December 30th, 2010

~ What we all have in common.

It’s 2:00 P.M. in Albuquerque, New Mexico and it’s snowing.  Admittedly it’s a very light snow, but snow it is.

The snow storm was predicted to hit Albuquerque late yesterday.  That didn’t happen.  It almost never happens, being a snow storm, or almost any storm for that matter, hitting Albuquerque when the weather service has scheduled (it).  Most storms are always late and like most things late they sometimes never happen; the dew point drops as the temperatures rise and the necessary humidity (for the storm) just evaporates or dissipates away unto almost nothing.

We’ll see what happens.  Which means we will see if this storm packs a punch or just flirts with flurries and disappears as it serves to remind us once again that yes, we do live in a desert – it’s hot and when it’s not hot it’s warm and then there’s “Greenhouse Warming” which leaves us with anybody’s guess when it comes to the weather.

So, yes it is snowing in Moscow, snowing in Europe and probably snowing in Seoul or somewhere in South Korea and certainly in Afghanistan.  I remember well the snows of Afghanistan, my white Christmas there, how we couldn’t get out because everything was closed even though that with our snow chains all the local streets and roads were open.  Why put on chains when one can just stay home and make a fire?  Like politics and politicians the weather will always pass and the sun will again shine and the earth will warm and spring too will once again be in the air.  Hope is about the weather, not politics or the economy.  Which (with this thought) I am reminded of the storms of, and the turbulence within, the soul.  It’s better to stay home and wait it out in front of a nice warm fire.

So, I was reading my New York Times (On-line edition – the one that is free!) and reading too about the perils and tribulations of New York and of all the politicians and of the people who suffered from the snow.  Free Enterprise, the domain name of Mayor Bloomberg, didn’t work (it was Sunday!) and the snow evidently piled up and too the ambulances and the cars and the buses and the subway trains and some actually said (or admitted), “What a mess!”

Officially you (meaning one) is expected to believe in Greenhouse Warming.  You’ve been taught about it for many years, maybe at least ten years (actually 22 years), and in time everyone will believe it.  Bloomberg (the Mayor) certainly believes it and so too his staff and that is why (in my opinion) New York prepared for a Stage 1 snow event when in reality it was at least a Stage 4.  “No, it won’t snow like that anymore,” someone must have said and “the weather service must be wrong,” and “water the palm trees or fly south to see them,” like the good Governor of New Jersey did and President Obama and (yes) why do we have the capital and the financial centers centered in places where it’s bound to snow when all people want (and want to believe in) is warm, and warming and their personal place in the sun?

Pat Oliphant by Pat Oliphant

  • December 28, 2010

Pat Oliphant

Of course the President should not be too concerned about the weather; that is what the Mayor’s are for.  Feast, famine and floods – those are issues of the weather, not Congress, issues connected only with the ongoing turbulence of the soul.  Does Monsanto and Arthur, Daniels Midland and FEMA and Homeland Security (like with Katrina and with those left starving on the tarmac) have soul?  Does the President or Mayor Bloomberg really have soul?  Does Greenhouse Warming have either a heart or a soul and if so does the whole concept even still have legs?

Yes, Bloomberg is right.  “Suck it up New York and New Yorkers!”  Snow is just Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Slow Down!”  You don’t really need to work so hard, no need to shovel and rush and climb into transportation and try to go somewhere when nobody is going anywhere anyway.  Why spin your wheels?  Look back.  The snow will melt tomorrow or in the spring.  Things will get warmer gradually.  Then once again there will be the cold.  We call it the seasons and seasonality and not just the seasons of the sun.

This would be a good time to add a snow picture or two, a reminder of what the white stuff really looks like and how long it’s been around and what communication and technology and communications technology can bring.  It can’t bring an end to snow, nor clear the snow, nor motivate “other minded” politicians that deep snow could be real.  So I will just let it fall, I’ll be happy as it falls.  Why embrace the idea of an end to winter?  I’m not sure, but I think that winter is back; maybe the real issue (and a better name) is Icebox Cooling – and the Iceman really does Cometh.

Anybody in the mood for a Broadway play?

In the year 20 – 11

December 28th, 2010

~ Not the year 25-25, but hey, I have my ideas too.

By anyone’s calculations not only a year, but a decade is ending.  I should stop my post here.  Factually (this way) I will end the year and start the New Year by being right.

However, the advent of space and time encourages people (like you, like me) to reach further and to postulate and project and not just reminisce about the past if not the future.  I remember when it looked like the Gary Condit story would be what the year 2001 was all about.  Boy, was I wrong.  But that was a long nine years ago and times move on just as does the Mainstream Media and the perceptions about what is news and what is not news and how to spin the both of them as if they were just a bottle.  Kiss and tell, kiss and don’t tell – decisions, decisions.

Prediction #1:

There will be a telling growth that distances reported fact (and facts) from fact (and real facts).  Increasingly government “statistics” will be seen as lies, as damn lies or as worse.  “Profit” figures and statements and projections from businesses and corporations will reflect the triumph of greed in the form of fraud insinuated as a culture, as in a culture of lying, theft and fraud as acknowledged as the universal base of capitalism and all true capitalistic enterprises.  Corporate executives will not even care if people believe them; “I’ve got the houses and the yacht, my critics don’t, end of discussion.”

The age-old and on-going lie of middle class wealth will continue; the Joneses will keep trying to keep up with each other in income, health care, retirement plans and for the youngest – education; in the realm of cars and car ownership not so much.  If the MSM and the government revealed the real truth about the real liabilities and wealth of all this supposed middle class this destructive and wasted competition would end.  Prediction – it won’t.

