Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dear Santa

this piece should appear as a “letter to the editor” in The Independent and The Redwood Times this week.

dear santa

Dear Santa,

Dear-Santa

This Christmas I found a very special gift beneath a fir tree, about half a mile from my home, a cracked and leaking 12v deep-cycle marine battery. I found the battery behind a fir tree, about 6ft from the road, where it had been carefully placed to be invisible to the motorists who pass by. Fortunately I walk that stretch of road nearly every day, so I found my holiday gift before most of the lead and acid could leak into the nearby stream.

deep-cycle

I realize that folks around here don’t seem especially concerned about the serious environmental crisis you face at the North Pole, what with the ice caps melting and all, but really Santa, have you lost your mind? Lead and battery acid are incredibly toxic to fish and wildlife, and I’m pretty sure that a 40lb slab of heavy metal pollution was not on the Mattole River’s Christmas list this year.

polar bear

However, you know how much I love to recycle, and a battery like that is worth about seven dollars to the good people at the recycling place in Redway, right across from the hardware store. Seven dollars folks, for one battery, cash on the barrel-head, no questions asked. That’s real money! That’s enough to buy a fat burrito from Nacho Mama. Seven bucks will buy enough diesel fuel to get you back and forth to town in your huge jacked-up pickup truck. Really, who couldn’t use $7?

seven-dollars1

So, if you’ve got dead, useless 12v automotive, marine, deep-cycle, golf cart, solar system, or any other type of lead-acid battery lying around, don’t re-gift them to your watershed. I know you are glad to see the salmon return, but the salmon don’t want your leftover poison. Instead, bring your dead batteries to town, and trade them in for cold hard cash, in Redway.

redway_dribbble


The Real Apocalypse Continues on KMUD, Sunday at 9:30am

The Real Apocalypse Continues on KMUD Sunday at 9:30am

 Four_Horsemen_POSTER1

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Clearly, whoever said that has not spent much time around the mentally ill. No, doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, is the definition of stupidity.

stupidity1

As we systematically wipe out the biodiversity of the planet, overheat the atmosphere, and pollute, poison and contaminate every ecosystem and organism on Earth, a wretched and miserable cast, more than seven-billion strong, reenacts, recreates and reinforces a ten-thousand-year-old pattern of stupidity that has brought us to the brink of global destruction.

Ecological-destruction

For an exploration of the roots of this juggernaut of cultural stupidity that has given us tyranny, war, starvation and disease on a biblical scale, and lies at the heart of our current global environmental crisis, listen to (my partner) Amy Gustin’s radio show, The Living Earth Connection, on KMUD at 9:30 am this coming Sunday.

kmud

Amy has put together an exceptional program. You will find it eye-opening and entertaining. The show examines the agricultural revolution, which gave rise to Western Civilization, through the prism of the biblical story of Revelations. To represent Revelations, Amy has chosen selections from Aphrodite’s Child’s classic album, 666 (which I reviewed here about a year ago). Through an examination of historical records and archeological evidence, Amy reveals the tectonic shift in human consciousness that triggered the tsunami of stupidity that now threatens to drown us all. Tune in to The Living Earth Connection this Sunday, Dec, 30 at 9:30 am on KMUD.


Mayan Calendar Letdown

Mayan Calendar Letdown

day-after-the-mayan-calendar-editorial-cartoon

Fucking Mayans! I can’t believe they let us down too. I wish one of these apocalypse cults would be right for a change. I’m so sick of having my end of the world ruined by bogus prophesy. Get it right, and get it the fuck over with already!

get it over with

Back in the sixties, we all lived in fear of instant nuclear annihilation. Today, it sounds like blessed relief, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I guess destroying the planet was one of those things they decided was best left to the private sector, but death by capitalism is proving to be a tortuously slow and excruciatingly painful experience.

capitalism kills 2 (1)

I’d trade slow death by capitalism for a blinding flash and a blaze of thermonuclear glory, in a New York second. Wouldn’t you? Too bad our politicians lack the zeal and balls of our corporate CEOs, or we could have gotten global nuclear Armageddon done yesterday.

mushroom cloud

But Noooo… now we have to face 2013, something I am totally unprepared to do. At least in 2012, I knew that I just needed to hang in there until December 21st. Now there’s no end in sight.

ph/antiwar

I heard about an asteroid that might hit us, in about 15 years. Fifteen fucking years! Maybe! I can’t hold out for that. I need somebody to promise me that the world really will end sometime before then. Doesn’t anyone have a 2013 “end of the world” prophesy? How about it Prophet Mark? (he’s our local “the end is near” guy) Can somebody give me an apocalypse scenario I can live for in the coming year?

