Still Crazy After All These Years

JD At The Top_1

Yes, I’m still climbing the mountain near my house here in Japan. Only twice a week now. It has been COLD! Maybe not by Michigan standards (where I grew up), but I’ve lost all of my tolerance for low temperatures. I think living in Southern California for fifteen years recalibrated my body’s thermostat.

So to make my twice-weekly pilgrimage up the mountain, I bundle up like I’m exploring the Siberian tundra. It’s well worth it. The calm, the quiet, the meditation, the centering has become a ritual I can’t live without. Well, I guess I would live. But I’d be more insane than I already am.  My wife, Masumi, has yoga and ballet.  I stumble up and down a big mound of dirt.  Works for me.

Today my trek was a real adventure and a phenomenal treat.  While normally we don’t get that much snow here in Sasayama — and when we do, it typically doesn’t linger more than a day — this weekend we got over 12 cm (5 inches) and it stuck around.

Now I don’t own proper hiking boots. And given the variations in temperature, sometimes I was plowing through snow, other times negotiating slush and ice. My feet ended up very numb and at times I felt like I was roller skating on Teflon. I’m proud of myself. I only fell once — no broken bones. And my piggies thawed out real nice. None had to be amputated. I didn’t even get chillblain itchies! Anyone growing up in severe winter weather will know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, here are a few photos.

Photo Pair_1Photo Pair_2Photo Pair_3Photo Pair_4

I know how good I have it.  I thank the karmic lottery every day for the life I fell into.

Is it so unreasonable to think that every single person in the world deserves this?

Just a simple, basic shot at happiness, free from hunger, fear, war, oppression.

Not that I expect it to shine any light on my random musings, here’s a song by Paul Simon. (Is he still married to Edie Brickell? Last I heard, their neighbors were complaining about the noise from them screaming at each other during their epic connubial squabbles.)

I don’t feel so all alone.

I guess everyone’s still crazy after all these years.

Posted in Adventure, Philosophy, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Choose A Symptom, Ignore The Disease

Trump Clinton Cruz Sanders_AltThis presidential election is about choosing a symptom and living in denial of the disease.

Willful ignorance, cognitive dissonance, reductive rationalization, diversion or delusion — call your suicide pact Kool Aid whatever you want — has little sway with the Grim Reaper.  Just ask Steve Jobs.  He thought he could beat the Big C.  He was dead wrong.

America made its bargain with unspeakable Evil and now is afflicted with the cancer of its own corruption and self-sabotaging choices.

To avoid the pain, it has euthanized its democracy.

To avoid thinking about extinction, it has embraced fantasy, magic, demagoguery.

To avoid the humiliation of moral bankruptcy, it has exalted profit over people.

To mask its treachery, it wraps itself in the flag, thumps on the Bible, and proclaims: “You’re either with us or against us.”  Anyone who doesn’t fall in line is carted off to a for-profit prison.

To keep the sheeple giddy as we sashay to slaughter, it now promotes puerile pandering, grandstanding and simpleminded showmanship over a principled, thoughtful, honest and constructive national conversation.

Thus . . .

Elections have become a circus.  The center ring is reserved for the ones with the shiniest teeth-whitened smiles, biggest megaphones, and most dazzling tricks.

It’s all so very entertaining, eh?  What will Donald Trump say next?  Ha ha ha!

America has hollowed itself out from the inside.  As is embarrassingly and frighteningly evident from the current presidential campaign, the political system can now only collapse into its own vacuousness — the black hole of a sham democracy.

Trump, Cruz, Clinton, Sanders?  They’re symptomatic of the times.  The inflammation.  The nausea.  The diarrhea.  The vomiting.  They’re the struggling, heaving, gasping of a deathly ill body politic, telling us something’s very wrong.  Quick!  Call an ambulance!  Vital signs are fast disappearing!

So I say . . .

Don’t yell at Hillary.  Or Trump.  It’s like yelling at a stuffy nose.  Or a rash. 

They’re just symptoms.  It’s a waste if time.

