Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Stoned Ape Theory



Although some of Terence Mckenna's ideas are admittedly outlandish, the idea of mind altering drugs as having had something to do with the sudden growth of the human brain in our ancestors deserves further study and consideration.

The fossil record does demonstrate a quite sudden doubling in size of the human brain in a matter of an evolutionary blink of an eye (approximately a million years). Traditionally, the official theory that the anthropologists favor says that the shift was owed to an increase in the consumption of meat, and therefore of protein. One theory does not contradict other theories, however, and I think protein definitely fed the brain.

But another major change that happened was that as humans became savannah animals, and as they became meat eaters and hunters, they began following the herds. Mckenna's theory suggests that magic mushrooms would have been found in the dung of the animals that they herded or hunted.

Neuroscientists have recently begun to study the effects of meditation on the brain, using mainly Buddhists Lamas in their research. What they are finding is that the human brain is much more elastic and changeable than previously thought.

Not many similar studies have been performed with mind altering entheogens and their effect on the brain - and we must separate the chemical poisons that pass for drugs today versus the natural entheogens that shamans of antiquity and modernity have used to alter their perception, such as kava, ayahuasca, cannabis, peyote and mushrooms.

I suspect that funding will be hard to come by for such research in our current paradigm, but the meditation studies do suggest that altered states of mind do change the brain's chemistry and shape within one lifetime. Many generations of psychodelic mushroom users would have, therefore, experienced a huge shift in consciousness.

Some of the symptoms of magic mushrooms include glossolalia, which means that they not only very likely changed the shape of our ancestors' brain but also triggered an increase in more elaborate speech patterns.

I only had one experience with sacred mushrooms. It was when I was 18 years of age, it lasted about eight hours and I was laughing and in a state of ecstatic joy the whole time. The moon was full and the next day when I woke up, the entire Earth was filled with life to me. I felt love and a sense of being in unison with all of nature, including the grass, the trees. It is one of the most profound and beautiful spiritual experiences I've ever had.

Sometimes looking back I wish I had had a shaman to guide me, but when I think about the experience I remember that I did (the guy who provided the mushrooms was a self-denominated initiate who had had very deep shamanic experiences). I simply was not mature enough to understand what I was going through, and that innocence, that openness, was most likely crucial to the experience and I wouldn't change a thing. If I ever do it again, the only thing I would add is maybe the formality of a ceremony with an elder.

These entheogens have been with our ancestors from the dawn of time, and if we look far back enough we'll come across instances inevitably where these drugs must have had a huge effect on our ancestors's perceptions, maybe even for as few as five to ten generations each time. But that was enough for a spurt in brain growth.

My own suspicion is that there were several instances during human evolution where entheogens played a part in increasing and changing our brain and that art (and therefore religion and inventiveness), in any and all of its forms, as well as the parts of the brain engaged in it, most likely arose as part of a process that may have involved altered states of consciousness.

It's important to separate the potentially eureka theory of the stoned ape from some of Mckenna's other, more outlandish ideas (he believes mushrooms arrived on Earth from outer space). And it's also important to keep a broad perspective and not think that one theory excludes the others: the brain of our ancestors doubled in size in a relatively short period, in part due to meat eating, but also in part due to experiences that exercised the muscles of the brain and gave some human groups leverage over others and allowed them to better survive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christopher Hitchens dead at 62

April 13, 1949 - December 15, 2011
RIP Christopher Hitchens

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I AM PROUD TO BE
IN SOLIDARITY WITH CHICAGO HYATT HOTEL WORKERS

PLEASE SUPPORT THE HYATT BOYCOTT

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Human-like Life Could Exist on Newly-discovered Planet

This past Monday, NASA announced that its Kepler space telescope confirmed the first planet orbiting a star in its “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

Some scientists described this planet, known as Kepler 22B, as “Earth-like” with a star similar to our sun.

If it is truly made of rock, as some speculate, Dr. Boss says it might look something like our own Earth with probably a fair amount of water on it as well.

- Voanews.com article

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Juan Crow

I am reading the article Resisting Juan Crow in Alabama in disbelief, only days after celebrating our national harvest festival, Thanksgiving Day, which conmemorates those first undocumented aliens who arrived in this country centuries ago, the Mayflower pilgrims, and their encounter with the Native Americans.

Do we not know who we are?

There are so many ironies and so much cynicism in this, it just seems like a sick joke. According to the article the new Alabama laws, portions of which were already declared unconstitutional, would "make it a crime for the undocumented to work, travel, or own or rent a home ... and make it a felony for an alien ... to apply for a license plate, driver's license or business license. The law also denies immigrants state medical aid and makes it a crime for individuals or employers to hire, harbor, rent property to, or even give a ride to an undocumented immigrant."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We are the Many

Hawaiian singer Makana had the audacity to sing this song to world leaders gathered at the APEC gathering in Honolulu. Enjoy!

