Field-Notes On Nothing To Speak Of

Juan_Gris_-_Portrait_of_Pablo_Picasso_-_Google_Art_ProjectPity would be no more
If we did not make somebody Poor
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
– William Blake (The Human Abstract)

 

Tongue-tied and cross-fingered pretty much describes how I feel sometimes, especially when the obvious, is obviously not so obvious to the oblivious. There are some things that should just ‘go without saying’. Yet, when compelled to wag my tongue or bang out a few words on what might best described as a ‘duh’ no-brainer to me, I’m stumped and incredulously stupefied into a state of verbal impotence.

Since it’s always good advice not to ‘push too hard’ and risk a brain aneurysm, I’ve decided to share with you some simple observations I’ve made regarding the past week’s daily dander in my life. I’ll call them ‘interpersonal field notes on intrapersonal relations’. Make of them what you will and feel free to connect the dots. Associate freely at your own risk. At least they are better than droning on about ‘nothing to speak of’.

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The USNSA: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

USNSA-No Room Transparency“Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience … We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

– Barack Obama

 

Dystopia, Data-Mining and Distraction

This past week was a wake up call for many Americans living in the United States of the National Security Agency (USNSA) – a dystopia of their own making. Yes, yes, revelations came to light that ‘the powers that be’ had obtained a secret court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allowing it to basically gorge itself on tens of millions of phone records of Verizon customers. Surprise! Big Brother may not be watching, but he is listening. A short time later, information concerning the government’s PRISM program was revealed. It basically empowers the National Security Agency (NSA) to data-mine the emails and chat records of both Americans and foreigners abroad from some of the largest Internet based services, such as Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Google (SkyNet) and other web-based giants.

Of course, all of this should come as a shock to no one … except the obvious clear majority of easily led American ‘sheeple’ that believe the internet, or their phone lines, for that matter, are ‘private’, and that their personal data are protected under a supposed ‘right to privacy‘ guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution … (insert pregnant pause) … oh wait , sorry … such a right is not actually expressed in the Constitution. Chalk that up to yet another American collective misconception … or perhaps to good old Uncle Sam, an apparent trickster of sorts.

Makes you think twice about ‘cloud computing’, doesn’t it? Sure. Go ahead and back up all your data online. It’s safe and secure – and makes it that much easier for the NSA to access. And trust me, it’s not doing so for the Lulz. Similarly, you can understand why some folks stuff money into their mattresses; banks are neither safe nor secure. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and ask anyone that has ever had the misfortune of having the long-arm of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ‘beam into’ their savings accounts to settle a tax matter or two.

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Romney Shambles: A Sham For The Lambs

“Who let the dogs out? Who, who.” (Martin Luther King Day parade, 2008)
 
“I love this state. The trees are the right height.”
“I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.”
– Mitt Romney

 

 

Today in the USA is Labor Day, a public holiday. Most Americans are taking the day off and celebrating. Of course, many aren’t really sure what they’re celebrating … but shucks, who cares anyway, right? Let’s not sweat the details! After all, ignorance is bliss.

Mind you, many Americans are lost in a ‘glitterfried’ parade of gleeful ethnocentric sentiment, spoon-fed to them daily by neoconservative concerns and multinational corporations. The main designs of these true ‘powers that be’ are to make money, to consolidate ultimate power and to defend their assets, financial or otherwise.

Sound familiar? Glory be! It’s the new American Way! And, judging by the debt the average American carries, you can tell just how close to home these yearnings have been embraced by the asses … sorry, I meant masses.

Yes, it’s obvious these ‘controlling interests’ are doing their best to keep the gravy train rolling. They’ve done a fine job of ensuring that their ‘passions’ have ‘trickled down’ to the ‘average Joe’, as well! In fact, there’s even a clique called the ‘Republican Party’, aka The Grand Old Party (GOP), to which any feeble-minded conservative zealot can swear his, her or its allegiance. All are welcome, even Libertarians and Teabaggers! The party’s message is simple: feed the rich! Dig a bit deeper and you find the usual subliminal command, as well:  consume and conquer; the one with the most at the end wins … death is just a minor detail.

