More Insight

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fear or Love?

A short list of lovers:

Frank Zappa, T.S Elliot, Tarantino, Van Gough, William Burroughs, Peter Sellers, Ferndo Meirelles and Paulo Lins, De Niro, Rowan Atkinson, The Smiths, Roman Polanski, Rembrandt, Jerry Sadowitz, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, Harvey Pekar, Neichtze, Nick Cave, the guy who stood he's ground in Tiananam Square, Mozart, Hunter S Thompson, Martin Luther King, Andy Warhol, Shakespeare, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Dom McCullin, Ian Curtis, Brian, Hogarth, Chris Gardner, George Orwell, Geoffrey Rush, George Elliot, Gary Larson, Graham Chapman, Richard Dawkins, Francis Dashwood, Robert Crumb, Coppola, Brian Jones, Winston Churchill, Richard Attenborough, Banksy, Joan Littlewood, PerryFarrell, Bill Hicks, Raymond Chandler, Aleister Crowley, Mr Benn

Do Unto Others

With irony of no surprise, Iran has now officially classified the CIA and the US Army as terrorist organizations.

It is a response to the US Senate's resolution on Wednesday labeling the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization in anticipation of a Showdown; Iran: The Ticking Bomb airs Saturday night @ 9pm on Fox News, naturally.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Health Care: Capitalist or Christian?

Michael Moore raises a fundamental challenge to Americans claiming to be Christians: are you a follower of Jesus Christ or do you just pretend to be?

The Judgment of the Gentiles

Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nation will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
The the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'

And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you,
just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for when I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Do you really believe God will bless America, who treats his Son, the least among us, his family [ Greek: these my brothers] in such a way, with such blatant disregard for his teachings? Irregardless of separation of church and state, for a nation whose majority claims to adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ, it looks like we're all going to hell with the devil and his angels because of how poorly we've treated the least among us, because we haven't stood up and demanded from our government what Christ demands of us.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quasi-Permanent Occupier


That reminds me...

I hope I never lose my memory too

Hijacking Catastrophe (1 of 10)

Check it out, get outraged, G.A.S.!!:

More to follow...

The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein, author of the great No Logo, has done it again with her newest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

For an intro to the No Logo movement,

PLEASE do yourself a favor and check out her very informative interview with John Cusack, and get a better idea what she really means, click here

SCHIP On Our Shoulder

This story is becoming so outrageous, I don't even know where to begin. So I'll let my Senator do the talking.

Playing Chicken with Children's Health Care

No childrens left behind*

*except the sick, the poor, the hungry

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't Do Drugs

Effects of marijuana include inappropriate laughter

Perhaps she did inhale...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You're Either a Rationalist, or You're Not

The world is not flat:

Article of Faith:
15-20% of US citizens are nonbelievers/Rationalists
"Twenty percent is hardly a majority, but it's a bigger minority than blacks, Jews, homosexuals, NRA members, teachers, or seniors. And it's certainly enough to stop being shy about expressing the opinion that we're not the crazy ones.
"Just because the vote is 4-1, it doesn't mean the minority is wrong. People who were against this war from the start were a minority. The majority used to believe the world was flat, but if you believe that today, you'd either be packed off to Bellevue, or asked to co-host the view."

History shows the dissenting voice is not the wrong voice
Wake up America, be rational

Getting out of Hand


Amount the war in Iraq costs per minute, according to a new analysis by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Bilmes, put out by the American Friends Service Committee. The study finds that this $720 million a day could buy homes for 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children.

Break the Silence

by Killswitch Engage

As I live and breathe
I am watching, watching a world die.
We greet this with apathy.
No longer!

Consumed by self,
We walk through each day
With no mind for deprivation
and moral decay.

We must destroy and rebuild
For the sake of all.
It starts with one.

If we can't break this silence, how can we survive?
Search inside yourself, know you're alive.
We must break the silence,
Now we are alive.
Silent no longer!

Make this world take notice
That change is in our hands.
The battle has just begun,
We are not defeated

With all that I am,
I will lift my voice
To start this revolution.
It starts today,
And it starts with me!
Silent no longer!

