This one might be close to even more insane that that last one… I can’t tell…. seems the whole world’s gone loony.

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OK, the cynical commentators (and who can blame them?) are calling it ugly PR/propaganda.  None the less, I find this video truly incredible.  (I can’t figure out how to post the vid, so go see it here).

Honestly, as a person and an observer of the human  experiment over time, I find that to be simply fascinating.  What the hell is that?

Things have been quiet around here, since the spring actually.  But even more so of late.  That’s the way it goes.  I work.  I raise a kid.  I bring in firewood and wash dishes and take out the trash.  And I read ‘One Fish Two Fish’ and try- for my own personal satisfaction above all else- to get the different sections in order, remembering 9 years ago when I was a daycare provider for 3 year olds and I read that book so often (at least twice a day for about 6 months!) that I could recite  the thing backwards and forwards; the kids would play this fun game where I’d “read” the page without looking at the book and then they’d make me describe the illustrations on the page.  Of course, they were 3, so I was always wrong (“it’s a yellow hat!” they’d protest, regardless of if it was of not).

I’m going back to that place, where life was an exploration, and fun, and fantastical.  I’m going back there and this time my co-pilot is my own kid.  I don’t know if you should be worried for her, or for yourselves.

Last week I went out back and cut down a perfectly healthy baby pine.  It’s not that I hate trees or believe Jesus will be coming down the chimney in a week.  It’s because it’s coming up on winter solstice, and there’s no better time to bring the living into your home and celebrate their slow, meaningless demise.

No, actually, it’s just my conservative side.  I like traditions; good ones anyway, about family and warmth and giving and Macy’s.

Besides, it’s all a part of my highly complicated land-management plan for our little homestead: remove enough trees for next year’s firewood, plus one baby evergreen.  If you do this, too, per every 10 acres you’re in charge of, you’ll preside over the most perfect chunk of earth imaginable.  Also, add an 18-pound eating, pooping, giggle machine for optimal results.  WARNING: said addition will be considerate enough to wake you up every 1 and a half or so throughout the night. Read the rest of this entry »

As per the thinking of Peter Kropotkin over 100 years ago, as well as that of contemporary integral theorists today, UC-Berkley gives us  this:

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish. In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.

In contrast to “every man for himself” interpretations of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychologist and author of “Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” and his fellow social scientists are building the case that humans are successful as a species precisely because of our nurturing, altruistic and compassionate traits.

They call it “survival of the kindest.”

“Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others,” said Keltner, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. “Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate. As Darwin long ago surmised, sympathy is our strongest instinct.”

Completely great post from Salon.com:

Lithuania is currently embroiled in a bizarre and deeply confusing political controversy which reveals what happens when a country becomes gripped by extremist ideologies.  Evidence has emerged that Lithuanian intelligence agencies allowed secret CIA prisons to be maintained in their country during the Bush era.  Just because such prisons would be “illegal” under the so-called “law” of Lithuania and various international conventions to which that nation is a signatory, irresponsible leaders of that country are demanding “investigations” and even possibly legal consequences if it turns out crimes were committed.  What kind of a backwards, primitive country would do something like this?

[I]ncreasingly, after years of issuing denials, Lithuania’s leaders are no longer ruling out the possibility that the CIA operated a secret prison in this northern European country of 3.5 million people, and that its government will have to deal with the fallout.

Last month, newly elected President Dalia Grybauskaite said she had “indirect suspicions” that the CIA reports might be true, and urged Parliament to investigate more thoroughly.

What sort of a newly elected President would get into office and then start demanding that actions From the Past — rather than the Future — be investigated, just because they might be “criminal”?  This deeply irresponsible Lithuanian leader apparently doesn’t care about inflaming partisan divisions, and worse, appears blind to the dangers of criminalizing policy disputes.  Even more outrageously, Lithuania faces one of the steepest recessions in all of Europe; obviously, this is a time, more than ever, that Lithuanians should be Looking to the Future, Not the Past.

Please make sure you head over and read the rest.

OK, Lou Dobbs is out at CNN.  Part of the story is “who fucking cares?”  But I think we’re capable of thinking clearer than that.

Apparently, CNN was so not into Lou Dobbs’ re-birth as an anti-immigrant xenophobe that they gladdly threw him $8 million to split ASAP rather than pay $12 million to keep him on their team for the next year and a half (the remaining length of his contract), decent ratings or not.  And while Dobbs’ late career move to the racist, anti-immigrant right is generally what he’s known for (that and his willingness to use his prime time slot on CNN to give quasi-legitimacy to the ‘birther’ movement) I see a little bit more here, and I find it somewhat fascinating.