We Are The Many - Makana from Makana on Vimeo.



Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage
Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight
But laws of this Republic they rewrite
And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me
Their influence dictates legality
And until they are stopped we are not free

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons
But certain things belong to everyone
Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess
Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts
We occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You can't divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide
Denial serves to amplify
And our allegiance you can't buy

Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail
We will not reward those who fail
We will not move till we prevail

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many
You are the few

Fox News Gets Owned by Protesters Occupying Wall Street

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

‎"We aren’t doing anything for the people” - Sen. John McCain, while admitting that a third (a people's) party will emerge

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"You cannot serve both God and Manon" - Yeshua




One of the most shocking and prominent images of the Occupy Wall Street movement that have gone viral on the internet was the worship of the golden calf scene, where the iconic golden calf was fashioned to look like the Wall Street bull sculpture, shortly after the Occupy Wall Street Journal in its inaugural issue refered to Wall Street as America's financial Gomorrah.

It got me thinking about the role that religion has played historically both on the left and on the right. Just like the banks do in times of war, organized religions have oftentimes provided fuel and funding to all sides of the class war.

Many of the prominent privatizers of education in the US that are making education less a human right and more an unaffordable dream are Christian schools. The Christian Right has also contributed fiscally and with their votes and propaganda to politicians (most notorious and pernicious of all in recent years, the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton-Oil Cartel constellation) who have so faithfully served the interests of the corporate megabanks and the military industrial complex.

Today, one of the most radical and dangerous defenders of the capitalist-military-theocratic doctrine that carried most of the propaganda from the Bush years is Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon.

Of course, there is also a revolutionary Christianity of the left. And perhaps many of those who were carrying the golden calf at OWS represent the uprising of this New Left with a new voice, which is a welcome sight. But nonetheless, it has always been evident to me that religious leaders has been able hands of the ruling class and those in power throughout history, supporting even the most evil dictators: Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, all had faithful servants among the high clergy of the Catholic Church which has always exhibited fascist sympathies.

There are several very specific arguments that I will present on this article on why I think that the Christ was an anti-capitalist revolutionary (dare I say, a socialist?). Certainly, I am sure that if a person like Christ with his radical ideas was born for our generation, he would have been labeled a socialist or communist.

But most importantly, I will accentuate the fiscal and economic philosophy of the Christ - He had one. He was not neutral - and I will also place the fiscal philosophy of the Christ within the context of the current economic crisis.

On money

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. - Matthew 6:24


The very much countercultural notion of banking as being an immoral career is noted here. Banking, and 'serving money', is so against God that it is the antithesis of a godly life in the philosophy of the Christ.

Yet the debt-based Federal Reserve notes that we dignify by using as currency in the U.S. have in them the motto 'In God We Trust'. This turns money into a type of fetish, and blind faith in money is sold by the bankers as a godly virtue. THIS IS MANONISM.

I should note that our word 'credit' originates from the Latin word for faith, or creed. Money derives its value from the faith people put in it. It's a form of faith.

And so the very first issue that should be tackled has to do with the distortion or even hijacking of Christianity (and religion in general) by capitalism, particularly by the idea of the supposed inherent value of money. Now, in the Gospels this is what Christ said of the currency of his day:

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. - Matthew 22:21


... refering specifically to the face on the currency. This is the first of the ironies. We live in a country where the ruling class (the banking cartel) is accusing those who do not favor the use of the FOR-PROFIT currency that they issue, which is the chain that enslaves us through perpetual debt, of not trusting in God. What an interesting warning, then, are these words of Jesus when read within this context.

The bankers involve religious ideology into the scheme of faith-based currency backed by nothing of inherent value: and they do so while proposing a debt-based economy and interest-charging currency that enslaves everyone BUT the bankers and enslaves everyone TO the bankers, our masters.

In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market! - John 2:14-16


It requires a visceral disgust to perform an act such as this one. The problem was not just how lucrative the business of these merchants was, but the faith-based structure that supported it.

Jewish priests created a religious legal system based on guilt that called for animals to be sacrificed for a variety of sins, many of which were victimless crimes. Each one of these sacrifices had to be paid for (the Levite priests lived off the faith of the people) and each animal had to be purchased. It was a great business model, sustained by a well established religious tradition. That these sacrifices were unnecessary, and that people were being taken advantage of, seemed obvious to Jesus.

On Free Universal Health Care

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts: no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. - Matthew 10:8-10


While he calls for a living wage for people who provide health care, he clearly did not believe in for-profit health care. This is a very specific verse.

On Private Property

Jesus was against consumerism and encouraged his followers to own very few things.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. - Mark 6:8-9


On Debt Forgiveness

As critical as I am of Islam, one of the things that stand out in the current crisis is how much more sensible than ours the Islamic banking system is, with its strict prohibition of usury (charging interest) and its commonsense ideas about how currencies must have tangible value IN them (the approved Islamic currencies, the dirham and dinar, are silver- and gold- based).

