Thursday, December 17, 2020

Bored With Everything

“One of the most ironic paradoxes of our time is this great availability of leisure that somehow fails to be translated into enjoyment,” wrote psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow

“Compared to people living only a few generations ago, we have enormously greater opportunities to have a good time, yet there is no indication that we actually enjoy life more than our ancestors did.

“Opportunities alone, however, are not enough. We also need the skills to make use of them. And we need to know how to control consciousness — a skill that most people have not learned to cultivate.

“Surrounded by an astonishing panoply of recreational gadgets and leisure choices, most of us go on being bored and vaguely frustrated."

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Spoiler Alert: The Morons Win

Watching a half-century-old discussion between Rod Serling and James Dickey about the problematic lack of intellectual quality on network television. 

Like a visitor from the future, I can now answer their questions for them: TV’s abdication of its public responsibility was ultimately even more disastrous than they feared.

Stupidity and ignorance won the day, electing an insane clown as president of the United States by appealing to citizens who snarl at scientific fact and prefer to believe whatever ugly supernatural fantasy coddles their vacuity and scratches the itch of their nastiest prejudices. 

Corporate executives and government officials might not have been able to stop all this from happening, but they could have tried. 

Instead, they did quite the reverse.

The Worst Is Yet to Come

People will endure or destroy anything on the promise of not having to think and make decisions for themselves.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Monotasking: Attention Must Be Paid

“ ‘So you’re telling me that I can’t multitask?’ I asked as we sat down for an interview.

“ ‘It’s not me telling you,’ she said. ‘It’s neuroscience that would say that our capacity to multitask is virtually nonexistent. Multitasking is a computer-derived term. We have one processor. We can’t do it.’

“ ‘I think that when I’m sitting at my desk feverishly doing several things at once that I’m being clever and efficient, but you’re saying I’m actually wasting my time?’

“ ‘Yes, because when you’re moving from this project to this project, your mind flits back to the original project, and it can’t pick up where it left off. So it has to take a few steps back and then ramp up again, and that’s where the productivity loss is.’

“This problem was, of course, exacerbated in the age of what had been dubbed the ‘info-blitzkrieg,’ where it took superhuman strength to ignore the siren call of the latest tweet, or the blinking red light on the Blackberry. Scientists had even come up with a term for this condition: ‘continual partial attention.’”

— Dan Harris, Ten Percent Happier

Sunday, December 6, 2020

To Hell With 'Unity'

 The corporate media requires that only one side "compromise" in American politics.

And can you tell me which side that is, boys and girls?

And why?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Answer Is Not Enough

Snuffles, who is utterly and metaphysically fulfilled by a dog biscuit

“In cartoons, when the characters slurp down some delicious food or drink, they smack their lips and seem totally sated,” Dan Harris wrote. “But in the real world, it doesn’t work that way.

“Even if we were handed everything we wanted, would it really make us sustainably happy? How many times have we heard from people who got rich or famous and it wasn’t enough? Rock stars with drug problems. Lottery winners who kill themselves.

“There’s actually a term for this — ‘hedonic adaptation.’ When good things happen, we bake them very quickly into our baseline expectations, and yet the primordial void goes unfilled.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

Would You Like Your Happiness Gift-Wrapped?

He’s talking about the power of desire in our minds, and how our culture conditions us to believe that the more pleasant experiences we have — sex, the movies, food, shopping trips, etc. — the happier we’ll be. He reads out some advertising slogans he’s collected over the years.
‘Instant gratification just got faster. Shop’
Everyone laughs.
‘Another slogan says, ‘I don’t let anything stand in the way of my pleasure.’
‘The best one of all,’ he says, pausing for effect, in a wait-for-it kind of way, chuckling to himself as he lets our curiosity build.
‘To be one with everything … you need one of everything.’”
— Dan Harris, Ten Percent Happier

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Aristotle Had Some Funny Ideas

In other words, sacred cows generally provide tainted meat, and many truths are said in jest.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Respect Begins with Yourself

It's impossible to overvalue the worth of genuine self-respect and integrity, particularly in a hostile and blindly unaware society that undermines them at every turn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

More of This. Less of That

“We are constantly murmuring, muttering, scheming or wondering to ourselves under our breath,” wrote the Buddhist and Harvard-trained psychiatrist Mark Epstein. “I like this. I don’t like that. She hurt me. How can I get that? More of this, no more of that. Much of our inner dialogue is this constant reaction to experience by a selfish, childish protagonist. None of us has moved very far from the 7-year-old who vigilantly watches to see who got more.”

