Monday, May 27, 2013

IN MEMORIAM: There’s Something Happening Here (For What It's Worth)

Memorial Day Edition, 2013

From Being Liberal Page, Facebook

Miss O’ was up and at ‘em early on this holiday Memorial Day, a too-cold morning for the season (half a foot of snow fell upstate last night), and it’s sweltering in other places, and you know, the world just ain’t right. Here was my status update, posted with the photo above:

Here's to Ben Franklin. Ol' Ben had a good life--was famous, creative, well-off, bedded lots of women, traveled, wrote, and had every reason to enjoy a comfortable old age. Instead, he chose to lead a revolution against oppression. 
I'd like to think that 250 years later, we could be enacting our revolutions without weapons, without armies, without killing. Thanks to all who serve. In 2013, that anyone should expect the ultimate sacrifice of young people shows a powerful lack of imagination and intelligence on our part.

Miss O' always has something to say, doesn't she? And I have a lot more. But before I get into all that, as they say on the NPR Wall Street show, “Marketplace,” let’s do the numbers.

In Memoriam: War Dead, 2003 to 2013

1st Lt. Robert Kelly, USMC, preparing to deploy. 
He died November 9, 2010 in Afghanistan.
Photo on his sister Kate's Facebook page.


For those who think about these things, here’s the CNN map of armed forces casualties (i.e., dead) in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Tellingly, CNN does not mention civilian deaths. Those are “other” people, I guess. I couldn’t find an official government site for those war dead, so I went on a search. 

I found Iraq totals on this site:

Illegal Iraq War
·      U.S. and Coalition Forces Dead: 4,802
·      Iraqi Civilian Dead: 112,789—123,419

Afghan War
·      U.S. and Coalition Dead (including my former student 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, pictured above): 3,303
·      Afghan Civilian Dead: 132,000

      Miss O' has a dream that one day she won't have to write about the war dead. Mark Twain had a similar dream. If you haven't read "The War Prayer" by Mr. Twain, may I recommend it?      


Meanwhile, here on the home front...

From The Huffington Post, March 2013

Numbers of gun deaths in the United States in 2012-2013:

This research was compiled by Ezra Klein and the staff of The Washington Post, comparing U.S. gun deaths by region and nation, from December 2012:

“12 facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States”:

And then there’s this, from The Bloomberg News, December of 2012:

“American Gun Deaths to Exceed Traffic Fatalities by 2015”:

For those of you who don’t click on links or read articles in full, but rather prefer your information to come from memes (which most of us do not bother to fact-check because typing in the “fact” and hitting “return” on Google is just too hard—pardon me while Miss O’ gets fucking pissed off at the fucking laziness of the “outraged”):

Allow Miss O' to synthesize: Of the 9,484 Americans murdered with guns in one year, 230 of those could be called "justifiable homicides," or killings in self-defense or in defense of home or property (see  blog "Stoned Me to My Soul" April 28, 2013). The remaining 9,254 deaths, then, total more IN ONE YEAR than the all the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan COMBINED (8,105) over TEN YEARS. Only when killed en masse (and only then if they are mostly white), do we "honor" the murdered dead at all in this country. We do nothing to try to stop this killing. Am I the only one who finds this sick?

On Death by Weapons, Everywhere

Miss O's personal hero, Virginia Woolf, wrote an essay in 1938 called Three Guineas, wherein she called for the end of war. I've quoted her often, and I invoke her words again today. War would not be a way of life if women were in power. Woolf believed that. Miss O' does, too. By oppressing women, war mongers can keep the money coming. It's all about money, isn't it? The title of Woolf's essay comes from its conceit: She (VW) has been asked to contribute one British pound, or guinea, to three different causes. She is weighing whether or not to spend these three guineas. When it comes to the war effort, she declines.

Photo of Virginia Woolf by Man Ray.
It's my favorite.

As I wrote this weekend on Facebook: Here is some context for the most-quoted line from Three Guineas (see photo above). Woolf imagines, in the third-person, a woman weighing the pros and cons of going to war, yet again, in the first half of the 20th Century.

“She will find that she has no good reason to ask her brother to fight for ‘our’ country. ‘Our country,’ she will say, ‘throughout the greater part of its history has treated me as a slave; it has denied me education or any share of its possessions. “Our” country denies me the means of protecting myself, forces me to pay others a very large sum annually to protect me, and is so little able, even so, to protect me that Air Raid precautions are written on the wall. Therefore if you insist upon fighting to protect me, or “our” country, let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share; but not to gratify my instincts, or to protect myself or my country. “For,” the outsider will say, “as a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”’”

—Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas, 1938

And is she wrong? (We need more women like Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for office if we are ever to stop the money train from killing all of us. So sayeth Miss O'.)

In Memoriam: Freedom of the Press

Old news, really. You might think Miss O’ is going to scream about Obama’s squashing leaks to the press. You know why the Republicans are mad? Because Obama’s administration has been so good at it. I’m not condoning Obama, but I have had it with scandals that are not scandals, i.e. Benghazi, because we have so many real problems right now.