We need to get to the root of the problem.

“What’s the disease?  Cancer you say?”

Cancer is not a simple pathology.  It’s complex and multi-pronged — which, of course, is why it so stubbornly resists a comprehensive and enduring cure.

The form of cancer which is destroying our nation is a like self-replicating Hydra which has metastasized throughout the entire infrastructure of our economy, ravaged the entire political system, leeched the media of any integrity and efficacy; it has polluted even the basic support systems of our churches and community organizations; it has completely poisoned the collective consciousness of our citizenry. 

This brazen and aggressive malignancy feeds on:

1)  Unchecked imperial ambitions.

2)  Exceptionalist hubris and arrogance.

3)  The crushing power of corporations.

4)  The militarization of everything.

5)  Plutocratic tyranny and greed.

Trump?  Clinton?  Cruz?  Sanders? 

Choose your symptom.  As if it makes a difference.

Each has his or her own special twist.  A plausible version of reality.

Adult fairy tales.  Bedtime stories.  Go to sleep now.  Dream the American Dream.

At the same time . . .

If we listen very carefully to them, as tedious and exasperating as that often is — with their carefully-crafted rhetoric, focus-group tried-and-tested talking points, slick sound bites, patriotic pandering, tongue-wagging, finger-pointing, massaging and masking of the truth, manipulation of public perception, their smooth seductions and patronizing provocations — we do indeed see what the real problem is.  It’s right there staring back at us through the rheumy, half-closed eyes of a patient on life-support, whispered, but still audible, in the phlegmy rhythm of an incipient death rattle.

Our country is very, very sick.

And yes, I include Sanders as a symptom. Here is a decent human being who is being vilified as an extremist and a socialist nutcase because he promotes such controversial ideas as:  Every person has a right to a living wage, and every citizen should get proper, affordable health care.  Isn’t that an obvious sign that the central nervous system of America is being ravaged by some malignant flesh-eating bacteria?

!!!FFTDWD_Cover_200x300Yet make no mistake about it . . .

None of these candidates will talk about the disease itself.

Because none of them has a cure.

There’s only one cure.

Us.  That’s right . . .

You and I.

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Democracy, Economics, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Americans . . . GET A GRIP!

Frightened CoupleSince 9/11, a grand total of 45 Americans have been killed by terrorists.

45!

That’s about 3 per year.

I’m not going to callously marginalize the tragedy of 45 deaths. All these were people who had families, friends, dreams about the future. Each one is a sad example of what it means to live in a dangerous world.

But think about it . . . only 45 people have been killed by terrorists in the last 14+ years.

Last year alone, there were 16,121 HOMICIDES11,208 of those were people killed by firearms!  That more than one gun killing PER HOUR!

Every 51 minutes in America, someone is killed by drunk drivingAlmost 11,000 a year!

Last year 1,658,370 new cancer cases were diagnosed.  589,430 people died of cancer! That’s 1,615 A DAY!  67 people PER HOUR!

Over 102,000 people die EVERY YEAR from hospital associated infections — by the time you finish reading my article, two people will have died from filthy medical facilities.

Get this:  Even greater numbers, meaning in excess of 216,000, die every year because of medical error!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Almost 600 people die EVERY DAY because of misdiagnosis or error in reading medical charts. “Golly gee. I’m sorry. It said 20.00 cc. I was sure it was 2000 cc. Oops! Can you notify the family of the deceased for me?”

I could go on and on.  But this offers some perspective:  Rare as it is to be electrocuted in a storm, you are seventeen times more likely to get killed by lightning than by a terrorist.

Let’s cut to the chase . . .

Since 2001, the U.S. has spent over $3 trillion on the War on Terror.

That’s $3 trillion with a ‘t’.

For $3 trillion we could have outfitted everyone with bulletproof vests, cured cancer, put breathalyzer shut-offs on every single car to keep drunks from getting behind the wheel, disinfected every hospital in America, outfitted every single American with a lighting rod, and probably had some money left over to train nurses and doctors how to read a chart.