A Time to Break Silence

'A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on...

We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak...
I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such...I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent... This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers...

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged...

What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? ...
We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators? Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets...Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition...
We are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now... "The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisers" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies...The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death...

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous
civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.'

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 1967

Full speech more than worth reading

Thursday, September 20, 2007


"America" by Pain of Salvation, from scarsick

You brought us the a-bomb, in so many ways, endorsed by God and The Book
So God loves a war monger?
Hey Mr. Blix: forget Iraq and the time it took 'cause I know just where to look: could we have a vote please?
They came with a song - America; they wouldn't stay long - America
We are America, God bless America
God bless America and Capitol Hill 'cause no one else will

So now you are scared the Arabs will kill for their god like you do for yours?
Protect your obesity with your life, man
Hey - Angry God or Diet Coke?
Who cares, it's all a joke
"Heil homo pecuniae"
Saving us yet another time, earning a buck on every dime
Sick of America, sick of America
Sick of America and Capitol Hill moving in for the next kill

A simpler democracy where every flaw and failure is called a "Right"
A new form of freedom based on your income, your color, creed and your choice of gun
But it provides great fun!
Dr. Phil or Oprah? Letterman or Leno? Idol or Big Brother?

It could have been good America; it could have been great America
Land of the brave and free welcoming you and me
But this Brave New World is not as new anymore
Each day a new store, each year a new war
While chosen whites rule the poor in America
America, don't you walk out on me! Just wait a second now,
Please hear me out - I'll do my best to love you, oh yes I will!
I know you're out there! C'mon, raise your voices!
Don't let them ruin your reputation!
Don't let them wreck your Constitution!
Not out of fear! Not out of greed!
But you had a good run America, your day in the sun America
Hello British Empire, hello Roman Empire, hello Soviet
There's a new kid in town joining the fallen down, finding what you found
Treading your worn, worn ground
Rise to your former glory! Be brave and warm!
Oh, America, if I say I love you, dare you love me too?

Mindfulness Training

From the Order of Interbeing

Part 2

"Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives."

Zen Buddhism through the scientific method. We need to be mindful that our knowledge is not absolute truth. It is estimated that medical knowledge doubles every five years, including reversal of previously held beliefs and practices. "A scientist with an open mind, who can question the present knowledge of science, will have more of a chance of discovering a higher truth." In our quest for higher understanding, we must constantly challenge our present views of reality, ever incorporating our observations of life around us. The basic teachings of Buddha correlate well with science: nonattachment from views, opinions, prejudices, biases, doctrine, dogma, and ideology is the key technique to understanding. Narrow-mindedness is understanding's nemesis. We must share our observations and experience with others, and share their observations and experiences in order to discover higher truth, gain insight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Age of Turrabull-ence

Tuesday night on the Daily Show, Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006) was asked a fundamental question about the rewards of capitalism and how they're affected by the federal interest rate.

The US switched from a gold standard to the federal interest rate system we have today. For the sake of argument, let's say that $1 holds the value of one gram of gold. When the feds lower the interest rates by 0.5%, during an economic recession, after 9/11 for example, the actual value of $1 depreciates to 0.995 grams of gold. It may not seem like much, but this artificial inflation is able to stabilize the stock markets by increasing the dollar costs of stocks, even though the value has not changed.
While this is supposedly beneficial for the market in the short run, it has the opposite effect on salaried and wage workers. They are paid the same dollar amount, but the value of those dollars, thus the value of the work - goods or services they provide - has diminished. It's almost like getting a 0.5% pay cut.
Additionally, the interest rates of bank accounts - workers' savings - are correspondingly reduced. So the dollar amount one saves in a bank has less value, and there is less return for account holders.
But at least the Dow Jones is back over 13,000, right? The perception that the US economy (embodied by the stock market) is doing alright distracts workers (other than investors) from the reality of the depreciation of the value of their work as well as their savings.

