It’s A Lie

January 31st, 2008

~ January wrap-up folks, “It’s a lie”.

It may come as a surprise to you that I think of myself as a pretty positive person, almost ‘upbeat’, ‘happy’ mostly.  Even my wife (who knows me pretty well) is surprised by this (concept, view, possibility).  “I never knew”, she might say, “You hid it so well (all these years).”

The point is that I like “kickin’ the ideational shit out of the bad guys”.  It ‘cleans up’ their act; reduces their power (to make messes).  The world becomes a better place for it (maybe).  “My” ‘second front’ is to struggle to keep more ‘bad guys and gals’ from coming down the pike; to keep them at home and then to do “home visits” to convince them of the “there’s NO point” in growing up ‘bad’ (point).  It’s exhausting “work” at times, but rewarding mostly.  The satisfaction is more than money (any money) can buy; “money motivated” people can’t understand this; don’t see the point, have blinders on, need cataract surgery (real or metaphor).

Well, (well, well, well) Homeland Security (DHS) BLINKED (big time).  Yes, they are (trying) to close the borders today (and it will be a real, real MESS).  But they “decided” to allow PHOTOCOPIES of birth certificates instead of requiring real birth certificates with real (three dimensional) notary seals or ‘stamps’ with real ink signatures (or both in all intelligent States).  Now it doesn’t take a ‘brain surgeon’ (meaning a fish with a brain; or is that a ‘sturgeon’?), to forge a sealed and stamped birth certificate; a little time, effort, and money maybe – but no great ‘smarts’.  But ONLY a “photocopy”, that is laughable.  One might as well demand photocopies of twenty dollar bills as evidence that one has $1,000 “cash” on hand.

DHS might as well just stop the pretense of “border security” and start stringing barbed wire around (around what?, one might ask); around their necks, yes, maybe around their necks so they might remember how far they’ve stretched them out into a painful world that they are so totally “clueless” about.  The really, really neat think about a government run by “friends”, “nepotism”, and good old fashioned “graft and corruption” is that all those in positions of power and ‘leadership’ are so “damn dumb” and so totally devoid of any worthwhile real life experience (cleverly masked by college degrees that often may be just ‘photocopies’).  Nobody checks; do your ‘journalists’ check; of course NOT.  They don’t get paid to; they wouldn’t know how (to).

I know a little something about “photocopies”.  Originally they were just “copies” as in “copy”.  World War II was run with just “copies”; retyped by a typist from the ‘original’.  If the person who typed it actually compared the ‘copy’ to the original they might type “true copy” on the copy.  Of course many copies weren’t ‘true’; but hey, even the “Greatest Generation” spaced out, had their lapses, made mistakes; could take a “what EVER” attitude.  The whole use of the word “Jap” was probably because most secretaries (almost always male in the Army) could not type “Japanese” on a typewriter with any reasonable accuracy or speed.  So it goes.

After Pearl Harbor (the communications disaster) the military began to realize that it would be better to occasionally require photographic copies of important documents; fewer mistakes and all.  Hence the term “photo” copies.  In no time they were all the rage (Kodak liked the idea very, very much).  They even reduced real mail to “photo-mail” calling it “V-Mail”; people got a microfilm printout ‘stateside’ while the army burned the original letters and love letters in a fire very near to where they were written; or ‘buried’ them; giving ideas to the US Post Office Department for future ways of handling mail.  (You figure out what I really mean).

After awhile machines were made to make a full size chemical fluid copy on weird paper by stuffing the original through a slot on the machine; presto, five minutes later (and another ten for drying) one had a blurry brown replica of the original.  Everyone hailed the miracle of science.  Then Xerox Corporation organized around the idea of “dry” (Xerox does mean ‘dry’).  No wet chemicals, no drying time copies.  For $5,000 (equivalent to $50,000 in today’s money) one could buy (but usually ‘leased’) a “Xerox machine” that could make “Xerox copies” that came to be known as just “Xeroxes” or “Xeroxs” which was back to nobody knowing how to spell things.

These copies were not as good as you now get from a $50 copier; but they sold for about $1 each (a dollar a copy) retail; Xerox made about 27 cents per copy as counted on the meter (each machine had a ‘total’ copies counter).  Xerox made more money on “Xerox paper” and “xerox supplies” to keep the machine making copies.  Such a deal.  By 1963 “stenographic shops” (typing services) were offering “Xerox services” for ‘original’ type copies without the typing at about the typing rate (charged for typing).  In case you are really, really confused the word “typing” means “keyboarding” which was at the time a term usually reserved for linotype operators that set hot metal type in lines for the use in cold metal printing presses (like big newspapers had); but I can tell that you are now really confused and are maybe beginning to understand why “Boomers” can’t understand about “Raspberries and Blackberries” as technology things.

In 1964 3M (Company; makers of scotch tape) came out with a two-step dry process using a chemically matched papers system (just add light).  The ‘light’ machine was remarkably inexpensive (at $325).  The cost of a copy was a little over a nickel.  I quickly bought one (a photocopier) and had visions of replacing my (lucrative) paper route with an even more lucrative photocopy business.  There wasn’t a “copying” industry in America in 1964, I was a pioneer, first on my block (and in the city, and in the State of Nevada).  I rented an office, made signs, put up index card sized “flyers” (which was how bulletin boards were done in those days).  A mining guy down the hall began bringing me all these old mining maps and documents (for copying).  Business copied my client, “spot claims”; it wasn’t clear whether the business would “pan out”.

That’s about when I started getting creative with photocopies.  I first tried a “fake ID”, to see if my driver’s license could age at “hyper-speed”; meaning I would look 21 even though I was still 15.  ID’s didn’t have pictures then, just cardboard cards, no security paper even, no security, just numbers, a name and a lot of intuition and “trust”.  I “played around” for a few hours; encountered a few problems, figured out solutions and finally decided that with enough plastic lamination (legal then, people did it all the time) I could have a “workable” ID; and my friends, and my friends, and friends I never knew I had.  Why get only 25 cents a copy (which I did) when I could get $5 a copy (which I didn’t do).  I liked solving problems, wasn’t money motivated.  I liked the adventure of the possibilities, not the shady dark side of breaking things that were not yet broken.

I found a friend to “take over” (the business) while I went to Ecuador and the New York World’s Fair (earlier post, should write more though); one didn’t need a “fake ID” to drink in Ecuador, just money (not that I had more than a beer or two; OK, maybe three); being fifteen and sitting at a bar high in the Andes and wondering if a place like this would be the best place to be at world’s end; sitting with a beer, waiting for all the markets to crash, the bombs to fall, the missiles to fire, and the ‘whimper’ to start (and end).  The equator and elevation and beer can do strange things to the mind of a 15 year old.  There are good reasons for age laws regarding drinking (of alcohol).

With all the scanners and “paint shops” and photographic modification programs in every home (almost) it’s now easy to forge just about any document; except for the special papers, special embossing, and occasionally special inks and chemicals.  New ID’s (and the new money) have this; birth certificates generally don’t; a “photocopy” of a birth certificate can’t.  So each certificate (copy) has to be scanned and read and compared with a data-base in “somewhere” that has everything all organized and on-line and everything; cross-checked against death records of course.  DHS is dreaming!  The system does not exist.  It’s a lie.  The borders are as open (to bad gals and bad guys) as they ever were.  There is no law saying one must have a social security number if one is “independently wealthy or independently poor”.

There are of course a few more ups and downs to the data-system theory of DHS.  Each “problem solved” creates a new headache for honest citizens; like “do not fly lists”; they “do not work” except that they make a lot of people not want to fly which probably means the lists are working, “killing travel” like they are designed to do; like what closing the border is designed to do, “kill travel”.  They (DHS) will play around, experiment, til 2009 (January 1); then see how far they’ve got and how far they need to go.  There is no rush for (or at) the borders, nasty place, lines and guns, fences and badges and barbed wire; “Welcome to America”, watch your back, aren’t you glad you’re back?

It wasn’t like this once.  Thought you should know.  For the record.  It was a free country (once); one could come and go freely, no ID usually, just a smile and a nod to Canada or to Mexico; Cuba even, ninety miles for a day or night of gambling, rococo skies, red breasted Mounties, racetracks in Caliente.  It has nothing to do with 9-1-1 (or 9/11).  America is not a “homeland”; it is a nation, “one ‘homeland’ under God”; gag, gag, gag (SUCH A LIE).  The word is not in the Constitution, not in the Bill of Rights.  Lincoln never used the term; nor did Kennedy.  ‘Homeland’ is a Bushism.  “Oil comes from ma ‘homeland’ near Crawford, Texas”.  Now you know.  End of discussion.

Anyway, I’m happy.  There have always been “class acts” and “clown acts”.  I never laughed at clowns; bad taste, not funny, just silly and stupid; I always liked the elephants a whole lot better, and of course the camels (a cleaner and more honest lot).  There are “clown people” of course, they get their day and have their day; life moves on.  At some point though all the mask and makeup has to come off, the show’s over, the tent is taken down, it’s just a “one more for the road” thing; always sad (as in ‘too bad’).  It’s been an interesting month, January of ’08.  Tiring, a chill in the air, ups and downs and ups that are still really down.  It’s been a ‘clown act’ I think, a warm up, not really friendly or nice; but enough to keep you in your seat, enough to make you pay attention, knowing that the real and bigger acts still lie ahead.  And that’s not a lie.

[2008.01.31 / Thursday – It’s A Lie]

Etch A Sketch

January 30th, 2008

~ Madcap Market Madness and a view of history.

The border is closing tomorrow; last chance to experience freedom; the freedom of movement and of travel that was so much a part of this nation.  Imagine if everyone who wanted to go to Oregon on the Oregon trail, or to go to California for the Gold Rush, or “Go West Young Man Go West” had have been required to get a US Passport before leaving.  The mind boggles.  The revenue alone might have kept the US in the black until 2001 (had the money been invested in the stock market).  The problem with government is that it has so little foresight; it is always looking back, into the past, no imagination, just ‘reaction’.

I think everyone in the world knows by now that Bernanke lowered the rates again today, a half point, down to 3% simple interest (or as simple as interest ever gets).  I think even the poor in Haiti that have been driven to eating “mud cakes” even know.  They know that there will be a lot more mudcakes in their diet, maybe until they die the same long agonizing death that the US stock market will go through.  Slow, distasteful, unappetizing; filling for awhile but ultimately fatal.  “Eating dirt” is so common in the world now that it has a name, “Geophagy”.  It’s the name to Google to get all the latest dirt, or ‘on dirt’ (as a diet).