What’s going on in this country . . . home of the brave, land of the free?

Oh yes, indeed we are free.  Free to wake up frightened, go to bed frightened, live every moment frightened because . . . THERE ARE TERRORISTS LURKING EVERYWHERE!  They hate us, they hate our freedoms, they want to chop off our heads, rape our women!

I agree about one thing for sure . . .

We should be afraid.

We should be afraid that our priorities are completely whack and that our government is overrun by self-serving lunatics, at the beck and call of our out-of-control military!

Here are some questions we should ask ourselves . . .

How many of you have known a friend, relative or neighbor who has died of cancer?

How many of you have known someone who has a family member killed by a drunk driver?

How many of you live in a community where someone was murdered?

Contrast your answer with . . .

How many of you know someone who was attacked by a Muslim?

How many of you know someone who was killed by a terrorist?

Folks . . . the War On Terror is a fraud!

It’s just a cash cow for our bloated military-industrial complex.

All I can suggest is this:  Every time one of the fear mongers comes on TV and shows you guys in ski masks and tell you to hide under your bed . . . GET A GRIP!

You are more likely to get hit by a bus while you’re under your bed, than be attacked by a terrorist while standing at a bus stop.

Here, folks, is my prediction for each and every one of you for 2016.

Ready? 

You WILL NOT BE KILLED by ISIS or al Qaeda or al Nusra or by boko haram guerillas.

Actually, you’re much more likely to be killed by your local police.

 

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Bases More Bombs More War

unifiedmap_sm2They say things have to get worse before they get better.

But how much worse can the U.S. and the world tolerate?

Driven purely by institutional self-preservation and relentless pursuit of profits by the military-industrial-complex, the cancer of American military presence continues to metastasize unchecked across the planet.  Not satisfied with creating tens of thousands of new terrorists since 9/11 with aggressive wars, invasions, special ops initiatives, drone bombing, assassinations — all claiming the lives of over a million innocent civilians — budgetary allocations are in place and plans being implemented for even more bases in Asia, Africa, Europe, even the Arctic.

Is it any surprise that when America sets up a new military hub in a foreign country, conflict and war soon follow?

It’s a closed feedback loop where a cure sets up the conditions for the disease it’s supposed to treat.  If an area is relatively at peace, the putative guarantees of continuing tranquility offered by a military presence will produce opposition and rivalry which inevitably will metastasize into conflict and war.

On that note, there certainly is no mystery why terrorism is on the rise, especially in Middle Eastern countries.

Osama bin Laden stated it clearly.  To paraphrase: “We don’t want you here.”

Not only is sovereignty at issue in these native lands, but often they host sites which are considered sacred in both social and political traditions which stretch back centuries. The very presence of U.S. soldiers, war planes, drones, or any of the other paraphernalia of empire is insult enough. But the slaughter of innocent individuals, too often women and children, can only evoke cries of outrage and demands for revenge.  Is it asking too much to imagine how U.S. citizens would react if a wedding party was blown to bits in Topeka, Kansas or Knoxville, Tennessee?

This must end. The unnecessary expansion of U.S. military presence throughout the world is bankrupting our economy, incriminating each and every American citizen in horrifying war crimes, risking World War III, and ultimately will collapse the nation and take down the great American experiment.

It’s up to us to stop this before it’s too late!

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Politics is a Rock Concert, Not a Seminar.

rock-concert

The biggest failure of the Left is not understanding politics.

Politics is a rock concert, not a seminar.

I’m not talking about the “political system”. I’m talking about the realities of attempting a constructive dialogue with 319 million people.

The political system requires a thoughtful, analytical, patient, usually plodding “process” to accomplish anything of substance and lasting value.  This is how it is, and how should be, recognizing the importance of law and the framework it creates for a functioning society.

Having said that . . .

It’s unrealistic to expect everyday citizens to begin to understand the arcane particulars of fashioning laws, much less participate in the tedious business of debate, negotiation and compromise in the committees and on the floors of legislative bodies.  People barely have time to cook their meals and make it to work on time, much less pore over congressional studies and the notes of sub-committee meetings, watch monotonous hours of C-Span, or read the informed analysis of issue experts.

