Thursday, April 30, 2015

JUSTICE


The sad fact of the current cries for equal justice in the U.S. is the statistical inequality of crime in the U.S.. While a certain factor of those statistics can be modified to allow for racism, sexism, homophobia, class discrimination, the reality remains that certain groups in our society are more prone to be involved in criminal behavior than others. And, I include those at the top of society, especially politicians, in those crime-prone groups.
 
The best way to avoid injustice is to live justly. Living lawfully and nonviolently does not require money or a particular skin color. In most communities, it does require courage. It seems to me courage is more lacking than  justice in some groups who claim victimhood. Courage to be a lawful person is not limited by skin color, religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

DO THEY HAVE SOULS?


Once again I hear my humanity debated by the U.S. Supreme Court seventy years after Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  Dry radio commentators report. Judges drone on. None of them, pro or con, seem at all interested in the fact that they are debating the human equality of homosexuals, as though we are another species. Do heterosexuals ever stop to think about this? Or, is their presumptive immunity from having their capacity to love or commit making them blind to the deeply offensive nature of this debate? Many heterosexuals will jump to the defense of criminals on the basis of race before they will acknowledge homosexual humanity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I DON'T HAVE TO.

 

I don't have to accept violence, stupidity, general rudeness and/or obscenity. My refusal does not mean I am racist, islamophobic or xenophobic. I just means I am educated, candid and know my own mind.
 
"Can't we all just get along?" Rodney King's simplistic bumper sticker slogan is just that. The answer is a firm "No." when getting along means accepting antisocial behavior or denying simple facts. As I watched a 30-something man leisurely graffiti a butcher-block bench on the opposite platform of my subway station, I did not feel the warmth of brotherly anything. I did not rationalize his behavior by telling myself he is part of an oppressed minority. I took his photo with my camera for submission to the transit police.
 
Some behaviors are and should be socially intolerable. Open shoplifting is one. I see this all the time in my local shopping plaza. Vandalism is not always "public art", no matter what Banksy fans might say. Tagging is most often ugly, no-talent vandalism. It costs taxpayers money to repair. It costs shop owners and homeowners time, aggravation and money. It is usually emblematic of drug-related  activity. I don't have to accept it as OK in the public space.
 
Addicts are now washing windshields at a nearby intersection. They have extended the light cycle wait threefold at this busy traffic light. When an addict approaches my windshield, I tell him "No." I do not have to accept his behavior or buy his unsolicited service. I can ring the police and report him, as I have done. Or, I can simply say "No." and facilitate everyone else's journey through the light.
 
Howling neo-Liberals, led by wealthy politicos, have tried to bully those of us who live ethical and compassionate lives within the law to believe we must goose-step to their superficial judgments as to what is acceptable in their concept of an enlightened society. They excuse lawlessness in some as acceptable and justified. This makes sense because many wealthy Americans have been involved on some level in some form of white-collar crime or exploitation. While those of us who respect law and peaceful coexistence in a lawful society are often painted as intolerant. The Huffington Post is one mouthpiece of this trend.
 
It is good to remember that Arianna Huffington is a woman who played at being a conservative Republican while married to her wealthy husband, a Republican politician, closet-case homosexual and heir to a petrochemical fortune. Her wealth and fame are based on her climb within social aristocracy. Once securely embedded in that aristocracy, she has relentlessly exploited the Left for personal profit. She is one of the 1%. Hardly someone who should be respected as a sponsor of an egalitarian ethic. I don't have to.

Monday, April 27, 2015

XENOPHOBIA?

Migrant boat off Italian coast.
 

Another widely misused word. I have been hearing the E.U.'s alarm at being invaded by thousands of illegal migrants described as xenophobic. Phobias are irrational fears. As with the misuse of islamophobia to describe a rational loathing of jihadist atrocities, the misuse of xenophobia is a liberal propagandist method to devalue the rational conservative objections of those who criticize invasion of borders by lawless masses in league with criminals.
 
Having pride in governmental and cultural advances to the degree that they are worthy of being protected from degradation by illegal invasion is not irrational. It is quite rational and practical.
 
The greatest flaw of modern liberalism is its masochistic tendency to assert knee-jerk reactions to any rational conservative policy. Some conservative policies are practical and scientifically sound. When they are impractical and scientifically unsound, such as religious ideology, they should be targeted by liberal minds with clinical precision, not whining sentimentality.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

INCIDENTS OF BAD VOCABULARY

?
 

