Category Archives: Finance

This Month on The SHARC Report, Zach Adams of CMKT4

The SHARC Report Talks Circuit Bending With Zach Adams of CMKT4 on KMUD

On Thursday, May 3 at 5pm on KMUD, The SHARC Report will present an interview with Zach Adams of the Dekalb, Ill based circuit bending band, CMKT4. In the interview, Adams talks about circuit bending, the DIY electronics workshops they teach, and his band’s upcoming West Coast tour, which will bring them to the Garberville Veterans Hall on Monday May 21st, and to the Ink People’s Annex in Arcata on Tuesday May 22.

 

Circuit bending, or hardware hacking, involves rewiring electronic circuits to exploit their untapped potential. CMKT4 uses a number of circuit-bent instruments in their music, ranging from rewired sound modules from talking stuffed animals, to educational electronic toys, to modified synthesizers and fuzz boxes, to make their music.

Besides playing circuit-bent music, the band makes and markets electronic kits for circuit-benders and musicians who want to build their own equipment. They also host workshops to teach the skills and inspire the imagination to do it. CMKT4 will lead hands-on circuit bending and electronic kit building workshops at both the upcoming Garberville and Arcata events. The Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club, or SHARC presents this radio interview, and upcoming Garberville CMKT4 event to encourage people to have fun with electronics, safely.

 

SHARC offers a Technician-Class Ham license prep course that covers basic electronics, and Hams are a great resource for anyone who likes to play with soldering pencils and circuit boards. Call Jack Foster at 923 3700 for more info about the Technician-Class license prep class or about the upcoming CMKT4 event.


On The Money, The Zombie Apocalypse

On The Money;

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

The Zombie Apocalypse

Lots of people throughout history have speculated about the coming apocalypse. John (not me, the biblical author of Revelations), envisioned four guys on horseback, a prostitute and a seven horned animal. That doesn’t sound like the apocalypse to me, that sounds like a republican hunting trip. Some people think climate change will do us in. Some people think the Earth will get struck by a giant asteroid, and others think we’ll all die in concentration camps set up by the New World Order.

All of those seem more plausible to me, than the apostle John’s psychotic acid trip story. However, as the end of the world gathers steam around us, we no longer have to make predictions about the end of the world. We can simply make observations. To me, the end of the world looks like a zombie apocalypse.

I imagine that the “Start Date” for the end of the world will remain a subject of academic debate, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re there.  I know it just seems like normal life, especially if you are young, but we passed the tipping point a while ago and have moved into a state of free-fall. Nothing can stop it from crashing now.

Why do I say zombie apocalypse? Where are the zombies? When I talk about a zombie apocalypse, I don’t mean the walking undead, as in corpses that come to life. No, I’m talking about the walking unliving, as in live humans caught in a dead culture.

Most of us learned to become the walking unliving when we went to school. The more time you spend in school, the more of a zombie you become. Having learned to behave like a zombie in school, you join the zombie workforce, where the apocalypse becomes just a job. We didn’t have to die to become zombies, we became zombies when our culture died.

When was that? You ask. Like I say, the specific date remains a matter for academic debate, but some scholars put the time of death at 1962, fifty years ago, the year Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. For many, Silent Spring represents the first incontrovertible case against our culture; our particular way of doing things. Silent Spring proved to everyone that our industrial high-tech civilization was killing the planet.

One could argue that the entire 20th Century, with two devastating world wars, a global economic collapse, and the ungodly spectacle of an atmospheric thermonuclear explosion, was the century that our culture died. That is, the century where everyone had to face the fact that the way we live, destroys the planet, and the quality of our own lives. Whether our culture died in 1917, 1929, 1945 or 1962, or even 1967, when Tim Leary told us to “turn on, tune in and drop out”, our culture arrived in this new century DOA.

In the 21st Century, we all know we’re killing the planet. We know we live an unsustainable lifestyle, but we just keep on doing things the same way, and we want more of the same. We want more jobs. We want more economic growth. We want to drill for more oil, and we want to build new nuclear power plants, but Thorium reactors, this time. The walking unliving crave these things like the walking undead crave brains. That’s why I call them zombies.

Why did everyone become zombies, rather than face the death of our culture? Having your culture die really fucks up your day. Its worse than having a parent, or both parents, die. Its even worse than God dying. Its like both parents, God, and everyone you’ve ever known dying, at the same time you realize that everything you’ve ever been taught is wrong. People can’t handle that kind of shit. They can’t even imagine what comes next. They crack. They dissociate. They go into denial. They become zombies.

People made investments in this culture. They don’t want to walk away from the life they’ve planned for themselves, whether its the degree they earned, the property they’ve acquired or the position they’ve achieved, they don’t want to face the fact that everything they’ve ever known is meaningless, and falling apart. They can’t face it. It’s really more than most people can take.

That’s how we got so many zombies in our zombie apocalypse. The death of our culture sent people spinning out of control. Old habits die hard, especially when you have no idea what to replace it with, so they keep doing things the same way they always have. They act like nothing is wrong and everything will be fine, but things have changed. It’s over.

We thought we were so on the right track with this secular, technological, democratic, oligarchy thing, but we were wrong. In fact, we were so wrong, we can’t even remember what it means to be right. Our culture didn’t go wrong, 100 years ago, or 500 years ago, or even 1000 years ago. Our culture made a wrong turn away from a traditional, stable, tribal culture, to a centralized, totalitarian system roughly 10,000 years ago.

