Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gently Cynical Progress: Learning from the Wisdom of Eric Hoffer

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.--Eric Hoffer, the Longshoreman Philosopher
When my daughter, who's about to cast her very first vote for Barack Obama, was 6, she told me I couldn't be an atheist, because I had no faith. What I have, dear girl, is a healthy cynicism. So healthy, in fact, that it often too vigorously cares, and should shut up.

A gentle cynic himself, Eric Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, by Ronald Reagan. From his Wikipedia page:

Concerned about the rise of totalitarian governments, especially those of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, he tried to find the roots of these "madhouses" in human psychology. He discovered that fanaticism and self-righteousness are rooted in self-hatred, self-doubt, and insecurity. As he describes in The True Believer, a passionate obsession with the outside world or with the private lives of other people is merely a craven attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning in one's own life.

Self-righteous fanaticism describes well the current state of Religion and the GOP. Considering the control that Evangelical Airmen have over the US Air Force, one could say it is a very well-armed self-righteous fanaticism that has worked its way into our government. The Evangelical GOP favorite Mike Huckabee offers a stunning example of the Religious Right's successes in running candidates who are more and more theocratic. For these fanatics, religion is not an opiate. It is a crow bar for prying into your rights. It invades our homes, enslaves our women, controls our bodies, decides our law, and fuels our wars.

The US Constitution says your "highest" law is just that. Yours. If your highest law tells you to dictate religion through government, too bad. We call that unconstitutional. You must be stopped. Fascism and theocracy are crimes in this country. It's not a question of right or left. Over two centuries of American Progress proves that free religion is necessary if we are to have any other freedoms. Freedom from religion seems to be the basis for Peace on Earth.

Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.--2 Chr.15:13

With Gods like that, who needs Devils? How can any Christian read that and then criticize the Koran for calling for the murder of infidels? How can any Christian read that and let me live? I really don't care if there's a god or not, so I don't have to kill you. If you believe the Bible is the word of God, then you must kill me right now. Maybe you don't take the Bible literally. Maybe that just means you should pass amendments to the Constitution banning gay marriage and abortion while forcing prayer in public school and abstinence only sex education?

Maybe Satan wrote the Bible.

The Christian Right has slowly changed the GOP, which has painted itself into a red-white-and-blue cross-shaped corner. They are about to learn something else that Eric Hoffer learned about movements: without self-esteem, they go nowhere. Nothing demolishes self-esteem like failure.

Which brings me to George W Bush. His "...craven attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning..." probably feels downright Biblical to him. He thought God told him what to do. He thought wrong. Or Satan did it. Or something. Those left in the GOP who believe Bush has succeeded, that all is well, that Mike Huckabee will be the next President, will know the empty downsizing of failure soon enough. If Mike Huckabee wins the nomination, it will signal the end of Republican dominance in American politics.

Now we begin the slow, gently cynical progress toward sanity, reason, and tolerance.

Cross-posted at the Daily KOS and Street Prophets.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mixed Blessing: Daily Show and Colbert Report Returning Without Writers

Well, maybe it will be enough to satisfy my jones for some political humor. Or maybe it will just make me want more, thicker, jucier comedy. Or maybe these two guys really are pretty damn funny on their own. Their joint statement seems to say so:

We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Food for Los Angeles

Fruit carvings from Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles and southern California'Tis the season to eat. And if your house is anything like ours, you're getting tired of cooking and cleaning already. So, take a break! Order something special!

Emma Tate, who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a search engine marketing client of mine, runs an award winning catering company in Los Angeles that specializes in southern comfort foods. This time of year, comfort is exactly what you need, especially when it comes to food. Emma runs Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles, and has been comforting people with her food services for 25 years. It doesn't matter if you want full service catering and event planning, like for a wedding or Holiday party, or just some Red Velvet Cupcakes delivered to your place of business (your employees will love you forever), Culinary Delight Catering is the Los Angeles caterer for you!

If you would like to eat healthy for a change (or for at least a few meals) this holiday season, Emma's meal program can deliver healthy meals (designed for any special dietary needs) on a daily or weekly basis. If you want to take a delicious, yet still healthy, break from the Holiday eating season, these custom meals, delivered directly to your home or office, are a great way to take a break from cooking and still eat delicious, home-cooked food.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Viral Email Hatred - the Muslim "Christmas" Stamp Crap

EID StampAn otherwise regular person I know, someone with no obvious racial hatred of bigotry, forwarded an email calling for a "boycott" of a Muslim "Christmas" stamp. The mail itself, one of many we've all gotten, didn't really surprise me. The person who sent it did.