party now

Come on people! Read an ancient text, have a dream or get abducted by fucking aliens. I don’t care where you get your inspiration, just make it snappy. Then write a book telling us when the world will end, and make sure it’s no more than, say, three years from now. Then, do a bunch of radio interviews about your book, so I don’t have to actually read it, to know the date I’m waiting for.

mayan calendar

That sounds like a deal to me. You get three years to sell your book, and we get what we so desperately need to get through our daily grind. That is, the hope that it will all be over soon.

dont fear the apocalypse


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt

Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt

 SANTA1

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Humboldt County

Not a creature was stirring, not even Sheriff Mike Downey

mike downey

The herb was all trimmed up and packed into bags

For smokers of taste, who will not smoke swag

Bags-of-Nugs

Me in bed naked, my wife in her panties

It’s that time of month, so it’s the ones that are ratty

miss-santa-girrl-3

When out at the gate there arose such a racket

I got out of bed and put on my jacket

raincoat

Threw on some pants and picked up my rifle

So they’d know I was serious and not to trifle

man-with-rifle

I stepped out of the door and into the rain

“To be out in this shit, this guy must be insane”

forest rain

I thought to myself as I trudged up the path,

“This better be good or he’ll feel my wrath”

angry-wet-cat-02

What did my dumb struck eyes then behold

But a bearded old man in a late model Olds

oldsmobile

I yelled “It’s Christmas Eve, are you out of your mind?”

He said “I’m Jewish, you’re Pagan, why’s this a bad time?

pagan jew

My friends all need weed, and I’ve plenty of cash,

At $3,000 a pound, I’ll take your whole stash”

cash-550x412

I thought to myself, “Well that’s quite a laugh,

These days I’d a probably sold it for half.”

half-price-tag

He showed me a bag that was packed full of bills

I opened the gate and we drove down the hill

open the gate

I made up some coffee, and rolled up a jay

And showed him a few of the buds on the tray

tray_of_buds

“Oh, this is the stuff that my friends all love.

They say that your stuff is a cut above.

cut above

They’ll pay what I ask for all I can get.

Did you have a good year? Is it all trimmed up yet?”

trimming pot

“This year I grew more than ever before,

It’s weighed up in bags just behind that door.

bags-of-marijuana-found-in-taxi-cab

You can inspect it while I count this cash,

Hand me that ashtray, and I’ll knock this ash.”

joint

We packed all the weed in the trunk of his car.

I said, “You found me out here, you must know where you are”.

not lost

“Oh yes, he said, “I’ll find my way out from here,

And I’ve many more stops to make, far and near.”

Grover_near_far

He started the car, and then turned on the lights,

And I heard him say, as he drove out of sight,

car-headlights

“Marijuana to all, and to all a good night.”

santa


Nice Rifle!

Nice Rifle!

 bushmaster

“Sig Zauer”, That’s a name I haven’t heard in connection with a mass killing before, but I’m not sure he even fired it. That Bushmaster .225 AR15, on the other hand, sounds like a great gun. The media repeatedly reminded me that the Bushmaster .225 AR15 is very light. That’s important, especially if you plan on shooting a lot of people. You don’t want your arm to get too tired. You still need to be able to hold a handgun to your own head when you’re done.

SIG226

The media also offers a couple other glowing endorsements of the Bushmaster .225. Apparently the DC Sniper also chose the Bushmaster .225 AR15. Of all of the mass shooters in recent memory, the DC Sniper really seemed to be the best shot. I think that guy knew a thing or two about guns. Also, the NYC police swat team carries Bushmaster .225 AR15s. Those guys are real professionals. Even the director of the Federal ATF spoke of the Bushmaster .225 AR15 in glowing terms.

brandon-thomas-e-280x350

Personally, everything I know about guns comes from the media reports following mass shootings. The Glock 9mm seems to be a popular handgun among America’s unstable youth, but that could be just a fad. This Bushmaster .225 AR15, however, sounds like a real high-quality rifle, I might need to get me one. I’m sure they cost a bit. Connecticut rich kids don’t skimp on stuff like that. I can imagine the cops arriving on the scene, surrounded by blood and dead bodies, going “Whoa, …nice rifle.”

