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Sunday, April 30, 2006
On this day:

The Mother of Conspiracy Theories

Found via a wandering post at Etherialgirl, the documentary Loose Change, a possible contender for the Mother of All Conspiracy Theories, gives pause for thought. The trouble with such outlandish assertions is that they will convince only those who don't need convincing, and alienate only those who would never believe it in the first place: It's preaching to the choir.

America is slowly waking up to our situation, stretching and blinking in the light, that our once-admired president (and entourage of sociopaths) might not have the nation's interest entirely in the forefront of their collective frontal lobes, such as they are. AS for me, I've always listened to my inner voice, never has it steered me wrong. As such, I've distrusted the man on sight - one smirk was all it took.

Given the outrageous things we've learned about the neo-cons lately, the message of Loose Change doesn't seem so preposterous as it might have a few years back. Another provocative movie is Hijacking Catastrophe, which came out a couple years ago, underlining possible motives for our War on Humanity. Watch them together, if you can do so without becoming homicidal, and I assure you the world will look a bit darker in the morning...

Truth hurts.

Internet Democracy

I learned something this morning.

As I sit at my laptop seeking inspiration for this blog, I receive and email from my friends at Democracy for Illinois. Yesterday the House voted on the “net neutrality” issue. For those just emerging from hibernation, info can be found here. As DFI has it, in collaboration with MyDD, a total of five Democratic congressional representatives voted to end the free internet. To wit:
1. Ed Towns (NY-10) received $22,000 from cable and telecom company interests. I'm glad you can reach him at (202) 225-5936.

2. Al Wynn (MD-04) received $19,100 from cable and telecom company interests. I'm glad you can reach him at (202) 225-8699.

3. Charlie Gonzales (TX-20) received $16,500 from cable and telecom company interests. I'm glad you can reach him at (202) 225-3236.

4. Bobby Rush (IL-01) received $21,000 from cable and telecom company interests. I'm glad you can reach him at
(202) 225-4372.

5. Gene Green (TX-29) received $12,000 from cable and telecom company interests. I'm glad you can reach him at (202) 225-1688 tel.

So what did I learn from this? The average cost of a Democratic vote is $18120. For companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, this is chump change, and anyone being sold out for so little deserves to be called a chump.

As I am a Chicago native, I am particularly stung to find Bobby Rush on this list of compromised lawmakers. His First Congressional District in Illinois includes Chicago proper and many suburbs to the southwest. To add further injury, he proudly proclaims his affiliation with the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, among other committees and subcommittees. While I am glad that my representative Jan Schakowski did not vote with Bobby Rush, if this train wreck occurs, all will be affected by it.

Be honest: censorship of the Internet is un-American. Never mind the pretense of market forces instigating this travesty. I can’t help the feeling that certain high-ranking government officials would love to shut up the blogocube and it’s unruly participants, what with their crass ways of sowing dissent against an unrepentant tyrannical administration.

Did I say that? But I digress…

To counter the argument by a telecom CEO about needing compensation for the internet using his “pipes,” I looked at my Earthlink bill which kindly breaks down the various charges for my broadband. Of my $43 monthly bill, $20 goes to my telecom. Just over three dollars is tax, leaving the rest for Earthlink. Almost half of what I pay goes to the keepers of the “pipes.” Multiply that by the millions of households having internet access across the nation, and I see a large sum of money rightly going to those who build the conduits for the bits to travel.

I’m seriously considering canceling my Verizon account as it comes up for renewal next month. There are other, more ethical wireless companies happy to take my money. You may remember that they were one of a few companies who generously contributed to Tom DeLay’s defense fund last year. Now this – need I say more?

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, we supporters of a free Internet have lost this vote. We have gained in publicity for this subtle yet crucial attack on our freedom of expression. With all that is wrong with our current administration, perhaps this may be one of the largest to affect the lives of Americans for generations to come: the ending of Internet Democracy.

Friday, April 28, 2006
On this day:

Light Fare (for a change)

An uninspiring news day, today. Besides being worn out from a tough work week, I cannot find anything to get excited about in the news.

Perhaps that's a good thing. I'm sure some would think so.