That centralized totalitarian system meant that the people of this culture work harder than anyone else in the world, and that our population grew faster than any other on earth. That culture threw sustainability, leisure time, human dignity and cultural identity out the window, for power, hierarchy, and unbridled expansion. What we call “World History” amounts to the story of just this one culture, ours, as it expanded out of the Middle East, and spread all over the globe, annihilating the sustainable cultures of tribal peoples all along the way.

Except for the few remaining tribal peoples clinging to their ancestral homelands and cultures, in the ever shrinking margins of our expanding global economy, we’ve never seen a sustainable culture, or one that meets the need of its members effectively. 150 years ago we called those people “savages”, and it was legal to kill them here in California. We were that convinced of our cultural superiority… until WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, The Bomb, Silent Spring, Vietnam, LSD, the collapse of the Middle-Class, and the Global Climate Crisis. Today some people still think of our culture as “advanced”, “evolved” or “superior”, rather than “flawed”, “dysfuctional” or “dead”, despite the evidence to the contrary. I call these people “zombies”.

Zombies want to “restore America”, “take back our democracy”, and “reclaim the flag”. Zombies pray to Jesus, worship Allah, or meditate on nothingness. Zombies stay in school, keep their nose clean, and work hard every day. Zombies just keep going through the motions, even though they know its doing no good, and a whole lot of harm.

It’s easy to join them. You can go through the motions too, …but you’ll know. Deep down in the pit of your stomach, you’ll feel a dark empty hole where a vibrant, sustainable culture should live. You’ll consume stuff to fill that hole. You’ll make stuff for other people to consume to fill that hole. That hole has become the primary force that drives our economy.

As long as we keep going through the motions of an undead culture, we’ll never create, rediscover, or intuit the seeds of a new living culture, and unless we stop going through the motions of an undead culture, we won’t have a habitable planet to build a living culture on. So, welcome to the zombie apocalypse, you’ll have to face it, if you want to survive.


You Call That Cooking, Quisp and Quake vs. Cap’n Crunch

You Call That Cooking?

How To Make Not Quite a Meal From Stuff That is Not Quite Food

Quisp and Quake vs. Cap’n Crunch

 

Ok, you’ve seen every Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Doright cartoon, right? But have you seen Quisp and Quake? Quaker Oats Co employed Jay Ward, the creator of Rocky and Bulwinkle to produce a series of commercials for their, then new, excessively sweet cereals, Quisp and Quake. Here we see their very first commercial from 1965.

As cereals, Quisp and Quake very much resembled another, much more successful Quaker Oats cereal from about the same time, Cap’n Crunch. All three hyper-processed, super-sweet, milk-repellant cereals shared the same Simpsons Yellow color and an other-worldly texture somewhere between Funyuns and Foamcore.. The three cereals really only differed in shape. So, if you wonder what Quisp and Quake tasted like, you could go to the Quaker website, and order a box of genuine Quisp cereal, or you could pick up a box of Cap’n Crunch, if you are lucky enough to have never tasted it before. Here’s the very first Cap’n Crunch Commercial from 1963

As long as Cap’n Crunch can avoid mutiny, and of course a steady diet of Cap’n Crunch cereal assures that, his ship, the S.S. Guppy, can seemingly weather any storm. Cap’n Crunch not only remains a stalwart staple of the cereal aisle, The Cap’n’s empire has grown. I’ve seen Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries, Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, and just last year I treated myself to a box of Christmas Cap’n Crunch for the holidays.

Quisp and Quake, on the other hand, flamed out early. Quaker Oats Co keeps Quisp alive on life support at the Quaker Oats web site for geezers like me who remember him as family. However, Quake died young, and no one liked him anyway, so they pulled the plug on him years ago. Despite their quick demise, Quisp and Quake had a profound influence on me between the ages of three and six, and my work from that era strongly reflects that. Here Quisp and Quake compete to save Nell from the ravenous wolves, in true Jay Ward style.

Why didn’t Quisp and Quake survive? Like I said before, Quisp, Quake, and Cap’n Crunch are all basically the same cereal, all made by the same company. By far, Quisp and Quake had the best commercials.  How did Cap’n Crunch kick Quisp and Quakes asses so badly? Watch this commercial, featuring all three of them for a clue.

You hear the good captain refer to his “loyal crew”. This “loyal crew” was a big deal to Cap’n Crunch. You’ll notice, its a “loyal crew” of children. These children regularly “swab the deck” and take care of all of the other chores aboard the SS Minnow. Cap’n Crunch knows how to use food as a motivator, and his cereal works wonders. Yes, Cap’n Crunch’s biggest fear is mutiny, and he uses his cereal to motivate, placate, and reward his underage sailors, and this keeps them in line. You see, Cap’n Crunch is a happy and successful parent. His kids do what he tells them to do, and his house stays “ship shape” as a result. Cap’n Crunch appeals to parents, as much as he does to kids.