Here's my reply:

First of all, this is not a "Christmas" stamp, and it's not new. You can read the history of this "controversy" here.

Interesting that even "president" Bush promotes this stamp on the White House web site.

Now, if I were to go back in history, say, to the Panama invasion where American forces killed 3000 innocent civilians, and then I said that was a "Christian firebombing" of an entire city block, that wouldn't really be fair to the Christian religion, now would it? Or, what if we said that the 1,000,000 Iraqi Civilians killed in Iraq were the result of a "Christian" invasion? That wouldn't be fair.

I try to remember that when I see religious nuts like Muslim Bombers or the Reverend Fred Phelps (who shows up at soldiers' funerals saying they died because we condone homosexuality), that they do not represent their whole religion. That's why this email is obviously from a bigot, recirculated now from a probable Giuliani supporter who knows the Republicans are going to lose unless they scare everyone with the big bad Muslim bogey man.

About a year ago, the Muslim woman who lives around here was trying to get someone to give her car a jump. No one would help her. When I stopped, she was crying. Her kids were in the back seat crying. I felt so bad for her. She couldn't stop thanking me. She never bombed anyone. She was just grocery shopping.

Turns out that in this Mormon neighborhood, I--a devout agnostic--did the most "Christian" thing.

Furthermore, this email goes on to suggest that I'm not patriotic because I won't boycott this stamp. I'm so sick of these right wing nut cases saying that because I don't buy into their particular line of racist crap that I'm not patriotic. Please tell me who wrote this, or just send this mail back to them. I'd like to let them know that there are plenty of patriotic Americans who think it is people like them who are ruining this country. I'd like them to call me unpatriotic to my face.

Please keep sending me these things so I can point out how crazy and bigoted they are.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Canyon Country California Fire Pictures

Canyon Country CA fire picturesMy wife Robin took these pictures during the recent fire in our neighborhood. We've had fires around here before, but never could we see flames from our back yard. Many homes up on the hill near us were lost.

The smoke in the air, and the way the sun interacted with it, created an eerie look that Robin captured in these photographs, which we've posted over at our photo blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Local One Union Brothers on Strike

A stagehand friend of mine sent me this story about a typical Broadway stagehand, who's on strike. It reminded me a of great period in my career as a stagehand, and got me thinking about this crazy career.

Back in the summer of 2000, I went to New York to learn how to operate the automation for the LA version of The Lion King, which was built by Hudson Scenic. The New York version of the show was still running at the New Amsterdam Theatre, home to many great shows including the Ziegfeld Follies. We spent our days at Hudson's shop in Yonkers, and at night we went to the show where we watched and learned backstage. I'll never forget the tour Drew Sicardi, the head carpenter, gave us of the theater above the theater, known as the Roof Garden Theater, where a racier version of the Follies, the Midnight Frolics, played, starring Fanny Brice. It was just a concrete shell of a theatre, but I was amazed at the sense of history and the grooves in the floor where blocks of ice were put to cool the big theater downstairs.

I've been a stagehand for 20 years, but being backstage on Broadway welled up a sense of history and awe. Mostly I was amazed at how small the theaters are. Working in LA, space is usually never a problem (I say usually because I spent the last few years working in the Mark Taper Forum, where space is always a problem). But in New York, especially on a show the size of The Lion King, I was amazed at how they got so much in such a small space. As if working backstage on a Broadway show isn't hard enough. Depending on the show, people scurry all over the place trying to do things at precisely the right moment. Traffic patterns, technical problems, actor variations, and many other variables make each show an adventure. The stress is enormous. So is the sense of accomplishment.

I got to know a lot of those IATSE Local One guys. Many of them came out to LA and helped install our Lion King at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. These are some of the hardest working guys in the world, and they have a very specialized set of skills. People don't really understand what stagecraft is all about. The hours are awful. The work--a combination of the worst aspects of movers, riggers, mechanics, electricians, technicians, and construction workers--is extremely hard. Perhaps the worst part is that usually the only time anyone notices a stagehand is when they screw up.

