The very foundations of capitalism are corrupt. It is a big game of manipulation and lies.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
From the Progressive Daily Beacon:
The 'bleeding heart Liberal' - the person who hoped to stop nonsensical wars being perpetrated for no reason other than creating safe new markets for corporations to either sell their product in, or to enslave the population so that they could sew cheap clothing designed only to increase profits and CEO annual salaries. The 'bleeding heart Liberal' was the person who hoped to end global poverty and feed hungry Americans. The 'bleeding heart Liberal' who had warned of global warming long before it became fashionable and even before Exxon and other corporations began paying propagandists to refute its existence. The 'bleeding heart Liberal' was the person who fought to protect drinking water, rivers, lakes, and wetlands from unnecessary corporate pollution. The 'bleeding heart Liberal' was the person who fought for living wages, vacation time, and medical benefits for
's workers. The 'bleeding heart Liberal' was the person who fought for programs to feed the elderly and ensure, after retirement, that they had affordable healthcare. America
The so-called bleeding heart Liberal was shamed into near extinction by thugs and snake oil salesmen. That's too bad really, because there was a time 'bleeding heart Liberals' were willing to fight for what was right. What could be more right than
's humanity? America
The Republican will ask me ‘not to be so angry’ or not to speak in ‘shrill tones’. It makes sense that he should request my silence really. No criminal ever wants the victims or witnesses to cry foul or fight back. The tough-talking conservatives want us, the American people of good conscience, to maintain a gentle, compliant state of non-resistance to any of their efforts to turn this great land into a fascist corporo-stocracy. Too bad for those mother fuckers. As one commenter so aptly put it, “The death of the bleeding heart liberal is maybe a good thing. We are transformed, thanks to the GOP, into “Pissed-off Progressives.” Passivity in the face of Republican policy and rhetoric is an admission of defeat. Do not ever let them shut you down by demanding that you be ‘polite’ or ‘civil’. Fuck them and fuck that. When human beings are being exploited and tortured as a matter of public policy, I am going to be very mad about it. There are no punches pulled and no holds barred.
I hope the Democrats in Congress (are you listening
Some of us are still fighting the good fight and remember that anger is justified in the face of ongoing atrocities. This bleeding heart has always pumped red, thick human blood; never oil, depleted uranium, or stores of gold. It pumps compassion for victims and anger at those who cannot bear themselves to show others simple human considerations and empathy. I will hate the warmongers. I will not feel sorry for the false victims and pretentious yes-men who front them. I will speak to truth loudly. I will not be ashamed to stand up for what is just and right. If they want me quiet, they will have to kill me.
Good luck with that. Nature will probably beat them to it.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish group declares war on computers
Every Gerrer Hasid with a computer can expect a house call in the near future, meant to persuade him to get rid of the treyf device. Those with an Internet connection - the height of spiritual contamination, which only a few members of the community have rabbinical permission to use, and that for work purposes only - will receive special attention.
The purpose of the campaign is not to threaten computer users with sanctions, but rather to explain the "spiritual dangers" to which they and members of their household are exposed. If the Gerrer rebbe so wished, members of the community say, he would have ordered the computers removed from his followers' homes. But the Rebbe is not doing so, perhaps because he, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, knows how difficult it is to round up the horses once the stable door has been left open. And so, the campaign's purpose is informative: Every shtibl [small synagogue] is to appoint two people to go from house to house with the message that it is preferable not to have a computer at home.
HaAretz is one of those periodicals that allows for comments from readers. I’ll post just a couple of those here so you get some idea of how polarized people are on the issue and how stupid they can get when the subject comes to Charedim. I know that may of you might assume that I, being the vocal apikores, agree with such harsh critiques of the Chasidishe Veldt, but that is not so at all. I do not agree entirely with the Gerrer Rebbe’s initiative, but I see a great deal of wisdom in it.
The title of the article is no doubt misleading and provocative. Most of the redundant controversy and rhetoric stems from readers getting caught up in the sensationalism rather than the content of the article, which in no way suggests the Gerrer Rebbe intends to wage a ‘war’, but rather an outreach program.
A woman from Rechovot writes (I tidied up her spelling and grammar):
They are violating human rights by shutting their children and wives away from the world. It`s imprisonment against one`s will. Say what you want, but if you`re questioning that, then you must be thinking that also the 12 year old girl kidnapped and made into n-the wife of a Mormon somewhere in the U.S. was so-to-say acting out of her "free will"! Do these rabbis think they`re G-d to order people around like that?! I`d say it`s time for them to review their own behavior!
