Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Must laugh, or....

When we Boomergeezers were 30, we found out you can have wrinkles and pimples at the same time.

Now, we're finding out you can have liver spots and pimples at the same time.



If there is anyone (outside the broadcast media) worried about North Korean missles, all I have to say is:

1984 Hyundai.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Dammit, just when I was getting on a roll: having some "beast" issues, which I hope will last just a few days.

Quirky films department. See "The World's Fastest Indian." Probably DVD only by now, but if you get the DVD, don't overlook the documentary that started it all.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Dad Moment for Father's Day

Crikey! Do I have to think of everything?

This Dad Moment is in response to more "aaah" responses to An Inconvenient Truth. I repeat, despair is as much a part of the problem as denial. The only acceptable response is action.

That does not mean going somewhere and picketing (burning more fossil fuel in the process), then going home and doing what you always do. Acting means changing your own life, and doing what you can to get other people to change their habits. I thought I'd toss out a few everyday things, large and small, to prime the pump.

I just changed cars. The timing was involuntary, since I had totaled my previous one. Making better mileage a priority wasn't. My new ride has 20 percent better gas mileage than my old one: five gallons a week.

"Only five gallons? AAAAAAH!!!"'s not just about me, or you. Assume 100 million people consume five gallons of gas less each week. If you're weak on math, that's 500 million gallons a week less. Makes a difference, doesn't it?

Do you run the water when you brush your teeth? Of course you do, if you're a red-blooded American raised with unlimited water. If you spend two minutes brushing your teeth, you just sent six gallons of water down the drain. Why do you do it? Because your parents did it. Why did they do it? Same reason. You can rinse your brush at start and finish with a pint or so.

Gentlemen, do you run the water whilst you save? See above. You do unless you've been in the Navy or Merchant Marine. There, you discover you can do the same chore with about a pint of water.

Female shaving has never seemed to be a shared activity but I'm sure there's a parallel practice.

Feeding your all-American running water habit at the sink blows off more than fifteen gallons of water a day: enough to give a Somali refugee family more water a day than they've ever had in their lives.

It's about habits. There are the large habits of nations and corporations, and the small ones of millions of individuals, carried on literally thoughtlessly every day.

I could go on. I will, by cracky, if I don't see some evidence that people understand the difference between taking small actions now and pathetic hand-wringing over the failure of large interests to take large actions. As the old environmental saw had it: think globally, act locally.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Life's Little Excuses

Rationalisation is the little engine that prevents us from going postal now and then. For example:

The Welsh national football team hasn't made the cut for the World Cup since 1958. I'll have to either choose an alternate or sulk. The pretty woman at the deli counter in the company cafe is promoting Brazil. Not so bad, but maybe I'll keep an eye on Argentina, which has a thriving Welsh community and is off to a winning start. The way things have gone, it's all uphill again for the US, so there are two reasons for an alternate selection.

My boss keeps heaps of mini candy bars around for "energy boosts." I figure that they're low in calories because there must be a lot of calorie leakage when they make the things so small, so I keep my energy duly boosted.

We now hear that beer helps ward off prostate cancer. This has potential to be the king of rationalisations. And on the same day we read that coffee wards off cirrhosis of the liver?
Oh frabjous joy! There you go: one beer, one java; one beer, one java, and so on day and night.

You can sleep when you're dead.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I went to see An Inconvenient Truth last night. I had heard that the proper preparation was two cups of coffee beforehand, and a stiff belt afterward.

I had my usual brace of Salem Beer Works cask-conditioned beforehand and frozen yogurt afterward. Although I went with a great deal of skepticism, the last thing I'’d call the film was boring. The next to last thing I'’d call it is frightening.

As usual, I'’m different.

A great many people with partisan agendas, from both sides, have used global climate change as a political pull toy for the past generation, mostly without doing a damn thing but deny on the one hand and despair on the other, and mostly without really understanding it. While the partisans were wiggling under their respective rocks, I was being introduced to the science of the issue, 20 years ago. What I saw does not surprise me, save that the truth is better documented than it was when last I was closely involved with it.

The corporate denial of the most spectacular challenge (hence opportunity) in homo sapiens'’ history proves another inconvenient truth once more. Had today'’s corporations and this administration been in charge in 1941, half the country would be speaking Japanese today, the other half German.

Progressives are hardly less culpable. "We're all gonna die!"” is just as inadequate a response to a challenge as denial. It is fairly common, and somehow satisfies those who whine it.

If either is the best we can do, we have no right to go on cluttering up the galaxy.

If we, as a species, would like to stand up for a future, we need to shut down dogmatic partisanship on this issue, implement fixes that mainly already exist, and develop others which are hypothetical. Can't doesn't cut it: we need also to rise superior to the epidemic of gutlessness that has paralysed American public life for a decade or more.

See this film. If you a’re a Republican , tell your punditocracy to fuck itself and see it. If you are any form of progressive and you haven'’t seen it, see it. If you've seen it once, laden with preconceptions about Gore and ignorance of the climate problem, see it again.