Time for some light fare: I would like to share this touching article from the NY Times, written by Tom Hanks. He shares an insiders view of a unapplauded art form and says farewell to a friend.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
On this day:

Peace Takes Courage

As a practicing Buddhist, I have begun to realize the nature of aggression. Both within and without, aggressive behavior has dominated much of my years in this life. What I’ve discovered is that such behavior – anger, hatred, arguments and fighting, are all based upon fear. As such, they are outward signs of cowardliness. No matter the scale, from rude gestures in traffic to preemptive military campaigns, aggression stems from fear.

As a Buddhist, I try to curb my fears, tame my aggressive nature by investigating it and being open and honest – not only with others, but with myself. I try to tread the path of peace. Peace is the opposite of war. So, too is the motivation of peaceful conduct the opposite of fear.

Peace takes courage. But that kind of courage is not celebrated in America. I admit to liking Jimmy Carter for trying to take the more difficult path to peace during his tenure. Most Americans, indeed all of the right-minded ones, view his as a weak eccentric at nest, and a failed president at worst. As President, Jimmy did many good things, taking tiny yet essential steps toward world peace. His downfall was the inherent impatience of the average American and the insurmountable greed of its corporate interests. Neither camp is interested in world peace, then or now.

I write this in response to a website named Peace Takes Courage. Just the title sparked my imagination. Its message cannot be spoken enough: End the Iraqi War. Our conflict is unique in American history, perhaps in world history. To take a horrible disaster perpetrated upon a nation’s innocents and mastermind a fictitious campaign of deceit toward a premeditated goal of warfare against people not actually involved with that disaster has no precedent. Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on September 11, 2001; no one can deny this truth. To perpetrate the most expensive war in history, a dream that was in the making long before our President and his cronies tipped the electoral scales in 2000, and to base the execution of that dream upon the convenient excuse of a national disaster, is nothing short of criminal.

Criminal behavior, like all expressions of aggression, is rooted in cowardice. Fear drives the criminals in Washington: fear of disclosure forces slander campaigns and identity leaks; fear of the American public manifests in lying and further lying to cover for the previous falsehoods; fear of foreign entities is ultimately expressed in a global conflict of mastery. That is exactly the kind of game the Bush administration is playing. Their fear is so great that no one is exempt from paying the price for their cowardly actions.

America must stand up against this tyranny of fear. We must demand accountability, first with censure, then with impeachment proceedings. If our leaders are as innocent of wrongdoings as they would claim, then to submit themselves to the scrutiny inherent in any public figure, and allow such procedures to commence. Justice, if done well, will prevail and the truly guiltless will emerge unscathed. Only the guilty will be punished, as the law allows.

But that’s another thing their afraid of…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
On this day:

Putting the Horse Before the Cart in an Empty Barn

While Nepal celebrates its political victory, the newspapers return to their navel-watching of American politics. The top story is how the GOP “leaders” (I hate to use those terms together) are urging our Favorite Shrubbery to launch an investigation into alleged price-gouging by US oil companies.

I’ll wait until you stop laughing…

I’m trying to think up a suitable punch line. Such a blatant publicity stunt must have some comical precedent – help me out here.

OK. It’s an election year. Republicans have fumbled the ball on almost every issue they’ve tried. Corruption abounds, lies are exposed, cronyism and incompetence. Now, the annual driving season approaches, and their friends in petroleum that helped pay for they’re jobs are doing business as oil companies have done every year since the 1950’s: Hike the prices on gasoline to reap a higher profit margin during the peak season.

This is not news. What makes it difficult for congress, is the deregulation of the past few fiscal budgets, and the outlay of pork – not to mention the major his to refineries thanks to Katrina. Increase drain on oil reserves for an ongoing conflict and our failed attempt to secure and rebuild the Iraqi oil pipeline may have contributed to the record-high oil price. Finally, the fact that we arguable have reached the tipping point called “Peak Oil.” All of this adds up to a great deal of pressure on the ruling party.

I’m just thinking, here, but maybe all this leads to our Conniver-in-Chief to finally start funding (with what little money the government has left) alternative energy research.

Why do I thing of cart-and-horse or horse-and-barn analogies? Maybe we should all but a horse for the upcoming energy crisis. Then we can all remember just how much energy is produced at one horsepower. Besides, in another few years a horse will be cheaper than a tank of gas.