The plural of incident is incidents...not incidences. Incidence and incident are two different words. I hear this misuse almost daily on news radio, both NPR and BBC. Are they teaching proper English in journalism schools? Or this another example of insane child-rearing, in which every child is told he/she is a genius, no matter how dense or actively resistant to learning.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

BRUCE JENNER

Bruce Jenner in 1976

 
I am not a follower of trashy reality TV. I was horrified when I first tripped over the Kardashians while on a treadmill at my gym. I quickly shifted my attention to another monitor, featuring a news channel. I felt like I had inadvertently become a heavy-breathing peeping tom for a matter of seconds. Not a feeling I wished to prolong or repeat.
 
I have no quarrel with any peaceful transgendered or gender-dysphoric person. Unlike many who live in the mainstream, I have known and do know transgendered people. I first met a transgendered person 38 years ago. She was a schizophrenic patient under my care.
 
I do have an opinion about Bruce Jenner's publicity seeking in the form of a so-called 'coming out' as a transgendered person.
 
This is a time when generalized attention-deficit-disorder plagues human societies. Forty years ago, when I was caring for that first transgendered patient in a hospital, she had been beaten and psychologically abused by men who would have looked to Bruce Jenner as their hero. Bruce Jenner willingly became an icon for conventional masculinity and nationalist conformity as an Olympic champion. He made a career of that iconic persona. He grew wealthy from it. He lived a privileged life from it.
 
Forty years ago, my gay male community was fighting against the oppression of Jenner icons. I was an openly gay registered nurse in a state-wide mental health system. I had been the only openly gay student in my nursing school. I had previously been turned down twice for jobs in health care because I had come out in my interviews. Jenner, and the men he chose to represent at that time, made my fight against oppression more difficult. And, subsequently, I have watched Mr. Jenner contribute to a cheapening of American values as an icon of shameless materialism, wrapped in heterosexual family dysfunction.
 
Bruce Jenner now wishes to market transgenderism. He seems to desire a place as an icon in this new venture. While I do not deny that he may offer some consolation to those suffering with gender issues, I hardly think he represents anything beyond narcissistic exploitation of anything that will get him attention and money. And this is a shame. Those who are already strongly prejudiced against people with gender confusion now have yet another reason to shrug and consider the whole business a form of sideshow attention-seeking.
 
Those who seriously wish to help the transgendered to gain higher self-esteem would do well to think twice before jumping on Mr. Jenner's bandwagon.



Friday, April 24, 2015

CONSCIOUSNESS


Our animal brain bases its instinctive decisions on polar perceptions: Threat or prey? This is under the radar of our frontal-lobe mind. Freudians would call it the Id. Threat-or-prey mentality extends to sexuality as well as simple survival. The libido is based in this primal brain system.

Part of becoming an intelligent and compassionate human being is learning how to intentionally integrate animal-brain instincts with frontal-lobe ideals. Part of becoming a secular humanist is adding a layer of inquiry and science to this integration. Personal practice entails trying to do all this in the moment through the development of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be, observe being and steer oneself through behavioral decisions and actions toward a becoming, based in ethics and compassion.

Talk is cheap, especially among privileged academics. Being a practicing humanist, as I see it, is walking the talk in daily, moment-by-moment mentality and behavior. Commitment to this practice forms what I call a practical humanism, a humanism in practice.

Consciousness is a presence of mind which must be developed with practice. Contrary to popular notions about the brilliance of children when they emerge from the womb, children do not come packaged with consciousness. Consciousness requires years of education and self-development. Consciousness requires educated honesty with oneself and others. Consciousness requires physical well being.

Regular meditation is a path to consciousness. Education is a path to consciousness. Open human interaction is a path to consciousness.  Consciousness cannot be bought or sold. Consciousness is a personal creative process within the mind. Consciousness is not gained by mouthing conformist morality. Consciousness begins with a deep silent peace within.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

CRIMINALITY


 
This morning I was treated to a brief interview on BBC World Service with an Italian Catholic bishop who proclaimed that illegal migration can somehow be solved with "brotherly love". "We are all brothers and sisters," he proclaimed sanctimoniously. Really? These words came from a representative of a religion which condemns birth control and family planning in the underdeveloped world, where it has its greatest sway on human minds and behaviors. The bishop downplayed the significance of law. He said love trumps law. This is simplistic nonsense.
 
This air-headed prescription for a global problem does not surprise. Religion is simplistic. It is based on a good-bad paradigm. That does not allow for much complex thinking with scientific analysis and experimentation. It also does not make for good law or law enforcement, as evidenced by the judgments of The Inquisition, The Reformation and Sharia.
 
The current wave of illegal migration is a business. It is the business of criminals who exploit those who are desperate and/or less prone to legal behavior themselves. These criminals are not my brothers and sisters. The E.U. is rationally looking at prevention in this light. The E.U. is largely a less religious region of the world due to high levels of law enforcement, public education, human rights legislation to promote feminist development, and a scientific approach to governance.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FREE SPEECH



My Blogger blog is still free. How's that for freedom of speech? Of course, it does require that I have something on my mind to speak about.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

REFUGEES


 
How many illegal migrants are actually refugees? The U.S. and European Union have rigorous systems for vetting refugees. The doors to these nations are not completely closed to individuals who are fleeing political or social persecution. The key word is "individuals".
 