On the other hand, Quisp and Quake constantly compete with each other, bicker, and pick on each other. They are children, siblings even. While Quake mostly hyped the strength he got from the vitamins and iron in his cereal, Quisp hyped the “quazy energy” he got from the sugar in his cereal. Actively marketing hypoglycemic hyper-activity to children might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it clearly backfired with parents. Kids, on the other hand, never cared for Quake. He seemed like too much of a “goody two-shoes”, and spent too much time with his mother, as we see here.

We can dig a little deeper into the dynamics of Quisp and Quake if we examine them individually. We’ll start with Quake, the noble, slow to anger, strong-chinned miner. Quake’s mother, less than half Quake’s height, ever proud of her son, appears in a few of these commercials for his cereal, primarily it seems, to adore her noble son. Here’ Quake saves his dear mother from the Rock-Crock.

As parental figures, Quake’s mother, and Cap’n Crunch could hardly contrast more. Quake’s mom is a helpless damsel in distress, who adores her son, and depends on him, but clearly inserts herself into his business rather forcefully. Quake always seemed repressed, like he could crack at any moment, and his mom seemed a bit overbearing. None of this helped Quake’s popularity.

Everyone I knew, loved Quisp, including me. The annoying, smart-alec hyperactive alien, charged with Quazy energy, Quisp, has no parents, and he craves everyone’s attention. Quisp is out of control! Quisp does whatever he wants because he’s the crowned prince of planet Q. Someone named Quuncy also lives on planet Q, but Quuncy has clearly resigned himself to Quisps servitude.

While Quake obeys his mother’s every command, Quisp constantly disobeys authority figures. Here an authority figure from “Space Command”, looking very much like Cap’n Crunch himself, orders Quisp to “Turn Back!!” Watch Quisp flippantly ignore this stern warning.

Quisp represents the out-of-control, hyperactive child who constantly craves attention. Quisp is every mother’s nightmare. By drawing attention to the fact that Quisp cereal will make your kid more of a nightmare, Quaker unwittingly unleashed a backlash against against super-sweetened cereals. For the first time, parents objected to cereals that listed sugar as their primary ingredient. Quisp responded by battling the Groosome Galactic Grouch Gloud.

But resistance grew. Kids hated Quake. Parents hated Quisp. Televised bickering really didn’t help either cereal. So, Quaker stooped to bribery. Here, an animated Quaker Oats executive, explains the bribe.

Quaker soon attempted to remake Quake. I thought, for most of my life, that in this commercial Quake surrendered his miner’s helmet for a cowboy hat. Wikipedia informs me that Quake became an Aussie. Whether Quake became a cowboy without a horse, or an Aussie without an accent, Quake’s remake failed to win him much popularity. Here, Quake’s mom looks on as Quake subjects himself to his New And Improver machine, and promptly moves to Australia.

Unfortunately, the coolest thing about Quake was his underground lair. I don’t know why he gave it up and moved to Australia. Perhaps he moved to get away from his overprotective and domineering mother. I could understand that. While his cereal continued to languish, Quake seemed to find the move liberating, seemed more relaxed, and soon introduced everyone to his new friend Simon.

Simon, the Quangaroo, which I presume is short for queer kangaroo, totally lacked charisma, but he made Quake happy. His Johnson Baby Aspirin flavored cereal never caught on with kids. He and Quake both got out of the cereal business, and bought a piece of land in Orangania where they raise emus.

Quisp, on the other hand, showed up on game shows for a while, but as his celebrity faded, his bad behavior became more of an embarrassment. By 1980, Quisp cereal no longer sold well enough to support Quisp’s notorious coke habit, and, in 1982, he got busted selling crack in West Hollywood CA.

After helping Quisp secure a generous plea deal and a trip to the Betty Ford clinic, Quaker Oats quietly scaled back Quisp cereal distribution. Today, you can only get Quisp cereal online, at the Quaker Oats website.


On The Money, Democracy is Overrated

On The Money

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

Democracy is Overrated

 

Winston Churchill once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” I’m sure people haven’t gotten any smarter in the last half-century, and neither has democracy. I know some people still think that democracy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I sure don’t see the evidence of it. What has democracy done for you lately? Do you ever remember a time when democracy worked? I sure don’t.

I was about four I guess, when a news bulletin interrupted one of my favorite TV shows, Captain Kangaroo, to tell the world that Robert Kennedy had been shot. “Kennedy’s been shot” was already a familiar phrase in my limited lexicon.

As far as I remember, no one ever really liked the Vietnam war, yet it dragged on forever, it seemed. I remember, at 12, sitting through hours of incredibly boring televised testimony that preempted everything on TV, trying to figure out what a water gate was. I knew it had something to do with Nixon cheating in his re-election campaign, and that our president was a crook.

I remember a peanut farmer giving us the hard truth about fossil fuels and telling us what we needed to do to prepare for the future. That was just about the same time Pink Floyd’s album Animals came out. I remember that the American people resoundingly said “Fuck the future, gimme more now!” and voted for a cowboy actor who promised to lie to them, just after The Wall had peaked.

I remember the Iran/Contra scandal. I remember fabricated threats, and real violence in places like Grenada, Panama, and Nicaragua. I remember massive increases in military spending, while they demonized the poor. The word “Homelessness” joined our common lexicon, and it became a condition of life for millions of Americans. I remember that Reagan drastically raised taxes on waiters, waitresses and bartenders by taxing their tips, and that he gutted college grant funds. As a waiter, putting myself through college at the time, you can imagine how much I appreciated that.