But of course, this is why organized religion (read: the extremist Judea-Christian bible humpers) has been recruited, to prod the sheep and lambs into believing there’s life after death for them … and that for the right donation (read: tax-deductible contribution), true believers and card-carrying conservatives can buy their way into heaven. Amen! Hallelujah! Charge it! Praise the Lord … and don’t forget to pass the ammunition, chimes the National Rile Association (NRA), another transmogrification of American right-wing political ideology, like the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Oh Lord, please let those ‘boolits’ from heaven rain down on us! Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect …

Speaking of ‘trickling down’, I guess you heard that Mitt Romney is now the GOP’s ‘de facto’ candidate for the President of the Unites States. Yes, this would-be ‘Emperor’ was duly christened in the pomp, romp and circumstance of the Republican National Convention (RNC). As promised in my last post, here’s a little more about good ole ‘Mittens’.

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The Grand Old Sham: The Republican National Convention

“Corporations are people, my friend.”
“I like being able to fire people.”
“I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
– Mitt Romney

 

My Fellow Americans (and any international Netizens who register more than a ‘blip’ on the IQ scale),

Forgive me for going political on you. Spare me your rising ire for daring to wax vitriolic about a concern that should be an affront to anyone who still possesses any ability to think for him/herself … or an iota of self-respect.

Question: Do you know when you are being insulted or patronized? In other words, if you’re brainwashed and you know it, clap your hands.

Today the Republican National Convention (RNC) will kick into full gear … full swing … full frontal. Yes, yes, we get see the ‘Grand Old Party’ (GOP) in all its glory, grandstanding for its so-called conservative strength brand of snake oil.

You do know what snake oil is, don’t you? A product of questionable value that claims to cure all of your ills. It’s a product whose only real value is to the sellers yearning to fleece you while profiting from your misery. This week, a large den of snake oil salesmen will be nesting at the RNC in Tampa. Their mission simply is to rob you blind. And yes, it will prove to be quite the ‘medicine show’!

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In Apathy We Trust (Never Mind The Drone)

“I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference.”
– Jack Kerouac
“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson

 

“Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know” is an exasperated cry often heard by the apathetic and scared. “Run for your lives!” often punctuates a panic, and many are all to eager to comply. Children are admonished to heed the words ‘curiosity killed the cat’. Build a bomb shelter, stick your head in a hole in the ground and live to hide another day.

And then there’s denial … obstinate denial. ‘It can’t be true!’ we exclaim. We don’t want to believe that which is perfectly obvious because some how or another we may become implicated. So, we shake our head, close our eyes, cover our ears and refuse to listen, see, care, feel and most other than behaviors that characterize us as living and breathing human beings. In light of this, maybe it’s true, as a friend of mine is wont to say, that ‘the dead ask the best questions’ … simply because many of us don’t.

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Drive Me To The Occupation

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
– Bob Dylan (The Times They Are A-Changin’)

 

Back when I was a teenager, I remember being eager to reach the legal age at which I could take the examination for a learner’s driving license. It wasn’t that I really thought I’d be driving, but I wanted the license just the same. It signified some rite of passage to me, I guess. License to go and be free.

A friend was kind enough to give me his copy of the ‘Driver Handbook’ published by the ‘Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (read: road hogs) to help me study for the required exam. One of the first things I remember reading were the words “In the state of Florida, driving is a PRIVILEGE.” The words sort of jumped right off the page and blind-sided me (almost as unnerving as the way in which Florida Highway Troopers (read: stormtroopers) would suddenly appear, riding your rear bumper, their blue lights a blazing). Before even delineating how one attains this privilege, the handbook launched into a list of how said privileges could be taken away. Words like ‘suspended’, ‘revoked’ & ‘incarceration’ seemed menacing … purposely so.

I’m sure you will agree that teenagers quickly catch on to what the word privilege means, especially because they are always being threatened with having theirs taken away. It does seem fairly sadistic to teach children the value of ‘liberty’ by robbing it of them every now and then. It’s even more perverse when the exercise has less to do with education and more to do simply with authoritarian ‘control’.

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In For A Penny: Debtors’ Prison In The USA

Debtors; Prison – Anywhere, USA

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

– Mahatma Ghandi
 
“The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens.”
– James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr.

 

I had a different post in mind for this week … until I read about the following news item that just made me sick:

Lisa Lindsay, a breast cancer survivor in Illinois, was arrested for a disputed $280 medical bill, which in fact she was told she did not have to pay. Nevertheless, the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and the next thing she knew, local State Troopers bombarded her home and hauled her off to jail in handcuffs. (Insert painful pregnant pause here) Yes, apparently in the United States of America – the home of the co-called ‘free’, debtors’ prisons, previously abolished in the 1830’s, are making a comeback.

You read this news item (links below) and you get the idea that there has to be more to this story. You get the feeling that the thousands of dollars that went into the arrest of this poor breast cancer survivor, over a billing error, just doesn’t make sense. But it’s true.