Masses of people running from war, famine or economic deprivation cannot be properly vetted. Borders around peaceful nations are there for a reason. A massive influx of uneducated and disorderly people can bring down the standard of living of a whole society. Turkey is unwinding under the weight of Syrian migration. Jordan has been stressed for decades by Palestinian migration. Gang violence in the U.S. is associated with Mexican and Central American migration.
 
Governments are not dealing well with migration. The reasons are simple. Governments have ignored climate change and overpopulation across the board. Governments in rich countries have bowed to individual greed over institutional international generosity. The concentration of wealth in the top 1% of the world's population is staggering. Tokenism by Bill and Melinda Gates will not balance out the deprivation of the many by the greed of the few in a world where planned parenthood, women's rights and environmentalism are widely unestablished. Those with great wealth and power are still concerning themselves with protecting arcane religions rather than the survival of their own species.
 
Migration in earlier human history is described in histories as invasion. It is not new. Warring tribalism most likely grew out of competition for environmental resources by large family groups when their populations outgrew their immediate environments. The current human population growth with its environmental impact will inevitably lead to invasion, war and great suffering. Carbon in the atmosphere is at its highest in 5 million years. There were no known humans (homo sapiens) on the planet 5 million years ago. Homo sapiens is thought to be a species which evolved about 2 million years ago. Where will human beings flee when the whole planet is hostile to the species?

Monday, April 20, 2015

MARATHONS


 
The original marathon was associated with a Athenian-Persian battle in Ancient Greece. A legendary  Athenian courier, Pheidippides, ran from the battlefield to announce the Athenian victory against a much larger Persian army. The modern marathon was introduced at the 1896 Athens Olympics. Modern marathons are often international events for elite professional runners.
 
The marathon metaphor, based in the perseverance it takes to run to the finish against exhaustion, has special meaning in modern urban societies. It is a time of widespread sedentary obesity, due to overeating and little activity. It is a time of self-indulgence with foodies and heavy drinkers. It is a time of "it's all good" with those who do not have the courage to face down injustice and ignorance with skeptical analysis.
 
As I enter the last phase of my life, I often feel like the marathon runner in his final few miles. Some parts of daily life are automatic and easier than ever due to my decades of experience and learning. Like the trained muscles of the athlete, my mind can figure things out without a lot of ambivalence or fumbling. I know how to access and apply information wisely. But my mind and body, like those trained runner's muscles and lungs, become fatigued no matter what I do. I must persevere to finish what I start. I must persevere to make it to my end without ceding to collapse.
 
I am amused by those who go to watch marathon races. They remind me of hospital visitors or those who visit nursing homes. Watching exertion and endurance may inspire momentarily, I suppose. But inspiration is no substitute for training and practice in daily life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

SUNDAY


 

I had a career as a registered nurse. Prior to that, I was a secondary school science teacher. Decades in nursing erased any sentimental feelings I may have had for Sundays. Unlike office workers, for me Sunday was just as likely to be a work day, or work night, as any other day. This explains in part why I was often involved romantically with restaurant workers, airline personnel or other workers in service fields. The other reason is that I am prone to warm easily to those who share my working-class roots.
 
Since leaving scheduled work due to medical disability, I managed to avoid poverty by buying, living in and fixing up houses for resale with contracted labor . The equity from this kind of flipping is moderate, not extraordinary, but it has kept my boat afloat. It is also hard work in its own way. Moving is a drag and expensive, especially is you have physical limitations. Having workmen about is confining and demands constant vigilance. Treading the minefield of contractor ethics is dicey. Working with real estate agents is a mixed bag, and can be an expensive one. Selling your own home with your things in it is not a joyful exercise.
 
Some of my Sundays have been spent going to real estate open houses, where I see myself reflected in the weary eyes of an agent who would rather be at brunch with friends, despite her cheerful demeanor. Yes, I think, we are both working today at something we would rather not be doing. I do my best to act like an interested consumer, even if the place is ridiculously overpriced.
 
Those who can work a career-long weekday 9-to-5 job with ample benefits and vacation time are becoming a smaller segment of the U.S. work force. I suppose, in some ways, they are elite workers, even though their jobs may not seem glamorous. My parents' generation, those born in the 1920s-1930s, took this lifestyle for granted. Saturday night socializing, Sunday church, after-church trips to the bakery for breakfast goodies, late extended-family lunches around a big table. The occasional extended holiday weekend. These were some of the better days of my childhood.
 