Maybe this is the intrinsic flaw in the whole idea of democracy, but that’s an entirely other discussion.

The point is, people cheer for their favorite causes the way the cheer for their favorite sports teams — or remaining true to the metaphor of this particular piece — their favorite songs.

The truth is — for better or worse — this makes it pretty easy to govern.

If you play a song people hate, or sing out of tune, they will boo and threaten to storm the stage and tear you to shreds. If you play what they like and perform it well, they’ll cheer, dance, revere you like a god, and go home happy.

I know this sounds simplistic.  And, of course, it’s casually brushes aside differences in taste.  Some will love Katy Perry, others think Deerhunter is the ultimate.

But I’m making a simple point.  If the Left would try “tuning in” to people, immediately stop condemning the public for being so dumbed-down and apathetic — snidely looking down their noses at Mr. and Ms. Everyday American for not wanting to sit through a four-hour Chomsky seminar — then actually play some music the voting public wants to hear, maybe some of its messages — many critical to the survival of the human race — would actually get heard.

You could argue that this is what Bernie Sanders is managing to do.

Unfortunately, it’s also what Donald Trump is doing.

But realistically both have mere cult followings, neither approaching universal appeal. Trump scores with the Ted Nugent fans. Bernie has got the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young crowd locked down.

Both have certainly tapped into a hungry void.  Someone needs to sing the songs the vast majority of Americans want to hear.  Perhaps more than ever before in recent history, there is an urgent need for music which will raise our hopes and inspire new dreams.

But the way things stand, there are still a huge number of folks who have no song to hum.

I believe people know what they want. But they can’t write the tunes themselves. They hear what’s being played, listen for a catchy melody, a singable chorus, an infectious beat. They take it from there.

None of the candidates so far have come up with a true hit.

Does this characterization trivialize politics?

It doesn’t have to.  It simply means that there is a lesson here.

The challenge is offering an honest, heartfelt, engaging, entertaining message, which is true to both the spirit and the content that drives that message, and one which people not only want to hear, but will be “singing” themselves — because it genuinely resonates with them.

For the right wing of this country, this is apparently easy. While what they say makes me as a progressive shudder and recoil in horror, I have to hand it to them. They know how to put it out there and get their deluded, misguided, parochial flock of lemmings excited!

The Left — and I’m not talking about the “sold out” Democrats or Starbucks liberals who for all intents and purposes form the willfully ignorant center of the political spectrum — just can’t seem to get it together.

For many progressives, especially progressive academics and pundits, the devil is so entirely in the details, nuance and caveat reign supreme, and tragically the message gets lost.  The “big ideas” might be out there, but they’re buried in a blizzard of abstractions, qualifiers, minutiae, pros-and-cons, excuses and rationalizations, the truly annoying and pathetic preemptive defenses, deflections, even counter and counter-counter arguments.

You know . . . the old forest and trees myopia.

Where am I going with this?

I’ll offer one simple example.

War Is Over (If You Want It)Remember the John Lennon song Happy Xmas (War Is Over)?  The end of the song features a vamp with a huge chorus singing:

…………. War is over if you want it! ………….

Sound naive?  Stupid?  Wacky?  Impossible?

All we have now is war, morning, noon and night . . . 24/7/365.  War is like oxygen!

But the simple truth is, we — that is, you and I — could put an end to it, at least put an end to our aggressive, destructive military misadventures.  We could stop the slaughter of tens of thousands of people and the promotion of even more anti-American terrorism. You and I could stop the militarization of our nation and the world precipitated by the profiteering and insatiable greed of the corporate military-industrial complex.

The method is actually quite straightforward.

The message is simple and clear.

Spend some time with this and see for yourself . . .

http://peacedividend.us

War and fear and militarization and national bankruptcy are over.

. . . if you want it.

Have you heard this tune from any of the candidates?