Monday, April 24, 2006
On this day:

Just Three Weeks

Three weeks: That’s how long it took for the people of Nepal to gain an agreement with King Gyanedra over reinstatement of their Parliament. Protesters began their efforts on April 6, affectively closing down the tiny nation until their demands were met. CNN writes about the gun battles over the weekend, and about today’s celebrations. The Washington Post insists on painting a picture of an embattled government and an unruly populace, linking the pro-democracy movement with the separate actions of the Maoist rebels and taking the side of established power. Note how WaPo uses the word “opposition” in place of “demonstrators” when referring to the Nepalese people, and how it stresses the refusal of a watered down concession by King Gyanedra to reinstall the Prime Minister instead of the whole Parliament. The NY Times takes a human-interest slant by denoting the troubles of a hospital in Katmandu.

An interesting point is brought up in the NYT articles about the recent urging by the US, India, China and the EU for the protesting parties to accept the king’s earlier offer of reinstating the Prime Minister. The commoners knew this to be a side issue, and would not be distracted by it…
On Sunday, some of Nepal's best known civic advocates, now in detention in a police barracks outside the capital, sent a letter of defiance to foreign ambassadors. The letter said that the endorsement of the king's offer by the ambassadors' countries had "needlessly delayed a peaceful transition in the country at a critical hour."

"We ask you, in the hours and days ahead, to be more alert to royal machinations and to support the political parties as they challenge the royal palace," said the letter, signed by 18 detainees, including human rights advocates, writers, lawyers and doctors — among them the director of Model Hospital, Dr. Bharat Pradhan.

…and issuing the above statement to tell outsiders to back off and stay out if it. I’m called to mind the hubris of the industrialized nations and of the collective arrogance that many of the world’s wealthiest nations bring to “negotiations.” America is the worst of the bunch, telling the Nepali people that we know what’s best for them. When has America given two thoughts to Nepal before this past week? Of all the previously mentioned nations, India alone backed off their stance after Nepal’s rebuttal.

Although this drama is not over, a lesson can be learned by the determination of the Nepali people, their courage in the face of tear gas and bullets, and their unwillingness to accept half measures. Three weeks of grass roots politics at its most basic level affected a change that our leaders have been pretending at for three years in Iraq. I cannot stress this lesson enough: Democracy is born from the will of the people involved, not from the will of foreign armies and unrelenting political ideologies.

As a contrast to the Iraqi situation, we can see how a nation reacts when it truly wants a democratic representation, as exemplified in the actions of the Nepalese. And we can see how a nation reacts when democracy is forced down their unwilling throats, as exemplified by the Iraqis.

Saturday, April 22, 2006
On this day:

Nepal: Don't Believe the Media

A Revolution is occurring in Nepal. Western media is misrepresenting the story, subtly backing the entrenched monarchy by careful use of language. Never mind that King Gyanedra killed his own brother to gain the throne; that's what Monarchies are made of - traitorous family values. Westerners want to believe in beneficial little kingdoms in our modern world; they're quaint. The reality is more akin to the modern rhetorical posturing reminiscent of a certain self-proclaimed "Super Power," wherein lying is the defacto methodology and brute force is the path to cowering the people. (Okay: so we've not gone the brute force route - yet.)

In response to my last post on Nepal, I received a welcome comment (I don't get many...) in the form of three links to a blog by Paramendra Bhagat, who is watching the developments closely. I suspect he has family in the region. Nonetheless, he is eloquent and much more knowledgeable than I. Check him out here.

These days, I'm inclined to listen the news spin and instinctively side with the commoners. In such cases as Nepal, people don't consciously gather to oust a beneficial government, as most humans prefer stability in their lives over chaos. But the media keeps playing on the phrase "...Opposition to the absolute rule of Nepal's King Gyanendra, who vowed to return political power "to the people" the day before." As CNN puts it.

How many times can national leaders lie to the public before the media catches on? That's a rhetorical question, folks. The answer: an exponential number relative to the amount of dollars invested by said government into media-related lobby interests. Just what CNN and it's ilk has to gain by painting the citizens of Nepal as the irrational party is beyond me. If one reads the news carefully, connections are being drawn via careful phrasing of the facts to link the commons with the local Communist party; a move that is sure to raise the hackles of ignorant Americans and others. Likewise, a new term is being used to further the demonization of the people, who some say are under the influence of "Maoist 'terrorists.'"