For this production--the strike--hopefully people are noticing the stagehands for a better reason. And when you hear from some anti-labor people how much the "typical" stagehand in New York makes, remember what they do and that they live and work in New York. It's all relative.

Hang in there guys. You've earned the respect you deserve.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

William Gibson on the Present

Check out this William Gibson interview in Rolling Stone.
You made your name as a science-fiction writer, but in your last two novels you've moved squarely into the present. Have you lost interest in the future?

It has to do with the nature of the present. If one had gone to talk to a publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door, they'd probably call security.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Academy Award Winner's Art

Tambi Larsen drawing Hawaiian fish - click for big version
Tambi Larsen won an Oscar in 1956, for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White. The movie was The Rose Tattoo, starring Burt Lancaster.

Tambi Larsen was also an accomplished artist who hung out in this Hawaii beach house in Kauai, creating Hawaiian art like this drawing (right). I'm working on the Hale Kilo I'a web site, and I've convinced Larsen's daughter, who owns and operates the Kauai vacation rental house, to continue posting Larsen's art on the site. Two of the drawings, including the one shown here, are available in big versions that make great computer backgrounds or desktop wallpaper.

Go check it out! The pictures of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai are also worth checking out, especially for all you snow-bound folks who want to think warm thoughts. And the good news is: for a private north-shore Kauai beach house, you'll find the Hale Kilo I'a quite affordable.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Get your Daily Show Fix

This hilarious bit from Daily Show writer Jason Ross will help all you Daily Show fans who are suffering withdrawals. We even had to take the season pass off our Tivo, because we've seen all these reruns. Thanks, Jason, for explaining this strike to my kids in such a creative way. Now I feel like I should send money.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dare to Colbert

Dare to Colbert! Stephen Colbert T-Shirts available in organic cotton and made in the USAWe're big fans of Stephen Colbert. We think that watching his show, The Colbert Report, actually makes people smarter. So, we're all for encouraging people to watch. Even the repeats...

Of course, if you're one of the 25% if Americans who think Colbert was picking on the most powerful man on earth during the now famous correspondent's dinner, you probably want him arrested and waterboarded, like you do anyone else you disagree with. So, you Bush lovers probably won't care for one of these Dare to Colbert T-shirts (available in organic cotton and made in the USA). For you Bush lovers, we're working on a pesticide-ridden, made-with-slave-labor-in-some-freedom-hating-country t-shirt depicting Adam and Eve riding to church on dinosaurs, er, Jesus horses (if we don't create those shirts soon, you'll know it's because we couldn't work out a way to get royalties to Tina Fey).

These are great gifts for all the Colbert fans out there who are suffering withdrawals during this writer's strike. Help make the world a smarter place. Help spread the news. Dare to Colbert!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tool for Manipulating Reality

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.--Philip K. Dick
The word manipulators, as most of you stuck watching reruns of Colbert know, are on strike. At issue are a few pennies of the billions in profit the producers make by manipulating reality. If the writers got everything they asked for, some producer's daughter somewhere might have to settle for factory rims on her new Mercedes when she heads off to her Ivy League college next fall.

So, the dominoes are starting to fall. Here in LA, the backstage people in my union, IATSE Local 33, are already losing their jobs. We've been told that because of the "no-strike" conditions in our contracts, we cannot honor the writers' lines. We must go to work. Funny, that, since without the word manipulators, there is no reality to manipulate, no work to be done. Soaps, sit-coms, Leno... All shut down.

Those of us who do have work to go to have been told not to write anything if we're asked. You know, because that happens all the time. There have been times, while I'm sitting on top of an A Ladder focusing a light that those damn producers just won't quit bugging me to rewrite that last scene. So, that's how we stagehands are showing solidarity for our writer friends. We're refusing to write.

A grip I knew died recently. He had a sign in his truck that said:

Good, fast, cheap: pick two.

Like so many other businesses in this world, the reality manipulation people are going with fast and cheap these days. Just don't see too many orders for good anymore.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Politics without Principles

In human society, all violence can be traced back to these seven recurrent blunders: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles.