Maybe Wall Street bonuses could be paid in ‘mud cakes’; a little sample of what will be in vending machines in the suburbs by next Law Day USA.  The border crisis can finally be over as every one overseas learns that all there is to eat in America is “mud cakes”; no need for a Passport to go to Haiti, mud cakes are now available at your local McDonald’s and Sawbuck’s Coffee locations.  Five year olds can get rich making them; selling them; making more, child labor is really OK with the Republicans isn’t it?  I know Hillary is good with it.

I made “mud cakes” when I was five; I called them “mud pies” though.  That’s because I had pie pans to use and not cake pans.  Actually I had both.  They were leftover rusty ones left in the kitchen of our house in Carson City.  It was a “model” kitchen in 1906 when it was built; state of the art, wooden drain boards built in, a real ice box that took real ice.  A lot can happen in 47 years.  About the only thing that happened to this kitchen was that mice moved in.  They lived somewhere back (in the lower cupboards) and somewhere behind the rusting enamel ware that once was new and once held flour crusts and flour cakes.  It took a weekend (almost; or more) to get the ice box out, the old pots and pans out, and the mice out.  My parents had great plans to remodel everything (in the kitchen); “state of the art” (again); 1953 this time.

What I got out of the deal (after declining the dead mice, heads held firmly in traps) was pans (were pans).  I got pans for mud pies so that I might amuse myself mixing mud, pouring mud, setting mud out in the hot sun to dry (in pans).  I was supposed to be the “happy baker” I guess; but I preferred to be the happy merchant, I decided to mass produce the product and “bag it up” for sale.  I was probably a bit in a hurry to ‘get rich’; but I knew there was a market for mud (55 years ahead of time I guess).

Anyway I would make the pies, let them dry a little; just enough to keep their shape; then bung them in the bag for market.  This way I could soon make another batch (faster, nicely efficient).  What I had not yet learned about at the tender age of five years and a month or two was the ways of wasps.  I did not know that wasps too liked ‘mud’ and evidently were especially partial to pies; mud pies.  They found my bag and went for the pies; greedy and lazy things were not content to mix their own water and dirt, wanted mine, wanted to benefit freely from “my” labor.  I caught them at it; red handed; let me explain.

I was going to Kindergarten at the time, latch key kid, both parents worked, I was home alone after walking home from “school” on the other side of town.  When I got home I would “work” on my pies.  This special day was not unlike the last one; I would reach in (the bag) and pull out a pie; test the crust for dryness, move on to mixing mud.  My hand thrust in the bag and the wasp thrust in his “stinger” (maybe it was “her stinger” to be fair).  I screamed.  There was pain of course; great pain.  I dropped the bag and maybe five greedy wasps flew out, pies lay broken, wet and dry mud mixed on the ground.

Before it was over (all the screaming and screaming) I think five different neighbors had called my parents (at work).  My Mom got three, my Dad two as I recall.  It was my Mother that “went home” first; pulled out the stinger, washed the wound, wiped away the tears.  She stayed awhile then my Father came home and then they both went back to their offices, I would live, my career however lay in ruins (on the ground).  The next week I would start staying with the Lynch’s (a neighbor not so far away, but far enough from ‘home alone with wasps’) after school; no more “latch key” for awhile.

In Haiti they add lard and a little salt to the mud before its left to dry.  Adds flavor and maybe a little texture if not taste.  Maybe the salt keeps the wasps away; you never know.  Had I known the recipe I might be ‘rich’ by now; no Lynch’s after school; just fifty “cakes” a day (at a nickel apiece) $2.50 and I would be making average Haiti wages (for a day of work).  In no time I could invest in the market and really make a “bundle”.

Is it “science” that made this happen; or is it “science” that cannot fix it?  Some days the “news” is just so insane that I wonder why I write; then I realize that such days are WHY I write.  Some things must change.  The price does not matter.  People should not be eating earth.  This is not “play time” after school in Kindergarten.  It is NOT ACCEPTABLE that this is going on on my shift (on this planet).  I am outraged.  Some fucking kids are “playing with stocks” while real human beings are eating dirt with a little lard mixed in; I don’t think so.  Crash the damn market; take it down to a DOW 860 for all I care; something has to happen to get a “reality check” going.  Even McCain never had to “eat dirt” to live.  Where is the compassion, the sanity, the “civilization” worth saving?

I watched the market (go crazy) today.  The graph was like an Etch A Sketch in the hands of some hapless child; it was always a “hapless child” that seemed to buy them (or perhaps a “hapless” parent).  The lines were crazy, up and down, forward and back, finished where the cursor started (almost).  Etch A Sketch is a game, not a career, not a vocation, not a “hobby”.  Nobody is “investing”; they are just “playing”; with play money, in play companies, with play stock.  My mud pies were more real.  I had a better chance of turning a real profit than any of these “Johnny and Jilleys” come lately.  I took my risks; played with wasps (real ones, got stung).  These people play with human lives; could care less, feel ‘entitled’ and privileged as they get their “buzz” after each bell or “buzzer”.

What will it take to crash the market; to get all “good” people out; to leave the losses for those that so ‘richly’ deserve them?  Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.”  The “dough boys” (Dow boys and girls) say “let them eat mud”; we want corn (ethanol) for fuel; it will save the engines (and captains) of industry perhaps; ADM (Arthur, Daniels, Midland) at least; and maybe Monsanto with their “chemical pollution” on board (each seed).  “Feeding the World”; Bullshit!  Ethanol is not “green”; it is ‘genocide’.  It is about time that someone starts saying it; and saying it; and saying it.

Pass the word.

[2008.01.30 / Wednesday – Etch A Sketch]

Money Glut

January 29th, 2008

~ Up a hundred, “the market always comes back”.

There are trillions of free dollars out there; not billions, trillions; not HK dollars, real US dollars, or at least as real as a US dollar can get.  Most dollars aren’t even ‘paper’.  They are the ‘bitstream currency’ of the electronic interpulse, accepted at face value for what they are ‘nano-second blips’.  Don’t get me wrong, these blips can make you rich (with more blips); or make life hard when you don’t have enough “blippen money” to pay the electric bill or the food bill.

For most people “in between” (I won’t use that really dated term “middle class”) who have a little savings; a retirement account with ‘money’ if they are a ‘little’ older; a “life” of earnings can flash by in the speed of an internet download.  Wages used to be a nice $14,000 a year back in the sixties (family income), a couple with a couple of children, non-union ‘wages’ or small business annual ‘profits’.  Taxes took a little, but there was at least $10,000 left after taxes.  $9,000 left after utilities (water, electric, gas, fuel oil, phone, long distance calls at $1 per minute, garbage, sewer).  A twenty year mortgage on an ‘average’ house took another $2,500 (counting property taxes and insurance).  Car payments (20% down, three year contract, best terms available) were about $65 per month.

The good news was gas was about 27 cents per gallon after all the fed and state “road taxes” (levied to keep the roads in ‘tip top’ condition with almost never a traffic jam outside of LA or a big city core).  The bad news was that the average person (in the west) drove about 20,000 miles per year and a car seldom lasted more than 80,000 miles (then it broke down completely and ‘died’).  From age 16 on I (and most everyone I knew) had a monthly car payment and a monthly car insurance payment.  The figure of $110 per month sticks in my mind; car, gas, insurance, AAA towing (always necessary), repairs, oil, tires; it might have been more, I made about $260 per month then; the car took about 40% (of my income).

My parents had two cars and a third for “work”; a four wheel drive vehicle which one could use for surveying jobs in the surrounding country where there were very few paved or even gravel roads.  Engineers still did a lot of surveying then to keep food on the table; not like now with the money glut and big salaries everywhere.  Most families in the west were like this, one car per person over 16.  In the budget it often meant another $2,000 per year; we’re down to $4,500 per year now.  Without health care, clothing, food, meals out, movies, buying or replacing furniture and appliances, without home improvements, without vacations or school supplies.  If 10% were left over after paying for everything in this family of four it would be about $450 per year for savings.  After inflation stocks returned about 1.5% (maybe).

Of course things did get a little better (income wise) over the years, but a “saving” GI or Silent Generation person often ‘retired’ about the year 2000 with a whopping $50,000 in “savings” after a life of earning and “scrimping” and struggle.  The only ‘value’ earned was a home paid for and (inflated by inflation).  The “old house” bought in say 1963 for $18,000 was worth about $180,000 in 2000.  This was a lot of money for someone who had never earned more than $32,000 a year in their entire lives.  It was a virtual “money glut”.

My parents moved (from Nevada) to California in 1967.  I got an apartment (my first).  The rent was $135.  Basic utilities (included) brought it to $165.00.  My roommates were supposed to pay $100 of this.  They didn’t show.  My car and my ‘housing’ were $275.  My income after my new job (earlier post) was about $325 per month (uniform furnished) before taxes like Social Security withholding and ‘unemployment’ compensation fees and a small federal tax.  I “took home” about $285.00; leaving me about $10 per month ($2.50 per week) to spend on music and movies (about $1.50 per album, about $1.00 per movie).  No money for food (my job included some food fortunately), not even French Fries ‘out’, no money for magazines or insurance or “savings”.

Needless to say the “car” soon “went”.  I walked to work which did not “work”; more than three miles in the cold (each way, and on some days snow, other days rain), no sidewalks worth walking on in a “car” town; utility poles in the middle all the time, narrow walks, often mud, mud and water from passing cars splashing.  What is your “city” like for long distance walkers?; a mile or two to a food store or a job; or a pharmacy?  The apartment was next (obviously), broke the lease, moved to a motel room across from work; the Jet Motel, rented by the week one room, no kitchen, no storage, old and worn bed and nightstand, one chair with gold cloth; $128 per month ($32 per week after tax).  No roommate necessary (or allowed).

I was ‘rich’ now of course.  I had an extra $157 per month.  I could pay away my “up side down” loan on my car debt on my now sold car.  Or at least start to pay.  I indulged though, ate a meal out, breakfast for dinner mostly (more a late lunch).  I worked graveyard and got hungry by the afternoon; the meal cost me a dollar (79 cents plus coffee and tip).  $30 per month.  I stayed a month (at the Jet); didn’t really like “motel living”, drunk tourists at night every night, shag carpet was never clean or really cleaned; not a good place to tell your friends about when you’re supposed to be in college getting on ones way to a law degree.  “No social life”, is to put it very mildly.

I “moved to California”, “moved back home” to a ‘home’ that I had never been in and to a community I had only driven through or passed through on a train or bus.  I knew no one, did not know what to expect, and then my next older brother died (a month later).  There is perhaps a moral to this story.  I’m still not sure.  Maybe more to the point are the lessons.  I’ve never really liked cars much since that spring; never liked car payments, never liked car insurance nor AAA.  I tried.  A few times I had pretty neat or “cool” cars (over the years); never had any real heart in it though, excitement for awhile, for just a passing fad with way too much passing ‘interest’ and payments.  In most suburbs ‘sidewalks suck’, brought to you by greedy developers, clueless politicians, and the local “automobile industry” (which includes the ‘bus’ boys).

