23 December 2005

If only...

CIA Chief Admits To Torture After Six-Hour Beating, Electrocution

December 21, 2005 | The Onion, issue 41•51

LANGLEY, VA—An internal CIA investigation into the possible use of illegal and inhumane interrogation techniques produced a confession from CIA director Porter Goss Monday, with the aid of waterboarding, food and light deprivation, and the application of wire hangers hooked to a car battery to the testicles. "I did it. We did it. We all did it. The president knew. The president did it. Please, God, please stop," said a voice identified as Goss' on recordings produced by CIA auditors. "Stop, please stop. I'm sorry. I won't do it again. The president won't do it again. Please let me die." Critics of the methods used to obtain the information continue to claim that torture is an ineffective means of obtaining intelligence, pointing out that Goss did not sound sorry.

22 December 2005

Fucking bandits...

In a year of record budget deficits and tax cuts for the rich, the United States Senate voted late last night to cut programs for - you guessed it - students, the poor, and the elderly. Way to fucking go, you bastards.

Federal program cuts

The spending-cut bills passed by the House on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday would scale back funding for a range of federal programs over the next five years. Savings would amount to about $40 billion. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law after the House agrees to small changes made by the Senate.

  • Program: Student loans
    • Total cuts: $22 billion
    • Major changes: Charge graduates higher repayment rates; scale back government subsidies for banks and other lenders; reduce government administrative expenses.
  • Program: Medicare
    • Total cuts: $6 billion
    • Major changes: Charge high-income beneficiaries more for their insurance for doctor visits; reduce payments to managed care providers.
  • Program: Medicaid
    • Total cuts: $5 billion
    • Major changes: Tighten rules against sheltering assets for determining Medicaid eligibility; allow states to reduce services and charge higher co-payments, particularly for recipients above the poverty line.
  • Program: Pensions
    • Total cuts: $4 billion
    • Major changes: Raise the fee charged by the government to guarantee private pensions.
  • Program: Child support
    • Total cuts: $2 billion
    • Major changes: Cut federal aid to states for enforcement of child-support payments by parents.

21 December 2005

It's official: we live in a police state...

More plagiarism From C. William Michael's 2002 book ''No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of the National Security State'' (via Sean Gonsalves), here are the 12 most common characteristics of a national security state:

  1. Visible increase in uniformed security.
    Got that;
  2. Lack of accountability in law enforcement.
    George Tenet got a medal for his fine WMD work and ''Brownie'' was praised for doing "a heckuva job" in the Katrina aftermath;
  3. Reduced judiciary and executive treatment of suspects.
    Can you say ''detainee''?;
  4. Secrecy of ruling authority and momentum of threat.
    It's an open secret that this administration has taken official secrecy to a whole new level;
  5. Media in the service of the state.
    The Times held the eavesdropping story for a year, to say nothing of the WMD reporting of the major media in the run-up to the war;
  6. National resources devoted to security threat.
    The most recent budget passed in Congress speaks for itself;
  7. Patriotism moving to nationalism.
    Since 9-11, America was divided in two - between those who don't know the difference between patriotism and nationalism and those who are terrorist-sympathizing, blame-America-first traitors;
  8. Lack of critical response by religions.
    Name one prominent national church leader critical of the way U.S. power has been wielded. At this point, I'll settle for a religious leader who isn't telling their parishioners to vote Republican to stop abortion and gay rights or who isn't calling for the assassination of foreign leaders;
  9. Wartime mentality and permanent war economy.
    See any Bush speech;
  10. Targeted individuals and groups.
    Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org come to mind;
  11. Direct attack on dissent.
    See previous comment;
  12. Increased surveillance of citizenry.
    Or as it's being called now, a ''special collection program.''

20 December 2005

New York New York big city of dreams...

Yo folks... I'm going to NYC for New Year's!! Most everybody likely to read this probably knows already, but I just can't brag on this enough. Denise was going to go to London for a couple weeks, but it just didn't work out economically, and at a certain point it just occurred to me... why should she give up a perfectly good NYC - SD round trip? We'd have just ended up at some random San Diego bar, so why not do something memorable?

Little did I know what I set in motion. I already knew that Hyatt employees get reduced rates at Hyatt hotels, but as it turns out they actually get free nights at Hyatt hotels... so we're staying for two nights at the fucking Grand Hyatt New York - for free. And it turns out my high school girlfriend is going out of town for New Year's Eve, so we get to stay at her cool-ass Chelsea flat that night. So it's clear that this trip was totally meant to happen.

Not going to go into too much personal detail here, just to be sensitive to my girl's privacy... other than to note that we celebrated six months from the day we met, and it kicked major ass, and she knows how incredible she is, so 'nuff said. Me, I want to shout it from the rooftops, but not everybody is as big an exhibitionist as I am, so what can you do.

I'll write later about the news confirming that the country of my birth is now publicly acknowledged by the Presdent to be a dictatorship - "I do what I want, and fuck you if you don't like it" - but right now I'm feeling happy and in no mood to rage in my usual fashion.

Watchi this space, though...

16 December 2005

"A stick in McCain's eye..."

Who the fuck are they kidding? The media is all spinning Bush's deal on the so-called torture ban as a defeat for the president, but doesn't the media read... the media? There was an article in the New York Times way back on Wednesday where it was reported that the new classified addendum to the Army Field Manual will permit all sorts of new "interrogation techniques" (torture) such as "stress positions" (torture) and "sensory deprivation and humiliation" (torture).

Since the McCain "deal" involves making the Army Field Manual the standard by which "torture" is judged, then it would seem that McCain got screwed and Bush wins. Again.


13 December 2005

Resting in peace...

The state killed Tookie Williams at 0h35 this morning. I don't know enough about the case to be sure how I feel about it. I am against the death penalty. I am against locking someone in a cage for the extent of their life with no purpose.

What I would like to see, instead of the "retributive" justice we have in this country, is a true system of restorative justice. Let Tookie spend his life working in the community of the people he killed. Let him be a spokesman against gang violence, against hate between blacks and Asians. Let him work his ass off for the rest of his life for the families of the people he killed.