Have you even heard it from the Left, the progressive intelligentsia, many of whom say you should just look the other way on Bernie Sanders’ longstanding support for militarization, his active promotion of unnecessary military expenditures, his declared endorsement of drone warfare, his votes for the surveillance state, his condemnation of Edward Snowden, his appalling knee-jerk approval of Israeli apartheid and brutal military oppression of Palestinians?

Why not?

War and fear and militarization and national bankruptcy are over if we want it.

It’s simple, catchy.  Has a nice sound to it.  Good beat.

Why don’t we ever hear this song?

You might ask one of the “progressives” at your next Chomsky seminar.

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Philosophy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Try To Figure This Out

man-ponderingSo you have a stubborn old right wing uncle. You know the one I’m talking about. He’s the guy who gets all his insights into the world from Fox, thinks Rush Limbaugh is Prophet Isaiah reincarnated, and would join Donald Trump base jumping from the top of Trump Tower in a snow storm

How do you reply when he claims that all sorts of scientists have proven that climate change is a hoax?

How about this?

Let’s say you went to ten doctors and had a full examination. Nine of them told you point blank you were suffering an extremely aggressive form of cancer, your life was in danger, and you needed to be treated immediately. But one doctor told you that you were in great health and there was nothing that should concern you.

The nine doctors who warned you of impending doom unless drastic action were taken, all work for respected independent medical facilities, hospitals, research labs, universities.

The one doctor who had buckets of good news happens to work for the insurance company who would have to pay for your medical bills.

Which advice would you heed?

Would you go out and celebrate, have a few drinks, maybe smoke a pack of cigarettes?

Or would you be first in line next morning at the clinic to begin treatment?

There is overwhelming agreement in the legitimate scientific community — the clearly objective, independent, unbiased centers for study and research — that climate change is real and it is largely being caused by humans. While the public for various reasons lags in grasping the extent and immediacy of the crisis, over 97% of climate science researchers agree. Less than 3% of the literature on climate change challenges this huge consensus.

Misinformation_Timeline_medAnd guess where the nay-sayers come from?

They belong in that same suspicious category of compromised, non-objective, “interested” parties as that doctor who works for the health insurance company — the one that probably got a bonus for telling you everything was fine and you didn’t need medical help.

The bulk of climate change denial studies is generated by bought-and-paid-for lackeys who WORK FOR THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY!

So as the title of my article suggests . . . let’s try to figure this out.

Who should we listen to?

The 10,000+ scholars who have published thousands of pier-reviewed research papers which declare we have a problem?

Or the handful of deniers, many of whom have published articles which have not passed the standards of pier-review, but who probably live quite affluently with the money they get from oil, gas, and coal companies?

Speaking of self-serving deceptions, the climate agreement recently reached at COP21, the international climate conference in Paris at the end of last year, was a PR stunt. Respected climatologist James Hansen calls it a total fraud.  It has no teeth, is not legally binding, has no fines or penalties for irresponsible deviations from its nice-sounding, highly-acclaimed guidelines for holding the temperature rise to 2˚C.  Yes, it made a lot of people feel good, stuffed a lot of feathers in a lot of caps, not least of which is the one for President Obama’s historical legacy. Obama, who in his State of the Union address touted America’s and his own pivotal leadership role in shaping the final agreement, called it “the best chance to save the one planet we have.” But anyone who is actually paying attention knows that this slippery non-binding pile of happy face promises is no substitute for an absolute and genuine commitment to real, actionable, and enforceable policy realignment.

So . . . have we figured this out?

We have a combination of willful denial (ignorance), disinformation (self-righteous lying), paralysis (corporate oppression), and general apathy (sheeple power).

I don’t feel well.

Is huffing gasoline bad for the environment?