If people cannot afford to buy a home in America I am not so sure its their fault.  If they can’t afford a mortgage I say the same.  The problem (in my experience) is the cars.  There are too many cars, too much of a need for cars, and too great a distance for good old walking and shoe leather and time well spent.  Your HMO probably has a gym, wants you to “jog”, suggests “yoga”.  They would not do this if they knew you walked to work; if they knew most everyone walked to work.  I could talk about Afghanistan now; I won’t.  But in Carson City in 1955 I think that everyone in the whole community could of easily “walked to work”, some did, all could have.

Real “green” is not about ethanol or better gas mileage.  Green is about blue skies, oil free oceans, not ever seeing the words Texaco, Chevron, or Shell in your life; thinking that when someone says “GM” it is General Mills and when they say “Toyota” it really is a small child’s toy, not worth much money.  Find a job near where you live; or move to (very near) where you work (housing is so cheap now isn’t it?; good time to move, maybe do a ‘trade’).  I’ve done it, lived near work, moved to work, walked.  If you can’t move, think of retiring if you can, $50,000 goes a long way in a money glut, no car, no insurance; making the politicians “get real” about sidewalks and public transportation; maybe even real trains again.

If one is really rich one can buy a bicycle (used for $20; new for $100); or an electric scooter for $275 (total cost, recharge it with a solar cell which is a little extra).  Have you ever bought groceries for a neighbor even once in your life?  Used your car so they didn’t have to use (own) theirs.  No, you NEVER have.  Money is so messy.  Think about the problem (maybe).  While you’re stuck in traffic on your commute to work; or while you’re looking for a parking space that doesn’t exist; or when you’re writing out your car insurance check.  You decide.

The only real voting in America is with money.  Each dollar is one vote.  Each person decides how they want the world to be and to look with each dollar spent.  Huge corporations or small local businesses; vote tomorrow.  Gasoline or clean air; vote tomorrow.  Health or health insurance; vote tomorrow.  You get my point.  Vote early, vote often.  You can bet that most (or many) other people are going to vote just like you do.  Are you happy?  Are you happy with the way things are?  Each ‘vote’ can change things.

Is there a “money glut”; kind of puts a new spin on “one person, one vote”.  One question: do you have a buck?

[2008.01.29 / Tuesday – Money Glut]

The Urban Farm

January 28th, 2008

~ We’ll just have to convince the raccoons.

The 40 hour day isn’t working too well these days.  Get up, read the paper, listen to the radio, worry about “A satellite is coming down”, what some guy someone calls “President” is doing 2,300 miles away in some backwater hinterland on the east coast, and what some other dead guy did when he “ruled” Indonesia for 32 straight years as some sort of US Puppet (he killed piles of people, and was more corrupt than Al Capone).  All this and market swings and sell offs and offers of 50 year mortgages in the mail and “I don’t care anymore”.  I do care, but there are not enough hours in the day anymore (to keep up, to keep tracking it all, to keep ‘the bastards’ from getting me down).  I’m “down”.  And I think I’m not alone.

So I woke up this morning with a few new thoughts and maybe a new plan.  I realized that maybe moving to “Where?” and maybe moving to “What?” wasn’t going to make it.  I may change my mind; especially if I keep listening to NPR become a pure Main Stream Media “media source”.  I talked to a neighbor awhile back about buying a “hobby farm”, five to 20 acres, a house, miles out in the “country”, safe from the coming collapse of the infrastructure, grow ones own food, etc., etc..  He investigated (in the mid-west); found that such farms are now “all the rage”, no housing crisis on the farms, suburban type people need space for storing their RV’s , their boat, their two or three ‘collectible’ cars and maybe their “father-in-law” when he wants to visit once too often.  If they have time they might grow something someday, but mostly it’s about keeping the neighbors at a ‘good’ distance (not like in their other home in the suburbs).

I’m sure Iowa is still very “nice”; Indiana too; but I can watch RV’s by driving over to an RV lot any day and I think that’s the problem.  I don’t want a bigger “Gem Top” camper shell, I don’t care if it has five speed windshield wipers and an “elder-care bidet” on board.  I like my home, don’t mind spending the weekends there, like my neighbors too.  It’s not a bad life (here).  And for most in this country it’s probably about the same, not really too bad.

Having a car that’s paid for helps; car payments are always bad.  Hating credit cards (and companies) is good, the hate just about disappears when one doesn’t have them in ones life.  I’m working on “offing” the insurance companies, they need a real diet, The Washington Post budget on Sunday (papers) did not even list or mention “insurance” as an issue (don’t need it I guess, not important, doesn’t “pay”).  Of course I have no cable, no TV, no insipid cell phone (or bill), “dial-up” for internet is just fine thanks.  For me a “blackberry” is still just a ‘blackberry’, a nice piece of fruit (makes good jam).  No I-Pod of course, I-Pods will not play 33 RMP records.  I could go on; I won’t.  The point is that this “Me Boomer” does not need a lot of the things so many others claim they need.  They decide.

My home has a small lawn, some “room” in the back, a roof.  I try to keep it nice, sweep the sidewalk, blow away or rake the leaves, wash the windows.  All of these activities are more enjoyable than reading the daily paper.  I wave at my neighbors when they walk or drive by.  What I don’t have is a garden; the house is not a farm.  I decided to change that; I started this morning, thinking about the plans and possibilities, where to put a cistern (for recycled water).  I plan to pump it up from the gutter when it rains, no need to “drains to river” (through a rotting sewer).  The water deserves better; as does the river.

What I decided is that if one does not like where they live one should move, period.  If one does like where they live one should be as self-sufficient as possible right where they are.  “Reduce the Use”.  Everything can be reduced in terms of “consumption”.  Less income, less money hoarded, fewer things to buy, fewer things to collect, less wear and tear, less waste, fewer things going unrecycled.   Fewer magazines, less junk mail, fewer lights and fewer lights left on.  More giving, less taking.  Familiar themes.  Why then are they not more familiar?

Every front yard in America should have corn stalks this summer.  Every person should grow carrots and potatoes; tomatoes are an option, a luxury mostly.  One stalk or five; in either case it is a beginning; a case for “Change”, a statement of intent.  The rules are simple, when planting, when watering, when weeding EVERYTHING is turned off (except the water maybe).  No energy used except the human energy on board; no batteries, no electricity, no motors running, no 33 RPM records spinning.

Today is ones life.  Saving for “retirement” is a fiction; “doing” is probably always better than “planning”; anyway most ‘plans’ never happen like they were planned.  Things change.  Live the way you wish to live now, there is a certain dignity in trying to simplify ones life, adding depth and not just ‘mystery’ or ‘intrigue’.

I do have a problem though; the “raccoon family”.  They keep breeding every spring, new members, growing appetites, aggressive natures.  They have already started eating the Iris shoots and digging up the “grounds” for grubs.  They would eat everything I grew before it grew.  What to do?  Yes, buying dogs is a decision to “consume” (so no dogs).  Bird netting is probably the best answer, cheap and effective.  Maybe something else, a moat maybe, raccoons hate water (a lot like cats).

In world war two they called this “Victory Gardens”.  Catchy name, nobody did it though.  People were too busy building bombs and bombers and going to dances at the USO.  Things are different now, factories have gone overseas, no “big bands” anymore, no need for nylons and flash.  Food prices are getting out of sight, no price controls like in the last big war, is Congress sleeping?  Grow food, you will be glad you did; maybe the best things in life ARE almost free.

[2008.01.28 / Monday – The Urban Farm]

Belly Up

January 27th, 2008

~ Close the watertight doors, “they don’t count”.

A satellite is coming down, a US spy satellite, a “back room” deal (secret and all), beryllium (not baby) on board, could be bad.  Statistically it will ‘land’ on water.  Splish, splash; let the EPA do the cleanup when they’re “down there” looking for ships, like the Titanic, steerage class passengers locked behind water-tight doors, expendable folk, a worthwhile loss in the effort to “save our ship” (SOS).  “It’s about the economy stupid.”  Flashback to the seventies (or eighties) or maybe the thirties.  In any case it’s about “flash” and “back” or maybe “belly” as in ‘belly up’ the fish version of a ship “turning turtle”; the car dealers mantra (in ads) “are you up side down” (meaning do you owe more on your car than your car is worth).

A turtle is staying with us, a real turtle, “box” like, big girl, outwardly intelligent and personable like “girls” can be.  She wandered ‘in’ one day (last summer) making for the road (meaning ‘street’).  We saved her from being a “street walker” that might become “road kill”; scooped her up and let her live in our yard.  I like turtles, one can learn from reptiles; cold blooded creatures as they are, can warm the cockles of ones heart.  Turtles (some) are also “water creatures”, the whole body is a water-tight door; the difference between turtles and ships is that “everything locked inside” lives, doesn’t die.  The turtle is hibernating now, long winters sleep, “santa nap” like thing, without the presence (OK, that WAS really bad).

Before I start talking about why fish really do go “belly up”, shining their underside topside; floating and bloating in the water, dead mostly, fresh harvest for the gulls or other cadaver feeding fish or fowl I should get to the real “point” of this post.  This is assuming that you “buy” the idea that any of these posts really do have a “point”.  I’ll make my “point” (as always) then…  You decide.  It works better that way.

The Main Stream Media (MSM) has gotten onto the budgetary bandwagon bigtime (BBB).  ‘Stream’ of course may remind one of ‘fishing’ which may remind one of the fact that “dead fish don’t bite”.  This is why throwing sticks of dynamite into the water is not really fishing at all; its just “fish kill”, the harvest without the ‘sport’; efficient (as in mass production), but not so ‘serene’ as the upfront (reverse) water-boarding of a denizen of the deep onto “dry land” or onto a “dry dock” is.  Let’s call this activity what it is, “Air-boarding”; Cheney must have been a ‘fisher-person’, “body by Fischer”.  (You CAN come back tomorrow when the mood changes; you really don’t have to read EVERY post.)

Anyway, “hook ‘em”, pull ‘em around from place to place, give ‘em a taste of air (or water), reel ‘em in and really let them have lots of air (water), let ‘em really flop flop flop (until they’re ready to die), then throw ‘em back, and wait til ‘you’ can “hook ‘em” again.  They call this “sport” in much of America.  One just doesn’t want to be the ‘fish’; on the wrong end of the ‘line’.

The “tax rebate” plan is a lot like fishing and ‘shipping’.  It’s “good” depending upon which side of the water-tight door one is on.  The point is that the “plan” is an effort to save a “ship of State (soS)” that is in danger of “going down” (nice words for “sinking”).  The government has decided that the “plan” will only work if the money put into the plan will be “spent” and “spent fast” (consuming).  This requires a certain ‘ambient income’; those that don’t have the ambience are ‘locked out’ of the largesse; are locked behind water-tight doors, expendable (steerage) that can “go down with the ship” or just “go down” (as in drown) as the ship with all its “good people” is “saved”.  The steerage class is never “good people” (Not “my opinion”).