Prediction #2:

Wars.  The war in Afghanistan will continue and continue with mounting deaths of both Americans and Afghans.  Of course few Taliban will be killed, but many will be reported as being killed.  Most “Taliban” deaths will be (are) mostly Afghan and Pakistani civilians.

The war on “terror” will continue.  The new terror will include such things as stealing E-Mail passwords and linking posts that are critical of the government or mainstream business or industry in any form.  Most Americans will applaud this or ignore that such things are happening.   Most Americans will think that they live in a time of peace, not war, as peace keeping efforts continue and so too the continuation of spending at least $800 billion (dollars) on war and war preparations and reparations if all real war budget items were accounted for.  Republicans will claim that this $800 billion dollars is “the price of peace”.

The wars in Korea and against Iran will continue to be on “hold”.  Like Texas “hold ’em” bets will be made at every flop, turn and river of every wince of every hand.  America loves to gamble and to bet the pot on a simple bluff if need be.  The odds of course are always with the casino, so who really wins if the casino goes bankrupt and just can’t pay even if you win and they lose?

Prediction – I will post a lot less about the Afghan and Korean wars.  I will post less about strip searches and field cams.  I’ll probably keep driving my KIA.

Prediction #3:

The housing crisis as a topic is so boring.  Food as a topic is so boring.  Clothing as an industry is so boring.  All American clothes are now made in slave-labor conditions at slave-labor wages as defined in the 1950’s by the American government and conservative right wing.  Now these pathetic wages (and conditions) are cool, are evidence of capitalism at its best.  Maybe all the new houses and dwellings too can be made in China, shipped here in containers, reassembled on public-private land.  Food can come from “a long black tube”.  There is no future in plastics anymore, the future is GMO and gulf waters shrimp and the goo from oily black oysters.  Live a little!  Have one!  Nobody will hate you if you die.

Prediction – Most Americans will keep getting fatter.  The clothing industry will continue to expand.  The need for new and better houses with wider doors and bigger bathrooms and double rolls of toilet paper from the new double dispensers will increasingly make most older houses obsolete and the mortgage paper on them nearly worthless (except to use as wipe).

Prediction part 2:  Most Americans will not meaningfully reduce their amount of debt and will remain in denial about the real value of their money.

Prediction #4:

Inflation will not exist in 20-11.  The government will continue to tell all the Social Security people this and all the rest of those still willing to believe.  In reality (or in an alternate reality), or in the wormhole or in the land of ET or something things will be different.  Inflation will grow like gang busters.  The growth of taxes will lead the way (except for taxes on the rich).

Food will cost a lot more.  This is why you will eat oil infested seafood and be glad and will be glad to buy the unlabeled GMO products delivered by corporate farms through your open door.  Increasingly this process will be viewed as “virtual eating”, the type that ends in real fat.  Corn syrup will be the new American staple (replacing Staples) and replacing money spent on medicine and Medicare and health care because, “Hey, who cares about health when poisons are all one eats?”

That’s all I got for today.  Maybe more tomorrow.  The New Year isn’t yet young.  Who was Gary Condit after all?  Only Chandra Levy is really dead.

Mr. Grinch

December 25th, 2010

~ Oh, you’re a fine one Mr. Grinch.

It’s Christmas Day and the Christmas headlines are about the Christmas tax cuts for the corporations and the other rich.  It’s like Joseph and Mary and being poor newly weds with a baby bringing gifts to the Oriental Kings – 2,000 years and history has finally gone into full reverse.  There’s no end to history, just five speeds forward and one big slow reverse.

The tax breaks for everyone (except the middle class and the poor) are stated to be worth 858 billion, meaning billion dollars and for those who can still do and still do care about math 858 is almost like a 1,000 which in this case means a trillion – a trillion dollars of debt, meaning a 25% increase on the foreign debt holdings (via bonds) that can (and must) be bought by the United Kingdom, Japan, China and maybe even South Korea.  Joy.  (Joy! – and thanks be to the world.)

I was raised (like everyone) hating taxes.  I got free theater tickets when I was seven for working off the books in “student” patrol which was a child labor scam to save government money while keeping adult crossing guards from being employed as crossing guards – such a deal!  I enjoyed my life as a scab, I liked the responsibility and the movie tickets came in handy before the days of television, cable TV, video games and the net.  I got five or six hours a week off from flying my kite, riding my bicycle or my horse, doing chores, or playing board games with my friends (assuming that Old Maid and Chinese Checkers and Pic-Up Sticks are really board games.  How about Hide and Seek?

What was not hidden at the theater was the Federal Excise Tax on theater (think movie) tickets. It was (as I might recall) about 10% which was like 2.5 cents back then, but still it was a tax and taxes add up and since poor people still used theaters as lodging (a tradition going back to the Great Depression) it was like the 10% tax was not an excise tax at all, but was in reality a property tax or a lodging tax or something that added 10% to everything if you stayed the night or part of the night and after all isn’t that what movie theaters are really for, for the poor?  But they (the poor) don’t get a tax break now do they?  Homes and home movies are “tax free” for the rich.

So, yes I am retired and I’m like looking at the tax burden (to income) that I share.  My property taxes consume about 25% of my income.  Car registration, car tags, telephone use taxes and fees, sales taxes, gas taxes consume about 20% more of my income.  Pass through taxes that corporations and the rich don’t pay (but can pass on) fall on me in the form of higher prices on everything that is taxed and that I buy.  I can’t pass on these taxes – I’m the tax payer of last resort.  Add another 20% of my income to pay the taxes for what the corporations and the rich refuse to pay.  So hey, I am in the 65% tax bracket and that with an income (mostly from Social Security withholding previously paid) of only about $17,000 per year combined for both me and my wife.  Thank God for savings.