That T-word, again! I'm getting sick of its over-use.

These are normal, everyday people rising up against a questionable power. No terrorism is involved here, except the escalating tactics being used by the Nepalese government to suppress dissent - but if a government is doing the suppressing, it cannot by definition be labeled as terrorism; that's a term reserved for non-government-sanctioned organizations. Nevermind the results being uncannilly similar...

For whatever reason, our news outlets are spinning away, distorting the facts. Don't believe everything you read. But you knew that already.

Friday, April 21, 2006
On this day:

End of a Free Ride?

The Internet is being besieged by corporate interests. The very same companies that provide internet lines to ISPs are now lobbying congress, to the tune of $10 million, to destroy a long standing principle of the 'net: Network Neutrality.

Companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T are romancing politicians in this moment of mid-term election fund raising to buy votes on an issue that would exponentially increase profits while closing parts to the internet to citizens.

Imagine paying your ISP for the privilege of searching for links only to the few sites whose owners have paid to have represented, then clicking on such paltry offerings only to be asked to register and pay more for a look. Such a scenario is not too far-fetched is Congress gives in to its election-year greed and passes the law that is currently on the books.

How would this affect us? Read the FAQ. Then take action. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
On this day:

Bye, Scotty!

Scott McClellan has resigned as the White House press secretary. As part of the "shake up" face saving strategy of the new chief of staff. So much for the Mouth of Sauron.

Seriously, I can't think of a more thankless job than trying to put a smiley face on the horrific job the White House has been doing all these years. I wonder if he has ulcuers...

Despite my snark, aside from all the abuse he's gotten, I've always felt he was a nice guy. I wonder further if he isn't feeling relieved that the pressure is off. I don't know how much a person makes in that position, but it couldn't have been enough. Farewell, Scott, hopefully you have a book contract in your future. I'd read it (assuming it was candid).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
On this day:

Verbal Salvos and Temperance

Via Mahablog:

A stink is rising about Michele Malkin, who posted private information - in the form of phone numbers - about several UC Santa Cruz students who succeeded in ousting military recruiters from their job fair. As it happened, some of the people who read her blog have issued death threats against these students for the audacity of speaking their mind about their belief that recruitment doesn’t belong in academia. It’s their opinion. Such is the heated nature of political discourse these days that their opinion accompanied by “resoloot” action seemed extreme to certain people who tend to read Michelle’s ravings.

To post contact information gleaned from the header of a press release and pretend that its “published” is just wrong. But that shouldn’t surprise us, considering the source. That less savory individuals would take this information and hound the students with repeated death threats, is sinful. Even as the Right rightly complains about a Purdue University student who was arrested and charged with threatening to kill the president, so like-minded others reverse the rolls, and Michelle thinks that is acceptable behavior. But she whines about her hate mail. She hand picks her favorites, but not one of those threatened her life.

The responses I’ve seen are venomous and foul. But the Left has assembled an arsenal of tempered writers who respond strongly against Michelle’s brand of hatemongering. Some from both sides, however, need to stay rational. In context is Michelle’s admittance of being an alarmist. She has said many times that she wants to be a top blogger. To that end, she will do and say anything. Ask Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, or Newt Gingrich just how far a Republican will go to achieve their goals. Ethics is for fools, and anything goes; so too with “conservative” bloggers. (I put that word in quotes, because I really can’t tell just what they think they’re conserving…)

Fact: both political camps have an overabundance of hot-headed, self-propelled pundits. Thanks to the Internet, anyone can say anything. Likewise anyone else can take someone’s ravings and do real harm. As a rule, generalizations about “us and them” are seen as fruit of the ignorance that spawned them.

Fact: Angry words soothe no wounds. To respond out of anger detracts from the message, however just and well thought it might be. Once your reader feels you’re fuming, you’ve lost credibility. Read the careful summary from Maha; feel out who is rational and who is not. Then ask yourself who you’re most likely to believe. Read also the comment section. See for yourself the hatred overflowing in both directions.