In contrast, the central banks that dominate the world today issue debt-based, interest-charging currencies that produce wage-slavery everywhere and the appearance of scarcity in a planet where resources are vastly available.

Our economic system creates for many misery and wage-slavery in the midst of tremendous wealth. I propose that this is a serious moral crisis and a moral issue related to our values, not just a fiscal one.

One of the moral imperatives of our generation is to stand up to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and their national representatives including our own Federal Reserve, and to challenge their debt-based scheme. What follows is a parable about debt forgiveness.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

- Matthew 18:23-34


The context for the original parable was forgiveness of all debts, including moral transgressions, but the choice of imagery and themes, and the assertion of the fact that in antiquity those who could not pay their debts were sold into slavery makes a clear statement of the power exerted by the banking cartel, and their abuse of that power can be fully appreciated if we contrast the bank bailout versus the foreclosure crisis in light of this parable.

That is to say, the banks were forgiven their debts and taxpayers even paid the banks' private debts with public money, but then the banks foreclosed on the properties of millions of homeowners who were unable to pay their own, infinitely smaller, debts. Again, economic justice is one of the most serious moral issues of our day.

Later, in Matthew 25:26-27 the banking class and the practice of usury is compared here with a master who 'harvests where he has not sown and gathers where he has not scattered seed'. In other words, the act of hoarding money and then charging interest on money without producing anything is parasitical. The bankers reap the harvest and eat the fruits of other people's labor.

While it may not be said that Christ advocated for a Christian version of the banking system in the way that Muhammad advocated for an Islamic banking and monetary system, it does seem clear that he had much to say about the current economic paradigm that our civilization finds itself in.

It may be appropriate for progressive-minded Christians to consider the notion of developing an interest-free, ethical, conscious Christian banking system in light of the relevance of revolutionary Christianity as a doctrine of social justice when measured against the degradation of Manonism.

Class conscience in Christ's kingdom

Here is one of the most prominent Marxist aspects of the teachings of Jesus. Marx called for poor people to develop a strong sense of class consciousness and loyalty, he called for them to get organized and serve each other's needs, to abandon a false sense of class identity by identifying with the ruling class or allowing the ruling class to define their identities (in our case, as consumers).

A Marxist is required to identify with the poor, and ultimately the ideal is to have a classless society. The living Marxist tradition is a set of experiments, some more scientific and efficient than others, at creating something that approaches this classless, communist society. Many of these experiments are radical and utopian -and these usually have failed- whereas others like the social democracies of Scandinavia and Canada, are more pragmatic and successful.

The Christian message -and by this I don't mean the Bible in its entirety but the message of the Christ, which often rebels irreconciliably against Biblical tradition- is specifically designed for the poor and it specifically excludes the rich. In this sense, it is a revolutionary message and deeply resonates with Marxist tradition -as liberation theologians are quick to point out.

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. - Luke 6:20-21

The good news is proclaimed to the poor. - Matthew 11:5

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God". - Matthew 19:21-24


The rich man was told to sell everything he had and give it to the poor: this is today known as a socialist revolution. And it's presented as a non-negotiable pre-requisite to even consider oneself Christ's follower.

What this means is that in God's Kingdom, as Christ understood it, there were no social classes. The rich man had to identify as poor, he had to become poor, before he could enter the kingdom. For as long as there was poverty no one had the right to be rich and wealth was to be shared and made productive, not hoarded.

When I studied Christian teachings, I noticed that there was little commentary on Manonism as the counter-philosophy, the philosophy of injustice, of big fish eating the small fish. Now, from a distance and immersed in the current events in history I can much more clearly appreciate these teachings and their contrast with capitalism. Unfortunately very few modern churches will elaborate on this contrast as I have. But as for me, I offer this as a challenge: the current economic justice issues that we face today are more of a moral problem, and a crisis in values, than anything else. We cannot act in service of righteousness and of profit at once.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Remember Remember the 5th of November: Bank Transfer Day



"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy

Solidarity!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Message from Anonymous to the 99%

"We have reached a tipping point", says Anonymous

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'll believe a corporation is a person when Texas and Georgia start executing corporations. - Roger Rice

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's prophecy fulfilled

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. This issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of the moneyed corporations which already dare to challenge our Government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country"

- Thomas Jefferson, 1791


Flash forward to 2011, millions have had their homes foreclosed, are in debt, jobless and angry: Wall Street is occupied.

Most shockingly: know that the Federal Reserve note that we use today as our fiat (debt-based) currency is entirely illegal. Let's see:

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution
The Congress shall have Power . . .
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States; . . .