By all means, let's talk about civilian deaths in attacks.
And then there's the 3,000 dead on 9-11.
Fun with Dick and George.

Let’s talk about REAL reasons for shame, shall we? There is NO free press, whatever the Constitution guarantees. We’ve done this to ourselves. Remember money? It buys networks. It buys news organizations. Rupert Murdoch and Fox are easy exemplars: The Koch Brothers are this close to owning the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. If you don't know who the Koch Brothers are, you give Miss O' hives. Here are just two shameful examples of suppression tactics from the Republican front:

Shame #1: I lived in New York City in 2004 during the Republican National Convention held at Madison Square Garden. That President Bush had the gall to hold this in New York City, when 9-11 happened on his watch, is be-yond. My building was serving as their headquarters, and so my company and all the other companies in residence were forced to send all their workers home for a full week. We were NOT ALLOWED into the building. This meant hourly-wage workers lost a week's wages, and companies lost a full week's productivity, so Bush could have a bash in the heart of the city his negligence had helped to partially destroy. And when I marched in protest of the RNC, along with an estimated one million others (where dozens of peaceful protestors were arrested, battered, later released, and never charged or reported about), the only single place you learned about it in this country was C-SPAN.

Shame #2: At the same time, again in 2004, a friend had an apartment on 10th Avenue with a street-facing window where he displayed a large anti-Bush poster. One day the week before the RNC delegations arrived, two FBI agents arrived at his door and ordered him to take it down. No shit. The guy—gay, which is significant, because he was used to having his life threatened for freely being who he was—looked at them and laughed. He laughed and laughed and slammed the door in their faces. (And because, at its core, this can often be the America of our ideals, that was that.)

There are hundreds of unreported stories like this. If the U.S. press were really a free press, they would be reporting the really big stories. The BIG ones. They involve food, water, and air. How dull, one thinks. How elemental and unexciting. And they are. Until the lack of these things, you know, kills us.

That U.S. citizens prefer to consume rather than think is a truth universally acknowledged, or would be, if U.S. citizens actually thought about it. I don’t know why we are so busy stuffing ourselves with “foods” about which ingredients we know nothing, and burying our heads in iGadgets and Ikea furniture, covered in layers of clothes sewn in Bangladeshi factories that are killing, er, employing, thousands of people, but we are doing that. And to get us to do that, corporations need to advertise their wares. We don’t have a free press in this country. We have a corporate-owned and corporate-oppressed press. How do I know? Because the sexiest, most far-reaching story in the short term of planetary survival is the story about FOOD. No one covers it. That’s not an accident.

In Memoriam: Food

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
But what happens, wonders Miss O', when the plants
are engineered to kill us
in order to maximize profits for a few greedy bastards?

Back in 2002, a documentary came out from Canada called The Corporation. I saw it at Film Forum here in New York the year I moved here, in 2003. In many ways, the film is a mess, in that it can’t totally decide what it wants to investigate. To be clear, the film does not have, as one might assume, an “anti-corporate” agenda. The filmmakers were truly trying to figure out what exactly a “corporation” is in the 21st century. The thru-line, however, was clear: Using the World Health Organization's personality profile survey, and treating the corporation as if it were a human (a talking point among business leaders long before Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, my friends"), the documentarians found that the corporation, as it currently exists, is a sociopath:

It’s a must-see movie for every citizen—and that is why the film could not get major distribution in the United States. See how corporate power works? For one thing, this film shows how food will be the new creator of war, and it shows who will make the money from it. Who will profit the most? A little corporation called Monsanto.

Hey, if the profile fits...

See, if we had a truly free press, and not one owned by sociopathic corporations, what news organization would fail to report on huge human marches on Saturday, May 25, 2013, in 436 cities around the world against that giant American Corporate titan, Monsanto? Because not ONE mainstream media organization reported on this, as far as I can find on Google.
Here's one account from the Associated Press:


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Protesters rallied in dozens of cities Saturday as part of a global protest against seed giant Monsanto and the genetically modified food it produces, organizers said.
Organizers said "March Against Monsanto" protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Los Angeles where demonstrators waved signs that read "Real Food 4 Real People" and "Label GMOs, It's Our Right to Know."


Protesters in Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina, where Monsanto's genetically modified soy and grains now command nearly 100 percent of the market, and the company's Roundup-Ready chemicals are sprayed throughout the year on fields where cows once grazed. They carried signs saying "Monsanto-Get out of Latin America"

In Portland, thousands of protesters took to Oregon streets. Police estimate about 6,000 protesters took part in Portland's peaceful march, and about 300 attended the rally in Bend. Other marches were scheduled in Baker City, Coos Bay, Eugene, Grants Pass, Medford, Portland, Prineville and Redmond.

But did you hear about it? No, you didn’t. Because, dear reader, Monsanto is a big advertiser in newspapers, magazines, and on television. My friend Jay, who worked as a photographer for GreenPeace in the 1980s, told me about the evil triplets Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont even then—how the workers for these companies are being killed over time by the companies' chemical horrors and lack of worker safety. But who gives a shit? Eat some Fritos.

