’t we all agree that it’s insane to have ISIS riding around their new empire in American-made or Japanese-made equipment using weapons from the major weapons makers? Like US, France, Israel, Russia, China…none of those countries really love the Mideast jihadhis, so why aren’t there some serious efforts to prevent them from being armed with OUR stuff? We need to move the Pentagon to Hollywood where they could work with the illusionists in the movie industry and get their thinking into the 21st Century. There is no reason why anything bigger than a credit card can’t be chipped and tracked in real time at all times.

If the NSA has time to collect all my inane emails why can’t they also track a few million weapons of personal destruction round the clock. We can do this.

Imagine this scenario. Let’s say for some very shaky motive the US decides to arm and train an army in the Mideast. Dumb idea, I know, but play along here. Maybe some not-too-swift folks in Washington fall for another geopolitical expansion plan that has all the sophistication of a right-wing bumper-sticker. It could happen. I hear rumors it has actually already happened. So we send lots of modern tanks and guns and military stuff there and actually hand it over to guys we don’t know and can’t trust and who have no loyalty to anything beyond their village or the local warlord. But we put them into new uniforms and pretend they are an Army of the presumed government of the phoney state which is deeply riven by tribal hatreds. Then another band of unemployed young men (Let’s not get into population growth here, but Mideast economies need birth control which they don’t believe in… so they always have an over-abundance of unneeded young men without jobs or purpose or flat screen TVs or credit cards or fraternities or even the right to drink beer in public. These young men’s gender-related frustrations and pathologies are frankly unimaginable to anybody in Europe or North America.) comes along with some guns and threatens this army that we Yanks have armed. Let’s just imagine–pretend it’s a blockbuster movie–that some of the “troops” run off and leave behind some of their American-made weapons.

Now the scene features some black-clad young men (they got these outfits from the throw-away closet of some long ago “Star Trek” movie) are climbing all over the tanks and rocket launchers, etc. and apparently reading the users’ manuals. Anyway, our drones in the sky tell us the locations where these black-clad men are and we can track each tank and weapon through our two-way chips. So we know the whereabouts of these black-clad men we don’t like even more than we now don’t like the “soldiers” who ran off and left their American-made weapons behind. And we switch to a control bunker in some NSA habitat somewhere in the US and we see another young man, adept at video games and such, and not wearing black. He turns toward a slightly older uniformed officer standing behind him and tells him, ” Sir, we have confirmation that the black-clad baddies and the US chipped weapons are in the same area, sir. Shall we detonate?”
“Fire when ready,” says the officer in charge.
Some numbers are entered, some buttons pushed, on a touch-screen up pops that inevitable bubble “Are you sure you want to detonate?” The young seated man fingers the “yes” square and the drone video shows flashes of light all across the desert.
OK, so maybe the explosives payload for each machine and device would be too heavy, couldn’t we at least build each one so that a simple message from home could disable the machine or device forever? Melt the control brain in the tank, cause the barrel of a weapon to fuse shut or be melted by acid? Can’t we decide how to hack our own stuff? If not, hire the Russian Mafia, they’ll do anything for money, I’m told. Why should honest American taxpayers, we few who exist, be asked to pay for weapons for people who clearly do not care about “Monday Night Football” or “Downton Abbey?”


September 25, 2014

The following was written by a friend of mine.  I include it unedited and in toto:

Climate Change
by Noreen Hulteen

As this is the week after the world-wide march to protest the danger to the world due to using carbon-based fuels, I thought this would be an opportunity to write a paper on the subject. Thank you protesters.

First, my objective:

If I am wrong in my presentation of scientific conclusions, and the climate-change deniers are right, then the steps needed to alleviate the damage to the earth will only ensure that the non-renewable energy sources will last much longer. Making the changes will not make things worse. It will require that our leaders find creative ways to sustain our civilization while keeping the earth clean.

If I am right in my presentation of the seriousness of Global Climate change, and steps are NOT taken to halt the damage to our earth, then there will be another mass die-off of earth’s creatures — including the human race.

So allow me to discuss some of the potential disasters that can seal our fate.This is not just fear tactics. It is fact that our planet cannot sustain our present use of carbon fuel and survive. First, just a little boring data:

The continued use of carbon-based fuels creates a measurable increase in the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. This is has been scientifically measured to determine amounts  of CO2 concentrations
for past eons by extracting ice cores from the polar ice. Each layer of ice contains a measurable amount of CO2. There have been periods when the amount of CO2 points clearly to the climate conditions at that time. There were 7,000 parts per million (ppm) during the very hot Cambrian Period, and only 180 ppm during the Ice Age. There has been a steady increase since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The amount has gradually increased from 280 ppm to 395 ppm. The amount we now have may be the highest in 800,000 years. (or longer) On May 10, 2013, for the first time, 400 ppm were recorded on Mauna Loa. (I know, really boring — but needed information)

We all can recognize the change. Average annual world temperatures are higher by just a little every year. Summer 2013 was the warmest world temperature average ever recorded. We are experiencing increases in floods, storms, and we can see the polar ice caps melting. Pieces have always broken away (ice bergs) but the sea ice used to return to rebuild the ice caps. They are receding, but not growing back to their original size. Glaciers are receding everywhere.

There are climate change deniers who state that warming and cooling earth is normal and cyclical. That is, in fact, true. But historically there was a cause and effect. Although man was not around to record such activity, we know that they did happen. Huge volcanic eruptions, collision with enormous meteors, could, and would, cause changes in the weather everywhere on earth. What has not happened before is a human population of over 7 billion people who all want to burn carbon-based fuel for energy. We cannot be certain when this will become the disaster we cannot live with, but it is certain that it will.