It's also worth examining the US Treasury's change from the gold standard, especially in relation to developmental economics. When top American economists and organizations like the IMF or World Bank attempt to pull struggling economies out of "dark ages" and into a US-modeled free market economy, they strongly encourage the use of the gold standard. However, as Greenspan notes, "the gold standard was strangling the economy" and in its place, "you need somebody to determine, or some mechanism of how much money is out there." So in countries like Bolivia and Poland in the 1980s, the gold standard was introduced to control inflation and make their economies more like the American "free market" model, which doesn't even use the gold standard, employing this other mechanism of inflation control.

Stewart: So we're not a free market then, there is an invisible, a benevolent hand that touches us.
Greenspan: Absolutely, you're quite correct, to the extent that there is a central bank governing the amount of money in the system. That is not a free market...
Stewart: It seems to me that we favor investment, but we don't favor work. The vast majority of people work and they pay payroll taxes and they use banks. And then there's this whole other world of hedge funds and short betting seems like craps. And they keep saying, "No, no, no, don't worry about it! It's free market! That's why we live in much bigger houses." But it really isn't [a free market] it's the fed, or some other thing, no?

Greenspan goes on to give his spin on the regulation required of a free market and the stabilization it necessitates. Government regulation reduces the uncertainty of the market, without which "economic activity, which is really dealing with people, just goes straight down."
Apparently a successful "free" market relies on fear, euphoria, and strict regulation.

More of this to be elaborated on later, including the laws of surplus value and necessary value...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Their Patriotic Duty

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder.... the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace....They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.

-Eugene V. Debs

What is Democracy in Theory and in Praxis?

What does it mean to say we live or participate in democracy? How does one effectively recruit the participation of others in such an endeavor? When the vox populi is silenced, how can it be reclaimed? If a government is meant to be of the people, for the people and by the people, what are the implications when only a fraction of the people elect a select few to represent them? Does the trickle down effect apply to civic duty, or are grassroots efforts required?

With the presidential primary elections fast approaching, we should all reflect on such questions. The power of the proletariat may have fallen with the Berlin Wall, but a new agent of social change emerged: the social worker - made up not only of the working class, but also of youth, students, academics, under- and unemployed, under- and uninsured, cultural figures, ecologists and environmentalists, women, minorities and other marginalized groups. It is up to us, the social workers, to ensure the quality of our democracy; ensure that the vox populi will never be drowned out or silenced

"Minor Giant Steps"

From the minds of the Flower Kings

Now imagine, can you, can you, if you will. See the sunrise colorize the hills. All the waters running down the mountain streams. Flood of Eden, bring to life this dream. Tiny steps, minor giant steps in the world unite. Tiny steps in the wisdom ramp, minor giant steps in the world unite. On the mountain side, silver thread unwind. Gently linger on, crystal waters chime. Watch the engineer get the details right! Watch him shape the day - out of the darkness comes the light; out of the darkness and the night. Now we understand how we play a part. In the tireless games, all the beauty there is. Our perception of the dream sharing equally, all like players of a team.
'69, we're walking on the moon, sending those waves to see if we're alone. Fifty million choking in the sun, nothing learned from life; still dog eat dog. It's just a transmission, so we don't mind. But what about God and what lies behind? Those patterns are old and make no sense, so keep on exploiting until the end. The masterminds create the new frontiers.
So "Einstein me," please, I wanna see it clear. Bit by bit they took this world apart. There's no more secret left as it hit the market.
I'm just the minor giant soul, trying so hard to understand the things I cannot see arise from inside of me. Coming to terms, to lose control - see how a man becomes a soul! If thinking is wider than the sea, arise from the dream within a dream. It's strange how life's illusions turn. They look so different around the corners. I wasn't prepared for such a journey and now there ain't no turning back.
I'm just a minor giant bird sitting on someone's shoulder and she might undertake this journey while I keep getting older. She once was brighter than the sun. I may have been her soulmate. She couldn't speak while she was dumb, but I couldn't figure out.
It's strange how words can start a war; they call it the Domino Syndrome. A new world is hiding behind the door, a world that's always been there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Notes on Religion, Part 1

From DiploMattico:

John Dewey has finally cured me of God: The supernatural doesn't actually exist, even in religion, but is a tool or symbol used in religion to convey power and control over a human situation. The control and power created by the illusion of an all-powerful God can be likened to the idea of a conscience, always keeping in check the minds and decision-making tendencies of the subordinate members (of religion). But I didn’t write this to disprove the existence of the religion’s God, nor am I really concerned with those who love God and are still capable of making good decisions. You just better not give in to temptation. I am concerned, however, with the rest of us who don’t really believe in the supernatural but still miss a sense of religiosity in our lives. Hopefully this can shed some light on your disturbingly empty existences.