What will life be like eventually, when Sunday is totally absorbed into a week of drudgery for those who have to work several part-time jobs to live a very modest lifestyle? Well, that Sunday is already here for millions of Americans. They are serving brunch to the privileged. They are changing sheets in 5-star hotels. They are cleaning a room in their own home after airbnb customers leave. This is the Sunday of corporate capitalism in America for millions. This is the future Sunday for millions more as population and environmental challenges increase.



Friday, April 17, 2015

DIFFERENCES


 
Racism in the U.S. continues to be a common topic in media and a less common topic on the street. I live in an integrated neighborhood. I shop in shopping center near my home which is patronized predominantly by people who are not Caucasian, like myself. I do not hear open discussions of race on my streets. I do hear racially based slang, often descriptive, muttered by people here and there.
 
I often think, "What constitutes being racist really?" Those who are relentlessly politically correct, mostly well-off white people, seem to think simply noticing someone has a certain skin color is racist. This strikes me as simply stupid. Yes, I am prejudiced against stupid people who have no excuse to be stupid.
 
Is a Black or Latino person racist when he rationalizes turning his back on education and hard work to pursue crime because he feels racially oppressed? Is the Jewish parent racist who brainwashes his pre-pubescent child to only marry another Jew? Is a Catholic parent guilty of a form of ethnic discrimination when he threatens his child with damnation for marrying a non-Catholic. Is the Asian parent racist who chides his Chinese-American child for marrying a Vietnamese-American? Is paying attention to genetics at all a racist act?
 
"Racism" has come to mean "any consciousness of racial or ethnic differences" in many circles. It once was used to describe unjust behavior based on race. This is an example of deterioration of both common American language and the general level of conversation in our society. I lay the responsibility for this largely on a media which has traded ethics for cash. Exploiting racial dynamics has become a saleable product. Making stories race-based, when they are actually about crime, social integration, poor public education and widely unscientific law enforcement, is exploitative and cancerous.
 
My thinking about race grows from the ground of my experience as a gay man born sixty- five years ago. I grew up in one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S. and one of the most blue-collar. I lived through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. I lived through the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. These movements were not about establishing racism and homophobia as permanent self-limiting fixtures in the minds of the different. Not at all.
 
These movements were about discussing differences, seeking understanding and demanding equal justice. These movements were about empowering the individual to liberate himself from the yoke of racial difference and sexual difference as perceived and acted against by the ignorant and brutal. In other words, it was about being a whole person with a determination against social resistance to be an integrated and contributing member of the greater world.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

MALFEASANCE


Truck crash on I-93 April 16, 2015.
 

This summary by Wikipedia is wonderfully concise.

  • Malfeasance is the failure to act where action is required - willfully or in neglect.
  • Misfeasance is the willful inappropriate action or intentional incorrect action or advice.
  • Malfeasance is the willful and intentional action that injures a party.

This morning in Boston a truck crashed into a guard rail on Route 93 South near my neighborhood. The truck's cabin hung over the lip of the expressway. The location of the accident was not particularly problematic for the southbound travelers, since the accident occurred at a wide access ramp area, not in a lane of traffic. In fact, the normally lighter traffic southbound traveled quite normally.
 
The northbound lane was jammed up causing a 3-fold delay in the time it took from the south. It took 1 hour for traffic to travel about 12 miles. Why? Because the state police do not veil accident sites as police do in many parts of the developed world. Veiling accident sites has been shown to eliminate the neck-craning and tie-ups caused by human curiosity. This curiosity factor often causes multiple secondary accidents.

This is not the only example of malfeasance in this area. The obsolete HOV lane still in use on the same highway causes predictable and avoidable delays every single day it is used. It obviously exists for the benefit of those who are paid to operate it. Not for the driving public.
 
Obsolete policing techniques are a common example of malfeasance in government. Some other forms of malfeasance include:
  • obsolete application procedures for permits,
  • obstructive procedures to prevent access to public information,
  • generally rude and slow customer service by clerks in government offices,
  • failure to maintain and clean infrastructure such as sidewalks and roads,
  • failure to include public dialogue in making major environmental decisions
  • failure to provide adequate public transportation
  • failure to adequately apply legislated supervision of utilities
  • failure to enforce environmental laws.
  • failure to upgrade systems for efficiency and cost-savings to tax payers.
Malfeasance in government and private contracted services is against the law. Failure to deliver private contracted services is fraud. Malfeasance is often disguised by slovenly public employees who claim that the citizens have not adequately followed reporting procedures, which are often layered to insulate government employees from public scrutiny and pressure. A double bind to befuddle vigilant citizens.
 