It was in 1960, about election time, that I came face-to-face with the reality of water-tight doors.  I was on the President Cleveland (SS) (Steam Ship) in the mid-Pacific or headed for the mid-Pacific.  Deep water place, long way down, no icebergs but there were other ships at sea, and giant waves, and always the possibility of giant storms.  These are the things that can sink ships sometimes (that and idle gossip in WW II defense plants, “loose talk sinks ships”; ban all cell phones NOW).  So many words, so little time!  As I was saying; “They had a drill one morning, federal requirement then, “man the lifeboats” (women and children too are invited), make your way to the ‘boat’ decks; which on a ‘ship’ is not the whole ‘boat’.”  Which brings us to the fact that the “Love Boat” wasn’t; it was really a “SHIP”, which illustrates the fact that people should NOT believe the MEDIA.

Did I mention that Obama has now won TWO in a row; first NEVADA and now SOUTH CAROLINA?  Now compare this reality and my earlier post with today’s AP headlines (about the ‘Race’ in ‘race’), or is it a “raisin” crop; “wrinkled skin” versus “getting darker”.  I’ll take “Dark but Nice” any day.

Back to the boat(s).  I left my berth (ship for ‘bed’) and made my way down the passageway to the first water-tight door, rectangular thing with rounded corners, big wheel in the center, hinged bolts with flanges on all sides, good for a real ‘lock down’; steel on steel with just a little paint thick in-between.  My father was there waiting.  He explained that we still had five minutes before they closed the door, locked it, sealed away the cabins and the passages, made them safe for fish or other water foul.  In a real emergency (he explained) one might have just a minute (from the blaring of the horns) to the closing of the door; “haste saves waste” in such a case; this on the theory that to drown is such a waste, not a nice ending to a ‘cruise’, better to bob in the ocean in a life vest than to (in modern parlance) “wait for the bathyspheres and a new Pollard a hundred years from now”.

Those on Social Security are being “locked away” (no rebates, steerage class).  Those in the “cash economy” also (makes no sense, they’re the first to spend, no credit cards though so must be ‘steerage’).  Those of lesser “incomes” get less; the “near rich” of course get more; the very ‘rich’ (in money, poor in life skills) get nothing as they need nothing although they need to spend (everything) and not hoard (everything).  But such will ‘never’ happen.  Ship is going down, glug glug, all deck hands on deck.  Close the doors; who do you think this ship is for anyway?  Should “sleeping dogs”, be left to sleep (and drown)?  Metaphor, this is all metaphor, no calls from the SPCA please.  Are “fish” animals?  You decide.

I love Pac Man and Ms Pac Man too.  It first came out in 1980, good year, no blimp.  Now I guess that “dates” me, but I played Pong in bars when it first came out so I guess that REALLY dates me; even if I didn’t find a date (there, then).  I bought a Pac Man machine last month or more, holiday spirit thing, no place for my money (quarters looking for a home).  It was an “investment” really; a better place for money than in CD’s or Stocks, or Bonds, or foreign currencies.  Pac Man is probably even better (as an investment) than gold or silver, and a lot more fun, things keep moving forward, don’t just go “up and down”, if you’re eaten a quarter gets you going again, no reason to lose sleep at night.

In 1980 a quarter still meant something.  It was almost a lot of money then; worth a tip on a table (lunch or even dinner), which is where I worked at the time, in restaurants, in a restaurant.  People would “gobble up their food” like Pac Man gobbled up dots, consume, consume; “shovel it in” as some would say when I was young, in criticism of ‘fast eating’ in big amounts.  I was raised not to do that.  I was raised to eat slowly, not use my fingers (like they do in Burma, ‘my bad’), to chew before ‘you’ swallow (try ‘chewing’ Coke), and to ask to be excused (before just ‘bolting for the door’).  Times change.  “Eat and Run”, drop a quarter, Pac Man, gobble gobble.

Now a quarter of course means nothing.  Even the IRS does “dollar rounding”, doesn’t want ones quarters, doesn’t see the point.  There are no more “pennies from heaven”, now all pennies are “bad pennies”, give them away, shun them, give them back, mean nothing but weight and trouble, are good for nothing.  Nickels are next to nothing (too).  Dimes are not much better, they will get you in trouble with the homeless (who expect a dollar), worth less now than a dime in Roosevelt’s time.  Everybody is tired of the face, lost to inflation and to memory, not even worth three minutes at a meter; is anybody listening?   Sleep saves us from such sorrow.

I guess that’s why the bar-top Pac Man games are gone now (from bars).  No profit anymore, the electricity costs more than the quarter paid for game time (well, almost).  ‘Consumption’ used to be considered a disease (turn of the 20th Century and a ways beyond).  It was another word for ‘cancer’; as in “there is a cancer on America (and the name is “consumption”)”.  I used to make this point early, in High School, when I was in High School.  I called the first malls “Consumption Centers”, sick places where people went to “consume” before being “consumed”.  Like “gobble gobble”, dots in Pac Man, eat fast then get eaten; “Game of Life”, but that name was already taken, so just “Pac Man”, about “packing it in”, puns everywhere.

I try not to eat that much.  Good for the belly and the budget.  It’s the belly down, not “belly up” thing.  No need to die, stay on the right side of the doors, not a fish (yet).  I never did get to my “fish story” in this post, “thisssss big” and all, the belly maybe, bloated and outstretched to the sun, too late for dieting, no more gobble gobble with the mouth, no more inhaling dots (of food) like Ms Pac Man, quarters lost, cathode-ray tube down (in the basement, not really dead yet).  Long sentence.  What does it take to get one to think?  To get ones neighbors to really think?  To get a whole nation to really, really start thinking?  One post at a time.  It might happen.  Not just mine.  Mine is only one opinion, one voice of many.

Is it true that fish can’t read?  Maybe that is the problem.

[2008.01.27 / Sunday – Belly Up]

Pray for Justice

January 26th, 2008

~ Pray for justice, “justice for all”.

I’ve been working on ‘my’ insurance problem; health insurance maybe, maybe all insurance.  You decide.  If the lab company would have just billed their $25.70 properly the money would have been “just mindlessly paid” and I would be doing other things with my time.  But “no”; they sent ‘us’ to collections, made a big deal out of it, invited “scrutiny”.  My belief is that this is how the universe works, one is “put in touch” with things one needs to know; so that one can make “decisions”.  ‘Decisions’ being the building blocks of life (human) just as atoms are the building blocks of life (“inanimate”, if one can appreciate the implications of this obvious contradiction).   Why are so many ‘scientists’ so obviously “unscientific” by nature?

I now understand what I don’t believe most people understand about “insurance” and the “medical community”.  I didn’t really understand until I had the ‘opportunity’ to scrutinize the situation; I guess I should thank Hillary for pointing out that, “Scrutiny is good”.  Categorize this under “Learn From The Enemy (LFTE)”.  The “problem” is that the lab is busy putting all sorts of numbers on the bills that seem to make no sense (to the insured); tracking these numbers is what the lab really cares about, not the $25.70 which is really a very ‘incidental’ amount, even getting “paid” is incidental; which is why they are so careless about sending the “bills”.

Here’s how it works (in the medical world).  The lab performs tests (5 of them) that are “valued” at about $250.00.  This is all over their “bills” but never with “totals”.  The “insurance company” will only “pay” the lab about $60 of the $250 (contract agreement).  The insurance company has a deductible so that the “insured” pays the full $60; so the “insurance company” really pays nothing; just “brokers” the whole scam.  My opinion (about the ‘scam’ part).  Now (because of this scam) the “lab” has a $190 “bad debt” loss write off against any “income” or “profit” that they might make.

The “uninsured” of course have to pay the lab the full $250 for the lab “services”; this money generates a real profit as the real value of the “services” is probably the 21 cents on the dollar that the insurance company or the insured really pays.  But all this really, really, excessive “profit” from the uninsured folk is “written off” because of the collusion (my opinion) between the insurance company and the lab.

Everybody wins (almost)!   The insurance company “saves” people money if they buy insurance (why pay $250 when with insurance you pay only $60).  The lab gets the “write off” by totally lying about the real retail value of the product (lab tests are a ‘product’ just like Coca-Cola is).  The “insured” wins by “beating the system” and making the system work (at the expense of the “poor” uninsured “suckers”).  Did I say “insurance sucks”?  Win, win, win; it’s the new “mantra”; code word for; “Screw, Screw, Screw”.

So who gets “screwed”?  Everybody (almost, is the answer)!  First, this is happening “systemically” (medical word for ‘throughout the system’).  Second, billions of tax dollars are LOST because of the scam, the federal government has great big deficits that should not be so big.  Third, fewer and fewer can “afford” medical care (if they are not insured) so the loss of the real “huge profit base” keeps declining; which keeps “upping” the deductible amounts and the “lab base” amounts (increasing the costs of both “insurance” and scam formula “medical costs” (which are still BELOW uninsured costs).  In “no time” most people (except the ‘rich’ that are different) can afford medical care OR medical insurance.

The ‘rich’ made a lot of money off this scam for a long while; did NOT get “screwed”, they were the “screwers” not the “screwees”.  But now the scam is over.  Everybody wants the government to come up with a plan so that the TAXPAYERS can subsidize the Whole Rotten Mess (WRM).  Nobody wants to outlaw the illegitimate “tax write-offs”; nobody wants a law that says EVERYBODY pays the same amount to the lab for the same ‘product sold’.  No, the poor must pay more, the rich less; that’s “Capitalism” (which is good?).   Did you know that in “poor” neighborhoods Safeway sells day old bread for more for each loaf than they sell “fresh” bread for in rich neighborhoods?   Capitalism.  “Supply and demand” (‘supply’ the bread; ‘demand’ the price, eliminate competition).

Most of ‘our’ foreign readers probably do not know that America requires a “Pledge of Allegiance” from all of its people, starting at age 5 usually.  One is required to stand, one is required to face the American flag, one is required to put their right hand (can’t use ones left hand, left handers are always held in suspicion in America) on their chest or breast (to the left of their ‘heart’).  The “gruppen” leader then leads and recites a litany of promises and propositions.  The last line is a plea for “justice for all”.