As far as I can tell, Reagan got reelected four more times, by the same idiots who elected him the first time. Clinton proved that he, like Reagan, was elected specifically to lie to us, when he remained popular even as Congress impeached him for lying to Congress. We didn’t care. We knew we were living a fantasy, why shouldn’t he? We didn’t care that Bill Clinton got a little nookie on the side, we didn’t care that he lied about it. We were just disappointed that Monica Lewinsky wasn’t hotter.

Around the millennium, people began to realize that Jimmy Carter was right about a few things, and that those solar panels that he put on the White House were actually a pretty good idea. The American people almost put a (sort of) environmentalist in the Oval Office in 2000, but things got ugly in Florida and the Supreme Court handed the presidency to GW Bush. The American people just shrugged.

After eight long years of war, torture, civil rights abuses, human rights abuses, mortgage fraud, economic collapse, and bank bailouts, the American people finally united behind the first African-American president in history, and we could hardly be more disappointed with him.

All of the problems that I remember as a child; pollution, smog, poverty, deforestation, overfishing and technological warfare, have only gotten worse, and we have a whole bunch of new problems, like homelessness, unaffordable health care, and an uber-class that just sucks the life out of everything. That doesn’t sound to me like democracy is working. It sure doesn’t feel like democracy is working. It might be working for somebody, but its not working for me, or anyone I know.

I’m not saying that saying that communism or socialism or even monarchy or dictatorship would improve things, I’m saying that the only thing that all 300 million of us can agree on, is that the majority of Americans are idiots. Democracy is the process whereby we let those idiots run our lives.

Yes, democracy amounts to a dictatorship of the dumb, a gulag of the gullible and a republic of the retarded. Forget about the nonsense that it takes an intelligent, informed public for democracy to succeed. Democracy succeeds by turning stupidity into power that only money can wield. It’s time to face the fact that, although it seems like a great theory, democracy really doesn’t work in practice, either.


Anna Hamilton Drops Another Load on KMUD

Anna Hamilton Drops Another Load on KMUD

 

Anna Hamilton is so full of shit she should never need to buy fertilizer again. I choked on the load she dumped on us, this past Friday, on her KMUD radio show Lock, Load and Shoot Your Mouth Off. Did she really say that the reason the Feds are cracking down on marijuana growers is to stop the flow of funds to liberal, lefty non-profits like EPIC, Democracy Unlimited, and PETA?

As if the millions of dollars they confiscate every year in pot raids, and millions of dollars more in seized guns, vehicles, and other property, aren’t enough motivation. Like the economic juggernauts called the war on drugs and the prison industrial complex aren’t demanding to be fed on their own accounts. Cops and prison guards like to go to Hawaii too, you know.

Or…why couldn’t this invasion of Federales be an act of economic stimulus, intended as a price-support mechanism for black-market marijuana. I could believe that. Clearly we were all begging for this last year. Around here, people voted 2 to 1 for more oppression and higher pot prices. You can’t blame Obama for trying to oblige us. This is about all the stimulus he can get through congress these days, so we could show some gratitude.

No, according to Anna Hamilton, The Man goes all out to bust growers, just to keep groups like PETA, EPIC and Democracy Unlimited from becoming too powerful. Was she joking? Where does she get this notion that dope growers are such fucking generous people anyway… I mean, besides KMUD? Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? I know what the marijuana business is like. The black-market marijuana industry self-selects for opportunism, not generosity. But don’t take my word for it, look at the evidence.

I think the evidence presented by Kym Kemp, on Anna’s show, goes a long way to refuting the silly notion that dope yuppies would save the world if the Feds just left them alone. Let’s look at those oh so conservative numbers that Kim Kemp kindly Quoted to us that night. According to the estimate that Kim quoted, based on numbers of plants busted each year*, the marijuana industry in Humboldt County, generates about $2.1 billion annually. If these generous growers gave just one percent of that take, to local lefty, liberal non-profits, that would amount to 21 million dollars annually.

Let’s see, the Mateel has an annual budget of about $140,000, KMUD gets another $180,000 a year. Does EPIC take in a hundred-grand a year, I doubt it, but just for argument let’s assume. I’ll bet we could add in the annual budgets of the Trees Foundation, Democracy Unlimited, Friends of the Eel, and Sanctuary Forest, and still not reach one million dollars.

You’ve got to figure that at least half of the Humboldt County marijuana industry happens in SoHum, so if our neighbors who grow pot for a living are so generous that they give just one whole percent of their crop to charity, where are the other nine million dollars? I don’t see it. I did see that cops seized over $375,000 cash in one bust last week, more than the annual budget of The Mateel and KMUD put together.

You’d be hard pressed to find a non-profit that more directly serves SoHum growers than the Mateel Community Center.  From Hempfest, to Reggae on the River, the Mateel Community Center sponsors and promotes many of the pot-positive events that have made SoHum famous for its marijuana.  The Mateel also provides a central meeting place for the marijuana growing community.  In many ways, the Mateel functions as a country club for SoHum’s growers.  So, you’d think the vast majority of the Mateel’s money would come from those generous growers, and that by now, the Mateel would have a huge endowment. You’d be wrong.