Dobbs moved, after all, from being a boisterous cheer-leader for free market capitalism and neo liberalism (with all its WTO, IMF, NAFTA, etc alphebet soup glory) to being decidedly on the side of “middle class America”- lamenting U.S. corporatism and cronyism, as well as the rising pay inequality and umemployment of post-industiral America.  In so doing, Dobbs helps expose a dirty little trick of both the mainstream media and mainstream politicians: that the term “middle class” is code for “working white people”.  In post modern (post-industrial) society class analysis is far more complicated that Marx’ original observations or simple notions of haves, have-nots, or working class vs ruling class.  And it’s not enough, as has often been the case, to merely add in the middle class and call it an acurate breakdown of society.  But Dobbs aimed for and nailed a crucial part of the U.S. electorate: the working white folks, who often see immigration and immigrants (largely) as a threat to their own livelihoods or security at best, or a scary, un-trustable, evil unknown at worst.

And perhaps the most important word in that last sentence is “electorate”; not only because it notes that segment of the population’s relative voter turn-out (or, at least, capability of), but- more so- in a more true display of what wields power in capitalist America, because it is that segment of the population most apt to frivolously spend their money on complete and utter bull shit which, whether on the retail, wholesale, distribution, development, or marketing end, is taking the hard-earned money of one person and lining the pockets of someone up the chain.

Dobbs may certainly be best known for his immigration stance, but his surprising switch from corporate, free market stooge to “defender of the middle class” is far more interesting- and telling- than I often see it talked about.  “Middle class America” (i.e., working white people) is a substantial block- in terms of votes, but more importantly in terms of spending power.  The danger that Dobbs perpetuates is in confusing racial issues into the mix, by making it “us from here” (not literally as in Native Americans of course, but Northern Europeans) versus “those from there”.

Take this, sweetshop labor:

From the time Russell (Athletic) shut the factory (which fired 1200 workers in Honduras after they formed a union) last January, the anti-sweatshop coalition orchestrated a nationwide campaign against the company.  Most important, the coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, persuaded the administrations of Boston College, Columbia, Harvard, New York University, Stanford, Michigan, North Carolina and 89 other colleges and universities to sever or suspend their licensing agreements with Russell. The agreements – some yielding more than $1 million in sales – allowed Russell to put university logos on T-shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces.

Going beyond their campuses, student activists picketed the N.B.A. finals in Orlando and Los Angeles this year to protest the league’s licensing agreement with Russell. They distributed fliers inside Sports Authority sporting goods stores and sent Twitter messages to customers of Dick’s Sporting Goods to urge them to boycott Russell products.

The students even sent activists to knock on Warren Buffett’s door in Omaha because his company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns Fruit of the Loom, Russell’s parent company.

And climate change?  pleeeeze.  World-wide, people are mother-fucking ready for it; time to get on board, ruling class.

Speaking of the environment, I don’t frequent Z Magazine often enough:

A green energy expert once tried to convince me that even though rooftop micro wind turbines are useless or worse than useless in most situations, they’re still worth promoting because they encourage people to think about their emissions. It’s a bit like the argument used by anti-drugs campaigners: the soft stuff leads to the hard stuff.

I’ve never been convinced by this argument. In my experience, people use the soft stuff to justify their failure to engage with the hard stuff. Challenge someone about taking holiday flights six times a year and there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll say something along these lines:

I recycle everything and I re-use my plastic bags, so I’m really quite green.

(snip)

Being a cynical old git, I have always been deeply suspicious of the grand claims made for consumer democracy: that we can change the world by changing our buying habits. There are several problems with this approach:

• In a consumer democracy, some people have more votes than others, and those with the most votes are the least inclined to change a system that has served them so well.

• A change in consumption habits is seldom effective unless it is backed up by government action. You can give up your car for a bicycle – and fair play to you – but unless the government is simultaneously reducing the available road space, the place you’ve vacated will just be taken by someone who drives a less efficient car than you would have driven (traffic expands to fill the available road-space). Our power comes from acting as citizens – demanding political change – not acting as consumers.

• We are very good at deceiving ourselves about our impacts. We remember the good things we do and forget the bad ones.

Anyways, there’s always a belligerent Israel to look to for activist failure.

Speaking of activism, wasn’t Obama supposed to be ‘our’ (your) man? WTF?

Anyway, this post is suposed to be about the success of activism, so Put The Fun Between Your Legs:

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