There are a lot of unstated aspects to this pledge that one learns from practice and experience.  First, the “pledge” is only valid for one day and one day only; it must be “renewed” each following day (or “you die” I guess).  The exceptions to this rule are varied:  The Friday pledge is good for three days, but must be renewed on the following Monday (or one dies).  The “Last Day of School” pledge is good for the summer, provided you “salute the flag on July 4th” (or you certainly will die).  If there is an American flag in ones church or temple one is excused from the pledge during “Christmas” and during “Easter” and a few other renamed but traditional Holy Days (‘holidays’, new spelling).  Inspectors are constantly inspecting and watching for places that “should have an American flag”, but do not.  They are very effective at remedying the situations (buy a flag).  Often these people are connected to the “flag industry”, an important Capitalist institution, very little competition, very few companies.

If one wonders why people “die” in America just ask the question, “When did they last say the Pledge of Allegiance”; like I said; too far from the pledge and “one dies”.  Fear keeps the pledge going.  Combat casualties could be cut greatly if soldiers were required to say the pledge properly before each patrol.  The ‘death rate’ among pledge reciting school children in America is lower than any other group.  Fact.  How many rest homes require the pledge to be said daily?  See, death is inevitable.  In fact, the secret of the power of the pledge may be America’s best kept medical secret; ‘pledge sayers’ just might not even need medical insurance (but do not tell anybody).

There is of course a difference between “Justice” and “Mercy”.  Justice is about ‘law’; mercy is about an exception to the law.  The theory of law is simple: Make law, Break law, Get punished.  There is also always a caveat, “Ignorance of the Law is no excuse”.  If one ‘obeys’ law then one gives up “liberty” (which is too often just the nice word for “license”, or ‘no law’).  “Mercy” has no place in the American pledge.  America is based on “law or nothing”; it is a very unforgiving place when compared with the rest of the world; especially the “un-Americanized” places.  No other country has so many police, so well paid, with so many prisons with so many prisoners.  Fact; Double Fact!  Check ‘mate’.

The “problem” with the pledge is that it contains the ‘God’ word.  Not that God is a problem; God is not.  God is the source of “God’s law” though, maybe not God so much as GOD.  Anyway, to get to the point the ‘pledge’ invokes a higher law and then pleads for “justice”; with no “mercy”.   Most people (I suspect) are about as uninterested in what the higher law is all about as they are in what the “insurance, lab” thing is all about.  Just “say it”, “pay it” and “go”.   The question is how many people saying the same thing how many times before the word is “go” (as in OK let’s go with what everybody is asking for); which sure looks like “Divine justice without mercy on America.”

I am not a ‘fundamentalist’ (so stop worrying), nor a ‘Catholic’ (which doesn’t really mean ‘universal’), nor am I a Mormon (which really refers to “LDS” people).  All these religious sects (call a spade a spade) have their good points however; contain some of what is right, and some of what is or needs revision; pretty much ‘sums’ it up.  You decide (and let me decide).  There is no “mercy” in science; no appeal, no plea of “I didn’t know about THAT law” (undiscovered and all).  It’s a good reason not to put all ones “faith” in science, but “faith” is the point now, isn’t it.  There is also no “justice” in science; can’t be, just “is what is”, no moral decisions, no decisions, no choice, just “doing” and “just happening”, real ‘Hippy’ type approach to life, no rules (maybe), just ‘laws’ without any consequences; no ‘laws’ to break, no ‘punishment’ and no real ‘rewards’ either.  Just “BANG” and “you’re dead”.   So sad (to see things in such a way).  My opinion.

The facts seem to point to the fact that nobody believes in or is interested in “mercy” anymore.  The facts also seem to clearly suggest that either with or without “justice” the nation doesn’t have a friggin’ chance.  ‘Man’ is not doing such a hot job and ‘women’ aren’t helping very much either, too many “hotties” out there I guess.  I hope I’ve given you something to think about today.  Maybe a new idea or too, a fact or two, taken you back to school days, flag and all.  I’ve decided on one thing though.  There is no justice (or honesty) to the health care ‘set-up’.  I think I’ll drop my insurance; pay what needs to be paid, top dollar like all the other ‘poor’ (in heart, not in spirit); maybe ‘the pledge’ will get me by (no early death as long as I can ‘stand’).  Or maybe it’s really like they say, every day, in Afghanistan, “Inchalah”!  “May God be willing.”  The phrase allows for mercy, and I for one admit that I could use that.

[2008.01.26 / Saturday – Pray for Justice]

Insurance Sucks

January 25th, 2008

~ “Experience Counts”, which is why Hillary doesn’t.

So there was “no post” yesterday; ‘my bad’, but I’ve got a reason.  The reason is “insurance sucks”.  I don’t know why ‘insurance’ SUCKS; but I do know what happened “to me”.  What happened is that the “Medical Vendor” (the ‘retail store’ of the medical world) very, very wrongly sent ‘me’ to “collections” (which is a nice way of saying “am ruining your whole life”).  The story has a few twists and turns, ins and outs; but since I think it is a metaphor (and an illustration) for everything that is wrong and is going wrong in the USA (and maybe Canada too) I think I will explore the situation a bit; maybe do some good.

Actually the ‘me’ is not me, it is my wife; which in a community property state is ‘me’; she ‘owns’ me and everything I do; I ‘own’ her and everything she does.  If you think laws and courts have changed any of this you have never studied law and certainly never “been to court”.  Courts are often “stupid places” that can’t read law, don’t care about law, do things for “careers and politics” (not ‘justice’ or fairness).  I should break into a “story from my life” here; but I’ll save it, courts love silence, it is attorneys that get paid by the hour; love the long case, love to ‘talk’, to ‘mediate’, to drag things out; money, money, money.

Any person with a little guts and an eighth grade education can cost any company $100,000 or more in legal fees if they have just a little tenacity and understand how ‘lawyers’ work.  The lawyers will always work with one (anyone; ‘you’ or ‘me’, anyone) in this; they are getting paid, paid by the “hour”, long complicated cases are “good”, very “good”.  “You” have to work for free however.  This is how ‘justice’ works (for those that want ‘justice’).  ‘You’ do the case “Pro Se” which means “For Self” or ‘By Self’ or doing things in law like you do things in your home; “fixing it up”, a lot of ‘work’ may be “half-assed” but nobody cares and the neighbors are almost always impressed.  A “Brief” is as easy to pick up as a “Hammer”, and far more effective usually.  This is not “Legal Advice”; I am not an attorney, do not send money or your name, you are not a client (legal stuff to stay “legal”).

I once wanted to be a lawyer; since before the trip over India (earlier post), talking to the lawyer from India (on the plane).  Heart set on it once.  Took a law course in High School; best course I ever took, “Business Law” (Mr. Doring), better than law school, it’s the teacher that counts not the “education”.  Good luck, Mr. Doring may be dead now, certainly not teaching anymore, a real loss.  He was not a lawyer, he “worked for workmen’s wages”, not like lawyers, by the hour.  Like Mr. Doring I am now glad that I never became a lawyer, don’t need to represent others, just take my own cases (when I need to); don’t even care about “winning”, just go for the ‘Pyrrhic Victory’, it’s always just as good, there’s always a certain “justice” there.   Getting involved is almost always an inherent good.  My opinion.  Choose your battles wisely then “fight to the death if necessary”, you can’t lose.

Every court (almost) has a “Pro Se” packet that they give out for free; your tax dollars at work.  Start with the fed packet (Federal District Court) if local courts can’t help you.  The feds will make it clear how primitive most State District Courts are; feds don’t like “wasted time” and frivolous cases which is what feeds lawyers at the local level; lawyers need to eat, most judges were lawyers once, they know the “eating” game, like power and cars as much as the next gal or guy, lots of women judges out there; to be fair.

Hillary thinks she “knows” health care.  She doesn’t.  She knows squat.  I know because my mind sometimes works like a lawyers, work from the known to the unknown, deduce.  Fact: She is rich.  Fact: She is powerful.  Fact: She has been so for a very, very long time; 45 years or so.  Fact: The rich are different (so too, the ‘powerful’).  Fact:  Only the poor, weak, or humble know what a “crock” health insurance is.  Conclusion: Hillary knows squat about health insurance.   Everything she “knows” is hearsay.  Now YOU know how both the law and politics works; Hillary is a lawyer, paid by the hour mostly.

A “good” lawyer will never settle until it looks like they will not get paid anymore (by the Court or by their Client).  The reason is obvious; lawyers are mostly “money motivated” individuals; the hourly rate is ‘good’, bill out (and “Bill” Out too) at $150 – $500 an hour mostly; expect to make $160,000 to $3 million a year; can’t do that on a “getting nowhere” case, expensive and making the Client and/or the Court unhappy.  Courts do not like the “and/or” usage; they prefer contradictory statements to be written in separate sentences.  “The insurance company lied.”; “The insurance company told the truth.”; two sentences, separate numbers for each sentence (or paragraph), never be specific, vague is always good.

I believe in law (in theory).  It is the “practice” of law that concerns me; I have my doubts, my experience.  I think it is better when ‘bad guys’ come to their own conclusions, on their own, with a little guidance and direction, facing ‘facts’ and not just the ‘flag’ or north or a quest for money.  Most cases are not about “money”; they are about “injury”, the “She done me wrong” thing, or “He done me wrong”.  Lawyers love emotion and emotions, tears in court, welling up, cracking voices; looks like dollar signs to them; “anger” everywhere, indignation, companies (or people) seeking “revenge”.  Lawyers put a dollar sign on the ‘suffering’ or the ‘anger’; a “dollar in my pocket” and “maybe, maybe” a dollar in yours, “we’ll see”.  No promises, just percentages; each case is a 50/50 proposition, someone has to win, someone has to lose (each case); or “Settle”.

Lawsuits are not about ‘justice’, ‘right or wrong’; they are about “inflicting pain”.  One hires a lawyer to do “the fighting for you”; it is the legal system (in America, not so much in Mexico).  Papers are always “served” just before three day weekends, holidays, birthdays, wedding anniversaries; lawyers do obey some ‘laws’.  The idea is to “destroy and debilitate” the opposition, inflict pain, hate weekends, holidays, special events.  Thought you should know.  Many cannot take the pressure; “want their life back”, “sue for peace (and an end to the pain)”.  Lawsuits are a lot like war, total war and worse even.

A “Civil” society would outlaw these practices; America is not civil.  Mediation is not the answer; “cut things in half”; an easy answer, always ask for twice what ‘you’ want.  Things never work in mediation unless one side is stupid or there never really was “a case”.  A “Settlement Agreement” comes when everyone is exhausted, financially or emotionally “spent”.  It must be EVERYONE though; otherwise it is a document of Surrender, a capitulation, always to be avoided unless one’s dead (then it doesn’t matter).  A lawsuit is a good way to kill a business, destroy the “little guys and gals”, make the world safe for the big
shots or corporations.  One world, one business, one employer; lawyers would make it happen and then would all be instantly out of business; they don’t “think ahead” very well it seems.