About half of the Mateel’s annual budget comes from Summer Arts and Music Festival. Do you know who pays for Summer Arts and Music Festival? Regional artists and craftspeople, not dope yuppies, put up about $30,000 collectively, in advance, in the form of booth fees, to make Summer Arts Fest happen. This isn’t dope money. This is the hard work, sweat and blood of creative people struggling to get by.

So the Mateel takes the money from craft artists, uses it to book ten tons of entertainment, and print up posters. They then enlist a small army of volunteers to take tickets, run check-in, pour beer, provide security, recycle waste and generally provide them with thousands of man-hours of unpaid labor.

Finally, on the day of the show, everyone comes to Summer Arts fest, including a lot of working people from Eureka, and students from HSU, because its the best deal in summer festivals around. The growers come out too. They buy tickets, they drink overpriced beer and they buy stuff for themselves. That’s not generosity, folks, that’s just self-indulgent consumerism.

If these dope yuppies are so fucking generous, why do us poor artists have to subsidize the Mateel so heavily? Why don’t dope growers just donate that tiny fraction of the estimated 2.1 billion dollars they take in each year, to the Mateel, directly, so that Summer Arts Fest can focus on serving the very real needs of the artists and craftspeople who pay for it? How many other non-profits would survive if they didn’t throw lavish parties with delicious food and alcoholic beverages served by volunteers? Not many, I fear.

Besides, I’ve worked in enough non-profits to know that at least 30% of all the money donated to liberal and lefty non-profits, gets spent on marijuana. That kind of wipes out whatever contribution the dope yuppies made in the first place. 30% of the money donated to non-profits gets spent on marijuana because only pot smokers actually give a fuck about anything except getting rich. The people who work at non-profits spend an inordinate amount of their income on marijuana, because it reminds them of why they do what they do.

Yes, I’ve known pot smokers to be generous, caring people. Pot smokers still pay an enormous premium for marijuana because of prohibition. Pot smokers put that 2.1 billion into the hands of growers, and they deserve a better deal. Just because marijuana is a wonderful plant, doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. If growers really wanted to make the world a better place, they would make it their goal to flood the world with cheap, plentiful marijuana, so that more people could afford to smoke pot, and so pot smokers could afford to give more of their own money to their favorite charities.

Instead, growers seem happy to use marijuana as another way for people with land to take advantage of those without. If you own a house or parcel of land, you can use your right to privacy to secret your grow. On the other hand, tenants have to deal with landlord inspection clauses, month to month leases, and frequent moves, making cultivation much more difficult. So, no matter how much growers donate, if they do donate, they are still exploiting poor people and draining the life out of this country for their own enrichment.

I see little evidence of the benevolence of dope yuppies. I see people who like their toys. I see people who like to party. I see people who like to blow money, and I see people who never clean up the messes they make. I see people who bought land when it was still cheap, and I see plenty of parcels that have not been reappraised since the eighties, so the owners pay almost nothing in property taxes, and I see people who enjoy their winters in Hawaii, …but generosity, not so much.

*I think the number of plants seized is a better indication of law enforcement activity and budget, than economic activity in the industry. You could get a much better estimate of how much pot gets grown in Humboldt County each year, I’d think, from the volume of soil and hydroponic aggregate sold at grow shops in the area. I wonder why no one has bothered to do that.


On The Money, A Movie About Money

On The Money

Financial Advice For The Working-Class

A Movie About Money

 

I saw an interesting film last night. That’s not quite right. Actually, I found it a rather dull film, a dull film with atrocious dialogue, characters I did not care about, an a weak story that just ran out of gas and died, literally.

 

Other than that, I’d call Mira Nair’s Amelia, a stunning and magnificent masterwork. The cinematography took my breath away. The film takes us into a slightly sepia-toned fantasy world of opulence, excess and exploitation. I say “fantasy world” because although allegedly set in America during the Great Depression, Amelia had a dream-like other-worldly quality that seemed completely unreal.

 

No one in the thirties would have said “Thank you for not getting defensive.”, as one character did in Amelia. The rest of the equally bland dialogue contributed little to the characters, the story or least of all the setting. Amelia reminded me of Star Trek crew members playing a holodeck game, like people from another world inhabiting an idealized imitation of a particular era.

 

Rather than a realistic depiction of opulence, which never completely manages to hide its true ugliness, in Amelia, we see greed and avarice portrayed as an almost heavenly state of grace. In Amelia we see an aspirational, idealized portrayal of wealth, designed more as an escape from reality for the economically downtrodden, than as a realistic portrayal of the life of Amelia Earhart.

 

Mira Nair really spared no expense on the visual impact of Amelia. In fact, the movie just reeks of money. I found myself wondering, “If they could afford all of this beautiful aerial photography, antique cars, aircraft and period costumes, why couldn’t they spring for some better writers?”

 

Gerbil Boy, Richard Gere spoke the most memorable line in the film, when he said; “I’m an American, and am therefore obligated to make as much money as possible.” In fact, the whole movie seemed to be about money, and everyone’s obligation to serve it. Both in the story, and in the production values, I felt bludgeoned by money, and I resented it.

