Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I just wanna testify..."

"We live in a fragmented society. We are ignorant of what is being done to us. We are diverted by the absurd and political theater. We are afraid of terrorism, of losing our job and of carrying out acts of dissent. We are politically demobilized and paralyzed. We do not question the state religion of patriotic virtue, the war on terror or the military and security state. We are herded like sheep through airports by Homeland Security and, once we get through the metal detectors and body scanners, spontaneously applaud our men and women in uniform. As we become more insecure and afraid, we become more anxious. We are driven by fiercer and fiercer competition. We yearn for stability and protection. This is the genius of all systems of totalitarianism. The citizen’s highest hope finally becomes to be secure and left alone."

Chris Hedges' bio includes a Pulitzer prize and 2009 Online Journalist of the Year. He's one of the few truly deep, clear thinkers in America today. Read his How the Corporate State Wins Again, his recent column for Truthdig. Just fold up those rose colored glasses and see things through his eyes for a moment. See if you feel a great big wave of affirmation for what you sense is happening across the country. I find his writing inspiring (he does have a Masters In Divinity from Harvard). It's nice have your intuitions verified, clarified, and justified by someone qualified to know.

I'd like to give him a great big smack on the lips for being such a man of principle in a nation of wimps.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Time to brush up on our Agnotology.

Apparently the lies in the mediasphere are flying so fast and furiously someone invented a science to try and make sense of it all.

From an interview with Stanford science historian Robert Proctor posted by Jay Kernis on CNN blog.

"Just what is "agnotology?"

Agnotology is the science of ignorance. You can think of it as an effort to understand why there is so much ignorance in the world: how ignorance is created, the conditions helping it to flourish, what might help it be destroyed.

We live in a world full of ignorance, and this is not just a natural thing. There are institutions and movements that flourish by virtue of creating ignorance: ignorance is not entirely innocent.

CNN polling shows that 74 percent of independent voters believe that President Obama was born in the United States. But there are still those who question where he was born, and recently, Donald Trump has given numerous interviews defending his belief that President Obama may not have been born here. Would this be an example of the concept?

It certainly is. "Birther" ignorance is politically-twinged: Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to hold to this illusion, that Obama is not a U.S. citizen or, according to a NYT/CBS poll from just this week, only 33 percent of Republicans thought Obama was born in this country, vs. 45 percent believing he was not.

Democrats on this point are less in the dark. Political motivations can cloud what we believe to be true, and in this sense, too, ignorance is not innocent.

What causes culturally-induced ignorance—and is the truth—facts—an antidote?

Ignorance has many causes–and not all ignorance is even bad. We all know about TMI (too much information); there are things we would rather not know, that are better not to know. Forgetting can be a virtue.

But for things that we should know, there are unfortunately powerful political and economic forces trying to keep us in the dark. The tobacco industry for many years tried to undercut knowledge of the hazards of smoking; "doubt is our product" reads the secret internal industry memo.

Knowledge can be a dangerous thing, as powerful governments and corporations have long realized. Truth can be an antidote, but it must be fought for, the truth often encounters powerful resistance.

Do you have evidence that Americans may be becoming more ignorant?

It depends of course on the issue. Far more people know how to use computers, but far fewer people, I imagine, know how to make a fire from scratch in the woods. Our brains are only so big, and knowledge gained in one area often means squeezing out knowledge in some area.

The democratization of knowledge via the Internet has this double edge: it is easier to learn about many things, but many of those things are not true.

What are some other examples of ignorance that you are studying now or that concern you the most?

I am particularly interested in the power of governments and industry to create ignorance. We live in a world where there is a great deal of secret science–there are things people don't want you to know.

I'm interested in how polluters keep people ignorant of the dangers of their effluents (or products), and how governments hide the truth to maintain power.

I'm interested in the persistence of myths like creationism–the denial of evolutionary biology and the political allies that has both in the U.S. and abroad (Islamic creationism, for example).

I'm interested in the ignorance created by overspecialization, and by apathy amongst educators.

I'm interested in what I like to call "virtuous ignorance," which is the idea that governments or powerful industries should not have the right to know everything about you all the time.

Our whole "right to privacy" is a kind of virtuous, legally-respected sanction of ignorance, one could say: we all have things we would rather others not know–and that is a good thing.