Most businesses underestimate their “customers”.  Most lawyers underestimate the power of a “Pro Se”.  Every (good) lawyer has a tale about a “stupid customer” that became a “Pro Se” and would never give up until they had gone to law school, gone to the Supreme Court (literally) and had caused so much pain and havoc to a Client that even the lawyer wondered why they ever went to law school.  No “case histories” to Cite: in law books though, so newer lawyers never ‘learn’; learn everything the ‘hard way’ one “fucking” Pro Se at a time, each one a real ‘pain’.  From the Pro Se side, “It hurts so good”.

So my wife was sent to collections by a medical laboratory that her insurance company insisted she use.  No information about the company of course, just “use them”, everybody does; which of course is how the monopoly thing gets started.  No choice, just ‘do it’.  The lab got “all confused” and never sent a bill.  Waited sixty days with no payment so sent her to collections.  We’re talking $20 plus change here; no phone call, no follow-up, no contacting the insurance company that paid the other 80% already, no intelligence whatsoever, just America, just corporations, just the reason why things are like they are.

Madness (I say).  But then look at the banks and Bernanke and I guess this is just “par for the course”; everybody in power is an idiot, insurance sucks, life in America sucks (maybe).  You decide.  I have decided that “hope” requires “engagement”.  The “sacrifice your lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” thing; patriots and all, people not missiles.  “Civilian soldiers”, not Army of One green guys, with no real experience (in life); noble effort, but no real ‘training’ for real hand-to-hand combat in the trenches of ‘corporate warfare’.  I’m a bit of a veteran at this (stuff); a few “war wounds”; nothing fatal though, a little R&R and why not “re-up” when called to battle by “these corporate bastard idiots” (must get psyched up to go to war).  But peace is better.  Then the bombs drop (Collection Agency notice, bad credit, five year repair plan, might not ‘live’ that long, might not even care in five years, too much changed, too much damage, look ahead).  Nobody wants to ‘go to war’; but then one morning one wakes up and it seems “everyone” has been drafted.

What to do?  Talked to the CEO yesterday (of the medical shop, the lab).  Wrote him a letter too; long one, twelve pages with ‘Exhibits’ (legal term for papers that work, “working papers”, pay by the page, not the hour).  I hope these “peace talks” work; that everything can be worked out reasonably, no Trillion dollar Bernanke solution, the cost is way too high.  Like everyone else in America I don’t want money; I want change, real change, not “small change”, forget the “checks in the mail” thing (very ‘old style’); send out letters with signatures from real IRS employees with real names saying “sorry for all the bad years, we WILL change NOW”.  This type of letter would: (1) be cheaper than the Bush/Polosi Plan; (2) do a thousand percent more to “restore confidence”; confidence is not ‘for sale’ (for money; never was).  Hello.

Did I say “insurance sucks”?  It does.  I know.  Tell Hillary.  She doesn’t know (squat).  Sign up (maybe), there seems to be a real battle ahead.

[2008.01.25 / Friday – Insurance Sucks]

Prison Break

January 23rd, 2008

~ Doing whatever it takes to dump the dollars.

I don’t like prisons very much, don’t like jails either.  They’re ugly places that hide ugly things, ugly realities, complicated realities.  “Concentration camps” is just another name for bigger prisons; sometimes the name for a really big prison where whole societies live, labor, and die without any real freedom.  They are generally places with little hope.  It is hard to say who invented the ‘concentration camp’; probably an American, Americans invented “everything” (it seems, it is often claimed).

The USA organized a concentration camp system to “concentrate” the Indians, and then to “remove” them.  First ‘death marches’, then camps, then more death marches.  Finally the whole center of the USA was dedicated to be a giant “concentration camp” (Oklahoma).  All the diverse tribes of the ‘east coast’ and ‘south’ were marched west to dispose of the “Indian problem”.  A lot like taking the nuclear ‘waste’ from the east and the south and shipping it to Yucca Mountain in the West, (in Nevada); except that the native peoples were (are) human beings, not just “hot stuff”.

Gaza is not as big as Oklahoma.  They never built a wall around all of Oklahoma like ‘they’ did around all of Gaza.  Gaza is still a pretty big place though, as prisons go; at least 100,000 prisoners there, maybe more, maybe less, you look it up; but don’t trust the ‘warden’s’ figures; warden’s are often wrong about the ‘figures’.  Warden’s call human beings “prisoners” or “inmates”; will not use the real name “human beings”.   The Germans called these “inmates” “Jews”.  The Brits called these same “inmates” “Zionists” when they built their camps on Cypress and hired Jews to shoot down “Zionists” trying to escape over the barbed wire.  The “Zionists” call their “inmates” “Arabs” or “Palestinians” as they build huge walls around them, build watch towers, lock them in and lock them up tens of thousands at a time.

I went to school pretty near a prison when I was young (1953 – 1957).  Formative years; too early or too late for ‘reformation’.  Actually there may have been two prisons, one next door, one “down the street”.  The one ‘next door’ was just across the street from Fremont Elementary in Carson City (Nevada).  Kit Carson ran his own concentration camp once, imprisoned the Navajo (people), led death marches across New Mexico.  This was later in life; he should have retired at a younger age; but “no”, had to “keep working”, keep making money, keep “following orders”.

Across the street from my school was the Nevada State Orphanage, (not “the orphanage” of movie fame).  All the “abandoned children” left in Nevada were locked up there; the ones parents didn’t want, could not care for, were inclined to leave in baskets at doors of abandoned houses.  It was a fairly ‘kind’ place for a prison I guess; almost decent food, sheets were ‘pretty clean’, discipline was strict of course, but no chains each morning, just a schedule and punishment for each infraction.  Locked the doors at night; the outside doors too sometimes.  Someone who survived the place should write the story; before they’re gone, the building is long gone now, “dust to dust”, not forgotten.

The Orphanage was made of the same ‘hard rock pile’ prison stone that the prison was made of; the Nevada State Prison, changed the name to the Nevada State Penitentiary.  The prison was the first of the ‘State’ buildings made of such blocks (of stone).  Even the federal mint (CC mint) was said to have been made of the sandstone blocks from the prison quarries (some said otherwise, suggested just ‘graft stone’ was used).  Prison keepers have always used the ‘prisoners’ to create the ‘prison’ conditions.  There were no photographic expositions on the work (when I was young), no framed prints of photographs of men wielding sledge hammers in the desert sun, chiseling rock and scoring it, chains dangling from their waists, sweat pouring from the brow, bullwhips cracking.

It might have not been like this; without pictures and a story the mind wanders; borrows images from “chain gang” movies; or “little house on the prairie episodes”.  The apologists saw the rock buildings as “beautiful”, well designed, skillfully executed; an example of well thought out “civic action”.  There are always two sides to each story; I prefer “both sides now”.

The prison was about a half mile from my school.  Lombardy poplars (from Italy originally) paved the way (next to the asphalt pavement).  There were poplars next to the prison on the road, by the gate, under the barbed wire and under the guard towers.  There was a “slow” sign on the road, go ‘slow’ by the prison as you pass by to (go to) the river, the Carson River fairly far beyond.  Nice drive, nature, beauty each mile of the way; except when driving by the prison; high walls, prison stone, metal bars, barbed wire, thoughts of murder and mayhem and bank robbers robbing “in cold blood” (and only 50 yards away).

Every kid knew they had an “electric chair” there too, maybe a “gas chamber”, maybe both.  The older people said they used to “shoot people” in the prison (hang them even); both firing squads and firing on those escaping, no names, no dates, just anecdotes and images.  As I said “formative years”.  All the adults always said, “Don’t look at the prison, don’t make eye contact with the guards, don’t look up toward the cells.”  There were no reasons given, just “don’t”.  It is better not to notice prisons, just hurry by, they finally moved the road, took the “slow” sign down, made up stories about “prison reform” and “model prisoners”, stories like “Happy Germany” advertisements before the war.  I wonder.  Though I did look up once, saw a smile, saw a wave; ‘happy’, I’m not so sure.

Some days at our school we would have “lock downs”, alerts when prisoners escaped and were no longer “locked down” at their location (down the street).  On the worst days we would miss recess (stay in).  Police would guard the loading of the lunch buses that took us to the school cafeteria (across town).  They always said, “They won’t get far”.  Though we wanted them to get far enough so they might be beyond our school, let us out, let us free to play inside the chain link fences six feet high that kept us in for recess when we were allowed “out”.  Prisons seem everywhere, but they are only “in the mind” (maybe?).  The escaped prisoners often would “get far”.  They often had money, cash and dollars, silver coins of currency to buy bus tickets, pay drivers for gas, buy girlfriends new hats and dresses down the road.  “Strip searches” could never find the stuff, break down cells, turn over bureaus, check the ‘cuffs’.  “Where did this guy hide all the money?”   Questions asked when he got away, even when he didn’t.

They used to call Gaza, the ‘Gaza Strip’ (probably in anticipation of the “strip searches” to be performed there by “prison guards”).  It was one of two “Arab Areas” in Palestine; matched by two “Jewish Areas” known as “Israel” (the Zionists discouraged the use of the name ‘Palestine’).  The Brits came up with this “checkerboard corners” solution to the “war”, the “problem of Palestine”.  The “terrorists” (Jewish) had been blowing up police stations and courthouses and public markets for too long.  The Brits had lost (civil) control, could not protect property or Palestinians from the European trained “underground” warriors.  They would find them (sometimes) imprison them (often) torture them (of course).  It did not work though; prison escapes and everybody “have at it again”.

There were four parts, four “squares” (really more like rectangles) in this theoretical “four square solution” (meaning ‘theoretically fair’).  Each of the two separated halves of each “nation” met at one tiny corner, a “four way stop” in the middle of British Palestine, in Jerusalem, where the four (traditional) quadrants of the city met.  No stop signs there though, no roads, no place to cross into the “other half of ones nation”, to visit friends or relatives, have a hamburger, drive to work.  “We’ll work it out”, said the Brits, they lied, they didn’t.  The idea could never work; Jerusalem wasn’t Berlin; things didn’t even work that well in Berlin and there everyone on all sides were German, same religion (mostly), all born in Germany, no “outsiders” from Europe (as in Africa and Asia; where the ‘new Zion’ really is).

Gaza has grown smaller over the years, the Palestinians have been “pushed back”, “way back”.  The place has become a camp, a ‘prison camp’ with walls all around; no entry, no exit (like a Sartre piece).  There are no El Al 777’s landing in Gaza on a daily basis, nor weekly, nor ever.  Nobody builds airports in Gaza (to help the prisoners escape, to fly to freedom).  But today there was a bombshell in Gaza as big as yesterday’s ‘bombshell’ dropped by Bernanke.  Let me explain (a bit).