rich-kids-More-likely-to-have-a-criminal-record-when-m-b180c9

Clearly the Bushmaster .225 AR15 is capable of firing lots of ammunition without jamming. Apparently in an Oregon mass shooting, another Bushmaster .225 AR15 jammed, mid-spree. That couldn’t have been very good for sales. Fortunately, the low body count in the Oregon shooting prevented it from generating too much bad publicity for Bushmaster, but the most recent Connecticut school shooting insures that this will be a very merry X-mas indeed for gun dealers across America.

gunsnsanta

You can’t buy that kind of advertizing. …Or can you? Why do they tell us this stuff? Now there’s talk of new gun control legislation. That’ll sell more guns for sure. I’m not crazy about gun control laws unless they involve disarming the police and military. I don’t think you can stop mass killings in America with gun control, any more than you can stop employee suicide at the Foxcom factory in China by locking the door to the roof.

chinese_labor

The term “Running Amok” comes from a phenomena that became epidemic in India during the British occupation. In that overpopulated country, under a particularly oppressive colonial occupation, young men would go mad, slashing wildly at anyone around them, with knives, as they ran through crowded streets. The fact that here in the US, it’s mostly privileged, white, middle-class kids who run amok, should tell you just how sick our dominant culture has become.

 freak-out-and-run-amok-1

As appealing as it appears from the outside, the middle-class lifestyle is not very satisfying, quite the opposite, in fact. Economic pressures insure that considerable resources get devoted towards keeping the affluent in a state of want. Corporations exploit every human weakness they can find, to use against them, and many among the middle-class are quite weak. Fifty-plus hour work-weeks, mortgage stress and media programming all work to weaken them further.

middle class watching tv

As a result, most middle-class people are really fucking lame.

Zappa-Good-Parents

As the middle-class gets lamer and lamer, it gets harder and harder to prevent their kids from realizing how lame their parents, their community, and this society really are.

zappa children

Turns out that Frank Zappa wasn’t kidding when he said “If your kids ever figure out how lame you are, they will murder you in your sleep.”

frank zappa if your kids


Crack Heads, Flu Season, Fake Crises and Bill Gates

Crack Heads, Flu Season, Fake Crises and Bill Gates

 gates gilligan

Look, I know most of you don’t read this blog to learn about economics or for articles about science. You should. Just because I’m a fool, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I know you don’t give a shit about economics or science, you just want me to say something stupid enough for you to chuckle at, and make it snappy. I know I’m just a short stop on your craven quest for amusement.

craven cigarettes

For you, immediate gratification takes too long. You don’t want context, edification, or even a set-up. You don’t even want to read a punchline, you just want the punch. You’re looking for a crack-house where you can free-base funny. Even a one-liner is too long, if it’s over 140 characters. You’re like, alright, I’ll read one line, but skip the vowels and punctuation, I haven’t got all day.

twit-on-twitter

So flu season is upon us again. This year many Americans will contract the Mexican Swine Flu because they can no longer afford German Measles. I suggest they hold out for the Chinese Bird Flu. I’m sure it will be a bargain. Some people won’t be able to make up their minds, they’ll be like “Mexican or Chinese… I had Chinese for lunch, I’ll have Mexican flu this year”. With the Chinese Bird Flu you wish you were dead, and you think you can fly, but if you sweat it out 14 hours a day seven days a week you can survive it. Speaking of China, what do people in China call their nice plates? …And why doesn’t anyone catch American made diseases anymore?

chinese bird flu

Speaking of American made diseases, while Congress wrestles with the ‘Fiscal Cliff” and the “Debt Ceiling” I though I might help them get a jump on their next fake crisis scam. How about these fake-crisis-scam names:

Scam alert

“Taxageddon”

taxageddon

“Financial Firestorm”

financial firestorm

“The Deathstar of Debt”

DeathStar of debt

“Economic Tsunami”

economic tsunami

“Entitlement Apocalypse”

entitlement apocalypse

“Health-Care Holocaust”

health care holocaust

“Thermonuclear Budget Bomb”

bubget bomb

Don’t those all sound scary? I now own the copyright to all of these fake-crisis-scam names, and dozens more. I would be happy to license any of them to Congress and the media.

contract

I got this brilliant idea after I realized that if I had a nickle for every time a politician or media pundit mentioned “the Fiscal Cliff”, I could afford to hire Bill Gates to empty my ashtray and clean my bong. So keep some pipe cleaners in your pocket-protector Bill, the next fake crisis scam is right around the corner.

pocket protecter w pipe cleaners


On The Money; What Middle-Class?