The oceans are getting warmer. Oceanic creatures are moving into cooler waters and are seen where they were never seen before. The most serious thing that can happen is, with water that is too warm, it is not just reefs that will die, where many sea creatures start their life cycle, but plankton will die. Plankton is the basic start of the food chain. If it goes, we all go.

In the USA food is grown on mono culture farms (single crop on massive plots of land), and is shipped all over the world. Planes, trains and trucks clog our highways with crops going from big Agra business farms to the factory for processing. “Buy local food” may become much more than a marketing slogan, it may become the means of survival.

One example: In order to keep the profit margin high for major chicken producers, chickens raised in USA  are shipped to China. There they are processed, and packed for market.Then they are shipped back to Markets in USA. The energy that fuels the vehicles from the US farm to US shore to the Chinese  factory and back again is just not sustainable

Manufactured items are made any place in the world where labor is cheap. It isn’t JUST the loss of jobs that matter, it is also the high cost of the fuel to carry the materials around and goods to market.  Did you ever think about how many different factories make parts for major appliances and automobiles? Even when you buy American, you may be getting  a vehicle assembled from parts all over the world.

Do you check the labels of things you buy? Distributed by [USA  name and address] does NOT mean that it is made there. It is just a ruse to cover up the “Made in [somewhere else] ” truth.

All this is happening while the actual rise in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is not yet at the tipping point BUT as the ice cap gets smaller, it stops doing that essential job of reflecting some of the sun’s heat back into space. The heat is then absorbed by the oceans and this makes the ice melt faster. As the ice melts, massive bubbles of methane gas is released into the air, which is even more destructive than CO2. We do not know just how much of this can be tolerated before the disaster is not stoppable.

Things that need to be done:

Vastly reduce the amount of carbon based fuel pulled from the earth. It doesn’t matter whether we burn oil, coal, corn, or garbage. We must agree to use less.

Do not assume that using electricity is better than using gasoline. Something has to be burned somewhere to create electricity, I am  sorry, but only a miniscule amount is made by wind and water turbines.

Begin to figure out how you can use things grown and or manufactured locally. Grow and make your own if you can. Reuse and recycle. Walk and/or ride a bicycle.

Thank you for your attention. It is your world and mine we need to protect.
[I find nothing in this commentary to argue with.  I hold in reserve my own opinion about whether ti would be a bad thing if humans became extinct.  Our record of destruction, war and extermination of fellow creatures is without parallel in the natural world.  No band of wolverines or flock of shrike could come close to what we’ve done, repeatedly.  I say this as we recall the centennial of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon in North America, driven to extinction by rapacious hunting and forest felling in the U.S. and Canada.]


September 22, 2014

Vermont is doing what much of the U.S. can’t seem to do. They are going green for energy. Here is segment from an NPR show that explains how Burlington gets all its electricity now from renewable sources. Even though they are just across the border from SHALE OIL CITY (that would be Canada).
Of course, Canada’s head-of-state is too busy to attend tomorrow’s summit on climate change in New York. Probably doing another ribbon cutting at a shale quarry, or maybe inspecting those explosive rail cars rolling across the land. Go Canada! Dig, baby, dig.


September 8, 2014

“Hating the Game”is the headline in the “NY Times Magazine” ethicist column this past weekend. There is a series of serious questions from a troubled fan:
“I’ve recently begun to question my support for the N.F.L. I suspect the recent discoveries about concussions and the prevalence of early-onset dementia…is is unethical to support a league…Don;t watch on television?…”
The ethicist essentially concludes that football risk is known by everybody and that voluntarily trading your future health for fame or a fat paycheck is just fine. Enjoy football and the footballers can make their own choices.
Pop Warner players making consent decisions? We wouldn’t approve kids that age taking drugs or getting pregnant or sky-diving would we?
And the ethicist totally ignores the pernicious influence of football and its macho culture. The NFL just this year has decided it will suspend players for domestic violence! And we needn’t even mention the whole “Redskins” debate to show how NFL is above and beyond normal commerce and ethics in America.
Here’s my letter to the NYT which I suspect will not be published:

Your ethicist answer to the questions from a football fan in the Sept. 7, 2014 issue was sadly lacking in depth.
1) You cannot pretend that all who are injured have volunteered. Do we really think a grade schooler encouraged to play Pop Warner, become a star in high school and then get a big university scholarship has volunteered to get brain damaged from the age of eight?
2) There are the involuntary victims of football. The wives, friends and casual acquaintances who are raped or beaten and then disbelieved or deemed unimportant because football is so central to our society’s view of itself. Can we really pretend that Penn State scandal would have continued for years if Sandusky had been an English prof or chemistry lab assistant? Steubenville, Ohio, has welcomed a convicted rapist back onto its football team. Gotta win.
3) Apart from those who come into direct contact with football or football-related violence, there is a huge cost to our society. Education is daily perverted for the religion of football. Many schools including huge publicly-funded universities pay football coaches more than any educator. They are the modern gladiators thrilling the crowds with their violence. Football twists the values of all the youngster who are players or those deemed inferior because they are not players. And the whole spectacle of cheerleaders I will leave to any intelligent female to assess.


September 3, 2014

It’s nice to have one’s hopes confirmed. No, there’ll be no settlement for peace between Palestine and Israel. NO, there’ll be no enlightenment in the Muslim nations so that women can walk about freely, even drive a car or smoke a joint…or have a beer. But here in Oregon we can proudly order another brew down at the brewpub and feel proud of what our fellow Oregonians have done. Put us in the center of the beer map of the US, click here. And once again feel sorry for beknighted Mississippi, worst brew of the whole crew.


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