My house has lost 35% to 50% of its value in the past two or three years.  Saving pays a paltry 1% (they call it “interest”) – I’m not interested.  Stocks are risky, bonds are worse; I just told you why.

What happens when the largest generation ever runs out of savings and can’t afford to pay property taxes and all the pass-along taxes that the poor pay so the rich (and corporations) can get such a wonderful free ride?  All the bonds will crash of course, all the Municipal Bonds based on property taxes taxing the poor (of money, not spirit).  Only the poor pay taxes and only the poor have to listen to the lies about how the poor don’t pay taxes at all but only get free federal money.  If so, where’s mine?

The image created by the media world of how America is and how America works and who makes how much is so very distorted, delusional, illusional it makes me cry.  Horatio Alger America isn’t.  The country just runs on debt.  Stop the printing presses and the bitstream currency creation and all the walls come tumbling down.  If Japan and China and GB stop buying (U.S.A! Debt) then the whole world will be a mess.  More of the same.  Rich Americans expect the poorly paid people of China and the retirees in Japan to “pay for” the lifestyles of the rich and famous in America.  Oh Joy.  Oh, Joy!

So “hey, Brits” if you triple your American bond buying (of worthless securities) you can pay for the latest Christmas present from your American cousins to ourselves.  As we say in America, “It’s not the giving, but only the thought that counts”.  “It’s better to receive, than give!”  Merry Christmas!

All those presents under your tree?  Send the bills to the Brits (Japan) and China.  Do YOU have any savings left?

Looking back

December 20th, 2010

~ The post that I might have written yesterday.

Let there be no mistake.  I have much to be grateful for.  Even in life I have been blessed by God.

That being said I think it wise to write a few words on why I post my posts.  You know my posts.  They complain a bit.  They point out the inconsistencies of act, rhyme, and sometimes reason.  It is clear that I am not grateful for what the government brings, which is mostly war, more war and even more war after that.  I have never profited from war.  The war industry does not pay my bills.  Every moment that I lived in a uniform or on a military base or spent aboard a military owned aircraft I paid and was never paid even one thin dime.  I owe the state nothing, yet the state has taken most of my whole life.

The point is that I expected more.  Sure I’ve starved, been hungry, missed a meal or maybe many a meal – who’s counting.  The point is that I expected a country that would not allow missed meals, would not allow hunger as an ongoing lifestyle, would work to always at the very least feed its own.

Much has been said about the wonders of free enterprise and the profit motive and the dream of each person’s potential to get rich (in America).  Every one knows that even the lowest employee at Wal-Mart can come up with a good idea, come up with a bank loan and set up a business opportunity in Singapore or in India or in China and become truly rich if he or she really wants to.  Yes, America could have 300,000,000 (three hundred million) billionaires!  And every billionaire could have all the real estate, stock, bonds, gold and power!  And each and every American could earn 20 million or more each year and pay taxes on maybe 2 million of it and make the need for taxes all but obsolete.  No welfare, no regulations, no government employment!  Everything just laissez faire.  Let’s get excited.

A billionaire works for no one, at least not for a living wage.  America does not need workers, it needs investors.  America needs people to create jobs for the teeming masses that live overseas.  Robots and machines can do all the work.  We can all have robotic maids that are made in China and automatic lawn mowers and leaf eaters that can move across our grass.  If we want a friend we can always buy one or have another billionaire come over for a spot of tea.

Why not have 9 billion cars upon our highways?  Why not have a nation where every person owns at least a dozen homes?  Three billion homes would bring back the economy, all the workers (to build them) could be imported (like wines) from France.  Like empty bottles we would send them back to be crushed when our celebration was over, our orgy, our life in the best of times.

I don’t object to the rich life, a life of ease, a life of plenty.  What I object to is the idea that some have it and others don’t – it’s un-American, it defies the Constitution and the belief that all persons are indeed created equal and should have equal opportunities and live a fairly equal life.  There is a certain decadence in believing that one worked harder, worked smarter, took more risks than someone else that has less than oneself.  It is to defy science to say that wealth is dependent upon luck.

Put ten people in a room, each person has but one apple.  There are a thousand ways to end up with one or two (people) having all the apples.  The point is that any exchange of apples is dependent upon the idea that it is OK for someone to end up without an apple.  That is the paradox of capitalism and capitalists and all bankers too; only those that don’t really believe in the rights and welfare of others can ever get ahead.  Capitalists don’t want America or Americans to be rich, all they really want is to be “out there” – fifty billion miles (or dollars) ahead.

No!  You can’t tweek the system.  There is no room for reform.  The whole mental mindset of the whole nation has been corrupted; we live in a nation obsessed by greed.  Greed has won!  Every child of six or four wants to “win” and be like Lady Gaga or Daddy Warbucks or Bill Gates or someone worse.  Or they want to grow up to put on a uniform and kill and get paid for killing and get paid to believe that they are better than the bad guys, the lazy bitches, the bottom feeders that are really like us all – not being billionaires of course.