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

What Middle-Class?

 middle class

If you took a drink every time you heard a politician say “middle-class”, you could have stayed smashed since last January. Isn’t it strange that here in the US, where “Marxism” “communism” or even “socialism” have become foul language, the Marxist concept of an expanding middle-class remains hugely popular. So much so, that every politician in America constantly promises to help grow the middle-class.

drinking contest

For a while in the US, we had a real middle-class. Strong labor unions organized workers and wages rose for workers as a result. Thanks to unions like the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and the UAW, working people enjoyed home-ownership and considerable creature comforts. This was the age of Levittown houses and populux consumerism, and a brand new vision of widespread middle-class affluence that came to be known as the American Dream.

american_dream

Just like Marx predicted, workers organized, took control of the means of production, demanded higher wages, and the middle-class was born. And, for a while, it persisted, until capitalists found plenty of cheap, unorganized labor in China. Today, that middle-class has mostly retired. Thirty years of union-busting, outsourcing, downsizing, and wage stagnation have exacted a huge toll on the middle-class. In fact, you’d hardly recognize it today.

chinese_labor

Today, instead of an economy based on manufacturing, we have a service based economy brimming with low-wage, high-stress customer-service jobs. Facing lower wages (the “new normal”), higher housing, food, energy and health-care costs, the standard of living for most American workers has plunged precipitously in the last twenty years. Strangely, we still think of ourselves as middle-class.

MiddleClassPoll

Hey, our parents were middle-class, doesn’t that automatically make us middle-class too? Like it was genetic or something, but no, you are not middle-class anymore. The fact that you have three roommates helping to pay the rent should clue you in to that. The middle-class has vanished.

middle-class stinking

In the crater left by the imploding middle-class, we find the bourgeois. That is, the landlords, lawyers, cops, and businessmen, the people who most directly serve, and emulate the super-rich, the ones who already had money before the middle-class was born. These people are happy to be rid of the riffraff, and glad to have a whole new underclass of people to exploit.

landlord wannabe

That’s why you hear politicians talk so much about “the middle-class”. They know that the term only really applies to retirees from that bygone era, and their bourgeois, landlord/cop/lawyer/businessman supporters whose asses they already kiss. They know that a lot of people, who do not own property, or stocks, or investment income, but instead work for a living, at low wages, still identify with the middle-class, even though they got kicked out of the club decades ago.

middle class

When politicians promise to help the middle-class, they don’t mean that they will help you become middle-class. They mean that they will hold you down so the bourgeois can fuck you over. If you don’t like this old French term, call them the gentry, or the property owning class, or better yet, the landlords. Would you vote for a candidate who promised to help landlords? How about a candidate who promised to punish landlords? Now we’re talking, am I right?

landlord gets his

We have good reason to despise landlords, as we do cops, lawyers prisons and politicians, and they have all earned our contempt. Don’t dress them up in picket-fence-leave-it-to-beaver imagery, and then pretend like you live there too. The middle-class, Marxism, and the Berlin Wall all crumbled to dust a long time ago. It’s time to face facts, and call a spade a spade. The middle-class is dead, or at least retired, and the bourgeois are not on your side, and the politicians who promise to help them are not your friends. There’s a view of the middle-class that’s On The money.

american-dream


On The Money; An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

While a strong consensus exists among the American people to tax the rich, the rich themselves have enough political clout to insure that they won’t pay any more in taxes, unless they also see drastic cuts to the social safety net, already the weakest in the developed world. So really, what’s the point?

If all of our tax dollars will go to pay for more cops, prisons, guards, bombs, soldiers, drones and high-tech surveillance equipment, while it leaves millions of Americans homeless and out in the cold, why bother? Why throw good money after bad? I say it’s time to cut our losses, cut the crap, and cut to the chase.

Yes, it’s time to cut to the bone, through the bone, the spinal column, the carotid arteries and the windpipe, and the time to do it is NOW!!! There’s never been a better time, and no one has ever deserved it more. It’s time to AXE THE RICH!!

Really, what have the rich ever done for you? If you work for them, you know those jobs suck, and that they will work you to death, and destroy the whole world just to take a little more for themselves. It’s time to rid the world of this sickness called greed, and to do it, we must cull the herd. We must exterminate those already terminally infected with this pathogen so they don’t infect others, and this bloodletting will help inoculate the rest of the population.