I understand the human desire for retribution... if someone killed a person I love, I would want to kill them with my own hands. And I'm a pacifist! But having the desire for retribution doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it smart policy. And it doesn't do anything to save future victims of violence.

RIP Stanley Williams.

RIP Albert Owens.

RIP Yang Yen-i.

RIP Yang Tsai-Shai Chen.

RIP Yang Lin Yu-Chin.

08 December 2005

Rumsfeld smacked down in press conference...

Marine General Peter Pace actually had to confront Rumsfeld in public when the Secretary of Defense said that American troops weren't supposed to stop Iraqis from torturing people.

"Obviously," the murderous fascist said, "the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of." Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disagreed. "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it."

Rumsfeld, his blood pressure probably peaking by now, snapped "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It's to report it."Then, the General contradicted his boss a second time, in public. You gotta love the fucking Marines.

Albert Einstein said, "only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe."

07 December 2005

"A working-class hero is something to be..."

I just read that Thursday will be twenty-five years since John Lennon's murder. I remember that dark, cold morning: December 8, 1980... I was - what? 14 years old, wow.

I woke up and turned on WMMR, and they were playing only John Lennon and Beatles tunes. The DJ came on and told me the news, and I remember distinctly the feeling of my whole world crashing down. I had just started getting into old Beatles, mostly the pre-Beatlemania stuff, but it wasn't like I was a Beatles freak. However, the news just devastated me, as it obviously did people who were a lot older than me. When the DJ reported that he was killed, he used the word "assassinated," which was weird 'cause I thought they just said that about Presidents and Kings, not rock stars...

I was totally freaked out, and I went into the kitchen and asking my mom, "Did you hear?" It was only then that I started to cry. I pulled it together in time for school, and in my History of Rock class (yes, my high school did have that as an elective) this girl Lynn Gallo asked me if I cried. I told her no, of course... didn't want her to think I was a pussy. All I really remember about the rest of that day was that I was the only person who was at all affected. I felt kind of the same way on September 11 in Hawai'i, when it seemed like I was the only person walking around like something deep and profound had broken in the world.

I just soaked up all the Lennon stuff on the radio and TV. I taped all 8 or whatever hours of the Andy Peebles BBC Lennon interviews off the radio and played them over and over again, in bed with my huge old headphones plugged into my Panasonic tape recorder, listening to John and Yoko talking about world peace. I've always had it in my head that his murder was my "radicalising event" in the way that old hippies had the assassination of JFK. When I look back on it now, though, I'm struck by how much Lennon's philosophy affected the development of my outlook on the world. I definitely became a leftist that day... however, I hadn't realised until just now that I also became a Buddhist on that day, though I didn't act on it until much later.

I've changed so much - and yet really so little - in the quarter century that passed since then. I think what I mean is that I tried at different points in my life to be someone different - doing drugs in my teens, joining a commune in my 20s - only to come back to the essential core which is who I was way back then. At this late date in my life - nearing 40!!! - I feel more like that long-ago teenager than I have in all the intervening years. It seems really important to hold faith with that dumb idealistic kid.

06 December 2005

To Whom It May Concern
(with apologies to Adrian Mitchell)

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Up on Mount Soledad drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

You put your "interrogators" in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

05 December 2005

All work and no play...

I am working my 12 hour shift right now. It's super intense in a certain sense, just being here for so damn long. On the other hand, it's Sunday night, it's quiet, and I'm not exhausted yet. On the one foot, though, there was this great yard party Celso had going for the Chargers-Raiders game, and it was a beautiful warm clear day and my baby was out of work by 3pm. On the other foot, I'm making good money. So it's a mixed bag.

I'm finally actually working on my Italian, as I had planned to do months ago. I'm just usually so mind-wasted that I can't do anything. I'm trying to really use my time better, and I think it is having a good effect. Just spacing out or reading tends to deaden the mind, while doing something actively that requires thought seems to keep the brain-fog down a bit.

I would be more depressed if there wasn't a light at the end of the tunnel; already Jeff, Dave, and - most importantly - Chris have told me that I will be coming off nights soon. Nobody can put a date on it but it is clear that they need me on days. It is going to be a revolution in my life to rejoin the human race, and I am really really hopeful that I can be back on days while Denise is on break. It's sort of amazing that our relationship hasn't been more stressed by our opposite schedules.

I really, really can't understand why the media lets the government get away with such obvious, patent untruths. They keep saying "we do not torture" but are fighting a law that makes it clear that torture is against the law (which it is already, even with so-called "enemy combatants"- under the Fourth Geneva Convention). They say that we're not flying people around to torture them, but that we need to fly people around to torture them because "we're at war" (we're not, actually). They lie and lie and lie, and have no shame because they know they can get away with it. I almost blame the media more - agree with them or not, at least the government has an agenda. What is the media's agenda, other than being butt-boys to power?

This is freaky but pretty cool... people fucking inside an MRI machine. I know it's a clinical and a little gross, but I've always been curious just where things go inside there. I paid attention in sex ed and all, but you know... seeing is believing.

30 November 2005

Time stands still...

Well, I wasn't looking forward to spending New Year's without D, but I was OK with it and happy for her... now that she's not going to London it's hard not to be disappointed. Obviously I'm really happy we get to spend New Year's together, but I wanted her to have her adventure. She works so damn hard and she deserves it. She's just fallen through that big-ass crack in American society: she makes too much to qualify for public assistance but too little to really be able to do anything but work.

I'm fucking freezing now that the weather's finally turned appropriate for the season. The thermostat said it was 50 when I got home this morning. 50 degrees! What's up with that? I had to turn the heat on. I like the crispness in the air, though.

I can't for the life of me figure out why the American people aren't rioting, quite frankly. Today I read about the Shiite death squads in the Iraqi police, and I'm just waiting for someone to ask me if I think the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam. I mean fuck. That was always such a stupid, simplistic question... but now it's actually debatable. Anyway, I think it's like that old saying about how to boil a frog; you turn up the heat little by little so the frog doesn't notice.