OK.  You can have it.  You can have it all!  The first trillionaire will not leave the last billionaire standing.  She will want it ALL; he will want it ALL, every dime, every farthing, every last red cent and acre of land and house and boat and houseboat and loaf of bread and shred of wheat.  This person will have bought a lot of friends, yes men, yes women and publicists and a politician and a democracy or two – or maybe every “freely elected” legislature in the whole wide world.  They (he and/or she) will own every despot too and like after the final transaction in the board game of Monopoly he/she will proudly say, “I win”.  “I win everything!”, just the way that as a child I was taught.

What good is it to win the whole world and lose your own soul?  What good does it do to go down that path, to support that path, to waste one hundred (or less) years of life in pursuit of unjust and unearned and undeserved riches?  Nothing.  We speak of lives that are made up of nothing.

So let’s get this bored and boring game over.  I’ll sell you Park Place for fifty cent.  You can have my bread, I’ll give away my crusts, my car, my dog.  I won’t sell you my freedoms; just take them – you took them all ready, I was drugged and away and half asleep.  I don’t care.  You can’t sell what was stolen so what good will stolen freedoms get you?  Why live the lie?

I think I hear my mother calling.  Maybe it’s getting near my time to get ready to go home.

Live-fire Exercises

December 19th, 2010

~ Every country has a right to test its defenses.

It’s a perfect end to a perfect year.  The solar year ends (of course) when the sun shines at its least and the days are the shortest and the night is the longest; like the longest day, but really the longest night.  This longest night comes this year with a bonus, the moon will have a full eclipse, which means the sky will be extra dark as well as being extra long and that longevity will last the better part of three and one-half hours as if that is all it takes to wage a modern war.

It is already the 20th day of December in Korea.  Tonight, at 11:30 Mountain War Time in Albuquerque, just 28 hours from now the eclipse will start and it will be the 20th here and the 21st in much of the rest of the world.  It will be the longest night.  Who needs Christmas after all?

There is much distraction and much debate about when Jesus of Bethlehem or Nazareth or of Judea was really born.  Paul (or was it Peter) set the date to coincide with the Pagan holidays of yore, converts hate losing their holidays, you get the drift if not the real reason.  No, I don’t think that Jesus is really a Capricorn – you can think what you will, but many will disagree.  We all need Christmas; the only real question is when.

So here we are 2,000 some odd years later and the world is still at war and there are rumors of war and there are efforts to start new wars and there are warnings that the next war (like the last war) will be a war to end all wars (and maybe end the planet too, or maybe life on the planet as we have got to know it).  But, if we “know it” we still don’t seem to care; we support the troops, the live-fire, all the bravado and the bravada and an end to don’t ask, don’t tell.  Like the kiss and tell girls in Sweden who won’t even use their real names, they are like Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat or was “Linda” the real deep throat after all?  Why are all wars so much like sex with all the handlers and all hands on deck or in the cookie jar or whining about, “how he forced me”, when of course all wars are about force, and all money, and all power too.  Everything is rape, everyone should “tell”.

Of course Julian Assange “raped” the US Government.  The US Government “raped” the western world, the eastern world and all most all people and places in between (according to the State Departments own memos).  Of course everybody made everybody else “do it”; a condom is supposed to act like silence, to prevent or conceal the consequences of the act.  Maybe all we need is a great big giant condom that can cover South Korea – then the live-fire exercises will not look like rape; they will only look like self defense.  Now you can understand what I really mean.

Wars are not best fought by the light of an early moon.  Dark deeds need dark cover.  Exploding artillery shells and detonating bombs and the tracer bullets from descending planes provide all the light that is needed for a pending war, or an ending peace, or a peaceful provocation that ends in needless war.  Tuesday we have the perfect cover.  “He made me do it.”  I wanted to say “no”, but I lead him on to thinking, “yes!”.

In Europe it is too cold this year to celebrate Christmas.  Maybe in parts of China and California too.  It’s summer now in Argentina, the days are long, heading for the longest.  They turn on all the Christmas lights when nobody really needs them.  Why have a festival of lights in the heart of summer?  There’s so much to explain to a wondering world.

There are always two sides to everything.  There is always a dark side of the moon.  There is always a really good reason for war and always a better reason for peace.  Green-house warming has its cold side; an exception like a new “little ice-age” only proves the theory.  Was it rape or was it love; can you really expect a man who “tells all” to wear a condom?  The Julian girls need to get smart, get a life, or get real.

Firing from trains.

December 15th, 2010

~ Is it about the guns or about the ammunition?

OK, guns on trains are as all-American as guns on planes.  We all grew up with pictures and images of “How the West Was Won” (the Cinerama movie) and the best part which is now known as the Train Robbery Sequence.   I think it was in the movie “Around the World in Eighty Days” that they showed the passengers all blasting Buffalo (really American Bison) from every window of the train.  This really happened, killing the great animals for sport and to at the same time deprive the real Americans of food.  Oh, if it weren’t for guns on trains America would never have been all that it could be.

Today the guys storming the train with guns would be called terrorists (home-grown terrorists) and not just non-revenue feather-bedding type passengers who felt entitled to a free ride on a government financed train.  Yes, The NRA types want the government bailouts just as much as you, they don’t want to pay the full-fare for moving around all of their guns.  “It’s so unfair,” that’s what their supporters say.

How is that guns on trains are good and guns on planes are bad?  What kind of country is this?  “If you see something, Say something,” is the mantra of our day.  So, I’m saying something.  I AM the snitch.  I am like Julian Assange and others that see the lies and say the truth and dare to speak up just like Janet Napolitano says to – the video is here.