Yesterday Bernanke made it absolutely clear that the last thing in the world worth ‘holding’ are US dollars.  They will be “eaten alive” by INFLATION.  A (US) “penny saved is a copper slug”.  Dump every penny, every dollar behind it (or lose the value faster than you can say “loaf of bread”).  The Palestinians (in the Gaza prison) have been hoarding dollars, emergency type conditions, being a prison.  These are smart people however, have smuggled in a few radios, get the news over the wireless, short-wave broadcasts in Arabic from neighboring Egypt or far off Syria (French colony once) perhaps.  Well, evidently they heard about what Bernanke did and just weren’t going to lose their shirts by holding dollars any longer; bad enough being in prison.

So they got all their best minds (and mines) together and decided on a “prison break”, not to break out of prison but to break out of the dollar, the ‘dollar prison’.  You’ve read the story by now, big blast, hole in the prison wall built by the Zionists along the Egyptian frontier (border).  “KaBoom”; money everywhere, just like in Washington (at the Federal Reserve).  10,000 or more human beings “free!”; dumping dollars as fast as they can in Egypt, changing dollars for assets, for food, for tangible things worth having and even ‘hoarding’ (if one feels a need to ‘hoard’).  The “press” has never seen so many “happy” people.  Free of the dollar, prison is not so bad now, not so many worries.

Freedom is all in the mind it was once said.  “Set your mind free”; good advice maybe, Shadrack and the flames and all, mind over matter, spirit over money.  Elsewhere people (human beings) are dumping their dollars; buying freedom, having a ‘nice’ day, getting ‘Happy’.  Anyway, the word is out in Israel it seems.  “Holy Place” for some, for many; ‘end times’, end of the dollar anyway.  My opinion maybe.  I still don’t know what to do about all the prisons, all the bars, all the boundaries some people live with; bad choices and often bad justice too.  I do know one thing though; a stock certificate is not an ‘asset’, it’s just paper, or a blip on the telescreen, means nothing.  If you don’t believe me I’ll sell you shares in Wackenhut; for the contract at Gaza; it’s oh so clear that global just isn’t very ‘global’ anymore.  Good morning.  Breath the air.  The sun is shining (like in Gaza).

[2008.01.23 / Wednesday – Prison Break]

Torpedoes midships

January 22nd, 2008

~ “We’re taking on water Sir (or Madam); I think we’re going down.”

“Periscope Up.”  Line up the crosshairs; “fire one”, “fire two”…, down periscope, “We can go home now boys”.  “Good hunting.”

It’s what sunk the Arizona (at Pearl Harbor).  It’s what sunk the Lusitania (off the coast of England).  Torpedoes have sunk a lot of ships and shipping.  The experts used to measure it (sunk shipping) in tons (‘tonnes’, British); nothing personal, no human cost, just statistics and not bodies in the North Atlantic; floating in the ice and cold, merchant marine members bobbing around waiting for a “pick-up” that often never came; “anecdotal information”, not facts.

‘Torpedoes’ don’t just come through the water, can come from the air (the Arizona).  Sometimes they’re like “mines” (as in the original 1860’s “Damn the torpedoes” metaphor).  The “iceberg” that sank the Titanic was a ‘torpedo’ of sorts, an ‘ice mine’ (not ‘ice nine’ even) in the water; “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”, Crunch, blub, blub.  You’ve heard the story.  With all this experience in and about water; one might think we would have learned something by now; learn to ‘slow down’ or ‘hurry up’ or do something different; maybe learn to just once “dodge the torpedoes” (‘dodge the ‘incomings’).

There are always excuses.  There are always ‘lessons’ learned.  “The submarines got through the nets, we need better nets next time.”  “We thought the harbor was too shallow for the use of torpedoes, we sure learned something.”  “Maybe an ‘ice patrol’ would be good, we’ll go further ‘south’ from now on when crossing the Atlantic, longer, more fuel, but maybe worth it all, after all.”  Anecdotal information, opinion only, not from “experts”, the quotes are mine, not from documents, not from official reports of official hearings (‘officers’).  Ignore them; “get statistics and ‘facts’ from the experts”, learn nothing, maybe, the official material is so dry when it is about things ‘so wet’.

I’ve been “following” the financial blogs about the market crash; today’s crash, the drop of 850 to 2,000 points by the Dow (DJIA).  The crash that didn’t happen; you can’t sink a sunken ship.  No need to “bomb from the air”, the ships already “gone”; the torpedoes ‘got her’.

The blogs talk about the crash of 1929; make comparisons, cite statistics about “The Great Depression”, break it up into years and percentages; a younger generation might do that, X’ers might do that.  Read.  I’m a ‘boomer’ though, grew up with people that grew up during the depression.  Not so many radios then, no cell phones, no blog sites, no money for newspapers; people were really ‘stupid’ about the statistics, didn’t know the “facts and figures”, just the pain.  The depression HURT.  It hurt a lot of people, badly.  Hunger, divorce, abandoned babies on doorsteps in baskets.  Many lost their farms, many more their houses and their homes; education ground to a near halt.  Armed guards stood at the California borders; turned people back.  “Hoovervilles” lined the river banks, union rioting marred the waterfronts.  Hitler, Stalin, Tojo, Mussolini, and FDR came to power; eagles and blue eagles were everywhere, the fascia went on the quarter and up in the US capitol.  (Anecdotal information).  Then came the war.

I like the Asia Times website.  Generally a good source of ‘news’ and ‘in depth’ reports.  They have a “Write for ATol” link; I read it.  ATol doesn’t want “opinion” writing, just want facts and in depth analysis from ‘experts’ (submit your Curriculum Vita ‘CV’).  I have no ‘CV’ but thought of sending them my whole site as an E-Mail; they wouldn’t like the ‘history’ though, would not like the ‘opinions’, would pay me nothing (I guess) which at least matches my current salary; depression type ‘wages’.  No complaints though, just facts (or anecdotes); one can learn a lot from anecdotes though.  I did.  “I do”, kind of like a ‘marriage made in heaven’ (my ‘opinion’, whoops.).  I guess there will be “no job” at ATol (for me).  (which is why YOU are my only hope for a big, big web audience, spread the word!)

It’s OK though (about ATol).  They seem to always miss the big news, they are always closed those days; rebuilding their website, or taking an MLK Day (off).   The Asia Markets have their worst day in the history of ATol Online and the “Asia Times” mostly ‘financial’ website is down for the event, maybe ‘for the count’.  No one is counting the points falling, nobody writing it up, just “paid experts” waiting for the “Dawn’s early light” (to write) after it’s all over.  “Good morning, America” (and Asia), the ships are at the bottom, we slept through it, but now we will talk to someone who didn’t; dying now (whoops) next witness; “What did you think when the torpedoes hit (when I was sleeping in my soft warm bed off base, on shore)?”   Are anecdotes OK yet?   Where are the Admirals, I need figures on tonnage sunk.

I know a little bit about ships I guess.  My father was a Naval Architect (in addition to everything else he was).  A neighbor once was one too; Ralph Klep was his name, did the Life Magazine foldout drawings for the SS United States (1952), collected duck decoys, founded a Maritime Museum in Astoria (oregon).  I enjoyed listening to Mr. Klep, worked hard during the war (WW II); the Navy needed lots of ships, so many kept sinking.

My father designed ships during the war too.  Concrete ships; steel was expensive.  I took a lot of guff about this as a child; ‘everyone’ knew that concrete couldn’t float, sank faster than a stone, a ‘rock and a hard place’, a ‘lead weight’.   Often “their fathers” had fought in the war, killed “Japs”, won medals, shot down Zeros even; these kids taught me how to draw pictures of dog fights, dead “Japs”, gruesome war stuff like their Dad’s had known.  ‘Concrete ships’ just did not make it; no combat, not even ‘battleships’, not even things that could float, “just slabs of sidewalk”, they said.  “Liar, liar, pants on fire”, talking about the war wasn’t a popular thing for me to do.

I too was skeptical at first (second graders should be a bit skeptical).  I didn’t understand how a piece of sidewalk could float.  My father explained it all too me; displacement, volume, load; interesting stuff for a seven year old.  I tried to explain it to my classmates…. “Liar, liar…..”  I think that’s when I began to give up on facts, on statistics; to prefer anecdote, analogy, metaphor.  People don’t like to be called, “Liar”.

It’s been a long day.  Watching the market.  Watching the sunk ship sit listly at the bottom, bubbling up small bubbles of air, little things; tiny bubbles from the bottom left from the wake of the torpedoes (perhaps).  Nothing was really clear on the morning of Pearl Harbor either.  People did all the wrong things mostly; blacked out their homes (with heavy curtains) a hundred miles inland in California and Oregon.  Manned antiaircraft guns in prune orchards.  Threw rocks at neighborhood nurseries.  Married 15 year old girls so that they could get “war checks”.  Spent the food money buying flags.  Maybe not “flags”, but people did a lot of crazy stuff after the torpedoes slammed into their targets.

I should explain about ships.  The idea of having the “heavy bombers” (airplanes, Army airplanes then, no airforce yet) stationed at Pearl Harbor was so that they could “bomb” the Japanese Navy if the navy got too close, launched hundreds of planes or something, started shelling the coast of Hawaii (what battleships are good at, shelling coasts).  Short, the Army commander, thought the navy would tell him if the Japanese navy was near.  The navy did not do this, so Short lined up his planes to prevent “terrorists” from planting IED’s near his planes, and thus destroying them.  ‘History’ says Short was “unreasonable” in doing this.  But Short also knew that ships are protected “from the top”, thick plates of steel, bombs bounce off mostly.  The way to “sink ships” is with torpedoes and such with planes from aircraft carriers; the Billy Mitchell revelation (1920’s).  It is the “underbelly” of a ship that is “soft”, below the waterline, where no one is looking.  Short had no torpedoes, just bombs and bombers on an island thousands of miles away from any ‘real’ targets.

You’ve been waiting for this.  You’ve been very patient, so I will “tell” you.  Bernanke has been “bombing” the bejeebers out of the warships (fortified flight decks).  Each “bomb” bounces and then soon ‘bungles’ off into the water; it’s an expensive operation.  Doesn’t work.  The “enemy carriers” keep coming, planes already in the air with torpedoes; submarines already through the nets, periscopes already up, torpedoes already ‘on’ their targets.  Don’t you love metaphor?  The torpedoes (sinking our ships) is inflation of course; hidden, beneath the waves and the motions of the market, silent but deadly.  Just “KaBoom” and a glug, glug, as each little ship slips beneath the waves; drowning in a sea of impossible price increases and declining incomes.