Mohandas K. Ghandi (મોહનદાસ કરમચંદ ગાંધી), Young India, Oct. 22, 1925 reproduced in: Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 135

Monday, September 10, 2007

Katie Couric's EPA: protecting people from the environment

During the ground zero workers' health story on 60 Minutes last night, Katie Couric actually said to Christie Todd Whitman:
But with all due respect, your job as the head of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, is to protect people from the environment. Did you really do it?

[Cross-posted at the Daily KOS]

I had to note this here, because my family hates the way I scream at the TV. I think I had an aneurysm when she said that.

How could you better sum up the anthropocentrism that is ruining this world? I know she was trying to pin Whitman, or some such wrestling verb that really doesn't apply, but to reverse the logic behind one of the most important agencies in US history is positively, uh, well, Republican. When the EPA was founded, Republicans still argued that it was in the human interest to protect the environment from us. Now apparently, the EPA is here to buy SurvivaBalls from Halliburton.

Why is it that I, with my little BA in Philosophy and an underpaid existence as a Web Site Promoter, can figure this out, but a network news magazine show can't? I mean, does Couric write this stuff? They must have people who check these things? Right?

I was a union stagehand for 20 years. I worked in news. I lit Cokie Roberts (u~g~g~h~h~h~h~h - shudder like Bart and Lisa imagining Patty and Selma naked). I've smoked cigarettes with Al Michaels (OK, sports are news too). These are capitalist giants practicing corporate-centrism. Don't they realize that it's in their best interests to be accurate? Have they not caught on to the "truthiness" thing?

I could go on, but why? As News Corpse pointed out today, KOS Envy is spreading in the right-wing-bat-shit-crazy-o-sphere, and if they can't see that it's my ability to post this that makes the KOS work, well, fuck 'em.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hawaii Beach Accommodation

Our newest search engine marketing clients rent their gorgeous beach house on the Island of Kauai to anyone who wants to experience Aloha away from the crowded resorts. Their site now features detailed descriptions and fantastic pictures of the Kauai beach house, the Hale Kilo I’a (House Where You Watch Fish), a quick guide to the highlights of the island of Kauai including great pictures of the island, links to places of interest on Kauai, and more!

Even if you're not going to be vacationing in Hawaii any time soon, just check out this great Hawaii beach house for the sheer beauty of it!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Six Countries Responsible for More Than Nine of Ten Known Executions Last Year

The economist has an interesting piece on capital punishment, Here is they sting - More and more countries have doubts about the death penalty. One of the more interesting points in this gruesome accounting of world wide executions is that just six countries are responsible for more than 9 out of ten known executions last year.

Care to guess the six countries?

Oh, we're in good company on this regard, as many of you may have already guessed. The six countries responsible for more than 90% of executions are, in order of contribution, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the United States. That's right. We were ahead of Saudi Arabia in total executions last year. Iraq jumped back into the top six after the death penalty was suspended after the invasion. Now, desertion from the Iraqi Army is punishable by death.

The article notes that the total number of executions varies wildly from year to year, but the number of countries that allow executions has

fallen steadily from 40 a decade ago to just 25 last year. Since 1985, 55 countries have ended the death penalty or, having already limited it to “extraordinary” crimes (such as those committed in wartime), have now banned it outright.

Seems that worldwide, there is a growing aversion to the death penalty. Even in the US, public sentiment is leaning toward a moratorium. After the botched lethal injection of Angel Diaz, even Florida (where Jeb seemed to be enjoying a little sibling rivalry with GW on this score) has suspended executions while the state looks into the "humanity and constitutionality" of lethal injections.

Even China, by far the world's biggest executioner, has made strides toward changing their methods and reducing the overall number.

Since January 1st all death sentences have had first to be approved by the Supreme People's Court—a practice that had been suspended after the launch of China's “strike hard” crackdown on crime in 2003, when publicly admitted executions soared to more than 7,000. In their annual report to parliament last month, representatives of China's chief legal bodies, including the Supreme People's Court, the public prosecutor's office and the ministries for justice and the police, urged a reduction in use of the death penalty (as well as torture).

Last month, a Chinese delegate to the UN Human Rights Council said he was confident the death penalty in China will be abolished, although some think this might be window dressing for the Olympics. The story reports that at least China is moving away from firing squads to lethal injection.