"Monsanto should NOT have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job" — Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998

Here’s a list of companies owned by Monsanto. Boycott or not, their mega-ownership virtually guarantees that no “free” press can exist in the United States. Think of all the ads you see for these companies alone.

Here’s a website with more information. It’s one place to start educating yourselves. Always fact-check.

But the main reason you will never hear a word against Monsanto not just in the media but also the floor of either house of Congress has to do with this little problem:

Source: Occupy Monsanto

"Conflict of interests" is just another way of saying "Fuck you, American citizens." My girl Hillary is on that list. My fabulous senator Kirsten Gillibrand is also in their pocket. I don't know what I'm supposed to vote for anymore, and I think that is the point. Monsanto wins, has won, and it's more or less over unless more people besides Miss O' (and her handful of activist friends and the activist volunteers in this land) decide to get inside, and I do mean INSIDE, as in INSIDE the halls of actual, elected POWER, as well as OUTSIDE, and act.

Oh, and another thing:

In Memoriam: Water

Scientists warn that Earth faces severe water shortages within a generation

The new oil. Whoever owns the water rightsand how water can be "owned" by anyone is beyond mewill decide who lives and who dies. Literally, by which I mean literally and not figuratively. It's terrifying. Or is that just me?

What else is there to say? Oh, this:

In Memoriam: Human Life on Earth

from Wired UK

From The Los Angeles Times:

Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere pass 400 milestone, again [note: It’s been 800,000 YEARS since last time.]

For the previous 800,000 years, CO2 levels never exceeded 300 parts per million, and there is no known geologic period in which rates of increase have been so sharp. The level was about 280 parts per million at the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, when the burning of fossil fuels began to soar.

From NASA on Facebook

Worth learning more about, wouldn't you say?

From Wired UK:

Even going back over the last 800,000 years -- that's around the time that homo sapiens began migrating out of Africa into Europe and Asia -- there hasn't been a higher atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.

This is a bad thing. It really is. Possibly it is true that easy respiration, dry ground, and fresh drinking water not destroyed by salinization caused by rising oceans DO NOT MATTER TO YOU because you have superpowers rendering you fucking omnipotent, but Miss O' is not so powerful. In fact, I don’t know how to get people to give a shit about this planet's future, and so I write this blog. About three to five dozen people, maybe, read it each week. I manage to lose at least one friend over each post, so my readership is going down. I have no idea if I’m of any use at all. 

I know a guy with a whole lot more power than I have who must feel the same way.

To learn more about why it's really important to stop our extinction, and you should, here's one place to start: MIT Atmospheric Chemistry: Understanding atmospheric composition and its impacts.

You know why we have to educate ourselves on atmospheric chemistry, when it would be so much nicer to leave it to experts at MIT? Because the experts are crippled by 1) see previous paragraphs on the lack of a free press to get the word out; and 2) POLITICIANS--and we CITIZENS VOTE FOR THOSE ASSHOLE POLITICIANS WHO GET THE FUCK IN THE WAY OF OUR FUTURE WORLD. Jesus GOD I am tired.

Dear ones, Miss O’ has no children. Will never have them. Miss O’, therefore, will never have grandchildren. In short, Miss O’ has no human legacy; moreover, she has no fame or reputation to protect and preserve; indeed, she probably has only a couple of decades left to live on this planet at all. And yet for some reason that even she herself does not understand, she cannot simply enjoy theater, drink wine (washed down with Scotch), and watch TCM classic movie porn until her time is up. No, she keeps fretting about the survival of living things on this very gorgeous planet. Join her, won't you?

Here’s the headline Miss O' would very much like to be writing in Memorial Day of 2014:

In Memoriam: The Corporation of Capitalist Greed
from UK Daily Telegraph

So there's ol' Ben Franklin up there, watching the country he sacrificed everything for, going up in flames (and down in crumbling bridges). Global warming comes down to corporate greed. It really is that simple.

If we had no need to press our religious beliefs upon others; if individual humans (such as the Koch Brothers) felt no need to have all the money in the world and, like Dr. Evil in an Austin Powers movie, take over the world by controlling the United States and all its food, water, energy resources, and news sources; if all humans had more connection to the natural world; if the enjoyment and practice of art and education in the truest sense mattered to people more than making lots and lots of money (and, so, sacrificing our own welfare so that a very few can be very rich indeed)—well, kids, Miss O’s little heart just burst with virtual joy at the thought of it all coming to pass. 

Because rich or poor, if we don't try to reverse the trend in CO2 emissions, we are all, ALL, going to be dead in exactly the same way: by drowning, or by thirst. Corporations are trying to make human life extinct. They are too stupid with greed to realize they are doing this, and too addicted to making lots and lots of money to stop. We need Investments Anonymous. Who will start THAT self-help group?

In memoriam: What are you grieving today? Honor it. Do something about it. Do it with love.

Yours until you just can’t take her anymore,

Miss O’

P.S. Go outside.

Image from Free Your Mind and Think
(and do that, too)

Thanks to Buffalo Springfield for today's title:

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