I don’t know how you read this comment, but frankly, I think she has some serious issues unrelated to computer abuse in the Charedi community. To go from banning the internet to Mormons is quite a leap. I agree that there are some controlling aspects to Charedi lifestyle and that parents and community leaders exercise an inordinate amount of control, in the eyes of many, over their followers. But guess what? There are some communities, especially in urban
Shmuel, also from Rechovot, speaks wise words when saying:
The responses are sadder than the article. Everyone is so upset that the Gerrer Chasidim shut off their children from the internet, as though they are now abandoned to the Middle Ages. I (although not Charedi), choose to have no internet connection in my house, and I live a rather modern life without it. To me, it is more sad to see how the general secular public ignores the risks and and danger that the internet poses to our children, and rather just blames the Charedim for their response to the danger (even if you don`t agree with it). Filth and the destruction of the education of our children does not equal modernity!
I have to agree with much of what Shmuel is saying. You don’t need the internet to become smarter, worldly, or educated. Arguably, past generations that created the technology we have today did so without the aid of computers or the internet. The internet is simply a venue for communication, but certainly not the only or even the most effective means to do so in terms of educational value. We utilize the computers in schools, not as matter of necessity, but for convenience. Nothing replaces the face to face interaction of a real teacher in a classroom or real people in a real, three-dimensional social setting. When the virtual world becomes ‘real’, we find many social and individual problems growing from the associated behaviors. I would venture to guess that internet junkies and ‘gamers’ are far more likely to become shut off from the real world than are the children of those Gerrer Chasidim who have chosen to unplug their PCs from the World Wide Web.
I already knew from my co-workers that energy drinks can be very addicting and frequent drinkers become physiologically and psychologically dependent upon them. They possess an ultra-high dose of vitamins, sugar, caffeine, and minerals that quickly boost energy levels and alertness. Something that works that hard and that fast cannot be good for you if overused. So now, when I feel the need for a little pick-me-up, I drink one of the lesser powerful, ‘natural’ energy drinks that don’t send my id into total nuclear meltdown. I only will drink a shot or two at a time, and usually at the end of my work day right before I begin my workout. I know to be careful.
I see people much younger than I, even children, buying the strongest of energy drinks in the middle of the day. If these kids don’t have enough energy, what the hell can I expect at my age? What exactly are they doing, or not doing, that requires them to take high doses of stimulants? Is playing video games that important? I almost don’t even want to know at this point. What the hell does the 15 year old have to be tired about? (If you tell me he or she is having lots of sex, I’ll be very jealous, so please, if that’s the case, let me savor my ignorant bliss for a little while longer.)
I think we are going to see some serious physical and emotional damage in both kids and adults from abusing these drinks. I see value in their ability to help someone fatigued, on an occasional basis, get through the day, but otherwise, they seem redundant, over-powerful, and untested. Not that I’m a psychic doctor, but I see kidney failure and thyroid problems in their future.
For now, I’ll just try to stick with a good night’s rest and deep breathing exercises when needed.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
As a former public school teacher I have, as you might readily surmise, an opinion about the home-schooling movement. Surprisingly, I am, at least in theory, very much in favor of it, though home schooling isn’t well-suited for every student. It also has to be determined whether the parental decision to home-school is based on realities of the child’s educational needs or merely upon a religiously-based schizophrenia or racism turned anti-government paranoia. There is home-schooling that is borne out of concern for the child and his or her specific needs and another that is the product of isolationism and separatism.
It is ironic that a society which demands that the parents, on one hand, take full responsibility for their child’s welfare, education, and behavior and then, conversely, continue to harshly criticize those home-schooling parents that actually accept that weighty task willingly! I cannot tell you how many times I heard people say “Education is the parent’s responsibility.” A parent that home-schools takes on a huge responsibility and a great risk that their efforts might fall short. However, would the home-schooled kid be at any less peril than a child left vulnerable to the free-for-all of public and parochial systems? There are some children who will thrive in home education setting and encounter greater risks by the public setting. I believe that option should be available with, of course, strict guidelines that conform to accepted academic standards.
The most common critique of home schooling centers around the socialization of the home-schooled child, wrongly assuming that being stuffed into a classroom with 30-40 other children, subjected to endless and various peer pressures, cliques or perpetual teasing, or forced into a collective schedule is somehow a healthy start to life and preparation for the future. Sure, many of us developed a thicker skin and learned to ‘roll with the punches’, but not all kids are that resilient. Some, whom you may know personally, retain those deep, silent scars of childhood taunts borne in an anarchic social atmosphere with no escape or adequate release. Such emotional scars adversely affect learning and later socialization much more profoundly than would being coached in iambic pentameter by your own mother.