Also Section 10 of the Constitution forbids anything except the values of gold and silver to be fixed as legal tender. In other words, not debt but tangible assets, specifically gold and silver, must be fixed as legal tender.

Here's what kwaves.com has to say about the irony of our currency being used globally:

George Washington and the Dollar

It is unfortunate that the picture of George Washington is reflected on the $1 dollar bill today. His gift to us was a solid currency backed by gold and silver. He despised the false promises of fiat money, enough to encourage Congress to impose a death penalty for issuing the type of money he is now pictured on.


Ergo:

1. Only Congress has the power to create and fix the value of our legal tender, not a PRIVATE BANK owned by foreigners, such as the Federal Reserve;
2. The establishment of the Fed was inconstitutional;
3. George Washington would have punished the several banking families at the top of our financial pyramid with the death penalty;
4. Again, the Federal Reserve note that we use as currency is illegal;
and
5. It's undeniable on this day that Jefferson's prophecy is sadly fulfilled. It's as if the Founding Fathers were watching the day of judgement scenario taking place on Wall Street from above and saying: "We told you so!".

LEARN THE HISTORY OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE

RIP Wangari Mathaai

Monday, October 3, 2011

American Revolution has begun!

Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna maced women in an act of clear, unwarranted police brutality, and then there were mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge for absolutely no good reason. So, as if the NYPD didn't already look like total jerks, there's more disturbing news coming out about who's backing their movement to break up the peaceful Occupy Wall Street demonstration.

JPMorgan Chase -- one of the biggest banksters that Occupy Wall Street is standing up to -- made the largest donation in the history of the New York City Police Foundation to the NYPD's nonprofit organization ... just in the nick of time! They donated $4.6 million, supposedly to fund new laptops in patrol cars and security monitoring software.

$4.6 Million Donation to NYPD Smells Like a Payoff, news by The Stir


I encourage everyone to please find alternative news sources since conventional, Wall-Street-owned media refuses to cover the occupation of Wall Street, and stay informed. Cases of mass arrests and police brutality have been recorded by witnesses there and posted on youtube.

DemocracyNOW, RTAmerica, and a few other popularly controlled youtube channels and media outlets are doing the job that corporate media refuses to do. Please support them.

If a gathering of pro-corporatocracy Tea Partiers had manifestations this big, and most especially if 700 of them were arrested for no apparent reason or suffered police brutality, mainstream media would be on it. But this is a popular movement. These are the OTHER 99 %, and they're not puppets to the corporate powers.

The fact that the banking cartel is blatantly purchasing our military at the onset of the occupation of Wall Street, which is set to become America's Tahrir Square, shows that the banks are trembling before the mobs of people, but also that these powers are unscrupulous and dangerous and in spite of mass media's boycott of the reality there, all ears and eyes should be on Wall Street right now to ensure that violations of human rights do not continue to occur.

I am posting this in solidarity of my American revolutionary comrades who are there. I am proud of all of them. Please support alternative media outlets!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The official demands of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

also known as "We are the 99 %" whose wealth is the equivalent of only the top 400 wealthiest people in the US.

Official Demands
Proposed List of Demands

700 people were arrested over the weekend, and this was suspiciously not covered, or if covered it was dismissed by Wall-Street controlled conventional media. But they won't go away: they will stay on Wall Street until they get a fair hearing. I am very proud of these fellow Americans and in solidarity, will keep my readers posted.

SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE MEDIA
AND SUPPORT THE 99 %!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The 'New' American Revolution

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...

The Declaration of Independence




Jesse Ventura's open letter to the elite
You control our world. You've poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You've liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants to your decadence. You've stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You've profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living. You've monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education, and have almost extinguished our flame. We are hit... we are bleeding... but we ain't got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution!

Sincerely,

The Serfs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

American wage slavery hits a new low

I've been working for two companies that send temporary servers and bartenders to catered events, usually weddings, university and corporate events. Sometimes private homes. Lately the amount of work has dwindled to one or two shifts per week, and now like many Americans I'm having trouble paying my mortgage.

I'm already a frustrated worker, was displaced by Bank of America when they took over Lasalle Bank in 2008 and have been underemployed since. I'm noticing that employers are taking full advantage of the competitive job market by offering only part time and/or temporary work. Corporations are cutting costs and avoiding paying medical and other benefits. And as usual, our government is entirely pro-corporatocracy and hates poor and working Americans ...

But the powerlessness that I feel culminated in panic when I went to a job interview with a catering company a couple of days ago and was told that because they have a contract with one of the employment agencies that I work for where they're not able to take employees from them, that they're unable to offer me work. The contract includes a buy-out clause which makes it expensive for them to buy me out so that they can employ me.