What role do media play in all of this, and what could we do better?

Courage and devotion to the truth are key. The media has to challenge orthodoxy from whatever source, and to challenge ignorance, even when it comes from the powerful. Otherwise we (and they) they are just trumpets of darkness. "

"Trumpets of darkness"?

I LIKE it!

"Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance," is now in paperback.

And as it's Easter Monday, and I've just spend part of a day, like many people endeavoring to think outside the magical thinking box, discussing the whole Jesus, Resurrection, religion thing, here's a worthy quote from someone out there who's using their noodle. Simple, yet a truth that seems to elude most church going Republicans these days:

“The Gospels are incredibly short on issues we associate with modern 'values voting' — abortion and homosexuality, mostly — and incredibly long on reverence for the poor and disdain for the wealthy. Of course, that hasn't made much of a difference to the United States, which through its history, has combined religious piety with stunning accumulations of wealth.”
Jamelle Bouie,Christianity and Capitalism, American Prospect, April 20, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Have you seen this man?

The Next President of the United States?

Don't laugh ...

This guy's got everything he needs to win a US election:
* Plenty of money – check
* Nice tan (not orange like Boehner) – check
* Self-made millionaire (he could run for US Senate!) – check
* Former two term governor of a cool western state – check
* Get troops out of Afghanistan now – check
* Opposed war with Iraq (he sez)– check
* Blames Republicans for spending ( bipartisan) – check
* Worked his way through college as a construction worker (has a truck?) – check
* Wants to repeal the Republican Big Pharma prescription health care benefit –check
* Supports legalizing marajuana – big check with rednecks
* And closing our schools (why bother? Let's get high!)
* Climbed Mount Everest, & skis !

All these things play well with an electorate that hasn't been paying attention for thirty years and wants to feel better about itself, about the lies it swallowed whole while covering its ears and yelling "lalalalal" . So.. What's not to like?

Well...let's just take a sec and read that fine print at the bottom of his position paper, shall we? He wants to abolish Obamacare, cut Medicare, Medicaid (and make them block grants to the states so they can be pilfered worse than they already are by big health insurers), and cut defense spending, all by 43%. Raise the retirement age to 103 (kidding) ... and change Social Security, most likely not for the benefit of those who depend on it (now more than 70% of Americans over 65.) That weird porcupine hairdo might even go over well in a nation of folks living with nonstop bad hairdays.

Here's the amazing part of this story. No one in the media or anywhere else thinks he has a chance. HA! The guy is no flip flopper, people. He knows what he thinks. Issued no fewer than 750 vetoes during his governorship. Probably a died-in-the-wool Libertarian, and not the We-Are-A-Christian-Nation Tea Party wacko variety either. And not a one issue guy like the Paul clan. Looks to me like good bet for the Repug nomination and maybe the top job, if you're a credit card carrying member of that I've-Got-Mine-Fuck-You-You-Lazy-Ponce Patriots Club that's sweeping the nation.

He's gonna play well in Ohio. Check him out on Colbert a year ago. Pretty slick.

Watch Gary's inspiring video. Plod along as he trains breathlessly for a mythical athletic event. What a guy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pensee du jour...

"No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them. "

-Alan Watts, philosopher, writer, and speaker (1915-1973)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


You have to wonder if any of the congresscritters ever take the time for a walk around the ellipse to marvel at the blossoms. Might improve dey attitood to one of gratitude.

Sakura is a song we learned in the sixth grade choir at Saint Anthony's. In praise of cherry blossoms. Link here to hear how it sounds.

sakura sakura
noyama mo sato mo
mi-watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka
asahi ni niou
sakura sakura

In the Misc. category.....If you'd rather not pay for a subscription to the NY Times online now, or are just looking for a quick look at what's going on every morning in the news, I think this site, Reality Chex is one of the best condensed news sources I've found, with links to Times and other articles that you won't have to pay for. I'm getting to where I prefer it and BBC. They are both more efficient ways to get so much news than wading through the Times front page links. though i couldn't say why.

Who you callin DUMB AND DUMBER?