I feel so fucking brain dead on night shift. Bah!

22 November 2005

I want me one of these!!!

Though the orgasmatron apparently only works for women, it would be fun as hell at parties...

16 November 2005

Bush feeling the stress...

It took this goddamn country five years to finally trip to what an arrogant, inept, criminal bunch of thugs these people are. They played the American people like jazz for years... remember back when they were trying to start shit with China over that spy plane? (No, neither does anyone else.) Then they messed around with trying to make North Korea the bad guy until 9/11 came along. And here we are... economy all fucked up, New Orleans in ruins, environment and health care and trade deficit ready to collapse the American empire like Ancient Rome. And everybody has the nerve to act all surprised that Emperor Bush, Darth Cheney, Grand Moff Rumsfeld and the rest are as evil as they are. Please.

I am so wiped out, gang, sorry if this is sort of incoherent. I can't really get my sleep patterns back to night schedule, but at least fortunately it's a short week. And I'm going to Henry Rollins on Friday, yeah!

I really need to get back on days.

09 November 2005

Good point...

Just read a sort of offhand post at the Citizens blog that makes a really good, obvious point I missed before: now that Frist is starting his vindictive little investigation into the CIA prison leak, I guess we know it's really true, huh? No prisons, no leak! Duh!

08 November 2005

"Protagonist democracy..."

I'm fired up by yet another article on the new Venezuela... I am sure we are not getting the whole picture (when do we ever?) but this is still the most interesting experiment in governance that I know about going on in the world today.

The Bolivarian revolution seems to be taking seriously the concept of "subsidiarity," where the unit of government closest to a given issue holds sway. Very interesting to me is this idea of the local council representing 200 families. This is a totally reasonable unit of government - small enough that people have face-name recognition and yet not so small that it becomes totally parochial.

When, in my own country, people are making statements like "I think most of America would agree that it is time for our nation to stop our tolerance for diversity," it gives me some relief to know that there is still a place for freedom and sanity... at least for now.

05 November 2005

Sick and tired...

I'm feeling all queasy, probably because of a pork tamale I bought from the cart lady in front of the Appletree. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the shot of Skyy I did to sterilise my gullet... feh.

And I'm sure it has nothing to do with the piece I just read about the new American gulag. I mean, I'm not a bit surprised, the rumours have been going around for years and it is perfectly in line with all the things we know the government are doing. I guess just reading about it in the mainstream media makes it really unavoidable. And here am I, a citizen of the great evil empire of the planet, better positioned than most of humanity to take some positive action to right the wrongs, so what am I up to? Working on getting EU citizenship! No wonder I feel like hurling.

The weekend's here though. That's a plus. And I got Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving weekend off fuck yeah! D has to work, of course... I wanted to take a trip with her, but I may just take one by myself.

04 November 2005

Back on the vampire shift...

Chilling once again here at work. I had a dream earlier tonight that she came and climbed into bed with me. I hated waking up alone after that. Damn.

Political situation way too gross to write about tonight. I want to see the empire fall, but I'm not at all down with culture war.

At least my economic shit seems to be together. The new job will probably not pan out, but the money's good here on night shift, and I do need to pay off my cards and start saving for taxes and travel. It's really hard to think about Italy with what's been going on lately... and that's probably good. I can see myself getting all caught up in fantasies about the future, so I'm better off staying focused on the moment.

Once again - as always - the solution to everything seems to be meditating more.

21 October 2005

Melatonin, or...

I have been feeling a million times better since I started taking sublingual melatonin right before going to sleep. Course, since that time I've seen a whole lot more of D... so it's hard to know which has had the greater effect. This page is not the place for me to air details about personal life - my good friends can ask me what's going on - but the fact that there have been sort of incredible developments in my love life can't be minimised.

I may possibly be coming off of nights, or else be in a stronger bargaining position vis a vis my current job. We will have to see how that develops...

14 October 2005


Working here by myself for these long, dark stretches has encouraged me to think about what it means to be alone. And I think it comes more naturally to me than people who have known me a while realise. I was alone much of my early life, as much as I had my friends around me, and have been alone - if busy - in the years since my separation.

It has been an opportunity to be more aware of what goes on inside my mind. At the same time, I've missed the ability to get feedback on what goes on outside; perspective on the behaviour I manifest.

Where is the happy medium?

Crisis at work now... more later

12 October 2005

omg u r so kewl!!!

The whole Harriet Miers teenage-style note thing really cracks me up. My goddess, what a cartoon country we live in....

I think I have some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder from not getting enough sunlight. I feel low-mood and crappy but everything's pretty much OK. I mean, I wish I could spend more time with D but stuff is basically OK there, and I'm seeing my other friends as much - if not more - than ever. So I'm figuring it's something biochemical. It will definitely be good to get the hell off night shift. Things may change sooner rather than later at work, though I'm supposed to keep that on the D.L...

10 October 2005

What liberal ideology?

This is yet another incredibly eloquent essay by a liberal decrying the lack of a coherent liberal message... without making any attempt to define what that message should be.

Radicals have no such problem. Let me give you the radical message in short, sharp sentences... it may or may not be "sellable;" it does, however, have the benefit of being righteous. Selah.

The Radical Message

Size matters. Big groups - big government, big business, or big charities - are clumsy, impersonal, and prone to corruption. Radicals believe the best work is done by people "on the ground,"supported where neccesary by larger organisations that can do the necessary things small groups cannot. No to command-and-control by distant, faceless bureaucrats. Yes to nimble, democratic, improvisational, face-to-face groups supported by instantaneous communications and incredibly efficient, ecologically sensitive infrastructure. Put power in people's hands. Let government be a referee and fair arbiter rather than an overlord. Let businesses work as distributed democracies rather than top-down dictatorships. Let a million service organisations flourish rather than a corrupt Red Cross.

Downsize everything!