This is the wrong path, folks. Wake up!

Monday, April 17, 2006
On this day:

Goofing Off

So, where was I over the past weekend? Slumming.

The wife was accompanying our daughter in a road trip to Madison, WI, wherein, at the University the annual conference by the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists. So here I was, a middling middle-aged batchelor for the weekend. Combine this with Passover which, in our house means they eat kosher, and I eat out a lot.

So off they went in the neighbor's borrowed minivan, two jewish ladies, a double bass, and lots of kosher noshes to keep them satiated for the duration. And here I was with the two cats and a bit of laundry to do. So much for the batchelor fantasy...

I'm still hooked on Conquer Online. I find a (relatively) unpopulated server and start a new character and work it through the ranks until too many people join the server and bog it down. I'm such a big kid in some ways. Also I finally got Civilization IV a few weeks ago, the latest in my favorite computer game franchise, and with it I take care of my latent world-building-jones for a while. I'm a recovering Dungeons & Dragons geek, still.

All in all, Monday comes on too quickly, and the workaday slush is a bit irritating in contrast to a quiet weekend killing monsters and dominating planets. Life in meatspace is so mundane!

The Real Deal in Nepal

Keep an eye on Nepal. A real, honest-to-goodness Democratic uprising is occurring there. Our dyslexic leader should watch, too – he might learn how a people who truly want a Democratic government act like. Much like our president, King Gyanedra is loosing his grip on his nation. For the past few months, curfews have been established, and an abolishment of their parliament, in place since the last pro-democratic uprising in 1990, occurred in February. The world’s only Hindu monarchy rose to power amidst nefarious circumstances, and Gyanedra’s subsequent power grabs have been none-too-subtle. Now, instead of the usual suspects of politically active fringe groups acting up, the whole country is engaging in their version of a solidarity movement.

It’s not a pretty sight, but wresting control from an entrenched government rarely is. While the Maoist factions in the Himalayas act as catalyst for change – indeed, they endorse a change in government, the people rallying aren’t Maoists.

I pray our leader, and the people who wind him up, would watch this. They might learn how Democracy comes from the people, and not from other governments or from a military surrogate. Just as Poland shook off the shackles of Soviet influence, so too is Nepal shaking off an anachronistic form of governance, one that has less influence over the young population. People – honest working stiffs – form democracies. That is the only way it happens. Any other method is doomed to failure.

As we look around the globe, few nations are rising up for self-representation. Clearly, the Muslim states don’t want Western political thought to invade their culture. If they did, more would take to the streets in a concerted effort to oust their leaders. Iraq, as backward as it looked to America, was more or less content with tier lot. Life is less valuable to medieval societal structures like those still existing in the Middle East. I’m no expert, as you might guess, but it seems clear that those who would die for any cause, as the Muslim factions within destabilized Iraq are surely doing; and if democracy was on their agenda, they would unite within their borders instead of tearing their faltering nation to shreds.

In short, they would act more like the Nepalese. So don’t believe what you hear on the news. What our leaders would like us to believe is yet another lie. This, folks, is Democracy in Action.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
On this day:

Oil, Politics, Pariahs, and Oily Politics

Today, the NY Times runs a piece about Iran’s posturing in it’s pursuit of enriched uranium. According to the article, an inspector of the Atomic Energy Agency visited Tehran and concluded that Iran’s progress is slow, and that the nation’s rhetoric far outstrips its nuclear capabilities.

No doubt in my mind that our administration will attempt to debunk this story.

On the same front, Gretchen Clearwater, Democratic hopeful for Indiana’s ninth district, has a petition on her website for all who oppose our nation’s current pre-war preparations and media blitz against Iran. Get you name out there! I especially urge all parents of high-schoolers to vociferously protest any new wars. A new war will exacerbate the current drain on military recruitment, likely forcing our compassionless leaders to bring back the draft, and our kids high school kids will be coming of age at the same time.

Sign it. Share it. Save lives.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, an article runs about the current crop of military retirees speaking up against Donald Rumsfeld’s management style. As he cannot be impeached (aw, shucks), they implore him to resign. Some use stringer language than that. It’s clear that old Rummy is as bitter a pill as he looks to be.