Folks, something is very wrong in the United States of America. Something that defies all logic and what might be referred to as ‘humanity’. Something that should be an insult to all … but it’s not. Instead, its ‘business’ as usual. It seems the game of ‘life’ is really just a game of ‘Monopoly’ to the government and Big Business. No money? Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go …

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Our Saving Disgrace: Economic Sheep Dip

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled
on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles
in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
– Bob Dylan (A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall)

 

This morning I awoke to the sound of a hard rain washing away yesterday’s fog. I’m an American; I live in Greece.

In the ‘States’, yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, in some respects a day that has become less about NFL football and more about big business and advertising. In Greece it was just a ‘lack of business’ as usual. While pre-game tail parties and the commercial brainwashing of Americans were in full swing, political theatrics were being played out by Greek technocrats and bureaucrats that have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the will of the people.

And, all the while bankers and ‘big business’ continue to turn the screws on ‘we’ the sheep.

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Slacker Talk: Loitering Thoughts On Life

I remember thinking this just can’t be right
Got to be a better way to live your life
Slow like a soft southern breeze
Nobody take time to breathe
Everybody always rush, rush, rush around
Rush, rush, rush around
Rush, rush, rush around
– Edie Brickell (Rush Around)

 

Some called him a Bohemian. Others said he was a slacker. In truth, it doesn’t matter what he was called; all that matters is what we learned from him.

Life is not about learning how to win or lose, as much as it’s about learning how to play and even enjoy the game. For many people, however, this and other life lessons are often lost in their rush to cling to their delusions about what life is really all about: the attainment of some ‘cracker jack prize’ or ‘hollow victory’, if you will. The morbid and honest truth is that rushing your way through life yields the same ‘trophy’ as those who take it slow: a tombstone.

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Grievously Lost In The Political Dialogue

Face_of_Statue_of_Liberty
I was doing time in the universal mind. I was feeling fine. 
I was turning keys, I was setting people free. 
I was doing all right. 
Then you came along, with a suitcase and a song. Turned my head around. 
Now I’m so alone, just looking for a home in every place I see. 
I’m the freedom man. That’s how lucky I am. 
– The Doors, Universal Mind 

Suffice it to say that I am my own worst enemy. “Don’t discuss sports, politics or religion”, I’ve often been told over and over by those who espouse mediocrity in the name of gaining more followers and building readership. “Stay away from socially sensitive topics”, I’ve been admonished. “Tell your story”, I’ve been told. “Fair enough”, I’ve answered, yielding a pensive pregnant pause, a harbinger of rebuttal. “However”, the boom is lowered, “as the conversations of my life manifest on a daily basis, and I seem to exist on a day to day basis”, I smile, “then all I can really do is share with you all how twisted some of these conversations are.” Yes, it’s easy to get lost in the discussion, and in my doing so you will learn volumes about who I am. “So let’s start with politics” he says as a groan is heard escaping somewhere from the bowels of a ‘platitude’ just north of hell.

It’s difficult to know where the conversation began. Most likely I pissed someone off as usual merely because I stated my opinion, which to be honest was probably more an exercise of my playing the devil’s advocate than my speaking from the depths of my own conviction. Nevertheless, despite my incessant ‘teasing the cat with a bit of string’ at some point my feelings in earnest do tend rise to the fore, meeting the occasion head on. Now mind you, I’m not a politician, nor am I really a student of politics. But I do know where I stand and on what soapbox my heart bleeds. There are some issues over which I become incensed, inflamed, stupefied, and just down right outraged … but never indignant.

This particular conversation occurred between ‘Heart Bleeder’ and ‘Freedom Man’, the former a so called Liberal, the latter a self-possessed Libertarian. Now, I do have a bone to pick with Libertarians, especially the ones who claim ‘liberty and freedom’ and apparently suggest that they know what the framers of the constitution originally had in mind, which is apparently what we all seem to have forgotten over the years. Yeah, I almost forgot they ‘love them some guns’ and think that in a true free market, a little hamburger shack opened in a formerly abandoned ‘Fotomat’ booth will be able to compete with McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. In other words, they don’t have a clue, but celebrate their right to live in denial anyway.

The conversation is joined already in progress. Trust me, you haven’t missed much…

Freedom Man:
So the question is for whose benefit will said regulations and statutes in reality be composed, especially given the fact that they are written by politicians beholden to Big Business?
Heart Bleeder:
If you are answering your own question, what’s the point in asking? Still, the obvious answer is to dispense with ‘Big Business’ and its corruptive influence and power.

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