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Republicans

Why keep the stiletto of ridicule always handy up your sleeve? Because, as Euripides observed, “The laughter of one’s enemies is unendurable.”

Dan Harris: An Insight at Midnight

Lying in bed one night, reading a book by Eckhart Tolle for work, ABC reporter Dan Harris was shocked to find the self-help guru reading his mind.

Tolle’s insights about living in the present were startlingly relevant to Harris’ life.

“The ego is never satisfied,” Harris wrote in his book 10 Percent Happier. “No matter how much stuff we buy, no matter how many arguments we win or delicious meals we consume, the ego never feels complete. Did this not describe my bottomless appetite for airtime — or drugs? Is this what my friend Simon meant when he said I had the ‘soul of a junkie?’

“The ego is constantly comparing itself to others. It has us measuring our worth against the looks, wealth and social status of everyone else. Did this not explain some of my worrying at work?

“Perhaps the most powerful Tollean insight into the ego was that it is obsessed with the past and the future, at the expense of the present. We ‘live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation,’ he wrote…”

“Some of the only times I could recall being fully present were when I was in a war zone or on drugs. No wonder one begat the other.

“It finally hit me that I’d been sleepwalking through much of my life — swept along on a tide of automatic, habitual behavior. All of the things I was most ashamed of in recent years could be explained through the ego: chasing the thrill of war without contemplating the consequences, replacing the combat high with coke and ecstasy, reflexively and unfairly judging people of faith, getting carried away with anxiety about work, neglecting Bianca to tryst with my Blackberry, obsessing about my stupid hair.

“It was a little embarrassing to be reading a self-help writer and thinking, ‘This guy gets me.’ But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head — the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember — was kind of an asshole.”

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Consumer Consumed

One of the most difficult lessons to learn in life, because it is counterintuitive, is that if some is good, more may well be worse, even much worse. The whole of the American consumer advertising industry is dedicated to helping us forget that lesson, if we were ever smart enough to learn it.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Behold the Boredom of the Gods

We have these godlike powers now — to instantly tap the sum total of human knowledge, to talk to anyone anywhere — and yet we’re bored. We use them for trivia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Riding Across the River

“I have taken thousands of people across, and to all of them my river has been nothing but a hindrance to their journey. They have traveled for money and business, to weddings and on pilgrimages; the river has been in their way and the ferryman was there to take them quickly across the obstacle. However, amongst the thousands there have been a few, four or five, to whom the river was not an obstacle. They have heard its voice and listened to it, and the river has become holy to them, as it is to me.”

— The Ferryman and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha

Monday, November 16, 2020

That Zeppelin Trump

As the Trump balloon continues to defate, the thing that will hurt him most would be being ignored.

Let's twist that knife.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Hannah Arendt: The Banality of Bad

Hannah Arendt: “I changed my mind and do no longer speak of ‘radical evil.’ … It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never ‘radical,’ that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like a fungus on the surface. It is ‘thought-defying,’ as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its ‘banality.’ Only the good has depth that can be radical.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The GOP Doubles Toil and Trouble

The Republican Party is completely corrupt, but the cowardly, dithering “both sides” corporate media can’t face that glaringly obvious fact.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Let's Shake Hands With Claws and Fangs!

When one side WILL NEVER compromise, and the other side will DO NOTHING BUT compromise, care to guess which side always wins? 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sound the Trumpets! No More Trump!!

Donald Trump, the Pied Piper of vicious, knuckle-dragging vermin, has led them all into the river. 

Plish! Plish! Plish!

Now let’s hang Trump around the neck of the Republican Party and let him dangle there, rotting and stinking, for decades.

How to Measure Success


“The measure of success is happiness and peace of mind.”