Not that there’s any hope that anyone in the upper reaches of the government will just quit because knowledgeable people call Mr. Rumsfeld "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically."  As we learned through FEMA, political capitol is not gained by being competent. And as Tom DeLay has taught us, one can’t win by adhering to the laws.

While the government pursues new legislation making it illegal for dark-skinned people to come to America to seek their fortunes, as the forefathers of all of our political elite have already done, we can watch while the power mongers play war games wherever they choose.

It’s all about oil, anyway.

Remember: the end justifies the means; when your children can still drive Hummers while Europe and Asia rely on Mopeds while buying all their oil from us, they will thank us.

Monday, April 10, 2006
On this day:

Devil in the Details

Why is American media prepping the nation on the idea for another “regime change,” this time in Iran? Is the Bush administration going to start the apocalypse single-handedly? Call it that, or call it World War 3, what’s the difference?

CNN Reports, the strongest words yet on the New American Century’s next bloody disaster: Iran. To wit:
President George W. Bush views Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "potential Adolf Hitler," and sees "regime change" in Tehran as the ultimate goal.
"This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,"

The White House, without denying the report, reiterated that it was pursuing a diplomatic solution.
"We are not going to discuss military planning," said spokesman Blair Jones.

Let’s take this morsel one tidbit at a time. For our warmonger president to call anyone a “potential Adolph Hitler” is the proverbial pot and kettle. I’m no history expert, but Mr. Hitler wanted – among other things – to unite Europe under his banner. Similarly, Mr. Warmonger wants to unite the globe under the banner of “Democracy.”

Regime change is a euphemism for preemptive warfare. Haven’t we learned anything, yet? Over two thousand young Americans slaughtered for – what?!? We're pulling out - when?!?

As far as Mr. Jones’ response, haven’t we all heard that tune before? He’s just saying what he has to - to keep his job. “Spokesman,” when combined with our current liar-in-chief, is a euphemism for liar. Remember: at one point in 2003, we were “pursuing diplomatic options” as well. How well did that turn out? Diplomacy as characterized by this administration, is personified by John Bolton, whose cowboy attitude is meant to shake up the United Nations (that’s the plan at any rate). Diplomacy to our worst-ever-president is synonymous with warfare; they’re interchangeable, with the latter method being preferred as a bolster to economic growth.

I think back on the days of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who often shook his rhetorical fists at America and called us “the Seat of Satan;” nicely alliterative, that - catchy. Today,as I watch helpless while our current geopolitical atrocities unfold, I begin to wonder if he was not correct in a more figurative connotation. My personal religious convictions notwithstanding, perhaps a Satan-like force is controlling the world’s only superpower. How else can one explain our Hell-bent drive for world domination? What other explanation is there for our transparent, devil-may-care power grab on the world’s largest oil fields in the context of peak oil and unchecked consumption?

Two wars and counting: who would do such a thing? As I said before, we’re on the right track for the End of Times, to those who believe such a thing. Too bad our Christian leadership is bringing it upon itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy: Ironic, that.

Sunday, April 09, 2006
On this day:

Surrealistic Sunday Morning

Sometimes I just have to ignore the news. Three days of emails from CNN, NY Times, and Washington Post accumulate in today’s inbox, and as I clear out the clutter, scanning the headlines, some stories catch in my brain. It’s all a jumble, really, and below I try to express how it feels being over-informed and under-informed at the same time. Is say this because, as we all know, the news is hand picked for salability and minimal political upheaval; thus, we are under-informed. At the same time, we find ourselves inundated with facts and other people’s opinions, creating a mental background noise not unlike the whine of an airliner turbine; thus, we are over-informed. This noise makes it hard to think - therefore we are more malleable. The utter inanity of the overall impression serves to foment despair and we throw up our proverbial hands at the wicked world, therefore making us more malleable. It’s a neat trick. One would think of the Illuminati or something, but probably this accumulated affect is incidental…

What follows is a surrealistic impression of this weekend’s news stories:

Hot Stock Markets. Rubber bullets in Nepal. A missing murder victim and a leaking Bush; Tornados kill in Tennessee, wildfire in Texas. Mosques meet exploding people and hamstrung Hamas. Immigration battles. How Bill Gates works. The next wave of recruits. Hugh Heffner’s turning 80! Mom cuts off baby’s arms; deemed insane. Going nowhere at Ground Zero; going too far in West Virginia. Enron trial ad nauseum. Google marries Earthlink. Death by volcano. Women beating on men. Planning the next war. More Baghdad bombings.