OK, that's my best shot, especially after putting back the better part a bottle of Kendall Jackson 2001 Cabernet. Feedback yo!

Nighty night...

08 October 2005

A good day's sleep...

I slept a solid eight hours this morning, all praises due to generic Tylenol PM. I finally rolled out of bed about five, had some dinner (breakfast), took a run, went to the gym, and came to work. I feel great! It's like it's the middle of the day (at 2:30 in the morning), and my brain works and everything. I just finished Life on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne, and straightened out my fantasy football team. I'll probably get to work on my Italian grammar at this rate. If I feel this way every night, it might just be worth it. Let's see if I can stay on my schedule over the weekend.

I was watching Link TV earlier, while I was working on the daily reports. Mayor Ray Nagin was being asked whether he thought the slow Federal response was due to racism. He denied it, but I thought what he did say was interesting. It was something along the lines of "I don't think it had much to do with race... I do think it had to do with class." And I thought, what a relief: when do US political figures ever talk about class? It is a completely taboo subject in this country. I don't mean to suggest that the subject of race is at all dealt with forthrightly... but at least there's a semblance of a dialogue. Conservative elites have been absolutely disciplined in crying "class warfare" whenever the subject of class is raised, and as a result... it just doesn't get raised.

And the predictable result?

The wealth of the 400 richest Americans (the Forbes 400) totals more than $1.1 trillion -- an amount greater than the gross domestic product of Spain or Canada, the world's eighth- and ninth-largest economies.

The number of Americans "officially" in poverty (income $9,827 for singles,
$19,157 for a two-adult, two-child family) is 37 million... about as many people as there are in Poland.

This country is totally split along class lines, with ridiculous amounts of power concentrated in a few hands - with corporate control of the economy driving more and more Americans into poverty and taking away the minimal social safety net built up over the years. All in service of an ideological agenda that should have been more than discredited in the Reagan years.


At the same time (to return to my usual apocalyptic theme), we have the spectre of rapid climate change threatening not only Americans but people all over the planet - of course with the worst consequences to befall the poorest everywhere. And this is not even to begin to mention all the species that will be destroyed through habitat loss, whether through climate change or pollution.

Double shit. Triple fucking shit.

07 October 2005

Here come those Santa Ana winds again...

It was a beautiful October day, mid 80s at the beach and bright bright sun. I smelled smoke on my way to work today, though, which does remind one of the downside of the Santa Anas. Still, I'm glad I enjoyed it, since the cooler weather is coming back this weekend.

I am working nights now, 10:30 to 6:30; I'm basically on Central European Summer time, getting to work at 7:30 in Rome, and going home at a respectable Italian 3:30. It's mostly just busy work until things get hopping in Puerto Rico at around 4:30 am Cali time, but the main difficulty for me is working at night and sleeping during the day. I'm basically subsisting on short naps through the day, and I feel like I'm walking underwater a lot of the time. I was really planning on writing and studying at night, but until my rhythms even out, it's all I can do to function.

This BBC programme has yet another reference to Bush telling foreign leaders about his conversations with God. It would be laughable, but this cartoonish Christianity is shockingly common at high levels in the US government. Future generations will shudder...

It's good to see conservatives attacking each other the way the left has for so many years; we shouldn't get too excited about this, though, because the Democrats are so pathetic they can't even take advantage of the first opportunity they've had in a generation. Still, it's kind of nice to see Ann Coulter going after her own side for a change. It's a crack-up, though, to see her rip into this guy for not getting the (admittedly confusing) difference between "which" and "that." Somebody get this woman a sandwich!

04 October 2005

Interesting facts about Grandma Justice...

Before we get all excited about this woman because the Republicans are pissed she got named, let's bear a couple things in mind:

  • She is said to be on the "extreme end" of the pro-life movement (like, there is a "moderate" end?)
  • She opposed the repeal of the Texas anti-sodomy statute struck down by her would-be predecessor Sandra Day O'Connor.
She's no Ruth Bader Ginsburg... but then again, neither is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

29 September 2005

The party of pussies...

Bush's pick got confirmed as Chief Justice today. I can't blame Republicans for being Republicans - I mean, who did we think they were going to put in there, Noam fucking Chomsky? - but the capitulation of the "opposition" party really chaps my ass. 22 out of 44 Democratic senators - half!! - voted for Bush's guy. This shit went down when his approval ratings suck, he looks like an assclown after Katrina, Rove and DeLay are both in legal trouble, and Big Dick Cheney was under anesthesia - it was the perfect opportunity to show some backbone. All the other team's stars were on the fucking bench. But no, they folded like they always do. Even Pat Leahy and Russ Feingold, for Chrissake. Rrrrrrr...

I am utterly sick of electoral politics. Denise was looking at the November ballot and talking about reading through all the initiatives, etc... I can't even get excited enough to go vote down Jerry Sanders. Real change is not going to happen through elected officials. I mean, I can see the benefit of trying to stop real psychos, like Bush or David Duke, from getting elected. By and large though, I would like to see progressives focus more on organizing people and less on grooming star candidates like Hillary or Obama (Goddess bless him). But, I'm an apocalyptic anarchist, so I see no remedy until things get so out of control that we have a revolution. Which - don't get me wrong - will suck for the people still in what will soon be known as "the former U.S.A." But it will be better for the world in general when this big crazy country gets split up into a bunch of little Whiteman-istans.

Another entry in my list of potential disasters to come: prehistoric viruses from the ice! Whoo-hoo! Bring on Captain Trips and Randall Flagg!

24 September 2005

Working with what I have...

My life has been sort of low level chaos of late. Denise has been mad busy and I wish we could see each other more... but that's karma, and on balance it's the right energy for us. Meanwhile, work has been weird: we are dealing with the Puerto Rico school system, bringing up fifteen to thirty schools a day on to satellite internet. It's been interesting trying to get my Spanish up to the level where I can communicate technical issues over a shitty cell connection. I'm realising I don't speak the language near as well as I thought I did, but at the same time I have more confidence in at least speaking conversationally at a basic level.