The US, Japan, India, South Korea, and Taiwan are the only democracies to still have the death penalty. To me, that provides hope that we can, at least in those countries, create a netroots opposition that will at least force candidates to address the issue. Considering that more than 120 people since 1973 have been found to have been wrongly sentenced to death, there is certainly a moral argument for a moratorium.

For me, though, the logical argument is still the best: I don't hit my kids when I tell them not to hit people.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Roscoe Lee Browne (1925 -2007)

I never met Roscoe Lee Browne, who died April 11, but here in the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles right now, they're holding a memorial service that is, well, astounding. What a man. Laurence Fishburne just finished speaking, a very moving speech, reminiscing about the time he spent with Browne, with whom he performed on this very stage in Two Trains Running.

Gordon Davidson, former Artistic Director of the Center Theater Group is speaking now, and coming up will be Sidney Poitier and Martin Sheen. When Gordon got up there, he said, "I'm Gordon Davidson, and I used to own this theater!"

If you head over to Browne's IMDB page, you'll see in the trivia section that he set the world record in the 800 meter run in 1952. His nephew, who's speaking now, said that when they were playing hide and seek, the other kids would make him wear over-sized sneakers. He was just that fast.

What will jump out at you, though, is the impressive list of work in TV and Film this man created. From what I'm gathering from this service so far, though, is that this incredible man was a creature of the theater. Check out his Internet Broadway Database page. Check out his Wikipedia page. Dig the education. Note the Shakespeare work.


In the big recording of life, it's tough to lay down that many great tracks.

I'll be posting some wav files of Mr. Browne as soon as I can get them uploaded.

Brenda Vaccaro is speaking now. She said that Roscoe gave her her first great compliment, when she was 18. He said, "If I were a woman, I'd want to be you."

Martin Sheen said he and his wife wanted to come see him in a play here, so she called him and said, "Roscoe, we want to come see the play but we don't know what night you're dark, and Roscoe said 'Dear, I'm dark every night.'"

Anthony Zerbe started to speak, so we thought Sidney Poitier wasn't here. Anthony said, well, since Sidney's not here, and a voice rose from house right "I'm here."

Zerbe: "Would you like to say something?"

Portier: "I would."

What an entrance! Standing ovation. I wish I could hear better. Our show program mic isn't picking him up very well, because he's looking down to read his notes. He said when he and Roscoe realized that their bones were getting brittle, they had to accept it with grace. They were in Atlanta 8 weeks ago to accept and award, and he looked around and realized that he and Roscoe were the most brittle. That got a big laugh.

Now back to Anthony Zerbe, who did Behind the Broken Words here with Roscoe. They toured every year to at least one theater for the last 38 years to do Broken Words. One time, in Washington State, they were late, went onto a stage they'd never been on. They didn't know where the audience was, because the first scene was completely dark.

Roscoe: "Where are they dear?"

Zerbe: "We'll just have to listen for them."

And he started to choke up.

"He was the noblest man I ever met."

"Politically he was the most succinct man I knew: 'They're all dummies, dear.'"

Zerbe said when they were choosing a poem for the end of Broken Words, he came across a terrific little poem, and said "Roscoe, this is a great poem. Who wrote it?"

Roscoe: "I did, dear."

Zerbe: "We have to end the show with this, and you have to read it."

Roscoe: "Oh, no, dear."

Zerbe: "Let me put it this way: No poem, no show."

So, Roscoe agreed. And, in the program for the show, where the poems and their authors were listed, he insisted that he be listed in the "demure" R.L. Browne.

R. L. Browne

If the birds do not come
I, whose wings are cleft
And whose gentle talons
Hold you fast to my breast
And from whose throat comes only
The coarse, grey, and grating cry
Of extremity - where no music is -
I, if the birds do not come,
Will sing to you...

If the birds do not come,
Will you who are Spring and
Flight and all Music,
Will you sing to me,
if the birds do not come?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vonnegut on the Daily Show

From Kurt Vonnegut on the Daily Show:

"I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy—because we’re experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that’s what’s going on now."

Kurt Vonnegut is up in heaven now

From A Man Without a Country (Vonnegut 2005):

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Free Search Engine Marketing for Hawaii web site owner!