Libertarians have paradoxically enabled more government malfeasance by fostering the popular idea that government inefficiency and corruption are to be expected. Libertarians have created a general popular sense that it is the job of Libertarian politicians to disembowel government. By further degrading public respect for, and expectations of, government, Libertarians have encouraged all politicians to distance themselves from support of good government. Politicians routinely fall back to a defensive stance, making excuses, instead of doing anything about malfeasance. I believe they have learned that cynical citizens will eventually shrug and walk away.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DER KREIS

Karl Meier, publisher of Der Kreis
 
Der Kreis (The Circle) was a gay magazine published in Switzerland from 1942 until 1967. The subscription to Der Kreis included membership in an organization of gay/lesbian people. That organization, which numbered nearly 2000 at its height, held occasional events for members, who could gather and be themselves in a safe space with entertainment and dancing.
 
Karl Meier, a.k.a. Rolf, who took over the decade-old publication in 1942 from previous publishers was an actor who had fled Germany in 1933 because of his fear of Nazi oppression of homosexuals under the infamous Paragraph 175. A 2014 Swiss docudrama, bearing the name of the publication, is very well done and is available on Netflix as The Circle.
 
I have recently experienced some disrespect from 20-something gay men. One man at my gym rolls his eyes and makes noises of disgust in passing in response to my open smile. Apparently, he feels molested by being smiled at. Peter recently got the finger from two 20-something gay men when he told them not to let their pit bulls crap in our front garden. These interactions do not occur often, but when they do, I wonder why I bothered to work for gay rights. I speculate many African-Americans feel the same about youth in their community who mimic gangsters and scorn education.
 
It is the fate of anyone who works to create positive social change. It is the role of those of us who have worked for and experienced positive social change to persist in reminding those who follow us of our history. Allowing young people to take advancement for granted encourages complacency, irresponsibility and a lack of respect for their own history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

U.S. MILITARISM




Four Blackwater employees have been convicted of killing 14 unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2007. This case should be an embarrassment for the U.S. military and its government. However, we live in a country where the courtroom was filled with shameless supporters of these mercenaries and their actions.
 
The Presidential discretionary spending budget proposal for 2015 (chart above) allots 55% for military spending. Medical is 5%. Science is 3%. Education is 6%. In all, 61% of that budget goes to military and bureaucratic government maintenance. This is simply outrageous.
 
Blackwater, a private security firm, was hired by the Pentagon to provide bodyguards for diplomats and high-ranking politicians in war zones. Why does a military which sucks the air out of our budgets need to contract high-priced security guards? The only reasonable answer is corruption. Blackwater has been renamed Academi and was renamed U.S. Training Center after the massacre of 2007. Erik Prince, the vocally Fundamentalist Christian owner of Blackwater, sold off the business to private investors  in 2011. It is reasonable to speculate that Mr. Prince did so in anticipation of yesterday's court ruling against his employees. It is also reasonable to speculate that private investors would not invest in the company if the corrupt hiring of it by a bloated military was not very profitable.
 
Blackwater and the American military have made me ashamed to be an American since the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions to further the interests of Saudi-U.S. corporate interests in the Middle East. Yesterday's verdict is simply a bone thrown to those of us who wish to see a demilitarized U.S. economy and government. However, it is a baby-step in the right direction.
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

VACCINATION


The Australian government has shown one way to teach a population that ignorant individualism in a densely populated world is a recipe for disaster. It has announced the elimination of welfare benefits to those who do not vaccinate their children. This is a bold and intelligent move in a democracy whose history is peopled with victims of bad British government policy.
 
Illegal immigration, like refusal of parents to vaccinate, is another area in which the Australian government has put its foot down in the face of individualist exploitation of resources by ignorant people who bring more need to society than benefit. Countries which have developed through the hard work and education of their societies are waking up to the tsunami of unskilled opportunists knocking at their borders daily. The majority of these are not hapless refugees. They are people fleeing the responsibility of building their own nations through hard choices and hard work. They are plotters and schemers.
 
The myth of the lawful and acculturating immigrant who hopes to adopt the values of a better society has been ruptured by the deterioration of urban street life in places where immigration has gone uncontrolled. International drug cartels have exploited open borders to set up violent drug gangs in once peaceful environments. Wandering troupes of homeless Central American men sleep on sidewalks in my own neighborhood nightly. Many of them too inebriated to walk straight, let alone work hard.
 
Refusal by more educated parents to inoculate their children is a symptom of dysfunctional individualism in affluent societies. Parents with autistic children would rather blame vaccines than take a hard look at the science and their own responsibility in bringing that child into the world. It must be the place of government to take a stand for the benefit of the many in the face of the few who would bring on old plagues to satisfy their inability to cope with the consequences of chosen reproduction. It is also the place of government and parents to educate children about sex, reproduction and disease prevention.
 