One of my religious friends, a tall, thin, Brunette girl, suggested to me that she can feel God everywhere she goes. I asked, "so when you turn to the right or make a decision, you're aware of God?" She said, yes, but that she needs to work on it more. I prompted, "you mean you need to fear more." Brunette, "Yah, but it's good fear." I smiled, knowing exactly what she meant. It's the same thing I feel before I turn to the right, or make any decision. It's the fear that this decision will go against my conscience, my principles, my reason (God). It's the fear that the decision will eventually illicit the wretched self-guilt (God-guilt) or that it will disrupt something that I didn't want changed. That includes knocking my camera off the couch, because I should be aware that it’s there.

(Smirking) So maybe they're the same thing:
1. Religion's God, and
2. My own desire to avoid mistakes
My own God is me. Jestem Bogiem (Polish). I am God, that's what my French millionaire Franky said about himself in broken English, and he seemed to be able to make decisions well.

Human Development Report

"It would take six billion dollars of additional yearly investment to ensure basic education in all developing countries; eight billion dollars a year are spent on cosmetics in the United States. It would take nine billion to ensure clean water and sanitation for all; 11 billion are spent on ice cream in Europe. It would take 13 billion dollars to guarantee basic health and nutrition for every person in the developing world; 17 billion are spent on pet food in Europe and the United States combined. It would take approximately an additional 40 billion dollars to achieve universal access to basic social services, 0.1 per cent of the world's income, a rounding error, would cover the bill for basic education, health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation for every single person on the planet. Yet currently, while the world's richest nations possess only one-fourth of the world's population, they consume 70 per cent of the world's energy, 75 per cent of its metals, 85 per cent of its wood and 60 per cent of its food."

Thanks to Elivo for putting it all together

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Republican: Capitalist or Christian?

Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

Thich Nhat Hanh discusses the keys to practicing mindfulness from the Buddhist Order of Tiep Hien, "Interbeing"

Part 1
"Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for."

We need to understand that "human life is more precious than any ideology or doctrine." The power of ideology can be too much for human life to bear. "If you have a gun, you can shoot one, two, three, five people; but if you have an ideology and stick to it, thinking it is the absolute truth, you can kill millions." Do the Holocaust or the Crusades come to mind? Peace can only be achieved when we are free from fanaticism.

The scientific mind yields to skepticism, constant re-evaluation and verification. This uncertainty and search for truth leads to modification of currently held and past assumptions and hypotheses. We should apply that same model to other areas of our lives and our world, helping us to defend against dogma, doctrine, and ideology that threaten human life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Clinical Economics

Jeffrey Sachs argues that development economics needs to be more clinical - that the process of assessing and treating an economic malady needs to resemble more the rigor, insight and practicality of modern medicine. Economics needs new tools to address the new issues we face in the 21st century, requiring better development of the underlying science as well as the systematization of where that science is brought to bear on a particular "patient." Sachs argues for the implementation of the differential diagnosis in solving modern developmental disparities. The differential diagnosis checklist for economics includes taking an appropriate history of several elements, including the policy framework, physical geography, cultural barriers and geopolitics.
I would argue the application of the scientific process to not only economics, but also the other social sciences that impact our daily lives. Every aspect of governance should undergo the same examination and scrutiny that is the scientific foundation of modern medicine. Why shouldn't the same standards of quality assessment and verification be applied to the other spheres of human life that affect us just as much or more as medicine does? Why shouldn't we apply the differential diagnosis?