These same critics are under the false impression that home-schooled children social captives confined to their rooms and seldom, if ever, venture out for extra-familial contact. It is likely there are, in fact, some very over-protective parents who, with perhaps the best of intentions, hide their children from the world, but most home-schoolers are not of that variety. Home-schooling families take part in group functions that include other home schooled children in addition, to the normal family functions and parties that we all must endure from time to time. To assume that a home-schooled kid will inevitably become a maladjusted social illiterate is just plain wrong. One would make an equally grave error in asserting that a publicly schooled child, by virtue of his education being ‘public’ must, therefore, be socially well-adjusted. Lest we forget, the ‘Columbine killers’ were products of our public schools.
I don’t know if home schooling is overall better or worse than the parochial or public alternatives. Some kids do better, and some do worse. Einstein, for example, did not thrive in the German public schools of his day and did not achieve his own greatness and potential until he was free of its rigid, institutional restraints. I feel the various systems can overlap and enhance each other when needed. In order to make some useful order out of it, we have to begin with a discussion free from hyperbole and misunderstanding. There is a way to provide options that work for everyone.
In many states around the country, bills have been introduced in legislatures that ask for family courts to order joint custody of children in divorce as a default, or assumed, position, rather than granting full custody and visitation to one parent or the other. It is generally referred to as the “Fair Parenting Act”, and it is much like the Uniform Parenting Act, which also seeks to reduce controversy and acrimony in divorce and custody cases. Essentially, both proposed acts, if passed, would offer fathers a benefit of the doubt in such cases where none currently exists.
Below you will find a portion of the HB 4564 and then the comments of its most vocal opponents. I will rebut this opposition at the end to show just how vacuous their ‘reasoning’ has become.
HB 4564 (Proposed)
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF
Sec. 6a. (1) In a custody dispute between parents, the court shall order joint custody unless either of the following applies:
(a) The court determines by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit, unwilling, or unable to care for the child.
(b) A parent moves his or her residence outside the school district that the child attended during the 1-year period preceding the initiation of the action and is unable to maintain the child's school schedule without interruption. If a parent is unable to maintain the child's school schedule, the court shall order that the parents submit the dispute to mediation to determine a custody agreement that maximizes both parents' ability to participate equally in a relationship with the child while accommodating the child's school schedule. A parent may restore joint custody by demonstrating the ability to maintain the child's school schedule.
(2) (1) In If subsection (1) does not apply in a custody disputes dispute between parents, the parents shall be advised of joint custody. At the request of either parent, the court shall consider an award of joint custody, and shall state on the record the reasons for granting or denying a request.
This next part comes from the National Organization of Women (Now) who, not surprisingly, opposes any measure that would grant fathers a greater share of parenting time with the children. I honestly thought they could have done better, but who am I to tell them what to do? Here it is:
This next part comes from the National Organization of Women (Now) who, not surprisingly, opposes any measure that would grant fathers a greater share of parenting time with the children. I honestly thought they could have done better, but who am I to tell them what to do? Here it is:
HB 4564 has serious consequences women and their children as well as victims of domestic violence. Action is needed NOW! We need you to contact your legislator by letter, email or phone and urge them to OPPOSE HB 4564.
If you go to their national (or state) website, NOW does not explain how giving joint custody or HB 4564 in general would effect the existing domestic violence statutes. If you read the bill, and can comprehend even just a fraction of it, there is no preclusion from asking the court to review the individual case and set custody or visitation accordingly. There is no explicit or implied clause in HB 4564 that prevents a mother (or father for that matter) from seeking the court’s permission to restrict access or visitation based upon extenuating circumstances that may arise. HB 4564 simply allows a father, as a parent, to have the presumption of equal footing in the deciding of custodial and visitation issues.
Joint custody is based on several assumptions, which are:* That both parents were active co-parents before the divorce or separation;
Active co-parents? I don’t know what that means exactly. Is ‘active’ determined by time, by money, or by effort? If a parent is away at work, earning the money that pays the household bills and provides the means by which the child thrives, wouldn’t that also count as ‘active’ parenting? And, why does NOW assume that one parent is ‘non-active’ and not both? If you don’t know for sure, without a hearing, then how can you assume that either parent isn’t ‘active’? It makes no sense.
* That both parents are skilled negotiators who can put their feelings aside and put the needs of their children before their own;
Once again, how do they know that the mother can put aside her feelings any more or less than would the child’s father? By their logic, neither parent should be assumed capable of such stoic fortitude. Besides, the parents aren’t negotiating anything. It will be the family court ordering joint custody based upon relative and fair assumptions unless, or course, evidence exists to preclude such an order.