Globalism has yet to meet its potential to educate and move humanity to a healthier, less crowded, less violent world. Australia attempts to preserve a high quality of life while surrounded by overpopulated neighbors, mired in poverty, lack of education and dysfunctional religion. It is a goal long lost here in the U.S. and many other developed countries, who have surrendered to an ideology of denial, encapsulated in the "it's all good" mantra.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

COMMUNISM


 
Communism's failure as a political and governmental paradigm in some nations has not been a failure of the ideology. It has been a failure of its application by individuals and cultures in the face of hostile Western aristocracy, imperialism and capitalism. Communist regimes failed primarily by adopting isolationist policies. Rather than opening their societies to international tourism and trade, as the socialist democracies of Scandinavia have done, communist governments have focused on suppression of the individual in society with the mistaken notion that individual talent and initiative threaten the greater good.
 
The autocracy of communist regimes undermined the ideal of liberated individuals democratically working for the common good. Totalitarianism killed communist regimes by developing an underbelly culture of bureaucratic corruption, state violence and secrecy. The opening of Chinese communism to the West has led to an increasing awareness of corruption within the older communist culture. China may well devise a communist hybrid which works well in an overpopulated and environmentally degraded world.
 
China has rebounded despite immense and ancient population pressures and environmental deficits. Despite the propaganda in capitalist nations about the evils of Mao, the current success of China's resurrection is founded on Maoist systems of government. Similarly, but on a tiny scale by comparison, Cuba may well flourish when its isolation, largely caused by the U.S. embargo, is broken. A Cuban population raised on the ideal of the common good may well integrate capitalist business practices with a resulting social equality that will shame the U.S..
 
The U.S. phobia about communism is based in imperialist capitalism of the late 19th century. From its early popularity among European academics, communism has terrified capitalists in power who depend on the wage enslavement of a large segment of the population. Why? The answer is simple: Communism envisions a world motivated by constructive cooperation of all as opposed to a world dominated by the greed of the few.

Friday, April 10, 2015

HYPOCRISY


 
This is the Age of ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. The media flood under which we live has accustomed us to instant results from machines which create the illusion that we are participating in a global reality. The recent water crisis in California is a wake-up call. Those of us who still have plenty of water are not participating in the California reality. Nor are we prone to do so, given a choice.
 
Religious strife in the Middle East is another example. While I may keep abreast of the news from that region with video and audio media, I am not living the reality of that region. Nor would I choose to do so, given a choice.
 
The illusion of participation in such matters which do not concern our own daily lives is problematic when it is translated into military or political actions. "We are one." slogans and songs are bullshit. They are the contrivance of those who are most insulated from pain and starvation. It is lip service to ideals which are often based in a misguided religious sense of guilt. Often these slogans are used to collect money which in part supports those who collect it in a manner far above anything the recipients of their charity will ever see.
 
Those who present a politically correct and conformist image while living privileged lives are the vilest of hypocrites. Those who preach social equality while maintaining a corporate stock portfolio are not worthy of the respect due to those who have true integrity. Virtual morality or ethics are not real morality or ethics.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WATER

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Lake Mead


The issue of fresh water will perhaps be the first harbinger of climate collapse due to human overpopulation. Wealthy California cannot buy its way out of its current water crisis any time soon. It is the most populous state of the United States. This is not coincidental.
 
Nestle corporation has been buying fresh water rights planet-wide. Why? Profits. This is a glaring example of the evils of corporate rule. Corporations exist for profit, not for humanitarian principles.
 
Think of all the water that is wasted in the production of harmfully sweet beverages at donut and coffee franchises, at carbonated-beverage plants. Think of all the fresh water which is used to make beer. Yet, in California, the controversy has focused on irrigation methods for growing food. Really? Growing food is the problem?
 
As a person living in a water-rich area of the United States, I wonder what waves of migration may sweep into my area. What pressures will that place on my environment, on my taxes, on my personal access to fresh water.
 
Part of being a mindful and compassionate individual is being environmentally educated and aware. However, human overpopulation will produce a humanity that is dominated by survivalist selfishness. A survivalist humanity will be more ruthless and far less compassionate. Look at the societies on Earth that are now overpopulated in degraded environments. Develop your own conclusions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

PROCESS

Illustration Credit: www.koliganti.com

 
There has been a shift away from conscious process in this instant-on society. Remotes, game controllers and swipe screens create an illusion of personal power over reality which is deceptive. A simple power failure destroys that illusion quickly.
 
The process of creating something from raw materials is rapidly being assigned to robots and computers. "Hand-crafted" used to mean something which resonated with any consumer. Those consumers were people who made things themselves. They cooked meals from whole ingredients every day. They worked in factories which produced goods from wood and steel. Their understanding of the physical labor which contributes to the simplest daily tools or food made them more open to appreciation and compassion for other laborers.
 