Just for the record, you can almost always access your checked baggage while riding Amtrak.  Baggage car security is always bad and most Amtrak conductors are always helpful and would never want to keep a passenger too far from his creams and lotions or the bottled water that he brought on board.  Anything can crash a train.  In World War I the power of large bombs and giant shells (from really big guns mounted on railway cars) was actually measured in terms of numbers of crashing locomotives.

It all started on September 15, 1896 when the older really small and slow locomotives began to become obsolete.  A promoter decided crashing trains would be good entertainment.  He did it and made money doing it and that was even before Fox News.   When Hollywood learned the money making advantages of moving film they (or it) recreated the event and sold it and made more money still.  See the locomotives crash here.  Don’t say that Amtrak does not have a sense of history; how much history they want to reenact is the only question.

So, if a small gun on a plane (do you know if it is really loaded?) can cause the plane to be hijacked and crash why not a train?  I can see it, so I must say something – Americans must learn to “speak up”.

We should arrest Senator Roger Wicker for treason.  He seems the real terrorist after all.  He has passed a law that helps the terrorists and terrorism get guns upon the trains; guns in carry-on luggage (on planes) will be next, these guys know no limits in the fear that they aim to create.  Look again at the movie.  Do YOU want the shoot-out at OK Corral to be on your next Amtrak trip; if you carry a gun will you make your fellow passengers safer?  Who should fire first?

How many people really remember that it was the original Federal Express (that really was a train) that was involved in the Notorious Wreck.  What would have happened had the train been sabatoged and word kept away (by gunpoint) from the waiting passengers inside of Union Station?  I see something, I am saying something – America must speak up!

So, (and so-so) I hope you’ve enjoyed my little bit of history and my small history of guns on trains.  We all should be rail-buffs and be prepared to get down to our buff just to ride on trains; but, the terrorists among us (that favor guns) don’t even need real ammunition, they have their highly placed allies passing laws to help the gun-nuts make the world safe for terrorists, because terrorists are what gun-nuts really are.  Oh, but wait.  I guess Osama bin Ladin never rode a train, never appreciated the damage that trains can do.  And neither has the Taliban (world-wide terrorist organization), nor any of all of each others members ever ridden a train or thought about trains or ever seen a movie about a wreck, or a train wreck, or a Silver Streak (movie) on Netflick’s or You-tube.

Nine long years without one train-based terrorist event.  I don’t think so, unless there really are NO terrorists at all except in the fear-mongering minds that made them – foreign or domestic; do you really think you know?  Is there really an “enemy within”?  Do you think of Congress and the CIA and the Federal Reserve as your friend; are banks and bankers really friends?

I guess maybe I remember too much from the 50’s.  I’m too like the fifties.  I bought it all and I can’t unbuy it now.  The alternative is that America has gone crazy; America has lost its collective ability to think clearly or even think.  The media has taken over, and “stuff” and things and all the legal and legalized and legal type drugs have warped the “great” American mind and turned it into mush.  Is this new?  Annie get your gun!  You can kill all the buffalo just by riding on a train.

All Aboard!  No, maybe not; maybe not this time.

American Exceptionalism

December 12th, 2010

~ 40 acres and a mule, whatever makes you free.

When I was young (and an American) I was very poor.  From four to five I lived mostly in a cabin.  It was less than 250 square feet in size, maybe a lot less, I’m not sure.  Four of us lived there and one more occasionally and part-time.  The part-time person was my father who visited on some weekends and helped to pay the mortgage and the rent which were things like utility bills, the telephone and food.

In time all the “utilities” would be disconnected which included of course both the telephone and most of the food.  Matters were made worse by the fact that this cabin was in the woods, at about 6,500 feet elevation, and what roads there were were often closed by snow – often heavy snow the likes of which most Americans have never seen.

Was this life exceptional?   Was my experience American exceptionalism or was it just a form of poverty or is owning a house and eating (meaning not going hungry) as American or as un-American as you can get?  My memories, besides being not uncommonly hungry, involves a lot of snow.  I played outside in the snow a lot, there was not really an”inside” to play in and there really wasn’t anything with which to play.  It was just me and my imagination and my mind to try and make it work.

Outside there were pine needles and pine cones that could be unburied and piled up or arranged.  One could always build a snowman, although coal and carrots were in short supply.  By digging deeper in the snow one might find a rock that after much clearing one might sit on; but the rocks were always cold.  The pine trees were very tall and equally oppressive as they blocked out what little sun there might have been, what little warmth there was but wasn’t.  In my world everything was white or green.

In time I found the lake.  Actually in the first summer when we got there there was of course, “The Lake!”  There was the lake, the public beach at Kings Beach, up at marvelous Lake Tahoe, gem of the Sierras, a place to vacation or to play.  In the summer the trees provided shade from the more than mile high sun, piercing in its intensity, few clouds to lessen its every ray.  The trees made the walk to the beach go a little faster, lessen the pain of the rocks on the road as they dug in to shoeless feet – I had outgrown my shoes and in summer who really needs them (meaning shoes).  No, NOT all God’s children have shoes; that is a terrible, terrible lie.

But America was in winter.  Tahoe was in winter.  America was at war.  The reds were winning in Korea (winter of 1952) as the Taliban is winning in Afghanistan now.  Troops were freezing and dieing in the snows and snowbanks of Korea and I was looking too for someplace warm.

Across the road from our summer cabin were other larger cabins that fronted on the beach, the shore, the lakeshore of Lake Tahoe.  These much nicer cabins had piers.  The piers were made of giant hand-hewn timbers and extended out over the lake.  The tops of the piers were made of planks, two or three inches thick.  The log pilings were often ten or twelve inches thick; each pier was made up of a lot of wood.