*That the best and only way for both parents to be active in a child’s life is through joint custody;
Do they think that the best way for divorced parents to raise their child is for one parent to see his or her child two weekends a month? If ‘active’ is their criteria for custody, as it shows a healthy and strong parental bond, then why do they insist on one parent, usually the father, becoming ‘inactive’ by court order? Joint custody is the best way; equal time, equal exposure, and equal responsibility. Best for everyone involved. I cannot understand how separating a child from a competent loved one does any good for anyone.
* That the need for a child to have both parents in their life supersedes the child’s need for safety and stability.
Where do they think safety and stability come from? Could it be from parents? Do they really think that separating a decent parent from his or her child or limiting access without good reason is somehow creating a ‘stable’ environment? I don’t think it can get crazier than this. Children don’t look to courts, to the police, to the lawyers, or to NOW for safety and stability. They look to their parents who, under the unfortunate circumstances of divorce, must continue best they can to provide that emotional and physical security. Once again, HB 4564 does not prevent one parent from suing for sole custody or questioning the court’s decision.
I think that HB 4564 and similar bills are going to change family law for the better. Too often, a parent goes into court and is accused of something inappropriate or even criminal as a means to extract concessions or deny visitation. In English law, divorce fell under what was known then as ‘Fairness Laws’ where the decisions were made by judges, not based upon evidence, but by what was considered fair or, as we put it today, in the best interest of the child. They did this to streamline their overloaded court dockets. There were no evidentiary hearings or trials, just the administrative posturing.
HB 45664 doesn’t do away with fairness or the best interest of the child. It does however, demand that a father or mother, receive equal consideration in the interests of that child unless evidence suggests that one, or both, are unfit or unable to fulfill the requisite requirements to maintain joint custodial input.
Everyone has their opinion concerning extra-curricular sexual activities outside of the relationship they currently share. Each couple makes their own rules and each relationship has its own particular and often very confusing dynamic. Whether it appears good, bad, or ugly, I have learned not to pass judgments on other couples. It does not matter whether they are sexually ‘liberal’ or horribly abusive and controlling, from my vantage point, those relationships and what those persons choose for themselves is none of my fucking business. I have enough to worry about in my own relationship.
Couples make agreements, some of them explicit and others develop with time and circumstance, remaining unspoken yet very clearly drawn lines of conduct and demeanor covering a wide range of things. In my own relationships, I simply ask for honesty and teamwork. Keep to what you agree to, and don’t make shit up as you go along or change the rules in the middle of the game without good reason. One of the things I do not demand from a woman is sexual fidelity. She will be faithful or she will not. I would only ask that she use better judgment when playing around.
I learned long ago that to force people into monogamy does not always work out well in the long run. Some people are sexually expressive and curious beyond what is normally acceptable in our Puritanical-American view of sexuality. Many years ago, I loved a woman who, to put it bluntly, ‘couldn’t control her pussy’. She was open about her sexuality and on again off again lesbianism. I didn’t love her any less, but in my exuberant youthful male desire to maintain control, I drove myself from someone who I loved very much. Looking back from the vantage point of hindsight, I could have taken a much more enlightened approach to her sexuality and my own. People can share their bodies without giving away their hearts, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a strictly personal matter.
Marlene Dietrich once said, “In America, sex is an obsession. In
It isn’t really about the sex, rather the attitude that punishes decent people for merely expressing their physical desires. No, I don’t advocate sexual anarchy at all. There are, of course, health and family issues to consider. For some, sexuality becomes a means of acting out on deeper psychological issues and those people should seek professional help. In my quest for social enlightenment, I recognized within myself the severe emotional frustrations caused by artificial and superstitious social stigmas surrounding sexual taboos. I chose to exclude those quasi-religious propositions from my personal relationships and I am happier for it.
It is all about the agreement.Kol Tuv
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Or, is there? Is there someone to whom we can address our dismay? Someone, who perhaps, does have the ear and attentions of the Oil Barons? We know that CEOs talk to other CEOs. They are an aristocracy unto themselves and behave as royalty. Their friendships, associations, and even recreations remain shared only amongst their own kind. They even sit on the executive boards of each other’s companies sometimes. They do talk to one another.