Abstract consumer items, like computer code and Web-based services, are not seen as "hand-crafted". There is no person associated with the process of producing these items, despite the human input involved. I speculate that this contributes to a results-oriented world, as opposed to a process-oriented world. A results-oriented world, driven by the expectations stimulated by smart phones and computers, is bound to be a world of impatience and shoddy results, motivated by a need for instant gratification.
 
Think of the effects of this mentality on diplomacy and government systems. Looking at dynamics in the Middle East and in the U.S. Congress convinces me that the disregard for process leads to disaster. Grabbing a gun is not a symptom of mindful process. Saying "no" whenever a political opponent suggests a solution to a common problem makes for no progress on that common problem.
 
Basing daily living in a developed sense of personal process is the basis of most conscious paths to enlightenment throughout history. The "how" and "when" of doing things matter. Tapping an app on a screen can contribute to a larger personal process. However, if your entire personal process is tapping screens, your life will be hollow, especially when the lights go out.

Monday, April 6, 2015

ORIENTATION


 I speculate that most people spend much of their lives disoriented. I don't mean they are lost in the sense of True North, though I believe many modern people are hard pressed to discern this without a Google map. I am speaking of a person's sense of place in planetary ecology, lifespan time and our Universe.
 
Yesterday I found out that one of my friends from the 1970s died in 1995 of AIDS at the age of 48. It took some digging to find this out, since 1995 was on the cusp of the Google age of searches and public identities. I was inspired in my search by the sight of a young man on the street who bore a striking resemblance to my deceased friend. It was like seeing a passing phantom of my own youth.
 
The search and its conclusion with a death record which I found on line made me aware that my own orientation is constantly adjusting in response to information and experience. The hum-drum facts of location and time tend to lull me into a false sense of security. I am a harsh realist in terms of my aging and imminent mortality, but I am still prone to drift in a mental sea of timelessness, distracted by the floating flotsam and jetsam of comfortable urban life in a developed country.
 
I realize now, at sixty-five, how timeless my mental state was in those years when my friend and I were part of a tribe who camped in the mountains and spent weekends in an ancient seaside house on Maine's coast. I was able to momentarily drift back in meditation to that mindless disorientation. Life would be endless. Love would be absolute. My taut, vigorous body would never change.
 
Remaining oriented to the North Pole or North Star does not change my ultimate course on the sea of my life. This is not a recommendation for mindless drifting, but an assertion of the special nature of human intelligence. Consciousness is a choice of active mental conflict over passive denial. Plotting a course toward skeptical intelligence and compassionate understanding against the tide of inevitable aging and death is a choice which demands constant orientation. This is a very hard choice.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

NOT ONLY ISLAM.

Photo: David Icke from We Are Change.

 
David Icke's site has an interesting revelation. It seems that some Fundamentalist Christian ministers in the U.S. are preaching martial law as the new American 'freedom'. Yes, their theme is simple: Freedom means freedom to submit to government control. Mind you, these lunatics come from the same tradition that preaches Libertarian values, based on an imaginary U.S. Constitution, which they interpret in the same demented way they interpret The Bible. 
 
I find it interesting that this appears on David Icke's (link to his bio) site. Icke himself is no stranger to the lunatic fringe. Perhaps that is why his radar is finely tuned to trends of counter-lunacy from the political/religious Right.
 
In any case, the videos in the post speak for themselves. This raised the thought in my mind about the Religious Right's embracing of the term "Islamophobia". Yes, there are many in the homophobic, xenophobic and misogynist Christian Right who would defend Islamic ideology, despite its propensity to inspire atrocity. Why wouldn't they? Islam, according to some, means "I submit". Perhaps Fundamentalist Christian pastors imagine themselves as shepherds with automatic rifles, eager to decapitate anyone who dares teach evolution or advocate family planning.
 
The Christian Right in the U.S. has similar social and political views to those of the Saudi Arabians. They abhor women's assertion of the right to control their own bodies. They condemn homosexuals. They are anti-scientific in any area that challenges their outdated beliefs. They exploit modern capitalism for all its benefits while shedding crocodile tears for its victims. It seems the only point of disagreement is Israel's right to exist, but it should be recognized that Fundamentalist Christians do not believe that Jews can be saved unless they eventually embrace Christ as their Redeemer on the day of Final Judgment, speculated to begin in Jerusalem. (I guess it will be dark in Oklahoma and Texas on that day. That seems appropriate.)
 