I thought I would be speaking more Spanish in California than I ended up speaking. It's a lot like Hawai'i in that way; people stay in their ethnic enclaves for the most part. Hell, the woman I'm in a relationship with is Italian-Irish-German like myself! I'm really interested in bridging the culture gap more, same as I did back in the islands. The anti-Minuteman protests are over, so having missed out on that I am going to have to strike out on my own. I'm scouting for pro-migrant organisations I can help out with; like everything else in my life, though, it is going to have to wait on my schedule becoming more stable.

I'm relieved about this hurricane - both that the direct loss of life is low to none, and that we're not looking at more and more gas price increases. I'm still buying my gas almost exclusively at Citgo, so I feel pretty good about paying a little more than the absolute lowest price since it goes to help the poor, even in this country. My economics are still a little tight... which is another reason why it's good that I don't have a lot of time to spend with D... less temptation to spoil her!

17 September 2005

He's Baaa.... aaack!

Now that nobody reads this thing anymore... guess I can get back to writing. Journaling. "To blog" is not a verb. So there.

I got distracted for a while by my move, and by Hurricane Denise, but now I'm settling into what feels like a new pattern. Nothing too monotonous, you understand... there will definitely be some good chaos with the changing around of my work schedule, and with D back in my life there's no chance of things being boring. But I am really feeling like I'm here now, and like I am establishing the next phase of my life.

We've been working a lot of disaster recovery issues from New Orleans at work, and since they have Fucks News on all the time I have just been marinating in Katrina stuff. One day, after work, I took my usual walk down to the beach. On my way back, I noticed two big white buses and a cop car out in front of the Apple Tree. There were a bunch of African Americans kind of milling around, and I noticed they all had really really thick Southern accents. You see all kinds of things in OB, so I just kept cruising on. A few paces later, though, I stopped. I turned back around, and I made eye contact with a guy about my age. I asked him, "are you from New Orleans?" He said, "Yeah." I shook his hand, did the guy handshake/body-check/hug thing and told him, "I'm glad you're all right."

I really think we're moving into a period of increasing danger and collapse. I believe we are already in a period of rapid climate change, of which Katrina was just a dramatic symptom. people have already forgotten about the peat bogs melting in Siberia, which will speed things up even more. At the same time, the US Empire is going to be starting its period of collapse, and it's not going to be pretty. The economy is also very unstable and that will make all of the other problems worse.

If I sound mad pessimistic, that's because I am. At the same time, I have a lot of hope at the individual level. The important people in my life really love me, and there small groups of committed people all over the world doing wonderful things. It will be a time of widespread chaos... and I do love chaos! So I'm not depressed about it, though I want to cry for all of the lives that are going to be cut short in the coming years.

Work for change. Be brave. And love those who are close to you.

29 April 2005

Americans "oppressed..."

I love this!


Venezuelan leader: U.S. citizens oppressed

HAVANA, Cuba (AP) -- Saying that U.S. citizens are oppressed by their own government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez promised Friday that he would not visit the United States again until Americans "liberate" their nation.

Chavez, in Havana for trade talks, told an international gathering of activists here that before an earlier trip to Cuba, a U.S. State Department undersecretary he did not identify warned him not to go because he would no longer be received in Washington.

He said he went ahead with that trip anyway, and later traveled to the United States to visit U.S. President George W. Bush, who he said greeted him with a Coca-Cola in his hand.

"I have not returned, nor do I think about returning again, until the people of the United States liberate that nation," said Chavez, saying that Americans are "oppressed" by their government and U.S. media.

Chavez considers Cuban President Fidel Castro a political ally and close personal friend, and Washington has grown increasingly alarmed by their deepening political and economic alliance.

During Chavez's current visit, the two countries have signed a host of economic and other accords, including a deal for Cuba to buy $412 million in goods from the South American nation, with Cuba waiving all import duties.

Venezuela's state oil company also has opened an office in Havana this week, agreeing to help explore for and refine any crude deposits discovered off the island's coast. It also announced that the 53,000 barrels it has been sending to Cuba since 2000 at preferential terms was recently increased to up to 90,000 barrels daily.

Chavez also criticized the current Latin American tour by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to her as an "imperial lady" who is trying to divide and conquer the hemisphere's developing nations.

Despite Chavez's anti-U.S. comments, his country is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and a top crude supplier to the United States.

24 April 2005

Hilo my hometown...

Hilo can drive you crazy, get on your nerves, then one day show you how sweet and beautiful she can be. Oh well, I never intended to leave forever, or get this place completely out of my head and heart. But the wedding yesterday really gave me crazy homesickness pangs. I kind of feel like a traitor... for all these years of being a Hilo booster, "the Big Island's so great," etc... now I'm the one who's bailing. Wah.

David wants to throw me a huge party on Cinco de Mayo (but really on Siete de Mayo because Cinco's on a Thursday this year). And Mrs. Miyashiro wants to make me a huge turkey dinner. Wah. Wah. Waaah!

I know I'm doing the right thing, it's not that. It's just more painful than I had thought to uproot myself.

21 April 2005

Benedictus Sextus Decimus...

Former Hitler Youth. Headed (until today) the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition. Thinks Turkey is "too Muslim" for the EU (which has like 50 million Muslims). Tells American Catholics how to vote... and may have handed the election to George W. Bush. Believes civil unions is "the legalisation of evil."The silencer of Hans Küng. The liquidator of Liberation Theology. The "Panzerkardinal."

Well, as Yoda said, "always two there are; a Master and an Apprentice." So, we should keep an eye on Darth Benedict's student...

05 April 2005


I have been trying really hard, over the past number of years, to come to terms with my Christian heritage. I'm a pretty spiritual man, and though nominally a Buddhist for some time, I really support the Dalai Lama's injunction to stick to one's religion of birth. But, despite all the many wonderful Catholics I have met and read about, there's just far too much in the tradition and the dogma that I cannot accept, and I no longer feel at home in the Church.