As long as we live in a culture that protects, rewards, and celebrates greed, we live in a culture bent on ecocide. Every sustainable culture on Earth punishes greed, and every culture that fails to do so, also fails as a culture, and fails to survive. If you examine the cultures around the world that have endured for more than, say, 40,000 years, without depleting their resource base, you will find egalitarian societies that maintain their equality by punishing greed.

Sustainable tribal cultures treat greed as a childish tendency, to be scorned. Those who refuse to grow out of their childish selfishness are driven out of the tribe, or killed, though this is rare, because the benefits of living in an egalitarian society, far out-weigh any benefits one can achieve living alone with their avarice.

That is how sustainable cultures deal with greed. They recognize that violence is a natural part of life, and while they do not undertake it lightly, they do not shy away from it when violence becomes necessary. For them, violence is sometimes necessary to feed and clothe themselves and to preserve their culture and way of life. Sustainable cultures embrace and celebrate this kind of violence, but they do not tolerate greed. If we wish to live sustainably on this planet, we should emulate the people who do it best, and have been doing it the longest.

We cannot afford to continue to coddle, cultivate and incubate the most virulent disease to ever afflict humanity. We must wipe greed off of the face of the Earth, and we need to do it now. We can learn to live differently, but we must first stop the spread of this plague. If we love our children, and want a better future for them, we must not shrink from this responsibility.

That, my friends, is a plan to solve our budget crisis, entirely with cuts, that’s On The Money.


On The Money; What’s Weird About Health Care in America

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

What’s Weird About Health Care in America

 

I don’t read the New York Times because New Yorkers have all lost their minds. If “the Gray Lady” ever published an above the fold headline proclaiming “We’re Live in a Cockroach Infested, Piss Drenched, Rat Maze and We Fuck the World Over by Remote Control, for What? Spiderman?!?” I might believe New Yorkers had finally come to their senses, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I don’t watch Fox News, or Comedy Central. I’ve seen Bill O’Reilly and Steve Colbert. One’s a little scarier and ones a little funnier, but it’s all the same idiocy, and that gets depressing, so I don’t bother with them. I don’t look at The Economist, The Wall St. Journal or Barron’s, because I figure that as long as they’ve got something to write about, we’re all doomed.

However, I do think it important to stay informed about the world around me, so I always make a point of reading Chuck Sheppard’s News of the Weird, and so should you. If you had read News of the Weird this month, you would have read the following story, which tells you everything you need to know about health-care costs in America. The following paragraph appeared in News of the Weird this month, under the heading:

Leading Economic Indicators

Scorpion anti-venom, made in Mexico, sells in Mexico, for about $100 a dose, but for a while over the past year, the going rate in the emergency room of the Chandler (Arizona) Regional Medical Center was $39,652 a dose, charged to Marci Edmonds, who was stung while opening a box of air-conditioner filters. She received two doses by IV and was released after three hours, to later find a co-pay bill of $25,537 awaiting her (with her Humana plan picking up $57,509), according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. The Republic found that Arizona hospitals routinely retail scorpion anti-venom for between $7,900 and $12,467 per dose – except for Chandler. Following the newspapers report, Chandler decided to re-price the anti-venom at $8,000 a dose, thus eating a $31,652 “loss.”

This was no typo or computer error. That was the real price Chandler had set for a dose of scorpion anti-venom in their ER. You’ll notice that Humana didn’t bat an eyelash about paying almost $60,000 for a three-hour hospital stay. They were quite happy to simply pass those costs on to you, in the form of higher premiums. It was only after The Arizona Republic reported the story, that the Chandler Regional Medical Center reduced its price for a dose of scorpion anti-venom to the lower end of the range of astronomically high prices charged by other Arizona hospitals.

Just for reference, a pound of marijuana also sells for about $100 in Mexico, but only retails for about $1,000 in Arizona. That’s because, compared to hospitals and insurance companies, Mexican drug cartels are run by good honest businessmen.

For the same price as her three hour IV drip in the ER, Marci could have spent the whole night in a luxury suite in a Las Vegas resort hotel, and enjoyed the services of sixteen Elliot Spitzer class, $5,000 a trick prostitutes, with enough money left over to cover the mini-bar bill and cab fare home.

Instead, she had the misfortune of being stung by a scorpion in a rural part of Arizona, where they have a lot of scorpions, but only one hospital, and she lives in a country where the whole health care system is set up to fuck you the hardest when you are the most vulnerable.

Scorpions only sting in self-defense, but hospital administrators and insurance executives intend to eat you for dinner. There’s a view of Health Care in America that’s On The Money


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