After realizing that he had just informed me that I'm, well, a slave, that my labor and my person is entirely OWNED by a company that only offers me one shift per week, if that, and will not allow me to gain the dignity of a living wage through another employer, my interviewer felt uneasy and perhaps guilty about this arrangement that the two employers have and informed me that one way to get around it is to still hire me for the position we were discussing, but to do so through the employment agency, as a temp.

What this means is that they would more likely be paying MORE money for my labor, since instead of paying me directly they have to pay a portion of my labor to the temporary agency ... who, without performing any work, exploits my labor and takes a portion of the fruits of my hands. I signed away my labor when they hired me.

I imagine that if I hear back from this catering company, it will most likely be for a part time job through my temp agency, since other employees will constitute even cheaper labor by virtue of being hired directly and not through an agency.

And so in this new American labor culture of cutting costs and paying slave-masters for the wage of poor workers, I am basically fucked.

I don't know what it's gonna take for this country to get straight, for the American poor and working class to get its fair share of the pie. I'm so demoralized, so down, feel so betrayed by my corporatocratist government and the way it hates the poor and working American.

It's such a huge insult to our intelligence when the Republicans and capitalists in this country speak o 'trickle down economics' and all their rhetoric and propaganda. Wealth has NEVER trickled down. Those 'up there' are too greedy to let the trickle get to those of us 'down here'. They want more and more, and they're getting more because they OWN our government. For the last four decades, the wealth of the rich has literally multiplied while the wealth of the poor has remained static.

I recently read that a full third of the new home purchases were the result of foreclosures. There are numerous ways that the banking cartel and the wealthy are ensuring that more wealth passes from the hands of the poor, even the new poor who can't afford our homes, to the hands of the already wealthy who are still now able to buy new homes. The foreclosure craze is big business for long-term investors.

So is war. Costly as it is for the taxpayer, we know full well the connection between oil investors, military investors, and the Bush presidency. We know full well that Cheney used to be on the board of Halliburton and gave this corporation most contracts in Iraq. How much money was transacted in all this, that we'll probably never know. It may be so vulgar a truth, that it better stay hidden.

But this we allowed to happen because we thought ourselves powerless, and because so many ignorant and/or religious voters allowed themselves to be hypnotized and ensnared by media and by their leaders and voted against their own class interests.

Dear Fellow Americans: please realize that if you are living from paycheck to paycheck, YOU ARE NOT MIDDLE CLASS. YOU ARE POOR. You belong to a class of people who are voiceless, nameless, and when you watch the news, realize that they're being packaged by a particularly greedy breed of parasites that keep you poor.

I remember watching a news channel after the Japan earthquake earlier this year where, rather than a humanitarian crisis the discussion revolved around what stocks to buy in order to turn a quick profit: timber, they said, was to be the next bubble because of all the construction that was needed. Yesterday, hurricane Irene had not even left the northeastern tip of the U.S. and they were concerned for stockholders who held insurance stock. The news ended on a positive note, because only 40 % of the damage was covered and the insurance industry would not be hit so hard. How do these people sleep at night? Where are the values of those who watch and really believe this to be 'the news'?

They feed us so much bullshit! There's even a career description for capitalist propagandists, which was concocted specifically in order to avoid the word 'propaganda': Public Relations. This 'career path' was proposed by none other than the nephew of Freud, Edward Bernays, who effectively taught companies to use Freudian ideas regarding appealing to unconscious desires of people in order to sell them products and even ideas. This is a vast and interesting subject that I won't delve into, but anyone interested in pursuing will find much information online.

I refuse to close with a positive note. Things are not okay. I'm so ashamed of how my American dream was stolen. I don't know if I can recover it. I don't know what else to say. Or do. In my eyes we are, officially, a poor country plagued by a minority of powerful, vocal, wealthy, greedy pigs.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich is a letter written by the third richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, and published today in the New York Times.

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.

-William James

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Barsoom will come to life!

I just finished watching the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which I must say, is a great movie and now am looking forward to John Carter ...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pearls

More than 29,000 children under 5 have died from starvation over the last 90 days in Somalia due to a drought. This song is dedicated to our shared humanity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Banking on Heaven



A film that raises serious concerns about polygamy, as it is practiced by fundamentalist Mormons today.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"One person with a belief is equal to a force of 100,000 who have only interests."

- Fundamentalist Christian terrorist Behring Breivik, quoting British philosopher John Stuart Mill

RIP Amy Winehouse

I'm very saddened by the news of her death :(

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learn to speak what you feel,
and act what you speak


- Sai Baba

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

‎"The immune system, what it does is distinguish between me and the other, and when one falls in love, the loved one is not perceived as other by the body." - Amit Goswami, quantum physicist

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yeah, Focus on YOUR Family!