Each Bernanke rate drop “bombshell” lets loose a thousand new torpedoes, homing in on American households and businesses.  Everywhere ships are sinking, going down in debt, lives lost, hopes lost, ships following anchors to the bottom.  Everybody that “Shorts” the market gets it; learned history, knows what’s going on, is getting rich.  The rest (of us) are doing less well, running for the trenches, jumping overboard, looking for boards to cling to in the ‘burning’ water, lots of oil everywhere, being ‘burned’.  It’s not a pretty sight of course; Pearl Harbor (Sunday morn) never was.  Some thought we might have learned something.

It’s not the “Japs” this time; no ‘enemy without’, just the age old ‘enemy within’; the wolf guarding the henhouse story.  Everybody gets eaten (is the plan usually).  Only the wolves survive; may start another Rome, hang fascist symbols at the capitol, put them (the facias) back on the (new) quarters.  My wife has a friend at her work; trying catfood this week, sees it coming; as a diet.  Desperate times are near; no need for “experts and statistics”, we’ve been here before as a nation, it all just comes down to ‘anecdotes’ though, just a “people’s history”.

If your mortgage is not a 3% loan; go to your bank and demand one (Wall Street gets 3%).  If your car loan is not a 3% loan; go to your bank and demand one (Wall Street gets 3%).  If your credit card loans are not a 3% loan; go to your bank and demand one (Wall Street gets 3%).  Every one could use a little “Bernanke Money” to get through life, to make life easier.  But what happens to “bank stocks” then?  No profit from 7% to 26% loans, which is where we came in I think.  Do talk to your banker though; explain it to her or him.  The worst they can do is yell, “Liar. liar” at you, and then laugh and say “No”.  But then you’re free!

[2008.01.22 / Tuesday – Torpedoes midships]

Pearl Harbor Revisited

January 21st, 2008

~ You can’t believe the babes, I mean “shit” everywhere.

Life is random.  Garbage in, garbage out.  “Keep Your Eye On The Prize,” or otherwise just look around and “see what you can see” (like the bear going over the mountain).  My son is going to India next week, should be a great trip, see the sights, say (when he gets back), “I’ve been to India”.  It may be a ‘fun’ trip; but I know him fairly well, so I don’t think that’s the point; “fun”.  I think he will be looking for deeper things, will look for meaning and meanings, will think about what he ‘sees’ and think about what he says about what he saw.  We’ll see.

Anyway, I went on the web to check, to ‘see’ if there were any ideas I might have missed; update my “hints” about visiting India, doing the trip.  I’ve been to India.  I stopped by on the way to Afghanistan, landed in New Delhi (April of 1959), took a taxi to (Old) Delhi, checked into an old hotel, watched the lizards climb the walls (bored I guess); watched them walk across the ceiling (over my bed); not bored I guess, I wasn’t bored watching them, waiting for one to fall (on my face), wondered if they ‘bite’; how badly I might be scratched, how poisonous they might be.  Not much sleep at 2 AM, a natural and green (scaly) no-doz® type product, package lizards and sell them in the USA maybe, no caffeine (Mormons could buy them).  Lots of time to think while watching lizards overhead.

Next day I took another taxi to a better hotel, not to register but to find a “private car” to ride in on the “ride out” to Agra, where the Taj Mahal sits, architectural thing for those who like architecture, tomb for those who like tombs, Muslim site for those who like Moslems; the list goes on.  There’s something at the Taj for everyone, covers a lot of land and a lot of history, beautiful place (probably number 1 in the world), built by people from all over the world; cooperating in a ‘dream’.

It also would be a good place to hustle “babes” I guess; the ‘rich’ ones that can afford the five dollar admission fee (now more, dollar is worth(less).  Anyway, this is the point made about India by the guy that has the number one hit under “Going to India” (on the web).  He should have just “gone on the web”, but ‘no’, he had to go there “for real”, to “really see the place”.  His post is something like “Shit you should know before going to India”.  Nice guy, graphic and all, writes well, uses colorful language, knows the vernacular, an ‘American’ from the northern states (of Canada).  Border to Canada closes in 9 days.  Thought you should know.

Anyway, our Canadiene (have to use French half the time in Canada) friend (amei).  I failed French once, thought you should know.  Anyway, this guy seems not to have seen much of India, looked down mostly, watched for the piles of defecant in the streets, looked for ‘gutter life’ among the girls; called ‘um “babes”, and others “ugly”; ugly words, ugly attitude, being a guest in the country and all.  No manners; cancel his visa maybe and send him back to Toronto or Winnipeg or somewhere where he can wax well about the prairie grass or French trollops in Montreal, standing under red lights, like at the Louvre.

Anyone can say mean things (about other people, other places); ‘they’ often do.  I pick on the Brits myself a bit, but I think some have it coming; picked on others (everywhere) far too long, still won’t stop, not for long.  We’ve covered “bankers” in a recent post; that’s more settled (but it’s still not over).  The point of all ‘my’ posts is to see what’s really “there”, not just to “cruise the street”, gambol in the temples, sniff around for smut.  It’s there for sure, no better in Victoria or Banff than in Calcutta or Bombay or whatever they might be calling all these places now (changing names doesn’t really change anything; except for keystroke patterns – or does it?).   You decide.  It does sell Atlases though, no question about it.

I don’t think anyone notices the “pearl” in Pearl Harbor anymore; I think that what they think about is “War”.  There were “pearls” once of course, mollusk shells, small irritants, filmy things that grow to cover that which seems so bad, softening it, making life happier for ‘clams’ (really oysters); always one good “half shell”, no pearls on the top usually, it’s always about ‘gravity’ it seems.  I think the Hawaiians knew (‘green gals’ too maybe) that putting a lot of old polluting and rusty warships in a beautiful “blue lagoon” would lead to trouble; oil leaks and leaking, lead paint chipping off, munitions dropped overboard, terrible chemicals dumped in the water every morning, Navy stuff from Navy ships, bad karma (from India one might presume).  Did the US Navy ever visit India, read their mail, try to “work things out”?

I’ve been reading the Henry C. Clausen book I mentioned earlier; when not reading on the web, when not writing, when not ‘sleeping at dawn’, no need to harvest pearls early, they’ll always wait, they like the evening chill and moonlight; that’s what people write at least.  More romantic anyway, tropical islands in the tropics, no place for “War”.   Clausen was too much the lawyer, too much the ‘patriot’, too much the “Mason” to see much at Pearl, or in Pearl Harbor.  He looked for what he wanted to find, nothing more, like the guy going to India to find “babes and shit” (found ‘hash’ too, his story), found only what he was looking for, nothing more (it seems).

There is more though; more to India, more to the Taj, more to Montreal, more to travel and “to going”.   There is also more about Pearl Harbor (than most people know, than they think about, maybe more than they “want to know”.)  I sailed on a ship from Japan (Yokohama) to Hawaii; it wasn’t on an aircraft carrier though, it was on the Cleveland, a US ship, named after a US President; an “all American” voyage; a few Japanese citizens on board (probably all spies); at least that’s what Clausen might think, suspicious mind, too many ‘right’ answers to really get things right.  I think the Japanese were more like tourists, though they traveled ‘first class’; maybe diplomats, well heeled (in their heels, wearing heels); friends of the Emperor even, friends of the Shogun, could be friends of mine, just say hello in something other than French, or maybe even French would work.  I should have studied harder, wouldn’t worry about “mincing” words.

When I got to Hawaii I visited Pearl (Harbor).  I had always wanted to see where the flames went up and the ships went down; had seen the “news reels”, the footage of planes burning, lined up in rows ‘tip to tail’, perfect targets, not like there could ever be a war; not like the worse could ever happen, no “vision”, just dreams of pearls and oysters on a beautiful Sunday morning (that went up in flames).  The flames never reached Nevada; but they did reach the Nevada, the USS Nevada, a battleship, could never sink her.  She got hit of course, banged about a bit, set on fire, but she set out ‘under way’ away from the bombs and misery, toward open sea, ordered to beach herself though, before leaving through the submarine nets that had netted nothing at the mouth to Pearl.

The Nevada would later survive a couple of atom bombs (as a ‘ground zero’ target ship); also a cannonade of shelling or two; she would finally sink beneath the waves off Hawaii, blown to bits by her own Navy, too old or ugly to be loved anymore, should have never named a battleship after a landlocked State; too weird for words, just doesn’t know how to ‘sink’ right.   The Nevada’s silver (service) was always on display in the Silver Room of the Carson City Mint (building) in Carson City (Nevada).  The State gave the silver to the Navy which let the admirals use it and later lock it away so it would not get ‘radioactive’.   No need to bury a ship with all its silver on board; SOS means “Save Our Silver” in Nevada, in case a ship is sinking.  Is this a metaphor, or a message?  You decide.

So I guess it was both a theatre ticket and a mint of a museum that created my interest in Pearl Harbor.  “Kids” are like that, find things to do for the craziest reasons.  I’m guilty (as charged, nothing to deny).  In 1960 they hadn’t built the pavilion yet, the great white wing thing that stretches over the Arizona like a, like a ‘nothing’ (it’s an ugly thing), no architecture, no beauty, maybe that’s the point, just “white space” where the visitor is expected to “fill in the blanks”.  Oil still seeps up from the Arizona (not really an ‘oil state’), no pearls left living, might just call it “Oil Harbor” now.  Is the message coming through?

This post was going to be about the upcoming “Economic Pearl Harbor”.  Like the naval one; everybody could see it coming; except those in charge; those that might do something; might send ships to sea, prevent a war, find peace in the Pacific, coat irritants with pearly white stuff, create pearls and harbors worth remembering and worth coming back to, in the moonlight and not just at dawn.  The arabs have been buying all the banks (in the USA), not Iranians (they are not Arab), Saudi guys and Dubai guys mostly, a few island friends, a few stuck out on peninsulas.  US got some money back (buying debt like I thought might be good, earlier post).  Not ‘Americans’ though, not Huckabee type guys; looks like a “set up” (actually, to me).

Short and Stimson were blamed for Pearl Harbor; put in their position just before (the war, the attack).  Now when all the banks fail the ‘arabs’ will be blamed; now that the Arabs own them, “buying it” at the wrong last minute I suppose.  Why can people not see things when they visit foreign lands, when they do some shopping, when they look for ‘bargains’?   They would have been better off going to India and looking for “babes”; way less trouble, though not the best idea in the world.

Silver seeps up (through veins in the rock) when it is made (by Mother Nature, or by God).  Once made, it never seeps again; melts down for awhile maybe, gets ladled off, always regains its shape or molds into a new shape; either way, solid stuff, enduring, nice shine and shiny.   Nevada is the Silver State, like the ship, almost unsinkable.  Watch.  I like silver, born to it some might say; might have to buy it, I might say.  Some seem to see ships.  Some see disaster.  Some see poor planning.  All I see is silver, floating in the moonlight, pearls in the morning calm.  You decide.

[2008.01.21 / Monday – Pearl Harbor Revisited]

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