I have a Hawaii information and vacations blog which has been neglected for about a year now. I don't live in Hawaii anymore. Haven't visited in years now. I have clients there, mostly people with Maui vacation rentals (see last post). But none of them wants to write a blog.

Four or five paragraphs a week is all I ask. Basic "what's going on in Hawaii this week" stuff. So, now I'm offering free promotion for anyone who owns a Hawaii web site (it can be anything Hawaiian - travel, shopping, whatever), if they'll post 4 or 5 paragraphs per week (minimum) to my Hawaii blog. I'll even throw in some free search engine optimization tips.

Contact me if you're interested.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Maui Vacation Rentals from Olinda Country Cottages, Maui, Hawaii

Olinda Country Cottages recently updated their Maui vacation rentals web site. Included are new pictures of the Maui vacation rental estate in upcountry Olinda Maui. The views are spectacular from up there at 5000 feet, on the slopes of Mount Haleakala. The air is clear. There are no mosquitoes at that elevation. Haleakala National Park is minutes away, as is Hookipa State Beach Park, the windsurfing beach of Maui.

Olinda Maui is up the road from Makawao (home of the famous steak house), a funky art colony meets rodeo town in upcountry. The area features the famous rodeo, great art galleries, restaurants, hiking trails, horseback riding, and many other outdoor activities like golf, hang gliding, surfing, camping, and sight seeing.

Olinda Country's vacation rental cottages, cabins, and rooms are affordable and comfortable. The vacation rental estate is a great place for weddings, corporate retreats, and parties.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Will Tony Snow Do the Right Thing?

Cross Posted at Supak at the Daily KOS.

Isn't it ironic that a mouthpiece for the people who deny natural medicine (marijuana) to patients whose doctors have recommended it now might need that very medicine? Isn't it ironic that the mouth piece for the people who fought the Death with Dignity Act, passed by the good people of Oregon, now might want to move to Oregon for a peaceful, dignified death, rather than a painful, horrific one in an over-priced hospital bed?

See, those Republican policy positions DO have something to do with cancer, and suffering, and pain. Specifically, it has to do with all the people, including cancer patients, who have been told by this administration that they should just suffer because pot is BAD, and they should just die an agonizing death, because Euthenasia is BAD.

Yeah, not just coincidental. IRONIC.

And, frankly, maybe just a little Karmic. Because Tony Snow didn't just wish suffering on terminally ill patients, he promoted policy positions that ACTUALLY CAUSED SUFFERING for those patients.

Big difference.

Republicans often like to say that our soldiers have died for a worthy cause. Well, here's a chance for a big name Republican to do something worthwhile with what's left of his life.

He should come out in favor of medicinal marijuana and euthanasia. He should publicly renounce Republican positions on medical marijuana and euthanasia. He should apologize to all the patients who have suffered because of this administration's Dark Ages views on medicine and science (from stem cells to big pharma run FDA to poor or no health care for millions).

I'm not trying to say that Snow deserves this because he helped start a war where millions have suffered and hundreds of thousands have died? That's up to the Karma Gods. But I will say, that when it comes to policy decisions ON THIS EXACT POINT, then, yes, it looks like there's some Karma here.

What will Tony say if his doctor prescribes pot? What will Tony say about euthanasia when he's in horrific pain near the end of his life? Will Tony continue to parrot the party talking points on these issues when he's in pain and dying an agonizing death?

That's up to Tony. Do I care? Hell, yes. Because I don't want Tony Snow to suffer. I don't want anyone to suffer. I want them to learn. I want them to admit they were wrong. I want them to apologize to all the people whose suffering they have caused or intensified.

I want them to wake up and join the 21st Century! And if something like this is what it takes to get the Republican Party's head out of its ass on these issues, then Tony Snow's illness won't have been as big a waste as what we've lost in Iraq.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ian Masters Background Briefing

Every Sunday, even though I don't have to leave for work until a quarter after, I try to get in the car at noon so I can hear the whole second half of Ian Masters' Background Briefing, which I consider to be the best political show on radio. Masters, who appears here in LA on KPFK 90.7 fm and nationally on the Pacifica Radio network, is a BBC trained broadcast journalist, commentator, author, screenwriter, documentary filmmaker. His interviews are insightful, informative, and, often, scary as hell. He gets into the truth of matters that show how totally fucked this planet is. Honestly, after listening to his shows, I'm always amazed that human beings have survived as long as they have.