— Bobby Davro

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Faith That Should be Feared

“Fascists despised the small truths of daily existence, loved slogans that resonated like a new religion and preferred creative myths to history or journalism,” wrote historian Timothy Snyder in his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. 

“They used new media, which at the time was radio, to create a drumbeat of propaganda that aroused feelings before people had time to ascertain facts. And now, as then, many people confused faith in a largely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share.

“Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

“Accepting untruth of this radical kind requires a blatant abandonment of reason,” Snyder wrote. “(Victor) Klemperer’s descriptions of losing friends in Germany in 1933 over the issue of magical thinking ring true today. 

“One of his former students implored him to ‘abandon yourself to your feelings, and you must always focus on the Führer’s greatness, rather than on the discomfort you are feeling at present.’ 

“Twelve years later, after all the atrocities, and at the end of a war that Germany had clearly lost, an amputated soldier told Klemperer that Hitler ‘has never lied yet. I believe in Hitler.’”

Donald Trump’s supporters share just that kind of feverish “faith."

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Sin Away

It happens first just once or twice

On any given day

We always think that paradise

Is just a sin away.

— Marcus Bales

The Consumers Are the Consumed


When they were called “citizens,” Americans were reminded of their responsibilities as stewards of a democratic republic. But for some time, they’ve been called “consumers,” and that describes what Americans are now: mere disposable economic resources for corporations.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Facebook Bans the Left Before the Election

This confirms my suspicions. Facebook is silencing liberals just ahead of the 2020 election. And that's why even this blog is permanently banned from Facebook, without explanation.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Ugly Social Media Platform

I was banned from Facebook for a month merely for mentioning the name of this famous novel, which also became a Marlon Brando film. 

Facebook called it “hate speech.”

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Conspiracies Aren't All Theoretical

"Accidentally," my royal American eyeball. The Republicans will commit ANY crime to retain power.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Silence on Madison Avenue

“(I)n late 1954, Reginald Rose found himself engaged in a bitter behind-the-scenes battle over his teleplay about racial injustice, Thunder on Sycamore Street,” wrote Gordon E. Sander in Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television’s Last Angry Man.

“The play, inspired by an actual incident that had recently taken place in Cicero, IL, was about a group of suburban neighbors who were so perturbed when a black family bought a home on their block that they banded together to stop the move, and eventually resorted to outright vigilantism to accomplish their end. In the final, blue-penciled version that went out over the air, the black intruders had been changed to a white ex-convict and his family.”

After all, the denizens of the Madison Avenue red light district knew that television could not suggest that you shouldn’t terrorize and maim black people. 

That might sell fewer tins of floor wax.

And that would never, ever do.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

How You Know When Your Society Turns Fascist

“It was also the Berlin of the rising Nazi party, of anti-Semitic riots and other acts of violence, some committed by the far left but more, and more menacingly, by the Fascist right.”

That line is from an Auden biography by Wendell Stacy Johnson published in 1990, when we all still agreed that fascism was a right-wing political movement. And that’s the way you know you’re now living in a fascist society — when the right wingers start calling fascism “leftist” in order to hide what they really are — even, perhaps, from themselves.

The Moment When Fascism Begins

I never underestimate these people. They are authoritarian sociopaths who want a feudal society with themselves as the unchallenged aristocracy. Even if you're uncomfortable with terms like “evil,” these boys are basically a working definition of it — willing to crush centuries of civilization and human progress under the limo wheels.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Let Your Enemies Help You

“Cease to make yourselves slaves, first of things, and then, upon their account, of the men who have the power either to bestow or take them away. Is there any advantage, then, to be gained from these men? From all; even from a reviler? What advantage does a wrestler gain from him with whom he exercises before the combat? The greatest. And in just the same manner I exercise myself with this man. He exercises me in patience, in meekness … he exercises my good temper, my moderation.”

The Discourses of Epictetus

Monday, October 12, 2020

Pardon Trump? You Can Kiss my Ass

Some idiot in The Independent is hooting for a pardon for Trump, saying, “As with the resignation and pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974, the country has to heal from the trauma of the past few years.”

No, no, no, NO! We made that MISTAKE with Nixon. That’s why hold-harmless Republican criminality was able to metastasize into Trump.

Actually, we can start “healing” the moment President Plague is in prison cut off from his Twitter account.