Focus on the Family Head: "We've Probably Lost" on Gay Marriage

Last week, a Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans support gay marriage. It was the third such survey this spring, and if you add in the number of Americans who support civil unions, public support for same-sex relationships has become the dominant position ... Even Jim Daly, president of the right-wing group Focus on the Family, seems to be waving the white flag. Here's what he told the evangelical World magazine in its June issue:

We're winning the younger generation on abortion, at least in theory. What about same-sex marriage? We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture.


... This isn't a permanent cease-fire; Daly merely thinks that Christians need to get their own marriages in order before lecturing from the moral high ground: "What if the Christian divorce rate goes from 40 percent to 10 percent or 5 percent, and the world's goes from 50 percent to 80 percent? Now we're back to the early centuries. They're looking at us and thinking, 'We want more of what they've got.'" As he puts it, "we should start with how to get dads reconnected to the family and committed to their marriages."

Come to think of it, isn't that what an organization called "Focus on the Family" should have been doing all along?

— By Tim Murphy

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gays are the Cause of End of World

... says Harold Camping of Family Radio, who predicted that the world ends today.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shiva Station



In the world of ecstatic bhajans, or Hindu devotionals, Jai Uttal is a major talent that most of the secular has missed out on. Please enjoy this talented musician with a BIG heart!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Death and the Skeptic

"The world began when I was born and the world is mine to win."
-Badger Clark


As much as the anthropocentric arrogance and subjectivity of the above statement contradict obvious facts, it could be said that every mind is a world and that the world begins, to each one of us, at birth and ends upon death. This adage represents an insight into the limited nature of our knowledge as mortals.

When I recently stumbled upon the picture of a much-beloved cousin of mine who died a couple of years back, I was flooded with memories and burst into tears, wishing that the dead could speak again; that they could hug us and give us comfort. Death is the parent of religious fantasies and beliefs of all kinds, which so often contradict each other. As a non-believer I have pondered and sought meaning for death, or at least a respite from the pain caused by it, in Buddhist and Epicurean ideas.
 
One tale about Siddhartha Buddha says that there was once a mother whose infant child died and she could not bear the pain. She heard of the miraculous man called Buddha and went to him in the hope that Buddha could resurrect her child. But Buddha's teaching centered on the acceptance of the impermanence of all things in order to avoid unnecessary suffering. How could he perpetuate the notion of eternal life?
 
And so Buddha told her to knock on every door in her village until she would find a household that did not know death. She began knocking on every door and every time she visited a home, the families would tell her that they were sorry but they did know death: a mother, a son, a brother, or a father had died, and they fondly shared memories of their loved ones with her. As she went from home to home, she realized that death was universal and the negative energy of her suffering was transmuted into empathy and com-passion, which translates as shared suffering.

Humbled, the woman went back to Buddha and thanked him for his teaching about impermanence.

This realization that it's not my pain but our pain, that we're all in the same boat—is where compassion originates, and it’s also why Buddha is a type of humanist icon. He taught that all true virtues could be cultivated simply by contemplating death, pain, and all other human experience with mindfulness.

There is no need for gods or supernatural theories in Buddhism, but locking hands with fellow human beings is essential to the realization of its humanist virtues. Epicurus said that good friends are one of the most important ingredients for happiness. We can suffer through almost anything, as long as we have wholesome associates and friends who walk the path with us and make us stronger. Alone we are usually weak but together we are usually strong.

Epicurus also said:

So death, the most frightening of bad things, is nothing to us; since when we exist death is not yet present, and when death is present, we do not exist. Therefore it is relevant neither to the living nor the dead, since it does not affect the former, and the latter do not exist. Most people flee death as the greatest of bad things and sometimes choose it as a relief from the bad things of life. But the wise man neither rejects life nor fears death.


Some critics of Epicurus claim that he does not factor in the complex human reaction to the finality of human life, particularly when such strong bonds exist between us. But this, again, is not unique to humanity. Apes, whales, dolphins, and elephants form lifelong bonds and the death of loved ones is extremely painful and traumatic. Elephants are known to visit the graves of their family members and mournfully observe what appears to be a solemn state when in presence of the bones of their ancestors.

This, some may argue, sounds like the beginning of spirituality in another species, and it probably is. At least it hints at the possibility of a sophisticated level of philosophical curiosity among elephants. But it doesn’t provide factual evidence for an afterlife: those are two quite different claims. Loving bonds between family members serve an evolutionary purpose, but they are not in any way evidence for the eternality of our individual minds, as painful as this realization is.
 
Death is final. This means that time is sacred in the sense that it cannot be recovered.

I respect the maturity with which Buddha preached on the universality of impermanence, which in Buddhist doctrine is considered one of the three marks of existence. Rather than entertain religious fantasies and the persistent belief in the afterlife, Zen Buddhists accept that there is only now. There is so much freedom and insight in this realization.

The simplest and most painful insight that we can take in with a smile is that it's okay.  Everyone dies. And everyone hurts. Paradoxically, crying and being vulnerable require true courage.
 