I have been able to develop a good respect for the many great things that committed Christians have done to further the cause of social justice and the search for transcendent truths, either as a result of, or in spite of, their faith. So it's really hard for me to accept the increasing intolerance of American Christians, and the sort of naked grab for power. This certainly involves many Catholics, but it is mostly Protestant fundamentalists - activist, politically-connected, and rich - that are leading the charge. As a non-Christian, I don't feel like I'm picking on any one sect, but rather a whole political drift that offends and worries me. Call it Christo-fascism.

>One glaring and painfully obvious example - and one that is totally off the radar of the national media - is Senate bill S. 520 (House version H.R. 1070), AKA the "Constitution Restoration Act" (CRA). The stated purpose of this bill - right at the top, without any weasel words or fudging - is to prevent the Supreme Court from having "jurisdiction to review... any matter... against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government... concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."

Goddess help us!

This is another scary chapter in the spread of a certain kind of millenialism in American society. In every era there has been one or another group of Christians adamant in their belief that Christ's return is imminent. What's new about these times is that there are End-Timers in positions of power in the most powerful country on the planet. It may be years before we know the degree to which the Iraq war was at least partly advocated by those who wanted to provoke Armageddon in the Middle East in order to hasten the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ. But what is manifestly obvious - from the Terri Schiavo shitstorm to the illegalization of D & X and on and on - is that the voices of people who believe the world is ending are louder than ever in the halls of government. And they are almost unopposed, largely I think because of successful (and untrue) propaganda that the ruling party's victory in the last national election was due to the electorate's "moral values."

We are being manipulated, lied to, and confused into what may well be an American Taliban state. And progressives, rationalists and freethinkers are silent and marginalised.

Keep your eye on the CRA here.

And pray.

04 April 2005

The Bolivarian revolution in the time of "World War IV..."

We're moving into an era of stark choices and harsh realities. American millenialist fundamentalism, wedded to good old fashioned economic imperialism, is locked in a death struggle with its freakish mirror image: Muslim jihadists bent on a restoration of the ancient Caliphate. Hovering around the edges is a sort of nervous European "kinder, gentler" capitalism: too timid to be a real counterweight to the US, but unhappy with its extremism. China seems to be sitting this one out.

And then there is the global South.

The billions below the Equator have never done well with modernity, and they were pawns in the global power struggle of the last century. But some of the best ideas on how to build a saner society have come from the South. Despite this marginalisation, one nation in particular - oil-rich Venezuela - is increasingly drawing attention to itself for its novel political ideas.

The Bolivarian revolution is often associated with Chávez, and while he obviously provided a strong initial impetus - not to mention, political power - towards that work, it is clear that at this point the movement has a life of its own.The goal of the Bolivarian revolution involve social change in the context of a participatory democracy, where citizens are carrying out programs in their own communities, under their own control. I liken this dynamic element of the Bolivarian revolution, echoes of the old principle of subsidiarity, that revolutionary principle first enunciated by, of all people, a Catholic Pope.

A significant element in the Bolivarian revolution is the importance of education. The goal is to have free education from childhood to the graduate level carried out to further Bolivarian ideals in different spheres of work. According to the rector of the Bolivarian University: “education is not just to create professionals. Education is much more than that. Knowledge is power, and more people with knowledge empowers the whole population. Educating women empowers not only the women educated, but the whole population. Creating critical thinkers, a population of intellectuals, is a much more profound project than just preparing people for jobs.”

An interesting part of all this is that the revolution, for once, is well funded. In these years of high prices for oil, Venezuela's state oil company is generating big profits to be invested in social programs: what Chávez has called sembrar el petróleo (to harvest the oil). In this instance, the rich are not being expropriated to finance the revolution. Rather, in a geopolitical act of jiujitsu breathtaking in its irony, the capitalist system's thirst for oil is being exploited to finance a post-capitalist alternative. This is probably one of my favourite elements in this whole story.

The Venezuelan government under Chávez has created a number of different programs which are called "missions:" Mission Robinson, which is concerned with elementary level education; Mission Ribas, for high-school level education; Mission Sucre at the college level and Mission Vuelvan Caras ("about face"), which provides education in the trades. In addition,Mission Mercal brings staple foods to the barrios and countryside at prices affordable by Venezuela's poor. And Mission Barrio Adentro ("into the neighborhood") is establishing an expanding network of neigborhood clinics. This effort has been spearheaded by Cuban medics - who are, however, soon to be replaced by Cuban-educated Venezuelans - to staff clinics for the poor.

The Bolivarian revolution presents an alternative model for a real and participative democracy. The Bolivarians pursue the old socialist goals of health care for all, free access to education and a decent quality of life, but without the stultifying bureaucracy and social injustice that doomed the dinosaurs of the Soviet bloc. If it delivers on even a fraction of its promise, it will stand as a shining example that the world need not follow the scary and dehumanising path laid out by the dour men and their Bibles and Korans.

[*] Heinberg, Richard, “The Party’s is Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies”, 3rd Edition Revised, New Society Publishers, Canada 2003.

03 April 2005

Using the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression...

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: The Garrote of Courteous Debate.

Get yours.

01 April 2005

RIP Karol Józef Wojtyła...

I saw the pope in 1979, with a million other people in a monster outdoor Mass at Logan Square in Philadelphia. He spoke with a heavy accent and made his famous declaration "the priesthood is to be permanent, celibate and male." A tough, conservative Pontiff went over huge in tough, conservative Philadelphia, and I was in one of my brief Catholic periods. I went to Mass maybe five times that year.

Eventually I got some perspective on the Pope... all the anti-woman, anti-gay, top-down, do-as-We-say rhetoric took the shine off his halo for me. The final straw was when he purged Liberation Theology in Latin America, at a time when the Church was the only institution standing up for the poor, and priests and nuns were raped and slaughtered.

Of course, my heart goes out to all who are touched by his death. And big ups to him for recognising anti-semitism and promoting humility and atonement among Catholics. But, to me, this hard-line, hard-ass Pope was no Saint.
RIP Terry Schiavo...