 

Yes, money, not Amelia Earhart was the main character and subject of this film. In that sense Amelia succeeds in revealing the true character of its subject. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more spectacular display of emptiness in my entire life. While I don’t know any more about Amelia Earhart than I did before I saw Amelia, I found the movie interesting because of what it said about Mira Nair, Hollywood, and money, none of which is very flattering.


A Tumor of Boomers in SoHum

A Tumor of Boomers in SoHum

 

Here in SoHum, we endure a plague of Baby Boomers. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that Baby Boomers are a blight everywhere in this country, but here in SoHum, with an ample blood supply from the illegal marijuana industry, they form a hard malignant tumor that threatens to choke the very life out of this small community.

While baby Boomers never tire of singing their own praises, as far as I can see, the one great achievement that Baby Boomers can take credit for, is that they turned out so spectacularly lame that they made their repressed, racist, homophobic parents look like “The Greatest Generation” by comparison.

The Baby boomers inherited a country divided by race, and turned it into a country divided by income, They inherited one pointless, unwinable foreign war and gave us two pointless, unwinable foreign wars. They inherited smog and litter, and left us e-waste, acid rain and global climate change. They inherited DDT, and left us GMOs. They inherited good jobs and cheap homes, and they left us good drugs and cheap electronics. Believe it or not, they expect us to thank them for this.

Not only do they expect to keep us as slaves, either as underpaid employees, overcharged tenants or both, they expect us to be grateful to them. For what? …making affordable housing, health care and job security a thing of the past? … trading freedom, human dignity and civil rights for the invisible free hand of the market? … living the most consumptive lifestyle in the history of humanity, in full knowledge of the fact that they were leaving a decimated and polluted planet to future generations? Yeah, thanks a lot for that.

Where previous generations put God, country and family ahead of themselves, the Boomers said “Me first! Me last, and nothing but me in the middle!” Even as our global ecosystem, economy and federal government all pass the point of no return towards inevitable collapse, they continue to congratulate themselves for nothing more their own unseemly, unwarranted, and unsustainable affluence.

Even with the world falling apart all around them, they think they did it all, said it all, and have it all figured out. Every day another one publishes a book allegedly containing the solution to everyone’s problem. With very few exceptions, all of these books reek of same stale, moldy ideas that have festered in the musty, cluttered, and rarely visited attic-like minds of most Baby Boomers, since 1978.

Most Baby Boomers haven’t had an original idea in 30 years, but that doesn’t stop them from offering unsolicited advice, passing judgment about things they know nothing about, or telling us that they know what’s best for us. Like it wasn’t enough to wreck the economy, bankrupt the country, and destroy the environment while traumatizing their own kids, they won’t be satisfied unless they can sabotage everyone’s future too.

And, there’s millions of them. As far as I can see, the biggest threat to life on this planet is not global climate change or international terrorist organizations, the biggest threat to life on planet Earth is the unchecked idiocy of Baby Boomers. We’re up against, gigantic swarms of graying, mindless, soul-sucking Boomer-zombies, bent on destroying the Earth, and keeping the rest of us as slaves. It’s an epic cultural battle we cannot afford to lose.

They expect us to pay for a system that they’ve already sucked all of the benefits out of. They expect us to pay for the damage they, and their parents did to the earth. They expect us to pay the debt they’ve incurred for living beyond their means for their entire lives, and cover the cost of their comfortable retirement. They have no clue how (or why) we should accomplish this, but, they expect nothing less from us.

The Boomers’ entire lives have been defined by unrealistic expectations. Why should things be any different now? They haven’t learned anything except how to top their parents in resource consumption and reality denial, but they won’t let that stop them from lecturing us. Really, if the Boomers in SoHum don’t have the common decency to apologize for their boundless stupidity, they could, at least, have enough sense to STFU.


In the Zone… On the Humboldt Co. General Plan Update

In The Zone

(on the Humboldt Co. GPU)

 

Can you think of anything more boring than the Humboldt Co. General Plan Update. Tonight, on KMUD’s newest and dullest talk show, The Hum CPR Show, we got yet another tiresome talking-to on this tedious topic.

We’ve debated the General Plan Update for about 7 years already, wasting hundred of hours of airtime and enough column inches of newsprint to reach the moon, and we aren’t any closer to agreement on it than we were 7 years ago.

Listening to developers, real estate agents and land-owners try to sound righteous about what they do to the land out here can really turn your stomach. Hearing the county try to justify their outrageous permit fees, as a health and safety issue, when they refuse to permit composting toilets, or greywater systems of any kind, will make you choke as well.

None of the people in the debate seem to have a clue about how to live on planet Earth. None of the proposed plans really address Humboldt County’s housing needs. None of the proposed plans will allow anyone in Humboldt County, the opportunity to live anything like a sustainable lifestyle, and none of the proposed plans will enjoy any more voluntary compliance than the current General Plan. As long as they continue to outlaw sustainable living, only outlaws will live sustainably.

The General Plan Update is bound to fail, and fail spectacularly, for a few good reasons. For one, roughly 2,000 people in Humboldt County go without housing or sanitary facilities of any kind. Every day, that number continues to grow. The GPU continues to ignore the needs of this population, and as a result, they will continue to ignore the zoning restrictions of the General Plan, by sleeping, living and relieving themselves whenever and wherever they can.