I caught this gem by a commenter to Chris Hedges' recent post on Truthdig discussing the deliberate dismantling of american public education. This commenter expresses what I've been trying to express for years, only far better than I've ever been able to manage. I think it's bril and right on the nose. If American public school teachers were half as bright and intelligible as this guy, we'd be in much better shape. Bold indicating thoughts I particularly endorse.

"I despair as many do of public education in this country, and was thankful to teach abroad for a number of years in the Third World where palpable hardships often made a life of the mind, formal or informal, at any level, a rigorous art; whereas in American schools, or at least middle income ones, snazzy infrastructure and special effects technology, and “feel good” pedagogy, disguise an appalling lack of substance, not to mention common sense.

But I can agree only in part with Chris Hedge’s critique. He does correctly identify the corporatist folly of Bloomberg’s “fast food” administrative franchise, and the threat that this thinking poses to public education. However, he does not mention how Schools of Education, who are largely responsible for molding the administrators and teachers that spend their waking hours in public schools, have also degraded the notion of schooling and of pedagogy, producing several generations of kids wallowing in “self esteem.” Many with “learning disorders” are given the best medication that “educationism” can supply, with the “best of intentions,” of course. To believe in the Enlightenment principle of public education should not give one license to ignore how sloppily that principle has been interpreted in America over the past forty years.

I don’t think there will be a renaissance of education fostered by either left or right idealogies. Idealogy, which is an oversimplification of thought, is part of the problem. For example, it isn’t “Which is better: Standardized testing or what is called “outcomes based” pedagogy?” The issue is that the standardized testing offered is shabby and shallow, and that the so-called “natural” pedagogy is mindless and vacuous. The surfeit of digital technology in the classroom wraps both balonies in a fancy skin.

American public education is a twin engine failure, and the airship is going into a tailspin, accelerated downwards by the gravity of general ignorance, increasing every day."

Nice to have sun now and then.

Back to work... later.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Anyone who isn't angry, isn't paying attention..

This week I'm busy tryin to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and enjoy the fact that spring ... yes, that generally slow, weak- assed version we get in Maine, is finally here. Fields are burning, croci are waving their puny colors like hungry birdlings begging to be noticed, sap buckets are hanging heavy off the trees, the redbud miasma fills the woods, and tractor trailers are pulling in and out of the docks all day delivering rich folks' floating entertainment centers. I got out the metal rake and spronged away, yanking leaves out of the struggling daffodils. Tryin to feel like a human being again ..

And I thought I'd check back in here, having been absent for weeks, working madly on my never finished novel. Thought maybe I'd say hey. It's been a rough month and I wondered if anyone missed me except Tee. What do I find but a nasty comment from Lori, the Dumb Blond (I"m blonde, so back off) who never laid eyes on me but felt the need to come on over here and tell me I'm an angry person because I called what she wrote the very stuff that is dumbing America down. (I can prove that statement, by the way, but I happened on her site on a day when the stupidity of american voters had really gotten to me. ) I check out her profile and find she feels compelled to tell us she's a Christian (why does she feel the need to tell me that? If your religion doesn't feel like a private thing to you, in my book you're a proselytizer, you label people by religion, which means your mind is closed) and a public grammar school teacher. Need I say more? Critical thinking, not her forte.

Anyway, people like to ask me what my plans are these days. I like saying I have none. Too often, when people ask you what your plans are, they're really insisting you must HAVE a plan. Got forbid anyone should take time off from their duties. I find that people with money, or who are used to the things and security money can buy, assume everyone can plan a future and waalaa! it will materialize. I like saying I have no plan, even though i do. In fact I have several. But it's a secret. One I only share with those I really trust. And that list shrinks every day. People who insist that a woman my age, who has accomplished much in her life, have a plan are the kind of folks who like to lecture those on time for those who are tardy. I say, f*@% 'em.

Or as Tee told me on the phone today (and was there ever a better sister/listener?):

All these people telling me I'm angry is really pissing me off!

Note: fair warning --- I'm back, less deferential than ever, so if you don't want to hear what i have to say, just head on over to some other site and best of luck to ya. Feel free to comment though if your comment is nasty, it will remain posted so long as it's funny, or has some redeeming feature, like facts or information .. obscenity, particularly of the sexist type, is not welcome.

Final Note: The Repubs will take the vote away from women next, after they insist every sexual encounter produce offspring for the Fatherland and every woman wear a veil.