It was warm under the piers.  As I huddled there over the water the under piers was warm, or at least warmer than the great outdoors and almost as warm as in the cabin.  Sometimes fish would swim below, but I couldn’t catch them so I couldn’t eat them, but I would not have wanted to anyway so it’s not a shame.  For this one year the fish were my only friends – American Exceptionalism.

After that all my mother ever wanted was a warm house with a white picket fence and a husband at home.  I have books from the period extolling how very American is, “A cabin in the woods”.  My parents bought in, the family lived the all-American dream.  Was all this exceptionalism good?  I guess I survived the ordeal, the real Ordeal by Hunger was lived out nearby.  But, maybe not.  Maybe a cottage behind a white picket fence is good.  Maybe a small house, in a small community, with a community of friends is all that really matters – really IS the American dream – really is what makes those Americans lucky enough to have one so exceptional after all.

Of well, the Wiki article says “large house” under the explanation under “Symbolism”.  The Wiki article is wrong.  The American working class dream was always just a cottage, not a Mac Mansion type estate.  Only the European rich wanted mansions, the royals and robber barons, disgusting people like that that paid so little that other people starved and had to move and had to trek away like the Donner Party in search on new lands outside the bounds and boundaries of America which was where Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake and all that land and opportunity really was (then, and maybe now).

What makes Americans “exceptional” is that they can innovate, can experiment, can adopt and when those three solutions don’t work Americans will rebel or start a revolution or just move on or move away or leave the “States” or stake a claim to some mountain or desert or desert lake or mountain lake or foreign seashore.  Remember, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were really Brits, born British, were never naturalized and never were strip-searched nor expected to carry a photo-ID.

So, we will see how exceptional Americans are now.  We will see whether cabins in the woods, white picket fences, or robber baron Mac Mansions are the dreams that we live out.  We will see if Americans are as American as the revolution or if the new exceptionalism takes “lives, and fortunes, and sacred honor” off the table of what one will risk to make oneself free.  A people who have lost their freedom cannot make the world free.  So, where do we go from here?

Silver Spoons

December 9th, 2010

~ Master Card, Visa, Pay-Pal and Wiki-leaks in the modern world.

We are all so modern aren’t we?  We have modern morals, modern shopping practices and modern ways of practicing politics.  Of course it has always been this way.  Even our parents, our grandparents were “modern”.

My mother was raised with a silver spoon for her mouth.  Actually there were many, many silver spoons.  It was started at any early age as a tradition, a birthday practice within the family (meaning by her parents) to give little Lloydine a silver spoon each birthday.  The date was engraved on the handle of each undersized sterling silver spoon.

Lloydine was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.  Her first year of life was a hard one; by the end of that first year her parents had lost their small home, a very modest hand built house of maybe 300 square feet; it’s hard to tell exactly from the one picture of the house with baby Lloydine and her mother Hemme standing in the doorway of the home.  Even at age 96 Hemme still choked up a bit when she casually mentioned, “We lost it”.

So the silver spoon thing was not a given; it was a wish, a hope, a symbolic gesture to the gods of good fortune or providence or of good standing that was not unlike an insurance premium always paid even though the belief in the company ever really paying (meaning paying off in the event of calamity or loss) was probably but a pipe dream.  We do this.  We pay and plan for a future that seldom ever comes.

The storms in Great Britain and maybe the storm this weekend in the east (eastern U.S.) will and have done more to destroy the buying power of Master Card and Visa cards than all of the Wiki-leak “anti-hackers” working together could ever do.  That’s the message of mother nature and the nature of all good mothers.  Weather is the only thing that can keep one honest.  There is always the possibility of a hundred (100) or a thousand (1,000) year storm.  Storm warnings are nature’s way of encouraging preparation.

The silver spoons stopped sometime about 1933.  I would like to think that the more recent ones were lost.  The fact is that by 1933 most of the country (meaning the U.S.A.!) was lost and the world was lost as it was plunged deeper into the Great Depression; four (4) long years began to take its toll, a new President had been elected, Obama doesn’t look anything like FDR.  So what’s the point?  Did they sell silver spoons in Hawaii?  Is a President with silver spoons what we really want or need?

All the spoons are gone now.  I’m not a collector.  Other people are.  The point is that we, each one of us, came into this world owning nothing, with no credit – no credit card.  We will go out the same way; the legalists might argue to differ, but a billion dollars at the moment of death won’t save you, nor no one else – you still have to die.

“Ownership” is all an illusion.  You’re lent things, that’s all.  Nothing is really borrowed, nothing worthy of any monetary interest is ever loaned.  For those that are looking it is obvious that the model of financial debt is only a metaphor for ones real debt to a higher power, always a debt too big to ever repay with money or with things – the only real currency is doing good and by that I mean doing good to others, not just to oneself.  Giving back the fortune made won’t make it; so many more were hurt than can be helped – the balance sheet will never balance so really what was the point.

There are no atheists after 100 years.  Most people catch on a little sooner; why play a game where in the end you lose?  But, it’s not up to me to tell you how to live.  I can only tell you how I live.  The choice is yours.

So, yes I have too much stuff.  The weight of ownership is pulling me way-way down.  My life would be better with only a little, certainly with a little less.  So what is the point of holiday purchases?  All they will bring is “more” and maybe bring back the hit that the weather is making on America’s two most popular plastic cards – buying and charging forward, it’s anti-nature; there really is little future in plastic, it gets so brittle in the cold.