Tens of thousands of Humboldt County residents, including many, many, landowners live in unpermitted structures, trailers or mobile homes in violation of current General Plan zoning restrictions, but the county lacks resources to prosecute these cases. Just because the county adopts a new General Plan, doesn’t mean they will ever get the money to prosecute these cases in the future.

Finally, since most of what the Planning Department does, is respond to people’s complaints about their neighbors. And since most of those complaints have less to do with health and safety than aesthetics, prejudice and personal disputes, it seems to me that the best thing to do, is close the whole thing down. Stop wasting the taxpayer’s money on petty, vindictive complaints by people who cynically use the County Planning Department to harass their neighbors.

Since the process isn’t working, won’t work, and won’t help, it ought to be more entertaining, and it ought to, at least superficially, reflect what really happens on the ground in Humboldt County. So, I offer these:

New Zoning Designations for the

Humboldt County General Plan Update

 

First, a few desperately needed and long overdue, zoning designations:

 

CMR – Commercial Masquerading as Residential, describes those neighborhoods full of “homes” with bicycles and swingsets in the yard, and laundry on the clothesline, but no one lives inside but marijuana plants and spider-mites.

 

PLR – Parking Lot, Residential These days lots of people live in their vehicle. From converted school buses to “house-bicycles” people, often entire families, have pressed all kinds of vehicles into their primary residence. Still, they all need a place to park for the night. Isn’t it time they had a zone of their own?

 

UBR – Under Bridge, Residential Some cities already issue permits, for a fee, allowing very low income people to use the prime real estate beneath highway overpasses as their primary residence. Can Humboldt afford to ignore this revenue stream?

 

DFR – Debris Field, Residential Many of the homesteads in SoHum contain not a single permitted structure. At first look, many do not appear to include a single habitable space, just acres of junk cars, rubbish and debris, but people live there.

DFC – Debris Field, Commercial Many of Humboldt County’s most profitable businesses operate out of the most squalid surroundings. Humboldt County’s economic engine has never been exactly clean.

OLG – On Line Ghetto Block after block of towering concrete housing projects full of 8’x8′ cells, each containing a bed, a toilet and a high-speed internet connection with unlimited bandwidth.

The following “specialty zones” will help foster harmony in special neighborhoods catering to the diversity of Humboldt County lifestyles.

CCL – Competitive Christmas Lights Won’t it be so much easier to decide who has the most impressive display when all of the Christmas light fanatics live in the same neighborhood.

YMCA – Yoga, Massage, Crystals and Acupuncture This zone allows the listed establishments, plus vegan eateries and tea houses, no cafes.

DD + EP – Dangerous Dogs and Exotic Pets Why not put all the pit-bulls in the same neighborhood with the idiots who keep tigers, chimps and pythons.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Birds Backyard chickens, ducks, geese pigeons, flamingos, falcons and peacocks all have their appeal, but they also create a special burden on a neighborhood. In this zone, they can squawk, honk, crow and shit whenever and wherever they please.

CG – Compulsive Gardeners Are you sick and tired of neighbors who can’t just leave the fucking dirt alone? I know I sure am, but they just keep digging it up and planting shit in it. Soon their whole place becomes an overgrown, water-sucking jungle, and they start dumping their excess zucchini and tomatoes on your doorstep. Get them out of your hair by giving them their own zone where they can plow, till and weed to their heart’s content, and they can let their vegetables rot in their own fridge.

DYM – Dope Yuppie Mansion A zone for the successful dope yuppies among us, where they can build the kind of ostentatious country home that doesn’t belong in Connecticut either.

PS – Pot Squat This zone is for all of the substandard housing, adjacent to commercial marijuana operations, occupied by otherwise unemployed tenants.

RHH – Redneck Hell Hole The place to see NASCAR decals, confederate flags and Calvin peeing on stuff. Cars on blocks, refrigerators on the porch and motorcycle repair in the living room are all accepted in this zone.

HA+D – Hanging Around and Drinking Always a popular activity here in Humboldt County, now people will have an acceptable zone to do it in.

SS – Smoking Section Smokers really take it on the chin lately. I see them cowering under the eves in the rain, outside the back door, fondling their butts. Shouldn’t they have a zone where they can all commit slow suicide together.

M+M – Musicians and Meth fiends. Both of these groups tend to keep odd hours and make a lot of racket.  Why not zone them together?

DPS – Discarded Potting Soil This zone designates new land created by the accumulation of discarded potting soil.

Zones for the dregs of society. Even the most contemptible members of our community need someplace to live

SOF – Sex-Offender Friendly With so many people returning from prison with release orders that forbid them from living withing 1000 ft. of schools, parks and playgrounds, shouldn’t the county designate a zone to accommodate them.

UWB – Uptight White Blight For those obnoxious people who think they should be able to dictate what their neighbor looks like, what their home looks like, and what they do with it. Even child molesters and rapists deserve better neighbors than these. By establishing this zone, they can all spy on and out-conform each other without disturbing the vibrant diversity of people and lifestyles that makes up the rest of our community.

Are you “zoned out” on the Humboldt County GPU yet?  I know I am.


Addendum to The Snack-Cake Wars

Addendum to The Snack-Cake Wars

 

Last week I presented, as an installment of my regular column, On The Money, Financial Advice for the Working Class, a piece called The Snack-Cake Wars. While I covered the story of consolidation and collapse within the snack-cake industry from a free-market perspective, my research revealed other dark, chocolaty forces at work, beneath the heavily frosted surface.