In the end, human life on Earth is the true wonder. We can think and breathe. And we, of all earthlings, have become aware of our presence and our place here after billions of years of evolution. Life, not death, should be our source of awe.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Star Wars Day!

MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU




I've always loved the Binary Sunset scene and song! A part of me imagines that one day in the far, far future the sons and daughters of humanity will reach a world with two suns and play this music and reminisce.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Draco

One of my favorite musicians has just been diagnosed with cancer. I'm saddened. This is an homage to Robi Draco Rosa :(



I'm here
so care for me
laugh with me
While I'm here smile just for a while


- Robi Draco Rosa

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The idea that business has a social responsibility is fundamentally subversive" - Milton Friedman, proponent of the failed policies of trickle-down economics

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Help stop "Don't pray Don't say"

As the economy struggles, US Military has spent THOUSANDS of US TAXPAYERS' DOLLARS in unconstitutional efforts to evangelize soldiers:

Archaeologists Discover First ‘Gay Caveman’

Kamila Remisova Vesinova and her team of researchers from the Czech Archeological Society believe they have unearthed the remains of an early homosexual man. The remains date from around 2900-2500 B.C., on the outskirts of Prague.

That claim stems from the fact the 5,000-year old skeleton was buried in a manner reserved for women in the Corded Ware culture: its head was pointed east rather than west, and its remains were surrounded by domestic jugs rather than by hammers, flint knives and weapons that typically accompany male remains.

“From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake,” Vesinova said at a press conference. “Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual.”

- Archaeologists Discover First ‘Gay Caveman’
... young people who were exposed to the most music, compared to those who listened to music the least, were 8.3 times more likely to be depressed.

... “At this point, it is not clear whether depressed people begin to listen to more music to escape, or whether listening to large amounts of music can lead to depression, or both. Either way, these findings may help clinicians and parents recognize links between media and depression,” Primack said.

“It also is important that reading was associated with less likelihood of depression. This is worth emphasizing because overall in the U.S., reading books is decreasing, while nearly all other forms of media use are increasing.”


- Teens More Into Music Than Reading More Likely To Be Depressed, a PsychCentral.com article

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

- Seneca

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Man is the joy of man

I counsel thee, Stray-Singer, accept my counsels,
they will be thy boon if thou obey'st them,
they will work thy weal if thou win'st them:
be never the first with friend of thine
to break the bond of fellowship;
care shall gnaw thy heart if thou canst not tell
all thy mind to another.
- Havamal 120

Young was I once, I walked alone,
and bewildered seemed in the way;
then I found me another and rich I thought me,
for man is the joy of man.
- Havamal 47

Hast thou a friend whom thou trustest well,
from whom thou cravest good?
Share thy mind with him, gifts exchange with him,
fare to find him oft.
- Havamal 44

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Milk Men



Turns out men have the exact same mammary glands and organ as women do and can breastfeed and the taboo against male lactation is only cultural and social, it has no biological foundation. For as long as men's nipples are frequently stimulated by suckling, they are perfectly able to produce milk.

Men in the Akan tribe in Africa breastfeed just as often as the women of their tribe do, and there have been notorious documented cases of breastfeeding fathers in Sri Lanka, Britain and the US including the case of a man who produced the full supply of milk for his baby for several months. Male breastfeeding is an ancient practice, in fact, and is even mentioned in the Bible.

Another fact that turned up as I researched male lactation is that when men spend long periods of time fasting, the body produces the hormone that starts the process of milk production. My theory is that this means that if there's a major famine and the community has scarce resources, male lactation is supposed to be the back up for female lactation to ensure that children get enough nutrients. This may be the evolutionary purpose of male lactation, which occurs in most mammal species to some degree or another: communities that embrace this practice may increase their survival rates in the future if there's a major global famine crisis.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

- Epicurus, my favorite Greek philosopher

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Diversity 301: Learning from Temple Grandin

My interest in autism stems from the recent diagnosis of my niece as autistic. There is a wide range of symptoms, most of which are believed to be caused by genetics although there has been speculation on the possibility of processed foods and heavy metals in the environment today as the cause but this has not been definitely proven.

My sister did have a history of eating disorders prior to giving birth, so I do suspect that processed foods in the American food market has much to do with the huge increase in the amount of autistic children born in our generation.

I just finished watching the movie Temple Grandin. I have a new hero. Here is a person with autism who was able to gain not only a sense of normaly but who earned a PhD.

Dr. Grandin opened the way for future generations of autistic people and showed the world the potential that these children have. Some people who have a new agey mindset have even included these children among the 'indigo' children, the new breed of highly evolved humans who think outside the box, who see the world differently, who have a different mind.

This is Diversity 301. I truly believe that our use of the idea of diversity as a human value, learning to respect people of different ethnicities and sexualities, that is only the beginning of a journey towards a fuller understanding of human nature. Diversity must also include what psychotherapists refer to as different personality types.