Posted in Climate Change, Deconstruction, Environment, Political Analysis, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

It’s a very special time of year
For family and friends holiday cheer
For those no longer with us
We shed a tear
A time to share
A time of feast
A time to care
And pray for peace
A time to give to those
Who have the least

(Chorus)
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year

This is the time to start anew
Atheist Christian Muslim Jew
To reach within
And find the love inside of you
Discard the old seek out the new
Reject the false embrace the true
To look ahead decide
To bring out the best in you

(Chorus)
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year

(Chorus – Japanese)
Akemashite
Omedetoo
Peace be with you
Happy New Year

(Chorus)
Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with you
Happy New Year

Let this new year finally bring peace to the world.  May we discover and embrace the understanding needed to live together in genuine and lasting harmony.

“Happy New Year” © Copyright 2014 – Words and music by John Rachel
     Dancing Needles Music (Publisher) – ASCAP (All rights reserved.)

Posted in Music, Philosophy, Social Commentary, Spiritual, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imagine

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

Before I go on, let me say that I too find it beautiful, inspiring, ennobling, a truly remarkable and timeless creation.  I’m thoroughly enchanted by its haunting melody, totally respect and resonate with the intent, the pure sentiment, the message — as I do Lennon’s equally powerful “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”

So what follows is not criticism of the song per se, but more of an attempt to build on it — find within its deeper implications something productive and enlightening — my shot at taking it to a new level of appreciation.

Let’s be honest.  “Imagine” is an anarchist anthem.  It recommends us picturing a world which has . . .

No Heaven
No Hell
No countries
No religion
No possessions

Throw in ‘no television’ and ‘no money’ and we’re grunting savages back in a cave.

He opens the song with . . .

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try

I have mixed feelings about ‘Imagine there’s no heaven’.  There are many among us who have trouble imagining there is a heaven, at least as some religions characterize it.

I’m not sure imagining heaven pro or con in a literal sense is the issue.

And looking at it more as a metaphor, I think we spend most of our waking lives thinking about some ideal state, some level of perfection where the challenges and hardships of our lives would go away.  We all dream of a utopia, a Nirvana, at least a better version of what we have.  I think it’s wired into us and is what drives humankind to its most admirable achievements.  Why would we want to give that up?

Having said that, the next line is enigmatic. ‘It’s easy if you try’.

Try?

As if we weren’t already trying? That’s practically all we do. We live in fantasy worlds of our own creation or ones conveniently foisted on us from others usually with an agenda.  People constantly live in their imaginations, fancying better looks, sexier more attractive bodies, more interesting friends, finer possessions, better jobs, nicer homes, cooler cars. We are, it seems, already engaged in a nearly pathological level of “imagining”, one which has dissipated our sense of self, submerged our individual identities, often caused a sense of alienation from others, and created unimaginable levels of uncertainty and insecurity. Sometimes when I listen to people talk or look objectively at what occupies a generous portion of their time — television, movies, sporting events — I wonder if they aren’t completely divorced from the real world, even when they appear to be engaged.

If anything, we could be accused of trying too hard, imagining too much. You might more reasonably argue maybe we spend too much time imagining many of the wrong things.

So the question is:  Is what this song recommends an improvement?

Imagine there’s no countries

Imagine no possessions

Nothing to kill or die for

No religion too

Okay . . . gone is heaven, hell, countries, religion, possessions.

What do we replace these with?  There has to be something.  We can’t live in a void.

I recognize he’s saying we should try to imagine ourselves in an alternative better world.  But there’s a reason we don’t imagine a world without countries and possessions. There’s a reason we don’t imagine a world where there’s nothing to kill or die for.  I believe . . .

IT’S BECAUSE WE CAN’T!

I would defend with my life those I love and respect.  My wife.  My daughter.  My friends.

Yes, I would kill and die for them.

Is this bad?

People can’t imagine a world without possessions.  I don’t know if they seriously try or not. I do know it’s not worth the effort.

It’s not the possessions that are evil.  It’s what the possessions do to us and those around us.  It’s when the possessions “possess” us, when one person’s ownership deprives others of basic survival or dignity that they become toxic.

Similarly with countries.  Humans by nature are both social and tribal.  We achieve a sense of communal worth and purpose by belonging to a people, a clan, an extended family, even a nation.  It gives us identify and comfort.  I don’t think humans are capable of viewing themselves otherwise.