It does make one want to play ostrich, doesn’t it?

Thursday, April 06, 2006
On this day:

Regressive Politics, Economic Ignorance

According to a Washington Post article, certain scientist as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are experiencing attempts at censoring their findings about climate change and its full affects. Typical to the regressionist mindset of our current out-of-touch non-leaders, officials in Washington are trying to use soviet-era tactics of stifling certain scientists from disclosing what US taxpayer dollars are spent to discover.

Lip service during State of the Union Addresses leads the gullible public to believe that our President cares about humanity’s impact on the planet. Intimidation tactics in the halls of science speaks volumes about how he doesn’t give a damn. Here’s the excuse
Administration officials said they are following long-standing policies that were not enforced in the past. Kent Laborde, a NOAA public affairs officer who flew to Boulder last month to monitor an interview Tans did with a film crew from the BBC, said he was helping facilitate meetings between scientists and journalists.

"We've always had the policy, it just hasn't been enforced," Laborde said. "It's important that the leadership knows something is coming out in the media, because it has a huge impact. The leadership needs to know the tenor or the tone of what we expect to be printed or broadcast."
Here is the reality:
NOAA scientists, however, cite repeated instances in which the administration played down the threat of climate change in their documents and news releases. Although Bush and his top advisers have said that Earth is warming and human activity has contributed to this, they have questioned some predictions and caution that mandatory limits on carbon dioxide could damage the nation's economy.

The American Economy is today’s Holy Grail. Everything that Washington does that does not involve the threat of terrorism is linked to the nebulous construct of the US economy. We are selling the planet and the air and water our children’s children will need to bolster the economic growth of the world’s richest nation. Sell tomorrow for today’s profit. Censor the doomsayers of science, for the economic foundation that our nation stands upon is a weak, crumbling structure supported by polutocratic policies and erosion of oil assets. Peak oil is past us now. We need something better, but our policy-makers cringe at taking the necessary steps because it might damage an economy destined to crash unless its dependence on oil for energy is replaces.

Will such changes cause economic upheaval? Yes. It is inevitable that such widespread changes will hurt our society in the short term, but to ignore the obvious truth of our need to restructure our economic infrastructure is to guarantee devastation in the long term. If we try, we might fail, but if we don’t try we sill surely fail. Yet not trying to revamp our industrial processes is exactly what our government is doing.

We are destined to fall due to shortsighted, fearful mismanagement as exemplified by our administration’s paltry attempts at muzzling insurmountable scientific evidence. To be a global leader again, the United States should pick up the mantle of renewable resources and alternate energy, despite the difficulties, and show the world our latent can-do abilities. We used to know how to get things done. Perhaps we can yet find a way.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
On this day:

Feast or Famine

Some days are not newsworthy. At such times, the MSM recycles whatever sold yesterday’s papers, hoping someone has just emerged from cryogenic freeze and needs to catch up.

Today, however, many things have emerged: dog decapitations in Michigan; A British spy being tortured and murdered; a celebrity’s ex-wife being kidnapped; a teacher arrested for repeated raping of a minor. These are indications of a pandemic of sorts, having to do with a lack of morals, an emptiness of values. People are getting sicker in their minds these days. All this and I’m not through with the CNN report yet!

But the best story of the day is the Department of Homeboy Scrutiny official who gets caught by a dupe as he tries to initiate inappropriate liaisons with a “14-year-old” through the internet. Not only is this quinquagenarian socially sick, he’s terminally stupid. Doesn’t he know the adage: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog?” Perhaps he just got his new computer last Christmas, and is just discovering the liberty of being online. Now, everyone knows he’s a dog.

This is another inverse highlight of Republican leadership, as DHS is our administration’s attempt at the conservative mainstay of smaller government. I would bet that any senior officials of said agency were on the list of the RNC and/or a Bush Pioneer, et al. When is America going to say “enough is enough?” I’ve surely had my fill long ago.