 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

CROCUS

 
 
These humble crocus rise again in my front garden, a yard-wide patch of rough dirt between sidewalk pavement and house foundation. I see in them the inspiration for primitive human mind's invention of resurrection. When I really take in their mindless perseverance, their startling color and their unconscious beauty, I am humbled. They will not seek to destroy life. They will not degrade the whole planet. They give themselves to human and bee alike. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

WE'RE OWED!


 
There is a current social epidemic in the U.S.. It is called "entitlement".
 
Now, I am not using that word in the Libertarian Party's, or Republican Party's, connotation. These folks think it unjust for a citizen-taxpayer to expect return on his/her contribution to the public purse. In other words, they feel that government should collect but never pay out to individuals who actually depend on what they have invested in taxes ... just to banks and corporations. Then it's called "economic stimulus" or "economic incentive", not "corporate welfare".
 
Social entitlement is a different disease. It is the rationalization and justification for exploitation of others in society for personal gain or advancement. This takes many forms, encountered daily by the observant and mindful.
 
When I drive toward a clearly marked merging of lanes on a highway, I place my turn signal on and slowly merge toward the direction indicated by signs or police ahead. If I am in the lane being merged into, I leave several spaces between my car and the car in front of me. Simple courtesy to those who have to enter my lane. However, the current social entitlement of many drivers leads them to race to the last possible merging point to cut the line of mergers. Or, those in the lane being merged into, snug up to the bumpers of those ahead of them, thereby cutting off mergers from entering their lane.
 
Supermarket cashier lines provide constant examples of social entitlement. Express lines are dotted with shoppers with overflowing carts. These socially entitled people add insult to injury by ignoring those they are inconveniencing by staring at or yelling into a smart phone, an appliance obviously smarter than its owner. A particular group, composed largely of elderly women, turn the transaction of paying for groceries into performance art. They try to engage the cashier in detailed conversation about every item they have purchased. They take forever to pull those last three exact-change pennies from a gnarled purse. They occasionally shoot a gleeful glance at the growing line of frustration behind them, as they dither with their things before finally leaving.
 
Eight out of ten people do not say "thanks" when I open a door for them. Men are more likely to say "thanks" than women. Young people with smart phones on the subway rush into seats labelled for disabled people so they can have both hands free for texting.
 
Young parents allow their small children to run riot in stores without any sense of responsibility for their children's behaviors. Young children, unsupervised in stores, have thrown merchandise at me, grabbed my legs and followed me like ducklings in search of some parental guidance. I have observed the parents of these waifs shopping for clothes or other items in a fog of narcissistic self-absorption. Hilary Clinton's words have morphed into "let the village raise my child".
 
Underlying this social entitlement is a deep sense that individuals are automatically owed respect, no matter how selfish or antisocial their behaviors. This is, of course, absurd. Perhaps this has grown out of the "respect" excuse of drug-peddling gangsters, portrayed in films and television dramas. The "respect" of hip hop songs. Well, if you have to carry a gun to get respect, you're obviously doing something terribly wrong.
 
Social contribution used to be the ideal of America's citizens. Today's child-rearing is based on the assumption that an undisciplined child will magically become socially responsible. Today's volunteerism has been corrupted by entrepreneurial non-profits. The famous public-private partnership is just another way of describing nepotism and corruption.
 
Being born should entitle you to breathe without constantly fearing violence, hunger or the elements. Do you want respect? Act respectfully. Do you want your life to matter? Do something for your fellow human beings that matters. Life isn't really much more complicated than that.
 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FAILED SCIENCE

 
As I listened to well-intentioned space nerds, extolling the wonders of living on Mars, on BBC this morning, I realized that Science, as a worldwide phenomenon, has failed. Just as Religion has failed to deliver peace, justice and morality, Science has failed to truly deliver a higher quality of planetary health and general human welfare. I include Technology under the greater umbrella of Science in this idea.
 
Science's failure, like Religion's, is based in its inability to unite great minds worldwide in cooperative research and development. It operates on competition, based in monetary compensation. The measure of 'good science' is its applicability to profit-making. I do not wonder that Science congratulates itself as 'advanced' in an age of record corporate profits at the expense of quality of life for the masses.
 
Capitalist scientists would loudly disagree. They would wave statistics in my face which show a decrease in hunger, an increase in lifespan , a decrease in infant mortality. All these anthropocentric statistics would ignore the degradation of the planet's ecosystems. It would ignore the pollution of sea and air. It would ignore overpopulation's inevitable dead end.
 
Science, once the hope of those emerging from the devastating age of religious contention and domination in Europe, has failed to the degree that the human species itself may suffer an irreversible ecological collapse with its cause being misapplied Science. The flight of human beings back into the false security of Religion in many societies is perhaps a species-wide regression, a worldwide human thumb-sucking response to the realization that man's attempt to be free from dark superstition has led to planetary disaster.