When you have, get busy. My home has been doing more with less since the 1980s and it really doesn'’t hurt. One little bit at a time, starting now.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In Case You Missed It

I know many people left of Olympia Snow all been busy dissing each other and concentrating on pet issues, but I wonder if you noticed this.

When, exactly, will you decide you’ve had enough of this foul, filthy-minded being?

Republicans, may I ask if you remain proud of your media spokespeople? Things have gone much easier for you since you abandoned principles, truth, and dignity, haven’t they?

Note to the 9/11 widows. Get a lawyer, because you have been slandered.

If anyone is serious about civil discourse, it’s way past time to make an example or two, and I can’t think of a better place to begin.

I’m still waiting for signs of progressive backbone.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why the Democrats Will Probably Fuck up Again

Locally, and nationally, progressive values have the best chance they've had in 75 years to change the country's direction. By any logical standard, the coming mid-term elections should be a slam-dunk to sweep the most corrupt party in our history out of power. Coming on its heels, the next presidential election should be the most profound shift in electoral power since Jackson.

Unfortunately, progressive hopes are pinned in part on the Democratic party, and in part upon the most inept and inchoate political left on the planet.

The Republicans should be even worse...Certainly, their performance in office makes Louis XVI look like a human rights god...But they know how to herd cats. No Democrat in a generation has shown that ability. Anyone who did would probably be crushed by his or her "friends" long before getting the critters into the same corral.

I've been thinking about this since reading MassMarrier's rant last month on Howard Dean. Here's my take on Dean, and on incidents of the sort that sparked that flame. I see an individual who seems to have very impressive background skills as an organiser. If progresssives are to have any hope at all, we need that. Dean is also someone who should never be allowed in front of a microphone without a gag. Apparently, he has to get in front of the mikes because there aren't enough Democrats willing to pull in the same direction who are good in front of hostile media. Surely there must be some who could speak to the broad issues far better than Dean, but is it that they won't help this man because he doesn't rise to a delusional standard of ideological purity? Surely there must be someone who can manage the manager, but they're nursing their grievances, big and little. Do they prefer seeing Dean hurt himself and the party to helping the common cause?

I can't see Dean as uniquely evil. Consider Senator Kerry's courageous (cough) stand on same-sex marriage. Consider also that when Dean "panders" to evangelicals, he is doing nothing that a good many other progressives, busy fighting the last election, haven't advocated. I'd rather persuade people who are otherwise on my side to take different stands on my issues than to flame them and make them opponents.

Possibly Dean appears so evil to so many of the ideologically pure because he presents an awkward and uncomfortable mirror to an American "left" that is more a Balkanised gathering of single-issue obsessives than a political movement. Rove isn't a genius to see and exploit chronic fragmentation. He's a mere opportunist who has survived to this moment because his opponents were far too nice to close in for the kill when they had a chance.

What I long for is something like David Lloyd George. Where in the American left is there such a combination of uncompromising radical and political pragmatist? Take a look at his period. In just 20 years, when British Labour submerged its differences, it altered the UK's socio-economic structure almost beyond recognition, disenfranchised and nearly dispossessed a ruling class that had governed the country for over 500 years, and in the end blew a pseudo-progressive Liberal Party virtually out of existence. The outcome was flawed, and anyone trying to uproot privilege today can learn as much from British Labour's mistakes as from its successes. However, that outcome left ordinary Britons in better circumstances, and with more control over their daily lives, than they had ever had before.

Lloyd George didn't do that with ideological purity, he didn't do it by being afraid to offend the other side, and he didn't do it by pandering to the other side's most extreme elements.

Want a plan?

Start with directing your ripest invective at the stupefying combination of idiocy, corruption, and mendacity that is the Republican party and its lap-dog media. I'm sick of people cringing when Fox News or Ann Coulter savage them. Crikey, go for their throats!! Progressives should disagree, of course, if only to show a good example to the idiot in the White House. Let's save the name-calling for the right.

Put your single issues in storage and figure out how to make the best use of the best talents of imperfect people. Absent a leader, cooperate: it might just fill the gap.

Want the centre? Then don't overreach. Appreciate that the religious right is as much a hollow shell as the Soviet Union was in its last years. Don't pander to them. Encourage their schisms and disputes, fragment them and marginalise them. In the meantime, offer every possible encouragement for more humane forms of religion to grow a spine. Liberal pulpits could use a little fire for a change.

Eastern intellectuals, please note: you really don't know it all. You certainly don't know it if you don't bother to ask. Keep the "purple map" in mind. Nearly every city and county in nearly every state is full of people who are not evil, but frightened and bewildered and toeing conservative lines because they not really been offered choices that speak to real anxieties that hardly ever touch the policy prattle of both parties. Democrats used to excel because they were on the ground and they did listen and help ordinary people in ways Republicans still can't match.

Now then, who was it that was asking why I don't join LeftyBlogs?