To truly understand human diversity, we need to understand the human mind in all its capacities, most of which we never fully develop because our education system is meant to help us gain job skills and be productive and oftentimes does not take into consideration individual psychological configurations. Autistic people think differently. They see the world in images, some live in a world of sound or process their thoughts as images because their brains are wired differently.

Different does not mean less: some autistic persons are geniuses. Mozart was autistic. So was Einstein. So is my niece :) She's in pre-school now in a special ed class, and is well ahead of her class in terms of her ability to put symbols or letters together, she can count and she leads the class when they sing songs! She appears to easily tune into songs and that makes her a very cheerful child.

Many of these persons, because of their peculiar gifts, in other cultures have been considered shamans and cultural scouts who discovered or invented new ways of doing things based on a new way of seeing reality, and then brought those gifts back to their tribe or culture.

Dr. Grandin gave a talk at TED entitled Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds where she talked about how she was able to think like a cow and engineered the infrastructure that is in use today in most of the farms in the US that ensures that cattle are treated humanely: her focus was on making sure that the animals remained calm throughout most of the process of the feeding, treatment and even slaughter. This is born from her compassion, but also from her ability to easily think like a cow, of mentally being able to become a cow which is something that shamans of more primal cultures are able to do: they are able to think like animals they see in nature and hence they are able to harness the abilities of these animals.

In the movie, the constrast in her mind between the cow that lives and how she suffers, experiences reality, thinks and feels during life versus the piece of meat that is left once the cow leaves her body in the slaughterhouse is enormous. Upon seeing the bodies of animals or people who had just died, she used to ask: "Where did it go?". In other words, she is attuned to the presence and the mind of the being who is there.

Most of the people that work in slaughterhouses are so used to their own cruelty and to the idea of cattle as commodities that the concept of a living being who thinks, suffers, experiences panic or calm, who has specific needs and who thinks in a certain way escapes them.

The comparison of Dr. Grandin with ancient shamans turns a bit sour when we consider that she was mockingly and dismissively called 'Dr. Doolittle' by one of her employers because she was trying to understand what the different kinds of mooing meant. In the end, she helped us to see the world as cows see it, and to more efficiently and compassionately handle them.

But there are also introverts and extraverts who all have different needs and skills, as well as people who have more of an emotional brain versus rational or intuitive brains. Many job descriptions require persons to be outgoing and people-persons, and while it is good to put in the extra umph and go outside of one's comfort zone, a person who is naturally predominantly introverted (about 50% of the population) may not have those skills and may instead have many other skills that involve the use of critical thinking and other skills that might be useful for the same position. By discouraging introversion, the job market robs itself of talent in order to appease mere superficiality.

Western culture has not yet embraced this idea of diversity in terms of how our brains differ and the kinds of gifts that autistic people or people of different brain configurations may bring to human civilization. Dr. Grandin gives all of us who have loved ones who are autistic hope, and she also represents an important paradigm shift and challenge in terms of human values and how we value and appreciate others.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Epicurus: My Kind of Philosopher

I hold the Epicurean philosophy in great respect. I find it to be the most wholesome and complete of the Greek philosophies, in fact it is the European version of Buddhism and I wish that the Christians in antiquity hadn't destroyed all of the philosophical schools, including the Epicurean Gardens.

These Gardens were great centers of learning and for friends to bond with friends. They were also very egalitarian. Epicurus dealt with women and even slaves as equals and all were invited to join in the philosophical discussions without anyone feeling like their intelligence was being insulted or underestimated. This was extremely progressive for his times.

Here is an entertaining look at Epicurus' wisdom. Cheers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hospitality verses from the Havamal

Hail, ye Givers! a guest is come;
say! where shall he sit within?
Much pressed is he who fain on the hearth
would seek for warmth and weal.

He hath need of fire, who now is come,
numbed with cold to the knee;
food and clothing the wanderer craves
who has fared o'er the rimy fell.


- Havamal, Stanzas 2-3

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Never tell the truth with anger or bitterness
nor tell a lie with sweetness.
Tell the truth with sweetness:
that is good character.

- Sai Baba

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Named must your fear be before banish it you can. - Jedi Master Yoda

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tron

I just finished watching the movie Tron: Legacy, and I must say for all the bad reviews it got, it was a decent movie. I do not feel that it deserved bad reviews.

I do think the themes have been explored differently before. But that's something we should be getting used to. Movies that were scary in the 80's no longer shock us today, as desensitized to violence as we've become.

Tron reminded me of the Matrix in many ways. It incorporated the philosophical and existencial questions raised by the Matrix, and even explored mythology as a sci-fi genre. Granted, the Matrix was not liked or understood by everyone. If you liked the Matrix, you'll probably like Tron.