I believe that in and of itself is not bad.  It becomes threatening and destructive when it crushes our sensitivity to others who are not in our tribe, when it convinces us that “we” are somehow more special or more important than “them”.  America’s obsession with its exceptional role on the planet, rising above all other nations, is an example of national identification and healthy pride becoming a dangerous, sociopathic affliction.

It is not the lack of imagining or lack of imagination that plagues us.  It is attempting to imagine the wrong things, or things that go against our essential nature.

Plus, I would start small.  If successful, we can work our way up.

Here are just a few things to get us up and running:

Tondo_ManilaImagine everyone in the world having enough to eat.

Imagine everyone being free of illness and disease.

Imagine everyone having clothing and a decent place to live.

Imagine being kind to others, even those we don’t understand.

Imagine treating everyone equally, with dignity and compassion.

Imagine being honest with ourselves and others.

Imagine cooperation instead of competition.

These are things not only we can imagine, but things that can actually be done. 

It’s easy if you try

Having said all of this  — and I know I’ve probably trampled on some sacred ground — I still think that “Imagine” is one of the most beautiful and important contributions a pop artist has ever made to the world.  Let’s enjoy it for its purity of spirit and honesty.

 

Posted in Deconstruction, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, Spiritual, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Squeak . . . woof . . . meow . . . tweet

twitter-iconI thought Facebook was a wasteland.  Then I discovered Twitter.

I’m now at over 7,000 tweets and I can’t say anything much in my life has changed, except I’m a little older, and perhaps more convinced that the human race is irreversibly beyond redemption. It’s increasingly evident that it’s just a matter of time before we are overwhelmed by our own irrelevance and dissipate like cigarette ash in a typhoon.

But this is the time of the year to gaze back with weepy sentimentality and try to milk the last twelve months for everything good and wonderful. Thus I will try to look on the bright side of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent trying to be clever and witty, in order to attract the attention of the ADHD Twitter community.

Not that this justifies the enormous squander, or represents anything like a reward for all of this pointless effort, I will say I have mastered the art of the text bite. After spending all of my life aspiring to both a deep appreciation of and a level of adroitness with my mother tongue, I have traitorously spurned the English language as a tool for profundity, majesty, nuance, beauty, splendor, power, discovery, insight, grace, and learned to say something — albeit of highly dubious value — using only 140 characters. I don’t know if I should weep and hang my head in shame, or puff up my chest, hook my thumbs in my imaginary blue suspenders, and smile like I’ve just found out that Hillary Clinton is a man, as I’ve been saying all along.

Whatever the case, some of my 140 character compositions have done better than others. ‘Done’ means gained acceptance, even acclaim. So here, based on how many times they were “retweeted” or “favorited”, are some of the more popular verbal excretions that I oozed into the swirling torrent of Twitter burble over the past year.

PHILOSOPHY, CREATIVITY AND RANDOM HUMOR

To a hammer everything looks like a thumb.
There are many roads to the truth but they all end up in the same place.
A candid look at a day in the life of a writer.  http://jdrachel.com/?p=5728
Creating memorable characters.  http://jdrachel.com/?p=5765
Writing poetry.  http://jdrachel.com/?p=5797
Canadians are scary!   http://jdrachel.com/?p=927
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

POLITICS

Rationalization is the evil step-brother of rationality.
These arrived without my consulting a burning bush.  http://jdrachel.com/?p=5679
Broccoli Is Free Speech and Tractors Are Persons.  http://jdrachel.com/?p=4135
From Bill To Hillary With Love  http://jdrachel.com/?p=4942

“THE MAN WHO LOVED TOO MUCH”

The boycott of my new novel is a 100% success. 
Eat your heart out Marcel Proust. Bleccch! 
No one drowns or is decapitated. 
No diseased spider monkeys. 
In this novel, S&M is a thrift store. 
Water boarding is not surfing. 
No can of beer left behind. 
Detroit…where attitude means survival. 
Stoicism is not the same as a coma. 
No vampire breath spores. 
No faeries or zombie debutantes. 
No injectable transgendering nano-robots.
No neural-net proto-spiders from outer space. 
No secret covens of neo-Nazi Wiccan cheerleaders. 
No self-assembling world-destroying kitchen appliances. 
No Angelina Jolie doppelgängers. 
I actually thought my book was a pile of garbage. 
What is it about men? What is it about women?