Just go look at the caliber of guests that appear on Background Briefing. Listen to a podcast. The sheer knowledge and intelligence that emanate from this broadcast is astounding. This isn't some lunatic leftist show. This is extremely serious, progressive examination of the issues of our day, from the middle east to energy independence. Since the Bush cabal took over this country, he has become a level headed journalist with the balls to critically examine the strategy and politics that have gotten us into one of the biggest messes in American history.

Lately, Masters has been extremely interested in the quest for war with Iran. Despite denials from the Bush Corporation, the Cheney cabal seems intent on attacking Iran, or at least setting the stage for an attack to be carried out by the next president (presumably John McCain or some other hawk who will keep the Cheney war machine intact).

If you're sick of main stream media, which discounts intelligent criticism of Bush when it comes from a so-called "Bush critic," then you need to listen to Masters. If you'd like to hear criticism that holds up to conservative scrutiny, because often the criticism comes from conservative guests of his show, then you need to listen to Masters. And tell your friends. If more people listened to shows like his, we'd have a much more educated electorate, and people like us could offer much more informed opinions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Report has 'smoking gun' on climate

AP science writer Seth Borenstein has a story out today about a report that is a 'smoking gun' on climate.
"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling."

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and study co-author, went even further: "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a batallion of intergalactic smoking missiles."
This is why I banned a wing nut called Caniac over at Questions for Christians. At first I let him spew his anti-science bullshit, but as it went on and got worse (he said he was sure I was the devil), I realized that he was so far out there that reason couldn't reach him. At that point, what's the point. Just a waste of time to read what he has to say, and an even bigger waste of time to try to convince him that what he and his oil company sponsored friends that not only are the wrong, but their continued denials of the problem are criminal.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Richard Montoya at Sundance Screenwriters Workshop

Got the new Culture Clash newsletter today. This bit of excellent news stood out:
Richard is currently at the Sundance Screenwriters workshop working on the film version of his play.
That would be last season's hit at the Mark Taper Forum, Water and Power. I told Richard at the time that it would make a great movie. The themes are universal, and the geo-specific references to LA and So Cal are explained gracefully or are obvious in context. He said he was going to try to get into the Sundance Workshop, and I congratulate him for his success. It will be a terrific film.

Culture Clash's first hit play at the Mark Taper Forum was Chavez Ravine, the story of the immigrant community that once existed on the site that is now Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Eat the Document out in paperback

My sister-in-law, Dana Spiotta, saw her second novel, Eat the Document, nominated for a National Book Award last year. It's now out in paperback. While updating her site, I poked around the net to see other mentions of her, and came upon this interview in Believer Magazine in which she said this:
Of course, ’70s American extremism really has nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism. Even tactically. If you’re a suicide bomber out to kill as many people as possible, it’s a lot different than the Weather Underground setting off a bomb in an empty office building. Not to say that it isn’t incredibly dangerous and irresponsible to do these things.

Certainly it’s harder than ever to engage the idea of revolutionary violence, even if the intention is only property damage. It’s hard to make it legible. But I always think the novelist should go to the culture’s dark places and poke around. Pose a lot of hard questions. Tell me it’s forbidden, unthinkable, and that’s where I want to go. Because the chances are it’s complicated, and the complications are meaningful. One of the things I was contemplating in Eat the Document-and I wasn’t trying to come down on one side or another-is that violence, even property damage that isn’t supposed to include human damage, really does have a profound cost on the perpetrators. One of the tragic aspects is that people were drawn to act out of desperation or naiveté, people who in many cases were trying to do good and then ending up in a very different place than where they expected to be. When I was doing the book, I thought, What would it be like to think about it, years later, after the fact? And surely you must. You know, you can imagine that if Katherine Ann Power lived in a different time her life might have been different. She might have made some different decisions if things didn’t line up the way they did.
Check it out. And buy the book.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Army's New Recruiting Tactic

Seems the army is either more desperate than we thought, or they just can't help making horrific mistakes:
Army urged dead soldiers to re-enlist

WASHINGTON - The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.
I wonder when the recruiters will show up outside here at the Mark Taper Forum to tap into the teenage deluge coming to see 13.