But stupidity, immorality, and mental depredations abound in our society. There are no check-and-balances for behavior anymore. The power of Clergy is faded, what with the Catholic Church and its own pedophile problems, who would listen? People cannot seem to police themselves, and role models are hard to find: Mike Tyson, anyone? Kobe Bryant? I’ve never understood how people can attempt such things and hope to get away with them. We all have a voice within us telling us an act is wrong, and too many learn to ignore it.

As for the rest of humanity, we feast upon the moral famine around us. That is what sells “News.” But to begin to believe such behavior is okay is folly. Pity the fools…

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
On this day:

Squeezing Out Dreams

I’ve always fancied myself as a writer. Considering my history as a victim of Chicago Public Schools, some might think that above my station. Perhaps it is. But I wouldn’t be doing this gig if I didn’t like to put words together. Lord knows it not for the money…

Back in high school – yes, I can remember that far back, sort of – I began by rhyming and writing songs to teach myself guitar. I couldn’t afford lessons or a fancy electric set-up, so I took to the less expensive singer-songwriter method, made popular in the late sixties and early seventies. There as a small hitch to my advancement: I couldn’t sing. After my voice found its adult timbre, I ended up as a baritone – not conducive to singing Beatles, Dylan, Paul Simon, et al. So the poetry and songwriting faded, and my musical influence steered toward instrumental experiments.

As for the written word, I tried several times to start short fiction, giving up often. Much later, as my wife was pregnant, and I was in the throes of pre-fatherhood jitters. I managed to channel that nervousness into typing out a novel length story. As it was conceived in situ as I sat at the Royal typewriter (I couldn’t yet afford a computer), it ended up lacking in mechanics and structure. But it did have a beginning, middle and end, which was more than I had managed before.

Shortly thereafter, I bought my first computer, part as a reward for actually finishing my first novel, such as it was, and partly to reward me for actually helping to produce a healthy child. Now that my wife had her baby, I could get mine… Ostensibly, this new machine was to aid in the writing process, but all too soon I discovered computer gaming, and I wasn’t the same ever after.

Now, though, I look toward constructing sentences again. Writing, I’ve always told myself, is an old man’s sport. One must have a certain experience of living to imbue a character with life. I’m getting old, these days, and I find myself running out of excuses. Thankfully, weblogs are here, and I practice as I can on mine. If some hapless soul wanders upon my corner of the cybershpere, I both thank and console you: thank you for reading; apologies for using you as a guinea pig. So as I practice, I must also study the works of others, bloggers, novelists, poets; whatever I can sink my mind into. Also, I will work on my novel concepts that have been gestating for many years. This may cause a sporadic ripple on this blog, as I juggle my ambitions with my work-a-day reality (yuck!), but that frees any readership to only return occasionally. That’s my gift to you, as I squeeze my dreams from the turnip of reality… or something…

Sunday, April 02, 2006
On this day:

A Sunday Reassessment

Some days writing on politics is boring. Even I can tire of Bush-bashing sometimes. However dismal the geopolitical horizon seems, there is more to life. It follows that there should be more to this blog as well.

Since December, when I took a hiatus from blogging, my readership – such as it is – has suffered. Before that break, I was averaging over 70 hits a week, the occasional comment sprinkled in. Since the first of the year, I’ve only averaged 35 hits a week, with barely any feedback. I read lately that blog readership in general is tapering off as the medium eventuates toward the mainstream, and perhaps this plays into the equation. In my meager case, I feel streamlining the content on tannishblog has hurt its appeal. As I’m discovering, being out there on the left fringe and blogging about it starts to get repetitive.

In light of these thoughts, I’ll try to gently nudge this blog into a few more of my interests. After all, it’s the human factor that makes reading these so interesting. You might begin to see posts on computer topics, Buddhism in America, books, some writings I might find time to invent, or posts on being a musician or on parenting and teenager (!). Who knows?

So – to the few friends and family members who check in periodically: thank you. To the random blog readers and to the as yet unmet friends, thank you as well. Although blogging is largely narcissistic in nature, without a readership, however humble, it is rather meaningless. Let’s cut a deal: I’ll pretend to be an interesting person if you pretend to be interested. Together, maybe we can breathe some life into this thing…