Last night I ate dinner in Siam, really a restaurant in Albuquerque.  In today’s newspaper a letter to the editor suggested that the U.S.A.! is headed for a (new) civil war.  The author said he was, “so ready”.  I guess that’s what Obama and the Republicans want – a new civil war with their “no new taxes for the richest”.  Who benefits most from America if not the richest?  Obviously the richest should pay the most in taxes – as a percentage of income; not just the bottom line (meaning some sum total).  No loopholes either, no deductions for those with a gross income over $300,000 – that’s fair.   “$300,000 or fight”!  It’s all a fight anyway.  Make ready with your silver spoons.

A weak week.

December 7th, 2010

~ Philips C6 bulbs and the case against (or for) a federal reserve.

Oh I do love these random posts.  My days are not (necessarily) my own.  It’s the night that drives them.  So, two nights ago my new twinkle lights that are really LED’s in that pretty color blue that outline the icicles (which too are lights) on my roof went out which means my roof was not outlined in part the way it should.  It was one strand out of four (that failed), 25% for those that can still do math, not a good percentage even for those that can’t.

Let me give you the number so that you don’t buy some: 051 04 0122 on the package right near the price – $11.99 and change which means the “99” always changes to a dollar and you should think $15.00 for the set because the taxes will always kill you, or kill the sale, or kill almost all motivation to ever buy.  Why did I buy these lights?  Nobody really needs Christmas lights or Hanukkah lights or Kwanzaa (it is a double “a”) lights because really the stars are all you need and maybe too a warm fire and that brings us to candles which this year are way-way up in price.

Target (which is the store where I bought the lights) won’t give refunds so they have to give a lower price – $9.00, which is like almost (remember the penny) $3 off which is like 25% so now you know why they think they are even when one out of four light strands don’t work.  All discounts are lodged only in your mind; the stores take home the real bottom line which is the top line which is where you started and ain’t capitalism really grand?

I had my broken light strand just one week.  No, you’re wrong – the lights were always broken, the fact they worked awhile doesn’t matter, that’s just a basic part of the ruse; otherwise you won’t buy them or buy into the gambit or the game or in this case, “Buy the lights.”

So now we know how the Social Security scam really works.  Promises are made, the lights go on, everyone gets happy, in time the lights go out and increasingly people catch on to the fact that it never worked, never works, was a Ponzi scheme to make work for government workers all along.  “But, they’ve got my money.”  Of course, all Ponzi schemes are always after your money.  You pay in based on certain “certain” promises and when you go to get your money out all the rules have changed and it’s like the lights, so many really are not working – you really didn’t expect “such a deal”.  The phrase is not a question, it is a taunt.

So Obama knows that money in does not equal money out.  The money that went in to Social Security was never saved (by the Federal Reserve); there were no reserves, nothing was kept under any name “without reservation”.  No, the feds spent the money on the budget and the money in by 1964 was out years before and all the money invested since then was what paid the government enough to finance all the wars and finance all the Congress and finance the President and his wife’s new shoes (No, you’re right, she bought the shoes with book royalty money and not from the real income of the President).

Yes, Obama this time is right.  But, he’s wrong about the figures.  Social Security withholding should not be reduced, it should be eliminated.  No 2% reduction, reduce it all.  Those currently under 50 won’t get it all – they won’t even get a penny – it’s all money thrown away which considering the (Social Security) contract made IS New Taxes.   Republicans, are you listening.  Social Security withholding IS New Taxes.  That applies to the employer matching 6.2% – new taxes on businesses to compensate for money stolen from the workers that only the government (and then the banks) get to keep.

A lot has been said about “full faith and credit”, the only power behind the federal reserve.  The story line is that the U.S. Government always pays its bills.  It’s such a lie.  Social Security is the proof – it is not an “entitlement”, it is money invested (as required by law) and NOT well spent (they changed “the law” to cover for the failure to pay the bills.  Congress could pass a law saying, “all U.S. debts have been paid, and now we start over.”  If it’s a law it must be true and so the government never lied – that’s “full faith” and that’s what you get for believing in financial credit, or credits, as in “we’ll credit your Social Security account with what you paid”.

So pay your debts Uncle Sam!  Pay out Social Security as promised to those born in 1960 and before.  Take the money from the general fund and retire those worn out U.S. bonds, the I.O.U.’s, the financial debt paper that makes up the Social Security dollars that were for such a long time borrowed.  Learn what an unfunded liability really looks like; and the $360 billion dollars newly available for the economy won’t (I assure you) do the economy bad.  Tax hikes are bad and that $360 billion of wrongly confiscated payroll might help someone save their house, or save a house, or save enough money to just pay the utilities or even eat.  It’s not just about the shoes.

Who are these people writing all the laws and all the news and thinking that they can think?  The script has gotten oftly stale.  Yes, I’m still tired of all the lies.  Mitch McConnell you are lying, you don’t want tax hikes for the rich, but you want huge tax hikes for the poor.  Social Security is just the new tax of last resort; you’re a fool if you think you have us fooled.

So will we have a “new America” with starving homeless old people just living on the streets?  Can County Poor Farms be revitalized?  Can free flu vaccinations and not just free food keep all the elderly alive?  The banks have taken away our savings, our homes, any hope of real interest.  The feds have taken away all the social security reserves too.  The government doesn’t have any real money.  It’s just all a real joke.  Obama, Congress, keep laughing.  Have the dignity to tie your shoes.