Funny how “healing” always involves letting rich, powerful people get away with horrendous crimes, isn't it?

What's Morally Wrong With Trump, Diagrammed

Trump and his supporters are permanently stuck at the infantile level of pre-conventional morality on the Kohlberg scale.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Thinking Is Critical

This critical thinking issue precedes and underlies politics. If we don’t know what the facts are, we can’t know where our interests lie. 

Of course, many would prefer that we don’t. Public relations, advertising, religion, bureaucracy and partisan politicians often work to subvert critical thinking. 

Yes, educational institutions praise critical thinking, but sometimes hollowly and warily. Real critical thinking is often at odds with institutional authority because it accepts only the authority of fact.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

They Have Always Manipulated You

 “Father of public relations” Edward Bernays “…crafted the modern idea of America, a country haunted by hidden forces and whose citizens’ lives are inundated with dangerous manipulations,” wrote Jared Yates Sexton in American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People.

“Bernays helped usher into the world a new reality … On the surface was what Walter Lippmann called a ‘pseudo-environment’ wherein citizens bought products based on psychological appeals and voted for candidates who played to their base instincts while blissfully unaware of the constant manipulations brewing right under the surface.”

“This strategy constituted the new world of public opinion, a social science dedicated not to understanding what the electorate and public wanted but to how to convince them to want what the ruling elite wanted to sell them.”

FYI, our welfare-recipient neighbors were just on their porch, discussing their opposition to taxation.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Fascists Fly their Flag

I was an antifascist before fascists like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump had ever heard the term they denigrate and lie about.

Fascism and Nazism are ideologies of the far right, unutterably opposed to the left. Everybody used to know that until the Reagan era, when the Republicans started moving the goal posts like mad. 

When you intend to reintroduce the despised ideology of fascism, you’ve got to really crank up your propaganda fog machine. So they did.

As LiberalFreedomFighter said, “Hitler re-named the German National Workers Party into the German National Socialist Party to gaslight potential members who might be sympathetic to socialism, which was a growing ideology in Weimar Germany. People who read know that.”

People who claim that socialism and fascism are the same are either astoundingly ignorant or blatant liars. 

Fascism is capitalism gone crazy, with rich people permitted to effectively buy the government, put themselves above the law and wield totalitarian power against the majority of citizens, whom they reduce to serfs. That’s the danger that’s now within sight in America.

And you know you’re living in a fascist society when authoritarian terrorists openly announce their intention to kill people who oppose fascism.

Fox News needs to manufacture fictional terrorists on the left to “fair and balance” the actual armed, murderous, car-crusher terrorists that exist on the right. So it will lie to get them.

Those who replaced the journalists with heartless corporate media shills must also replace the cops with thugs, the judges with bribed whores and the citizens with armed, drunken, easily duped crackpots. 

So far, the plan seems to be going swimmingly.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

When I Was Vandalized by Veronica Lake

I put Paul’s handsome new Biden sign out on the lawn this morning. I placed it well toward the house, so the Trump vandals will have to come a long way up onto the lawn to attack it.

I remember the night of Halloween 2008, I was awakened at 3 a.m. by angry, drunken shouts from the front of the house. I saw four college guys out there, and one of them was yanking our Obama/Biden yard sign out of the middle of the lawn. 

I wasn’t having any. 

I chased them down the block and around the corner in my robe and bare feet (cutting my foot).

I was so mad that it took me a moment to realize that the drunkest and nastiest of the bunch was wearing a long blonde wig and a short silver dress.

I had been vandalized by Veronica Lake.

I decided to reason with them. 

“Fuck you, you little pieces of shit,” I explained.

They wandered off down the road, shouting “Faggot!” and “Old man!” back at me, as I stuck a hand behind me to flip them off and limped home to look for the sign.

A police patrol car came rolling up, cherries and spotlight blazing, then another one. Paul had called 911, and he joined me outside.

With an officer, we found the sign lying in the yard where one of them had ripped it off the holder. The police headed off after the four college guys, after asking me if I could describe any of them.

“He’s wearing a dress,” I said.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

News Flash! You're the 'Leftist' They Want Shot

This country’s “extreme left” wants to see the continuation of Social Security and Medicare, and the cessation of the state murder of unarmed citizens. 