I almost don't want to post anything on this, cause it's been so incredibly overplayed. But lost in all the crazy Culture War atmospherics is an incredibly poignant fact: this woman lay in a "persistent vegetative state" (whatever the fuck that means) for years due to complications of her bulimia.

Now imagine that neither her husband and her family claims to be aware of her condition. She lost more than a hundred pounds. She had stopped menstruating. Her eyes were bloodshot, her nails brittle, she bruised easily. I mean Jesus Christ.

It's just amazing than no one wants to talk about this. How many other women are dead and dying of this horrible sickness, this hidden secret of our thin-obsessed society?

30 March 2005

Respect your Mother...

This Easter, my friend Heather got a heavy lesson in caution while in nature. I'm still in shock with how easily she could have been taken... and appreciative at how gentle our Hawaii climate is. Add it to the list of things I will miss...

28 March 2005


The answer to the classic neo-con question here.

Instead of my own writing I'm linking to other people's. Gee this "blog" stuff is easy!

Seriously, I'll write something real at some point..

25 March 2005

Democracy in a persistent vegetative state...

I'm just gonna go ahead and throw this whole thing in here... this is really happening in 2005 America.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures?

Friday, March 25, 2005

By John Gibson

Just to burnish my reputation as a bomb thrower, I think Jeb Bush should give serious thought to storming the Bastille.

By that I mean he should think about telling his cops to go over to Terri Schiavo's hospice, go inside, put her on a gurney and load her into an ambulance. They could take her to a hospital, revive her, and reattach her feeding tube. It wouldn't save Terri exactly; she'd still be in the same rotten shape she was in before they disconnected the feeding tube.

But the point is, the temple of the law is so sacrosanct that an occasional chief executive cannot flaunt it once in a while, sort of drop his drawers on the courthouse steps and moon the judges, as a way to protest the complete disregard courts and judges have shown here, in this case, for facts outside the law.

For instance, Michael Schiavo and Terri Schiavo are still married, under the law. Anybody else in the world notes with interest that Michael Schiavo has a new love interest and has been engaged in living long enough that he has two children by her.

Now let's see — any woman in America can see Michael Schiavo and Terri Schiavo are not really married anymore. But judge after judge after judge after judge still nods his or her head and mutters, married? Yup, they're married?

This is important because as husband, Michael Schiavo is her guardian and allowed to say what happens to her, how the money in her estate is spent, and so forth.

There are other issues that all the judges here have decided don't rise to the level of importance — that they would order Schiavo kept alive while more hot air is expended on this subject.

But for me the big one is the judicial tendency to say, as long as the law and the process has been followed correctly and justly, doesn't matter if she lives or dies.

Strikes me that that's adherence to law to a fault.

I know lawyers and judges don't think that way, but real people do.

Oh John, you're not saying judges aren't real people, are you?

Well, judging by what happened here, I'd say yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

So Jeb, call out the troops, storm the Bastille and tell 'em I sent you.

When this country has its own Reichstag fire, we can't pretend we didn't see it coming.
In uncharted territory...

Can't say it better than my man Gore (no, not him; the other one): "This is something new under the sun--that a president, just because he feels like it, can declare war on anybody."


And let's hear it for Uncle Noam:


Good Friday, everybody. It's a great day to be a lapsed Catholic...

18 March 2005

Arrested development

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

You Are 27 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Erik made everyone play the "guess how old Paul is" game. Closest guess: 28. So does this mean I am youthful or childish? Oh well. At least I have all my hair.

15 March 2005

Losing my religion...

Before the coverage gets too overwhelming I just want to say big ups for Ashley Smith, the Christian lady that talked the Atlanta killer down and saved her own life in the process. The news keeps talking about her "bravery," and hell yeah she was brave... but more than that she was compassionate. She engaged with this guy and showed human kindness to him... even though he was probably among the people least deserving of any sympathy on that day. I think if people want to know "What Would Jesus Do," well one of the things he might do is make eggs for a homicidal maniac who was holding him hostage.

And I don't think Brian Nichols can blame his shit of the fact that very few of the so-called Christians act like they are. But it would sure be a better country if all those churches taught Ashley Smith's kind of Christianity.

'Nuff said about that...

I've been really struggling with my attitude about religion over the past days and weeks. I have really tried to embrace a sense of God in the world, ever since I went to the vipassana retreat where Trudy Goodman talked about God (the weekend Shari left me, hmm). I have seen other people's faith and thought it seemed to be a centering influence in their lives. But it really doesn't seem to be taking with me. In good times and bad, I think about God and thank God or ask for strength... but it seems hollow to me.

I am a spiritual person, and I do still hold a very strong connection to my practice. I am superstitious and pagan as ever, if not more so... but God and religion really don't seem to be a part of my world. And so, recently, I've been getting more and more OK with that. I am, after all, a thoroughly postmodern man. And, for all the Tarot cards and ritual, I'm a computer scientist and a Philly hardhead. So I feel like what I am after is what's called an integral spirituality, bringing together the seemingly disconnected worlds of science and spirit.

So where I will end up in my relationship with God is anybody's guess. I don't intend to give up my fondness for the Catholic liturgy, rosary beads, my Tarot or my athame. But I'm reaching towards a higher place, and that feels good.

If scary.

13 March 2005

Back to Earth...

I'm starting to get my equilibrium back after my trip to the Relationship Twilight Zone over the past bunch of weeks. I got my latest "last email" from L last night... maybe this one will be the last last, who knows. It would be nice, cause I still haven't really processed what went down. So much of the San Diego trip has a dreamlike quality to it, it's like if I hadn't seen Michelle and Olive it'd be like I didn't go there at all.

Anyway, I'm back, and Blogger is behaving itself for a change, so we'll see if I can get back my momentum. It feels like a whole "new-period" period; between the stress and the compensatory partying/sleeping in/not running I picked up a good 5 pounds too... so I need to turn over a new leaf: blog regularly, run, cut the beer and chocolate. Etc.