 

While its doubtful that Hostess could withstand Little Debbie’s pricing advantage for long, under the present economic conditions, I uncovered incontrovertible evidence of a secret branch of the Little Debbie empire, responsible for covert “Black Ops” attacks against the Hostess network, that certainly hastened that company’s recent demise.

 

These “Black Ops” teams, mounted a campaign against Hostess, responsible for hamstringing the company’s response to cash-flow problems, and demoralizing the staff and management. The actions taken against Hostess involved numerous episodes of espionage and sabotage, and culminated with the murder and kidnapping of American citizens.

 

Little Debbie Smile Squads These highly trained, seasoned mercenaries, know martial arts, carry fully automatic assault weapons, high explosives and have air power to back them up. They often travel in small, blacked out, armored vehicles invisible to radar, and carry out missions with impunity, seeming at will.

 

Early Sunday morning of January 15th, Little Debbie Smile Squad 6 broke into the Simi Valley home of J. Thomas Twinkie Jr., aka The Twinkie Kid, and murdered him, execution style, in his own bedroom. Smile Team 6 also kidnapped Twinkie’s wife Tina and stole computers, flash drives and documents from Twinkie’s home.

 

Hours later, Smile Team 6 Dumped the lifeless body of the man who invented, developed, and marketed the immortal snack-cake that bears his name, into the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Catalina and Kuala Lumpur. Soon thereafter a video of the entire gruesome assault and murder appeared on a Youtube video posted at a radical Little Debby fan website.

 

The J. Thomas Twinkie Jr. murder, and the kidnapping of his wife struck fear throughout the Hostess network. If Little Debbie could murder Twinkie, in his fortified compound on his vineyard in Simi Valley, they could strike any of them, anywhere. Twinkie’s murder crippled and demoralized the Hostess network, right at the moment that they needed to wrestle with the short-term cash-flow problems plaguing the company. In many ways, Twinkie’s murder sealed Hostess’ fate.

 

Twinkie’s murder outraged Californians, and Simi Valley Sheriffs issued an arrest warrant for Little Debbie herself, as well as Does 1-6, the as yet unidentified members of Smile Squad 6. The murder and kidnapping of US citizens by a multinational snack-cake superpower raised issues of sovereignty, due process, and human rights. Angry crowds burned effigies of Little Debbie at protest marches all over California.

 

Still, Little Debbie snacks remain on grocer’s shelves all over America, because everyone knows, that without the nausea that Little Debbie snacks induce in the poor and down-trodden people who eat them, the oppressed masses would certainly rise up in an unstoppable rebellion leading to complete chaos.

 

So, despite the public outrage, the arrest warrants, and the condemnation by elected officials, Little Debbie continues to operate with impunity in the US. If you are considering stepping into the vacuum in the snack-cake industry left by Hostess, to compete with Little Debbie, head-to-head, be prepared. Little Debbie is one tough cookie.


The King of China

The King of China

 

Apparently, the trend towards outsourcing jobs overseas, extends even into the, seemingly sacred, realm of our national monuments. I mean, sure the Statue of Liberty came from France, but that was a gift, not a contract. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned but I expect our national monuments to be built from New Hampshire granite, with love, pride and American craftsmanship, by chubby white people who speak English exclusively.

 

Not that I think Blacks, Hispanics, or Native Americans should be excluded from these jobs, especially if they pay well, I just don’t imagine them getting so excited about yet another marble monstrosity on the National Mall, to celebrate the empire that enslaved, and/or nearly annihilated their ancestors, and continues to abuses them to this day. That’s just me.

 

But Martin Luther King is different. I know lots of Black artists and craftspeople who would love to have a part in the design and construction of the Martin Luther King Monument. Today, I’ll bet a lot more people wish the Federal Government had taken that route. But, alas, the job of constructing the massive statue of Dr. King, along with the plaque identifying King and inscribed with one of his most powerful quotes, went to a very competent, and competitively priced, Chinese firm.

 

While the Chinese firm, quite competently, built the monument to specifications, as it turned out, someone on this side of the world, kind of paraphrased Dr. King’s famous quote. Apparently, a lot of people were not happy about having some low level bureaucrat’s interpretation of Dr. King’s famous quote, attributed so conspicuously, to Dr. King himself.

 

Almost certainly, Black American craftspeople would have caught the error, and fixed it, before casting it in bronze, saving a lot of embarrassment. In China, however, they simply filled the order to specification, and enjoyed embarrassing the incompetent US government. Sorry, no refund.

 

So, after enduring this humiliation, the US government scrapped the misquoted plaque, and ordered a replacement. Did the Federal Government learn from its mistake, and hire a Black-owned American business to make the new plaque? No, they went back to China.

 

This time, a firm from Shanghai, with a checkered reputation, Plack Shaque, won the contract with a bid much lower than the competition. With the deficit crisis raging all around them, and catching a lot of heat for the budget overrun caused by the misquote, who could blame them for trying to save money.

 

As a result, if you visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Monument on the National Mall, you will see a plaque that reads:

 

Rev. Dr. Martian Luthier King

(1929-1968)

I Have Dreem”

Close enough for government work, if you ask me.


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