That’s the “antifa” that Trump has his Proud Nazi Boys standing by to kill.

Trump's Sickness Mirrors Our Own

The book I’m waiting to read: a detailed, authoritative analysis of how Trump’s litany of lunacies, vices and crimes intersects with the damaged American national psyche, which has been reduced to a kind of cringing battered spouse by kleptocapitalism and cruel Fox News propaganda.

Why are Trump’s particular pathologies the key to unlock political power here?

Why Antifascism is Being Attacked

 “Hysterical anthropocentrist” is the technical term a ruthless totalitarian group like the East German Stasi would use to describe people who are primarily humanists — those actually value the lives of other human beings. 

You know, the kind of people who don’t want to see their unarmed fellow citizens shot dead by police on the street.

In the U.S., in the 1940s and 1950s, they were called “premature antifascists” – Americans who opposed Hitler and Mussolini when the powerful people in this country were still busy kissing the dictators’ asses.

You know, just the way those same kinds of people are kissing Trump's enormous, deranged ass now by attacking antifascism.

The Republicans started to sweat years ago when people began correctly identifying them as fascists, so the Frank Luntz propaganda bunch decided to destroy the term "fascism." 

Make it mean everything so it means nothing. Simple. 

So we got nonsense terms like “Islamofascism” and “liberal fascism” — anything to distract people from the reality of fascism, which is a far-right ideology marked by nationalism, militarism, sexism, racism, repression of labor, worship of corporate power, controlled mass media, contempt for intellectuals and education, religiosity used for political manipulation, rampant cronyism and corruption, fraudulent elections, obsession with national security and the destruction of civil liberties. 

You’ll note this is exactly the poison that Fox News peddles all day, every day. It’s essentially the 21st century GOP platform.

And now we have the ultimate in Republican cognitive dissonance: “Antifascism is fascism."

Sunday, September 27, 2020

This Blog Is Banned by Facebook

This blog is banned by Facebook. Why? Who knows? They refuse to specify.

Oddly enough, since Facebook banned Odin’s Ravens a while back, it’s started getting thousands of views. 

Maybe that has something to do with why they banned it. Your guess is as good as mine.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

How Theocracy Strangled Democracy

“Never before has a U.S. political coalition been so dominated by an array of outsider religious dominations caught up in biblical morality, distrust of science and a global imperative of political and religious evangelism. These groups may represent only a quarter to a third of the U.S. population, but they are mobilized…”

“They also have important allies. As we have seen, the financial sector — and a large majority of the richest Americans — understandably finds the alliance convenient. Many of the fundamentalist, evangelical and Pentecostal faithful are too caught up in religion, theology and personal salvation to pay much attention to economics, and they are easily rallied for self-help free enterprise, and disbelief in government. With much of the GOP’s low- and middle-income electorate listening to conservative preachers, the corporate and financial agenda not only prevails but often runs riot.”

— Former Republican adviser Kevin Phillips, writing in his 2006 book American Theocracy.  The Christian-crazy excrement he talks about has hit the proverbial fan since then, not to mention Wall Street’s deregulated meltdown in 2008.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Evils of American Socialism

Wall Street's financial derivatives were a Ponzi scheme, backed and made possible by GOP deregulated greed, that wrecked the world economy. Social Security is a form of paid-for social insurance always loathed by the GOP, because it has worked well for almost a century.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Finding the Freedom of Flow

Flow: “The state of concentration and engagement that can be achieved when completing a task that challenges one's skills. The theory was formulated when Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi interviewed dozens of experts, from composers and artists to tradesmen and chefs.”

In his book Awakening Your Ikigai, Ken Mogi wrote, “Csikszentmihalyi testifies that one source of inspiration for his  work on flow came when he observed a painter friend working on his artwork for hours on end, without any prospect of selling the work or getting financial reward for it. This particular state of mind, or work ethic, where you just immerse yourself in the joy of being in the her and now, without asking for immediate reward or recognition, is an integral part of the Japanese concept of Ikigai.”

“Ikigai” is a Japanese word that translates as a raison d'être, a reason to get up in the morning.