David's birthday party last night was a nice change of pace. I went around telling everybody about my move and felt bad about it; people seemed sad and I felt sad. I miss the Big Island already! I'm sure after a month over there I'm going to wonder why I ever left. I still feel it is the right decision, but I definitely want to do a lot of Big Islandy things over the next months.

Anyway, I'm sick of college, single, getting over a horrible breakup and out of shape: but I still love this fucking life! God I'm weird.


26 January 2005

Outrage du jour

So now the military has a special unit to do "extra-legal missions to combat terrorism in the United States," at "high-risk events like the Olympics and political party conventions." At what point are people going to start giving a shit what is happening?

12 January 2005

Must stop reading the news

Oh, THIS is charming. The defense attorney for the guy accused of leading the torturers in Abu Ghraib says: Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year?" Well sure, counselor... if the homecoming games at YOUR high school looked like this.

Oh, news bad. Pale ale good.

11 January 2005

New place to be

Hey, sorry I haven't posted much in days, and sorry if the rants below freaked anybody out. I was just super tired and I made the mistake of looking at the news sites. It's an awful fucked-up world, just most days I try not to get too much into the details...

As you must have noticed since you are reading this, I moved the files onto my own site. Finally got that pesky word "blog" out of my URL...

Also, check out my online radio site at Last.FM... can't wait until I have a consistent Internet connection so I can enjoy it my own damn self!

OK, just trivialities today... first week of school and all that.

07 January 2005

Humanitarian Relief as Photo Op

The ongoing U.S. effort to turn incalculable human tragedy into good P.R. is captured perfectly in this corporate media story. Bill Frist taking tourist shots in front of a bunch of rubble, telling staffers, "Get some devastation in the back." Jesus fuck.

Here's a clue: if you want to be seen as helping people, it might be good to actually want to help people, rather than cynically exploit their suffering for your own political gain. You dick.

Ohhh, really cranky today...
Sleep deprived and grumpy

They were partying at my house until after 2 last night, but I woke up at 7 this morning anyway. I swear, my insomnia thing comes up at the worst times. It's my last weekday of break!

Also grumpy because the fuck that wrote this memo is going to be the next Attorney General. The guy who defends the law thinks we should break it. People have been using the word "Orwellian" to describe so much down through the years that when the real thing shows up, everyone just goes "oh well," and turns on Desperate Housewives.


05 January 2005

My Tsunami Two Cents

Probably more has been written about this than any other one subject in the blog-o-snorp-o-sphere... it's particularly hit home for me as I live in a tsunami-prone area.

One thing that bugs me about the media coverage, is that far too many of the interviewees, at least on American TV natch, are rich Yankee tourists. I mean, could we please have a moratorium of people telling us about how their yachts got stuck when the tide went out?

My Mom is convinced they're all there for underage prostitutes.

Anyway, if we want to "improve our image in the Muslim world" as is apparently the main concern of the U.S. in these tragic days... shut these people the hell up.

04 January 2005


Don't overlook the "Listen..." links on the sidebar, you guys. They're updated by RSS to reflect the most popular MP3 related blogs on http://del.icio.us - there's some occasional real gems that come along.

Snorp on!
The Updated Mochi Post

(The original pictures I uploaded to go with this post were corrupted; everything should work now.)

Every year for the last seven, my friend Akiko has held a mochi-pounding festival at her place in Waile'a. For six of those years I have helped out, getting out there at 5:30 to start the fire, and get the rice cooking. Then, the rice goes in this (heavy-ass!) stone basin, and people come up to pound the rice with wooden mallets. It's considered in Japanese tradtion to bring good luck for the new year. My main responsibility is turning the rice while others pound, and keeping that big stone basin clean. It ends up being a lot of hard work, and I'm wiped after about six hours of this. Fortnuately one of Akiko's guests was a massage therapist, and very generously and compassionately gave me a full body massage at the end of the day. This was the first year that I was able to put the traditional kazare mochi on my altar and that made it special.

03 January 2005

Blog is Dead

The Motley Fool has an article up where they somehow make it sound like there's some investment future in the "blog" phenomenon, though they don't seem to know what that could be. I don't either.

I want to stop using the word "blog" now. Too many people who don't know what the fuck they are talking about are saying "blog, blog, bloggity blog blog blog." It's like "spam:" a joke word that now gets tossed around by idiots like it means something.

I propose we all change to the word "snorp." We're "snorpers," who are "snorping" in the "snorposphere." Oh, and we have to always use the word with "inverted commas," too.

That'll freak 'em out...

02 January 2005

The Short Life and Unlamented End of Foghorn Leghorn

It wasn't until the first night I slept at my current apartment that I realised there was a huge, loud, fighting rooster right outside my window. Being a rooster, he did what roosters do first thing in the morning. He did that thing over and over again, for ten to fifteen minutes at a stretch, then took a break. Whatever roosters do for a break. Take a little drink, I don't know. Then another aria, and on and on for hours. I haven't slept past 5:30am in months, and neither has anyone else in my house.

I called the rooster "Foghorn Leghorn." I don't know what his owners called him. They probably called him a good payday. You can win a lot of money with a good fighting chicken, and this one was a bruiser.

Anyway, about six this morning one of [shall remain nameless]'s overnight guests, [shall remain nameless], couldn't stand the racket. So he went out and liberated Foghorn. "Be free," he said, and opened the cage to let Foghorn breathe free air at last. Not being an idiot, Foghorn stayed right where he was, with all the free food. So [shall remain nameless] did what any half-drunk, stupid, reckless college kid would do: took the rooster out back and broke his neck.

I slept until 7:30 this morning.

It pains me to be happy about the violent death of any of God's creations. I had fantasies of taking Foghorn out to the countryside somewhere, to seek his fortune. But I do like the extra sleep, and it'll really feel good once school starts. Even if the people next door get a new one, it'll be a while until he's as big and loud as Foghorn, and I'll be gone by then.

So farewell Foghorn Leghorn. I won't say I'll miss you, but you did make life colorful. (Now I have to use an alarm!)

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