“11 – 11 – 11”

I write trivial garbage to clutter the world with nonsense.
Makes great kindling for your Kindle!
Great deal! Only .00001031 cents per word! Less than the price of one of Kim Kardashian’s brain cells.
Unclutter your mind. Pulp fiction as a brain laxative. 

“12 – 12 – 12”

If I get 1,000,000 likes for my video, I win a lifetime supply of kettle corn!
If I get 1,000,000 likes for my video I win two front row seats at a Carly Rae Jepsen concert!
Life is what you make it, with what you can manage to borrow.
Coming to a bathroom wall near you.

“BLINDERS KEEPERS”

Everything makes sense except when it doesn’t.
Even when the cookie crumbles, you can still eat the crumbs.
“Blinders Keepers” is to politics what macrame is to string theory.
The greatest work of literature since Valley of the Dolls! 

“AN UNLIKELY TRUTH”

Blessed are the blissfully blank.
There is strength in numbers and only weakness in apathy.
The fool hears silence where the wise man beholds the roar of an epiphany.  

This is the stuff people thought was worthy of the 7 milliseconds of time it took for them to point and click their approval?  Granted, some of it is cute.

Kid Wanting AttentionAnd, like a little kid standing on the coffee table in the living room dancing and mugging in a frenetic attempt to get everyone’s attention, I appreciate any pleasant nod in my direction.

But I’ve arrived at a profound epiphany in terms of social media.

I just don’t get it.

Posted in Creativity, Deconstruction, Nihilism, Satire, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Rid of That Bulge in the Middle

machMany Americans would like to lose that unsightly bulge in the middle. Billions of dollars are spent every year on miracle diet pills and weight loss gadgets of questionable value.

Recently, studies have demonstrated that America as a whole is definitely losing its bulge in the middle. 

But that’s not a good thing. 

Look at these charts:

Disappearing Middle Class ChartsA nation which has a sizable majority as middle-class, and is not plagued by extremes of wealth and poverty, is historically a nation which thrives, one which has a solid economy and laudable living standards. A nation which does not declines and disintegrates.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is accelerating in the wrong direction on both counts.

The middle-class is shrinking, and wealth inequality is at an all-time high, projected to become even more severe in the coming decades.

There are way too many factors contributing to this destructive juggernaut to go into here. But two things are obvious.

First, people have to recognize that this is an existential threat to our country.

Second, they need to take action.

Since the all major media is controlled by the plutocracy, the first — to put it mildly — is extremely challenging. There are many talking about these two crises, on alternative and progressive news sites, and of course via blogs such as this one. Bernie Sanders has made them centerpieces of his presidential bid and has done more than any other public figure in recent memory to heighten awareness on these challenges.

But it’s still an uphill battle of Sisyphean proportions.

The second might also seem to be exceptionally daunting, especially since democracy has been officially declared dead as now implemented in America.

Surprisingly, however, there is hope and at least getting started is not that difficult.

I’m referring to a campaign by F-R-E-E.US which takes only a few minutes of your time but has the potential at the end of the slog to make a huge difference.

FREE US is allied with the NEAR Foundation, a progressive think tank.

Vote Like You Mean It_Cover_200x300I’m adopting a very low-key approach in recommending this. I assume you’re all very tired of boorish hawking and inflated promises.  All I’m asking is for you to spend just a little time with it. Look at the site, take a quick survey, and download Vote Like You Mean It, the free book you receive just for giving this a few moments of your time.

Judge for yourself.

But don’t cynically dismiss it.

This could work.

 

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Economics, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment