Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lovers and Fighters

The other day I remarked upon my recent quest to find and comment upon, inconsistencies and irrationalities that I find around the internet, among arguably "normal" people. I've begun this quest by going to "news" websites and commenting. And the results are interesting to say the least. I've blogged about a couple of them already, in my last two posts.

Today, I'd like to tell you about my conversations about the recent news story about the parents of Tyler Clementi--the young man who committed suicide after his roommate illegally taped his sexual encounter with another young man. The parents were in the news because they had left the church they'd been members of because they could no longer tolerate the church's anti-gay views.

I commented originally that it was good that the parents took a stand against the kind of dogma that caused their son such misery and gave another young man the idea that it would be ok to publicly shame his roommate. My attempt to make a positive comment was in the distinct minority.

Many people were making angry comments indicating that it had taken the parents too long, that they should have never been in that church in the first place, that their son wouldn't be dead if they, and their church hadn't been such (fill in the blank with an unflattering name)s, and the like.

I picked out one of these comments, and used it to try to make a point--that directing hate and anger toward bigots was no better than the bigots' hatred and anger toward the original victim. And, the game was on. I was told it was "different," because those people are mean and evil and bigoted, and so on. I was told it was "justified" because those people cause suffering. I was told that I shouldn't make "excuses" for bigots like the Clementis and their church. Et cetera. I tried to use reason. I tried to cite examples of people who successfully and valiantly opposed bigotry and hatred while refraining from engaging in it. I'm not sure I changed the minds of the folks I was talking to, but I got some support here and there, and I think I did the right thing.

What I learned from it was this: people like hate when it's directed at their "enemies." They don't like it when it's directed at their "friends." They believe that hate is a good excuse to hate back. And they're (actually, we're) 100% wrong. Here's why.

First, anger is bad for you. People who are angry a lot may not produce sufficient acetylcholine, a hormone that helps your body combat the negative effects of adrenaline. Their nervous system overworks, leading to a weakened heart and stiffer arteries, and higher risk for liver and kidney damage, high cholesterol, depression and anxiety. In one study of almost 13,000 subjects, individuals with the highest levels of anger had twice the risk of coronary artery disease and three times the risk of heart attack as compared to the subjects with the lowest levels of anger. Frequent anger may be more dangerous than smoking and obesity as a factor that will contribute to early death. Not to mention that it makes a person really suck to be around.

Second, anger and hatred lead to more anger and hatred, ad infinitum. If you subscribe to the idea that it's ok to be angry with someone who is angry, the inevitable result is everyone getting angry. As a famous non-hater, Ghandi, once said, "An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind." Some anti-gay crusader says something hateful about gays. I respond with something hateful about his group or his church, or whatever. Someone says something hateful about "lib-tards" or some other "tard" that I am, and someone responds, and someone responds, and someone responds. When does it end? Having looked at the comment boards on news sites a lot lately, I can tell you when---Never.

Third, anger and hatred doesn't change the other guy's mind; in fact, it usually has the opposite effect. If you don't believe it, drive around any major city. There are streets named after one guy, Martin Luther King, Jr., who sought to stop racism without anger and hatred. See any named after Malcolm X? Quite the contrary, the anger of the Black Panthers is still used as a scare tactic to get white people all up in the grill of black people--forty years later.

So, tallying up; anger will kill you, it breeds more and more anger, both by and at you, and it's ineffective at making anything change. Sounds like a hell of a winner.

So, what's the alternative, if we don't get mad at the bigots and the haters? Well, here are three steps to becoming lovers and fighters for what we believe:

1) Love. Show love to the victims of the hate and anger. Support them not just in theory but in reality. Know a gay person, or a black person, or a muslim? Treat them with respect and value them as a human--not as gay or black or muslim. If the opportunity presents itself where it's not creepy, tell them you don't like what the haters are doing, and you'll stand by them if ever they need it. And mean it.

2) Love. As hard as it might be, we can try to love the hater as well. We can tell them we disagree with them, that they're wrong, that their hate isn't welcome around us. But we can do it with calm respect, without name-calling, without raised voices or capital letters or group branding (all you ____s are a bunch of ____). We can do it with the understanding that while we might not suffer from their particular brand of hate, we're all prone to it on some issue, sometime--so that anything we call them might be applied to us as well. And then we can send them on their way, not with thoughts of anger, but with hope that they may someday find a better way.

3) Love. Love yourself enough to not tear yourself to pieces angrily tilting at the windmills of hate. Ask whether you have control over any aspect of the situation, and if you do--try step 1 or 2, or both. Then let it go. Truly, and quickly, before it has the potential to raise your ire or your blood pressure for another minute.

Not an easy task, I'll admit. Even having it in the front of my mind for a couple of days now, the backspace key on my computer is getting a workout, as I self-censor my internal non-hater into full bloom. But you know what? Slowly, ever so slowly, it's working--no minor miracle for someone like me who is known for nothing so much as a quick temper and a terrier-like tenacity to "win" an argument.

I'll leave you with two more quotes, both from myself, that abruptly ended my adversaries' angry comments to me in the last couple of days, and that are, for me, uncharacteristically short and lucid:

You can't make the world a less hateful place by hating the people who hate. 


Anger is the nuclear weapon in our emotional arsenal. It may take out the enemy, but it poisons the whole world in the process.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Other Side

My last post was about how what should be a near non-issue, West Nile Virus, is hyped by the media into a frenzy of doom, every year, like clockwork.  I talked about how the media, through inflammatory language and careful wording, manage to make what is in fact a one-in-a-million occurrence into a big, scary, epidemic threat that gets repeated and drummed on over and over and over, until it scares people silly and sucks the air out of the news cycle --except of course for celebrity "news," which we always have time for. 

Now, I'd like to show you how the media does exactly the opposite, when it chooses to.  This month, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security issued a Special Report summarizing its "significant" investigative activities during 2011.  I warn you, there are a lot of them.  If you don't have time to read them all, read a few and then scroll to the end of the indented portion to read my conclusion.
*A Customs and Border Protection agent in Texas and his now-estranged wife have pleaded guilty to being part of a cocaine smuggling ring, and he has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.  She's on the lam, after failing to appear for sentencing.

*A Border Patrol Officer has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from drug smugglers in return for providing information to the smugglers that would facilitate the smuggling of drugs into the US without detection.  He's been sentenced to 20 months (!) in prison.

*An ICE immigration enforcement officer and some "associates" were convicted of drug trafficking as well as using his position to steal drugs from rival drug traffickers.  It seems they had the ICE agent handy to lend an air of law enforcement legitimacy when they'd bust in and steal drugs from their competition.  The officer is now serving ten years in prison.

*An ICE Special Agent pleaded guilty of illegally importing and distributing steroids on at least six occasions.   He's doing 24 months in prison.

*A Supervisory Immigration Services Officer for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  and his son were convicted of a scheme whereby the basically sold immigration approvals in return for money.  The officer has been sentenced to 5 years in prison and the son to 4 years. During the investigation, it was discovered that one of the officer's subordinate employees was running a separate scheme in which the subordinate accepted money from as many as 10 illegal aliens in exchange for the issuance of immigration benefits. He pleaded guilty also, and wasn't yet sentenced at the time the report was written.

*A customs and Border Patrol officer was convicted for accepting a bribe to allow drugs (almost a ton of marijuana)  to pass through the border into the US.   He was sentenced to 24 months of probation

*A Customs and Border Patrol officer pleaded guilty of drug smuggling.  He admitted to having been paid to act as a lookout during the transport of the drugs across the country, as well as for delivering the sales proceeds of the drugs back to their home base.  He's been sentenced to 36 months of probation.

*A Customs and Border Patrol officer at Atlanta's airport was convicted of drug trafficking.  This officer used his security badge to bypass detection protocols at the airport and to smuggle money and guns for the drug smugglers.  He's been sentenced to 8 years in prison.

* A Customs and Border Patrol officer in Texas has admitted to repeatedly smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants into the United States for money.  He's been sentenced to 27 months in prison.

* A Customs and Border Patrol officer in Michigan has pleaded guilty to fraudulently altering a visa for an Iranian citizen (presumably to extend the holder's stay).  The officer will spend 24 months on probation.  

*An ICE Enforcement and Removal Officer was convicted of taking bribes totaling at least $28,500 to allow foreign employees of South American-themed restaurants in Illinois to extend their stays in the United States.  He was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

* A Border Patrol agent in Arizona has been convicted of drug trafficking after he used his government patrol vehicle to bypass Border Patrol traffic checkpoints to smuggle drugs into the US.  He was awaiting sentencing at the time the report was written.

*A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudications officer (a type of judge who hears immigration applications) has pleaded guilty to demanding  bribes in return for approving immigration applications.   He's going to spend a whopping 18 months in jail.

*A Detention Officer, contracted by ICE in a Louisiana facility for immigration detainees, pleaded guilty to the Sexual Abuse of a Ward or Minor after sexually assaulting a prisoner in the facility. He got 10 months in jail.

*An airport Transportation Security Officer pleaded guilty after physically assaulting two airport passengers because they were Somali.  He will spend 6 months in jail.

*A Border Patrol Agent was convicted after he punched a fellow agent and held a gun to the fellow agent's head after the fellow agent joked about the excessive amount of tactical gear the BPA routinely wore.  He was sentence to a undisclosed amount of "time served" and fired.

*A Customs and Border Patrol Officer in Michigan pleaded guilty to child porn charges after he used the internet to view child pornography and engage in sexually explicit conversations with young girls on his personal laptop computer.  Officials later found child porn images on his computer as well.  He was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

*An airport Transportation Safety Officer was convicted of child porn charges after he routinely used several Internet and social media sites to receive and distribute child pornography. He was initially identified through a picture of him wearing a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uniform that he posted on a social media site (no one said they're smart).  He was sentenced to serve over ten years in prison.

*After receiving complaints that money and property worth over $30,000 had been stolen from passengers' luggage at the Newark, NJ airport, a Transportation Safety Officer admitted stealing currency from passengers’ carry-on bags as they were being screened at the check in point. He will serve 30 months in prison.

*A Transportation Safety Officer at the Memphis, TN airport was convicted of stealing a laptop computer  from a passenger's luggage.  He was sentenced to 8 months in jail.

*A Transportation Safety Officer at the Orland, FL airport pleaded guilty of stealing more than 80 laptop computers and other electronic devices, valued at $80,000, from passenger luggage and fencing the items in Osceola County, FL. He was sentenced to 24 months of probation.

*An ICE Immigration Enforcement Agent pleaded guilty to charges that, while under surveillance, in uniform, armed and on duty, he purchased crack cocaine while in uniform, armed, and in control of his government-owned vehicle.  He also admitted to introducing contraband cigarettes into a local jail. He received a 60-day jail sentence and 5 years probation.

*A Customs and Border Patrol technician in Boston, MA, and an accomplice pleaded guilty to stealing a U.S. Customs Declaration form that had been filled out by Astronaut Neil Armstrong as he passed through Logan International Airport. The technician and his buddy attempted to sell it on an auction collectibles website.  He's been sentenced to 24 months probation.

*A Border Patrol Agent in North Dakota pleaded guilty to making false statements after he falsely reported that he and his family were being threatened and stalked in order to try to get a transfer to the southwest.  He was awaiting sentencing at the time the report was written.

*An ICE New York Field Office Mission Support Specialist pleaded guilty to "steering" contracts valued at approximately $1 million to three companies in which he or a family member owned.  As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit cash and property valued at $200,000, and he was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment, 24 months of supervised release and a $5,000 fine.

*An ICE contract security guard pleaded guilty to receiving money from ICE detainees for the crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana that he smuggled into the detention center, and to using cocaine with the detainees while on duty.  He was awaiting sentencing at the time the report was written.

*A Federal Protective Service (federal police) contracting officer, pleaded guilty to conspiracy after receiving bribes of airline tickets, hotel stays, golf expenditures, and the promise of post government employment, in exchange for favorable references that resulted in the continuance of a multimillion-dollar contract for private security services at federal facilities.  He received 36 months probation.

*A Federal Protective Service employee in Maryland  was convicted of engaging in a fraudulent marriage that gained immigration benefits for an unqualified person.  The analyst was convicted and sentenced to 12 months of probation and 4 months of home detention.

*A Department of Homeland Security contract security guard, and his relative, an SBA employee, were convicted of conspiring to fraudulently receive $171,600 in SBA loans based on fraudulent loan documents they submitted to SBA. They were sentenced to 21 months in prison and to repay $85,800.

*A FEMA representative was convicted of using her access to FEMA data systems to steal over $700,000 of benefits from more than 60 eligible FEMA applicants.  She received 82 months in prison, 60 months of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $721,000.

*A company contracted by the Federal Protective Service to provide armed security guards for Federal buildings admitted to intentionally falsifying certifications for firearms, CPR and defibrlilator training, the United Sates Attorney declined to prosecute in favor of a temporary debarment on FPS contracts.

*A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Supervisory Adjudication Officer (head judge) in Fairfax, VA was convicted of  illegally granting residency and falsified documents to more than 100 unqualified immigrants. He received more than $600,000 in bribes to do so. He was sentenced to 180 months in prison.

*A Department of Homeland Security employee in Washington, DC, pleaded guilty to helping a contractor fraudulently obtain a DHS security contract by providing internal DHS information that was used by the contractor to ensure it got the bid on the contract.  He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and barred from future employment with the Federal Government.

*An ICE  Supervisory Special Agent pleaded guilty to stealing between $30,000 and $70,000 in government-owned equipment, including printer cartridges, flashlights, law enforcement equipment, and portable radios, and selling it on eBay.  He pleaded guilty to the thefts, resigned his position and was awaiting sentencing at the time of the report.

*A contractor to United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology pleaded guilty to stealing five DHS laptop computers worth more than $8,000 and selling them to various pawnshops in Maryland. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and $650 in restitution.

*An ICE Research Specialist pleaded guilty to improperly using his government-issued credit card, and his diplomatic passport, and submitting fraudulent travel vouchers for travel that cost more than $116,000.  He was sentenced to 145 months and 1 day of incarceration and 36 months of supervised release. 
*A Border Patrol Agent pleaded guilty in a tax and mortgage loan scheme in which  he purchased two homes by submitting false loan applications that contained grossly inflated income statements, then allowed the homes to go into foreclosure, resulting in a loss to two financial institutions of approximately $400,000. He later prepared and submitted false income tax returns that claimed the foreclosures as a loss. He pleaded guilty Wire Fraud and Tax Fraud.  His punishment was not specified in the report.

Those are all in one year, 2011, and only the "significant" items that were concluded in that year.   

According to the report, in total,  the Inspector General received and reviewed 19,848 allegations of wrongdoing involving DHS.  Those complaints resulted in 1,389 investigations being initiated, 318 arrests, 206 indictments, and 260 convictions.   In ONE YEAR.  And keep in mind that the Department of Homeland Security is a law enforcement agency--the folks we pay to keep us safe from criminals.

So, let's compare this news to West Nile.  So far this year, out of about 311 million people in the US, 1221 cases and 43 deaths have been reported.   This is about 4 cases per million people, and 1 death per ten million people.  

On the other hand, out of the approximately 225,000 people working for DHS, 260 were convicted in 2011 of a crime.   That means that at least 1 per 1000 DHS workers are criminals.   That would work out to 1,000 per 1 million, or 10,000 per 10 million.  So, DHS workers are 10,000 times more likely to be criminals than you are to die of West Nile. 

How about this?  Just in the "significant" case descriptions, there are listed 10 concluded cases of DHS workers trafficking drugs.  Out of 225,000 total workers, that comes out to 440 cases per ten million.  In other words, it's about 440 times as likely that a DHS worker is a drug trafficker than that he or she (or you) will die of West Nile.

Even pedophiles are well represented.  In the "significant" case listings, there are two concluded cases of DHS workers in possession of and trafficking child pornography.  2 per 225,000, or almost 9 cases per million.  So, statistically, you are 9 times more likely to have a pedophile in charge of patting down your kid or grandkid as you pass through an airport, than to die of West Nile. 

Now, I do recall hearing a snippet here or there on the news about some of this type of allegation regarding the DHS.  But, nothing even approaching the wall-to-wall coverage that West Nile is getting.  I haven't heard of Matt Lauer sitting down on the Today show with his earnest little face, getting up in the grill  of a DHS official about the "epidemic" of criminality in the government agencies charged with keeping us "safe,"  have you?

And even though this report has just been released (as of August 12), when I Googled "Department of Homeland Security" just now, on the first page of results, I got several DHS websites, a couple of news stories about supposed "threats" that are being talked about by DHS, and ONE, just one story about impropriety in the agency--a sexual harassment allegation against the ICE Chief of Staff.   In other words, not a peep about this report or the cases described in it.  

So, why is that?  Why do we hear so much hype and doom about a rather remote danger, and so precious little about the fact that our government is peppered with pedophiles, drug dealers, bribe takers, and thieves?  Well, my guess is because we get told just exactly what they want us to know.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Warm Squishy Pile

The past couple of days, annoyed by the mindless drivel that passes for news in our culture (Angelina marries/divorces ____ ), and inspired to try to inform people who don't run across my blog site, I've been commenting on stupidity that I've found in news websites. I know I'm not going to fix all stupid, but dammit, One Bite at a Time--right?

I had an interesting experience that I want to tell you about. I think it's instructive.

I was on a liberal-leaning news site and read the typical "sky is falling and we're all going to die" article about West Nile Virus. The headline screamed about the "alarming" increase in West Nile, and the article itself talked about how the hot weather this year was responsible for one of the "worst outbreaks" of West Nile "in history." It went on to say there are "four times" as many cases this year as average, and the rate of new cases is "accelerating." Good Lord, why didn't I buy that advance funeral plan!?

Then buried in the middle of the article were a few statistics that didn't quite make sense with the hair-on-fire narrative they were pushing. It said,
Only about 1 in 5 infected people get sick. Early symptoms can include fever, headache and body aches. Some recover in a matter of days. But 1 in 150 infected people will develop severe symptoms including neck stiffness, disorientation, coma and paralysis.
But they quickly returned to "alarming" rates of WNV in certain locations, how worrying it all is, and how they've been spraying the snot out of those areas, and right at the end, two little sentences of what seemed to me to be the most important part:
The best way to prevent West Nile disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Insect repellents, screens on doors and windows, and wearing long sleeves and pants are some of the recommended strategies. Also, empty standing water from buckets, kiddie pools and other places to discourage breeding.
There's the scenario. Now, I'm kind of a pragmatist when it comes to this kind of thing, and I hardly ever believe that the sky is falling, because it so rarely has. So I did a little research and went on the comments section and said that their article was slanted to make the problem seem worse than it is--"fear porn" I called it. And I presented facts to show why.

For example, in areas that have reported cases of the virus, only 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 mosquitoes actually carry it. Even once bitten and infected, only 20% of people get sick at all, and less than 1% of infected people get seriously ill. Among the people who do get seriously ill, only 3-15% have historically died of the disease. The majority of those are older people with compromised immune systems.

So, here's how I look at it. If I live in an affected area, statistically I will need to get between 100 and 500 mosquito bites to get infected with the virus. Then, once infected, there's an 80% chance I won't get sick at all. Even if I do get sick, I have a 99 percent chance it won't be serious--I'll have some body aches and fever and be good to go in a couple of days. Even if I'm the unlucky one in a hundred who gets seriously ill, I still have an 85-97 percent chance of survival. Overall, the chances of dying of this disease are between 1 and 3 in a million. That's hardly worth a spark, much less hair-on-fire.

If I don't live in an affected area, have a healthy immune system, drain standing water where the skeeters breed, avoid bites by wearing protective clothes and repellant and stay inside at dusk, well then, my chances of being dead from this are just about nil. And you know, statistically, we have a greater chance of dying in a car accident on any given day than of dying of West Nile all year. We also have a greater chance of dying by lightning than West Nile! And oddly, neither the "epidemic" of auto fatalities nor the "alarming outbreak" of deadly lightning strikes gets half the press as the annual, like-clockwork freak out over West Nile Virus.

So, I pointed this out in my comments. I said that this is not an issue we should be worrying about. I said the media is being irresponsible in the manner in which they are presenting this information, by scaring and inflaming people when they should be informing and calming people--because after all, it's a one-in-a-million thing.

And I got attacked. Two people pursued me through the comment boards, angrily telling me that this was "valuable public health information," that "epidemics" grow exponentially and in 1916-17 very few people got the Spanish flu but then in 1918, 20 million (!) people died of it, and that if I didn't like the information, I should just ignore it, because that "is the root of ignorance." There were exclamation points and capital letters, and more than a little snarky condescension. And only one guy made one comment defending what I said.

I tell this whole story because it showed me something really illuminating: people like to be scared. They especially like to be scared of something that they think can be controlled without effort on their part, say by public officials blanketing hundreds of square miles with synthetic pyrethroid toxins that may have adverse effects on human health, and that may kill a portion of mosquitoes but will also kill pollinators and beneficial insects that reduce the mosquito population, like dragonflies. But it will stop the threat, or so it seems.

It's handy, I suppose, to take all your stress and fear of the unknown, and all your insecurities and uncertainties, and rake them all up and put them in a warm squishy pile, and attach to it the unattractive image of a "villain," and then comfort yourself with the notion that someone else spraying a few thousand gallons of insecticide (or making a law, or putting someone in jail or dropping bombs) will take care of it all. Easy peasy. A nice neat solution that someone else has to take care of. And you can quickly resolve your anxiety and go back to your Facebook. At least until the next news item.

It occurred to me after I'd thought about it that it's sort of like the "jones" that you get as an addict when you need a fix, followed by the silken relief you feel when you use. Only their jones is their fear and anxiety, and their fix is the cooked-up, bumper-sticker-worthy solution that some nice man from the government always provides.

It seems that my experience in the comment boards was one of an interventionist, and my scrutiny of their fear addiction was just as anger-inducing as its substance-abuse counterpart. I had called attention to their addiction--found the fifth of gin hidden in the dog food bag and confronted them with it. And I threatened their convenient and familiar cycle--make warm squishy pile, attach villain, await savior, repeat--jones/fix/jones again.

People don't like to look at their own mind games. They don't like it when their red herring fears are debunked. They don't like to see that they are playing out a continual Hegelian dialectic cycle of "problem, reaction, solution" that keeps us focusing everywhere but where we should be.

Because if you can't focus on the mosquitoes (and the easy, if toxic, "solution" to them) you might have to focus on the real problems in the world. Those are much harder to get rid of than West Nile Virus, and they're not going to go away by someone else's action. Those, we're gonna have to get rid of ourselves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Acme Translating Services

Well, so there's been the huge flap in the news about candidate for Senate, Rep. Todd Akin (R)-MO. He's the one who basically said that there doesn't need to be an exception for rape in a desired prohibition on abortion, because it would be "very rare" that a "legitimate rape" would result in a pregnancy. This is because, apparently in Missouri at least, a woman's body is capable of preventing a pregnancy in the case of said "legitimate rape."

Now, presumably, Rep. Akin is meaning to distinguish "legitimate rape"--that's the kind perpetrated when a Black man rapes a white woman, or where the woman is so badly injured that the rapist can't claim she just "likes it rough"--from other alleged rapes, which are the illegitimate kind. All of this is so confusing, I thought I'd break out my handy-dandy Missouri Politician's Guide to the English Language to decode his heartfelt apology. This was originally posted by me as a comment on the CNN website's story online earlier this morning. I hope you find my translation illuminating.

AKIN POLITISPEAK: "Rape is an evil act. I used thewrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of twodaughters I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart forthe victims of sexual assault and I pray for them. The fact is rape can lead topregnancy. The truth is rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in thewords I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."

TRANSLATION: "Rape is what women want, most of the time. Because I am a geezerand a misogynist, I said what I reallybelieve--that most 'rapes' are just sour grapes because he didn't call the nextday. But then a bunch of pollsters toldme that my campaign funds would dry up for saying that, because big business,who is funding my campaign, can't afford to be associated with such a comment,since women make most of the buying decisions, and since at least one in fourof them have cried rape after he didn't call. So now I'm crying crocodile tears and saying sorry, so that maybe mycorporate sponsorship will have an out for giving me some more money to buy myvote in the Senate, if I'm so lucky as to be made a passenger on that gravytrain. Thank you and may my Lily-White,Male-Dominant, Christians-Only GOD bless your sorry, pathetic souls--even thoseof you wimmen."


Monday, August 20, 2012

A Familiar Ring

I found this video today in some of my internet travels. It's a documentary about "geo-engineering," and its effects on agriculture, food supply, and economics. Geo-engineering is a euphemism for weather modification, using chemical agents and other techniques. It sounds like science fiction, doesn't it? Unfortunately, I've become increasingly aware in the past couple of years that it might be "science," but in my opinion, it isn't fiction. For example, it doesn't take but a few minutes to find online the text of patents for technologies to modify weather. If people are patenting it, someone's doing it.

Now, a few years ago, anything that talked about geo-engineering or "chem-trails" got pegged as tinfoil hat territory. But lately it seems that many people are noticing evidence that something big has changed in the eco-system--increased respiratory disease, increased neurologic disease, increased severe weather events, changing weather patterns, and more--and the dots, when you follow them, seem to lead not just to run-of-the-mill pollution, but to geo-engineering.

Do yourself a favor and watch this film. After you watch, if you want to conclude it's craziness, be my guest. (If you're new to the subject, you might want to search for the predecessor to this film, called What in the World are They Spraying? first.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Important Hour

If you don't understand how everything can have gone so wrong in the world in recent years, you need to spend an hour watching this movie. . .

Update: I used to have an imbedded YouTube video here, but it has been squashed, probably because so many people are watching it, so here's the place to go to watch it. Just paste this address in your browser's address window:

Go watch it quick before it gets squashed there, too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Buhingie--A Tale of Reality

Once upon a time, there was a people called the Buhingie. The Buhingie lived in a remote part of the rain forest of the Amazon. They lived so deep in the forest that there was no contact with modern society. The Buhingie called themselves "The People."

The People knew only the forest; they had their hunting, fishing, and gathering of food, and dancing and artwork and rituals of thanks to the bounty of the forest, but no cell phones, no TV, no electricity, and no knowledge of anything outside of their own society. The wisemen of the People told stories of a world where men rode around in strange boxes that you didn't have to push or pull, instead of walking in the forest; where families lived not in the forest but in boxes all lined up on hard, hot trails where there were no animals except some dogs and cats who lived in the boxes too. The Trailmen, as they were called, didn't dance or hunt, or gather food, but they believed in worshipping pieces of paper and metal, and all they did was to trade these back and forth and carry stuff back and forth to their boxes.

The People pitied the poor Trailmen, who didn't know the beauty of the forest. They thought that the Trailmen must have been very primitive, to worship something so silly as paper or metal, instead of the Ancient Power of nature and the forest. The People were glad the Trailmen were only stories. They continued living the way the People had always lived--hunting and fishing and gathering food, and walking in the forest, and raising their children, and dancing and making art, and laughing and being grateful for their big beautiful forest, and for the Ancient Power that had given it all to the People, and they all lived happily ever after.

Ok, so now that you know the story of the Buhingie, I'd like to invite you to think about something. Reality, for a Buhingie, would be the forest and the People and the animals and their dancing and rituals and art and families. They didn't know about war, or cell phones, or theater shootings, or 9/11, or gang violence, or Walmart, or the Fed. They lived and died knowing only their peaceful world. Their reality was different from ours, right?

So, now think about this. What if the Buhingie story didn't end there? What if one day, a Buhingie named Bob wandered a bit further than usual from home, and ran across a bulldozer, clearing forest for a new banana plantation? "Reality" suddenly changes, doesn't it? What we "know" IS our reality, and it can change as quickly as we can change our mind.

So, once reality changes for hapless Buhingie Bob, what if he goes back to the People and tells them all about the new reality he found in the forest?  Then their reality changes, too--instantly.  

But if Buhingie Bob, appalled at what he sees, runs headlong into the construction project to try to save the trees, and he's run over by the bulldozer, then he never makes it back to the People, and they believe he's just gone--killed in an accident in the forest as sometimes happens--and their "reality" remains unchanged. Peaceful, bucolic, happy, and the Trailmen are just a story, a myth about some crazy society that has no forest and worships paper. Reality is nothing more than what we think we know about our surroundings.

So what if we changed what we know? What if we just said, 
yeah, yeah...there's all that bad stuff. But I know we can make it better. We can be kinder, more accepting, more loving. No, not WE...I.... I can make it better. I can be kinder, more accepting, more loving. I can quit dividing myself from others based on race, or how much money they have, or where they were born, or how they view God, or whatever. I can see those "others" as just like me, just other parts of a whole. I can forgive those other parts for being a problem, because hating them makes about as much sense as hating your foot when it hurts.

Well, first of all--the moment that I decide that I can do something to change the world--I've succeeded.  The world now has one less victim and one more activist, so the world has changed.   I've taken a touch of responsibility for my own experience in the world, and so I've changed too.  I created a new time-line in which I'm a 'do-er' instead of a 'do-ee.'  A shift in reality, due to one idea.

Not only that, but when I act upon my decision, even in a small way, I change the world a little more.  Maybe I write a blog that a few people read, and maybe something I say makes them think differently about some part of their lives.  And maybe they make their own new do-er timelines too.

Or maybe I do something that a victim doesn't do, but an activist does. I write a letter to a politician, or change the bank I do business with, or help someone struggling to get their groceries into their car.  And maybe someone notices the thing I do and that changes their reality, just a little.  And maybe that person decides to do one thing differently because of their shifted reality, and that changes even more.   Do you see?  I begin changing the world by changing my mind.  I actually create a different reality every time I change a mind--my own or someone else's. 

In this blog, I've often talked about changing the world, and I suspect that some, or many, of you have thought something like, "yeah, that's all well and good, but it's all just inspirational tripe.  Nothing's really going to change from all this happy talk and unicorns and rainbows.  We've got too many problems, and people are too evil and stupid, and it's all bound to end badly."    To any of you saying, "yep, that's exactly right," here's my response:

Just like the Buhingie, reality is only what we think we know.  So we're all going to get the reality we expect.  And we're all going to live in the world we create. Create a good one for yourself.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This Is Our Doing

Below is a video coming out of Aleppo, Syria, showing the summary execution of alleged loyalists to Syrian leader Bashar Assad. The guy at the beginning of the video--the "prisoner"--is a policeman who was taken from a police station, according to this article. The others, well, who knows what they are supposed to have been doing.

The folks doing the executing are the so-called freedom fighters that our government is bankrolling and supporting. Just to be clear--executing prisoners captured in a 'war' is a WAR CRIME. Ipso facto, our government is assisting war criminals in Syria. Just as we have in Libya. Just as we have in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. They're supposed to be the good guys. Watch the video. Do they look like good guys to you? Or bloodthirsty psychopaths?

This isn't someone else's doing. This is what's done in your name, with your money, maybe by your children if they're in the military. This is OUR doing. And if you can't or won't watch it--or if when you watch it you get sick to your stomach--why would you let it continue?

Twin Sons ?

A fellow reader of a blog, American Kabuki, sent in this analysis of photos of 'James Holmes,' the alleged Aurora movie theater shooter.

Just seeing the first frame--the two pics side by side--you can tell that just about every major feature is obviously different. The nose of the dark-haired pic is shaped differently--wider at the bridge, at the middle, and at the nostrils. The eyes of the dark-haired pic are narrower from lid to lid, whereas the red-haired pic has rounder, more open-looking eyes. They're also clearly a different color and the shape of the folds in the upper lids are different. The ears of the dark-haired pic are less pronounced and the whorls are shaped differently than those in the red-haired pic. The mouth of the dark-haired pic is thinner-lipped and the mouth is positioned higher on the face (the chin is longer) than in the red-haired pic. And finally, the neck of the dark-haired pic appears rounder and softer (less visible muscle definition) with a less-pronounced Adam's apple than the red-haired pic.

But look what happens further down, when 'GC' overlays the pictures and aligns them on different features.

Photo sent to me by CW

Photo Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald

Photo Courtesy (added 7/29/12)

Updated: 7/27/12 Reader GC sends the following:
My take on the two pics of "James Holmes"

Description of "Holmes" photos is as follows:
01: Best alignment. Subjects left ear was used as main alignment point.
Resized pic slightly so ear sizes matched.

02: Moved the faces apart vertically while keeping eyes and bridge of nose aligned.

03: Shrunk black haired pic till the noses matched in size. Aligned nostrils.

The nose is WAY off. So is the eye spacing.
Look at how small the first pic needed to be shrunk to make noses same size.
Black haired subject nose and head in general is larger.

Left ear was similar in both pics.

Feel free to reprint this email in your blog.

Enjoy, GC

So, I'm wondering why exactly the authorities and the media are showing us pics of what are CLEARLY TWO DIFFERENT MEN, and telling us both of them are James Holmes and both of them are guilty of being the "lone-wolf shooter" in the theater massacre. I wonder.

Update 8/4/2012: Having made myself use a modicum of technical savvy (not easy), I did my own experiment with a photo editor on the two pics. I took the two pics and sized them (proportionally) until the irises of the eyes lined up correctly.I then overlayed one on the other and made it a semi-transparent layer, to see how they matched up. They don't. At all. The most obvious difference is the distance of the mouth from the eyes--way different. These two are not the same man. Period. Here's my amateur effort.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Faking War

It isn't enough to just MAKE war. Now our government and media and those of complicit western countries are just blatantly making stuff up to try to justify an attack on Syria. Well, actually, that's been going on for a while, as I noted in this post back in March, when a young liar known as "Syria Danny" and CNNs Anderson Cooper did an interview where they made it look like the violence in Syria was worse than it actually was.
Now we're down to bad Photoshop jobs. Here's an image from Gizmodo:

Newspaper Uses Photoshop To Make Syria Look Even Worse Somehow

On the left is the article, from an Austrian newspaper, which plays up the impact of recent violence in Syria on "mothers." On the right is the real photo, from which the left's scene of utter devastation is created with a rather obvious paste job.

I wonder why they want to attack Syria so badly that they'll fake the reasons to do it? Hmmm.