About the lights.  One was too loose, I breathed on it or something.  It was designed to a hairbreadth of economy and profit and the moment before it would fail.  It failed.  Don’t buy these Philips brand C6 lights; there is no reserve they are good only for people willing to live on the very edge.  Hey baby, is that you?

Into the cold

December 6th, 2010

~ Cold War, Cold day in hell, cold and colder still.

It’s probably important to realize that there might be a “last day on the net”.  Of course every individual person will have one; it’s like the last time I talked to my father (Fred) on the telephone.  I didn’t know that it would be the last time at the time, we just talked, or he talked and I listened and then it went on awhile and then we each said goodbye and then a week or so later he went into a hospital and a week or so after that he died.

Last Days are not necessarily tied to just dieing, although it is usually true that something dies on every last day – or it could be said.  I used to go to a bar in San Francisco (circa 1974 or so) called the Last Day Saloon, it was real and a lot of fun as far as bars go (or went) then.  One went and wondered what “last day” they were thinking about or talking about when they named the place.  There probably was no answer.  The point is that the name seemed to fit the mood and so it remained a small success, people kept coming, even if they knew that the last day for the Last Day Saloon or at the last day saloon would come sometime and then it would be just memories and names and the names of people that you met there and the things you did (like dance) and the things that you didn’t do like talk enough and spend enough time together to last a lifetime because that’s not what most bars are all about and time moves on too quickly and then it is at an end.

People have postulated about the possibility of the end of the web since it first appeared in 1993 or so, the “so” being about the time that the first non-nerd type people began to get onto the web and explore the web and read all that the CIA Fact Book had to offer which was a lot of what web content was in those early days.  So it is full circle.  The web, the net, the my-space-face (book) began with CIA type information and maybe it will end with CIA type information although there seems to be a difference in attitude the fact is that the authors are all the same – same schools, same drill, same directives about who to get and why and how to spin all the facts so that the agency never really has to come clean.

How much freer we all would be without the web, the web of lies, the web of deceit and the web of intrigue and the web that seems to say so much but actually reveals so little.  It is not information that will make us free.  I thought that once.  It is what one does with information like it is what one does with opportunity, money, time that is what really matters.  It’s not a quantity thing at all.  No, neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffett have really changed the world; the world is quite the same as it was in 1974, before the bar and before high finance and the web, before the Bush boys and before Hillary Clinton had any real taste of power.  We all got through somehow in the days before the web.  We could fly freely.  Almost nobody had a photo I.D..  Heck, at the Last Day Saloon nobody ever got carded, all you had to do was look like you might be 21.

All those days are ended.

Could you live without my posts?  I think you could.  Could you live without fast breaking news from Korea and without the latest download of the UFO’s that are up there and the latest word about the latest conspiracy that someone higher up unleashed?  You live now without talking to your neighbor.  You live now without ever really seeing the sun, the grass, the Rocky Mountains where they are really high (unless you live in some small town in north-central Colorado).  Take time to smell the roses has been replaced by the scent of subways and the ever present (now mostly left unnoticed) smell of gas.  Yeah, I think you too would be fine without Facebook, without the web, without Facebook on the web and without web browsing, web buying, web teasers and teasing and the latest photographs of Michelle Obama’s shoes.

Maybe I should write a list of the “unthinkable”, or make it plural like Robert Stack of the “Untouchables” did – the “Unthinkables”.  Like it is unthinkable that the economy might not ever really come back.   Like it is unthinkable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would ever win another election.  Like it is possible that someday there really will be an end to the web like there has been an end to flying free and open gates at open airports and traveling without constant fear (or the total loss of freedom that claims to keep you safe).

There’s a whole new generation that takes for granted the fear of flying, without fear, without the freedom to really know how much they’ve lost or that has been lost because freedom is like something you never had – you never miss it when it’s gone.  And I do miss the old days, the Last Day Saloon, living on the edge and in the Berkeley Inn (#118) and I never thought I would say this – but, it is sad that now that’s all gone.  It was my life once, once when “everything” was still ahead.

Oh sure, I have a new life now, maybe better – but, in some ways so many times worse.  I really do miss the airports, flying, the beat-beat-beat of propellers against the air and free meals served between Sacramento and San Francisco and the white tablecloths and solid silver knives and the stewardesses smile that said “you’re really flying” and the soft words that also said, “yes, you’re flying” and when you land, “Don’t worry, we will meet you at the gate.”

I don’t think I’ll ever again meet a friend or relative at the gate.  “Say goodbye, before you get anyway near the scanner,” that’s all one needs to know, nothing even needs to be said, every person knows the drill and knows what to expect and knows what one probably went through just to be where “right you are”.  But, there is nothing right about it.  It has slip-slid away.  There is no destination, every airport is now just the same; every plane is just the same; every celo-bag of pretzels or peanuts is just the same; there is not one real silver knife or white tablecloth in sight – happy flying, oh, the things you never knew.

Yes, in fifty years I’m sure there will not be even a trace of web.  Those old enough will talk of the “glory days”, the early days when there was “freedom on the web”.  Younger eyes will quickly glaze over.  Some will sarcastically say, “I’m sure.”  Most will say, “Don’t you have something better to talk about,” not a question, a suggestion, a word to keep the conversation going and not let it drift too far.  “You shouldn’t talk like this.”  “You’ve lived too long.”  “Life is better left for the young.”

And that is where life has left me.  It leaves me thinking back to when I was young, when the days were long and sweet and one could saddle up to a San Francisco bar, or bar stool, or bar maid if one had a chance and say is this the last day?   And the answer on every special evening would always be, “Yes!”.

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