Now when I have to pay twice as much for my transportation as I did a year ago, it affects my bottom line, and I cannot spend as much money on recreational activities such as dining out, going to the cinema, or taking a vacation at some fancy resort. These very pleasurable and once commonplace experiences are no longer affordable due the rising costs gasoline. Sure, I can cut corners by driving less or buying a car that gets better gas mileage, but at some point I still will be paying more for my basic needs than before and that hurts my pocketbook.
This realization gave me an idea. Rather than pleading endlessly, and futilely, unto the deafened ears of criminals in Big Oil, why not write a polite letter to one of the CEOs of those other corporations whose products and services you can no longer afford or enjoy because of high gas prices?
Here is an example: (I am using Disney, but you could stick any company in there i.e. McDonalds, Star Theatres, etc.)
Dear Mr. Eisner,
Let me first congratulate you on offering a wonderful and stimulating vacation experience for millions of people worldwide. It is a truly remarkable happening. My family and I are very eager to visit your park and enjoy the myriad of rides and attractions to the absolute fullest.
However, due to the recent surge in gas prices, my family and I have had to cut back on discretionary expenditures of all kinds and, I am very sad to say, so too, must we put off visiting Disney for another time. My kids are really disappointed, but the rising cost of transportation makes such a trip impossible at this time. I hate breaking their hearts this way, but the financial realities must be considered.
I wonder how many other middle class families have to forego their vacations, some of them at your establishments, because of financial constraints due to rising energy and gas prices. It is a shame, because, for the children at least, a visit to Disney is an experience that lasts a lifetime.
Maybe we can get there next year.
Mr. or Mrs. Potential Consumer
Or, should you prefer something less verbose:
Dear CEO of McDonald’s Corp.,
The convenience of having a hot cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast ready for me on my way into work each day cannot be understated. Your breakfast sandwiches are addictive! Unfortunately, due to much higher gas prices than normal, I have to choose between the tasty convenience of your delicious product and having enough money to fill my gas tank.
I don’t know how many other people are having to consider such an option, but I imagine there must be some others also financially hard-pressed due to the rising gas prices.
If other corporations realize the impact that higher gas prices have on their bottom line then perhaps the CEO of Brand X will have a conversation with CEO of Gas Co. A, and, if all goes well, the consumer night see some relief at the pump. It does us no good, at this point, to rant and rail against the whole machine when certain parts of the machine can be utilized to dampen the effects of the other. I suspect the CEOs of Disney already imagine that higher basic living costs mean that fewer people will visit their parks or purchase their products. However, we do need to tell them so they know for certain.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I have to agree with the person who expressed a heretofore unspoken reality concerning friendly waitresses or female bartenders. After having worked a few night shifts in a local club, I began to notice the starkly contrasting personality shifts that wait staff would undergo in between times spent in front of customers and the few moments they spent out of sight and earshot of patrons. That eye-opening experience caused me to pretty much stop eating out altogether. I began to wonder if every time I ate in a restaurant that the server was employing some uber-phony friendliness and really couldn’t give a damn if I was happy or not with my meal. If I wished to dine in the company of an actress, one well-trained in faking most everything, I would hook up with my ex wife.
So, dear waitress, if you see me sitting at your table please don’t patronize me with tossing a hip my direction or batting your eyes. Don’t twist your hair or try any coquettish nonsense. Don’t call me “Honey” or “Sugar”. Don’t ask me how I am doing or how my day is. You don’t give a shit and please don’t ruin my day any further by trying to convince me that you do. Be polite and be prompt. That’s all you need to do. There isn’t any chance in hell that you would interact with me were I not seated in your section. Don’t try to persuade me otherwise. You’ll get a better tip not treating me as if I’m some gullible, love-struck dupe.
Yet, why single out wait staff or servers for being disingenuous? Hell. We all smile for our bosses, our customers, and even our families when we don’t want to. We all lie to ourselves and to them in order to achieve some financial or social end. I think this is what disgusts me about myself sometimes, in that I have to play the game just to pay the bills and have a few dollars for fun left over. I can imagine the frustration of having to fake everything, perhaps not all the time, but enough of the time that one ends up carrying a huge Santa-size sack of unspoken resentments and hatreds. I should know.
We are all whores, doing shit we don’t always want to do for someone we sometimes hate. So, dear waitress, go ahead. Tell me you how much you don’t want to be serving these scrambled eggs and how my physical appearance makes you either sick to your stomach or brings on a painful indifference. Tell me that you don’t give a damn about the eggs or me. Be honest. I am so tired of being patronized, and I am sure that someone is secretly wishing that I, too, would cease being disingenuous with them.
People demand candid honesty, but turn hateful when it when it arrives. Go figure. Oh, dear waitress, here is yours. Where is mine?