Monday, December 27, 2010

The 12 Expenses of the Daze of Christmas

You know that song.., "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
Well the economy, or lack thereof has had quite an effect on the items glorified in the lyric of the song. According to PNC Financial Services Group, the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the items in each verse will cost over $75,000. The Partridge hasn't increased much but the Pear tree prices have risen dramatically.
The milking maids remained the steadiest due to the outsourcing of unskilled labor in the song. Maids a'milking can be purchased for very little capital from most developing nations or traded for a couple plastic beads, beer, or a whoopie cushion.

There has also been a major decline in the housing market which has decreased the demand for golden rings and other luxury items, driving their prices up.
Leaping lords and dancing ladies, as well as piping pipers have all had an increase in average wages in the last few hundred years. So, if you are planning on giving your true love all of the items from the twelve days, you may want to reconsider your budget.
The milking maids' minimum wage, fortunately for vulture capitalists, remains at $.15 an hour. This is the same wage that has been instated since 1697 adjusted for inflation. Next year Republicans have vowed to remove environmental protections making the birds in this song a bit less plentiful which will inflate their values as speculators reap windfalls in commodities such as geese a layin'. Swans range in the $4,000 price range... and you'll be needing 7.

At Waterloo Gardens, a nursery in Philadelphia, the pear tree went from $89.99 last year to $129.99 this year.

While on the subject, there is a good bit of urban legend surrounding this song.
Starting in the 1990s the lyrics were touted as some type of code for religious doctrine. The story goes that Catholics in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly, so "The Twelve Days of Christmas" became a secret catechism. Several suggestions are listed as to what doctrines the verses actually represented.
Now there are serious problems with this.
None of the hundreds of emails or citations of this story on the net includes any credible source. Most have no source at all, but those that do most often cite an article published on the Catholic Information Network in 1995. It was authored by Fr. Hal Stockert of Fishnetsite and it too offers no sources or corroboration of any kind.
The good Father was interviewed in 1999 about this and offered this bit of balderdash-"I've got all kinds of people writing me demanding references for my work," he said. "I wish I could give them what they want, but all of my notes were ruined when our church had a plumbing leak and the basement flooded." Meanwhile, he said, his copy of the original article is on "a computer floppy disk that is so old that nobody has a machine that can read it, anymore." Fr. Stockert's loss is of course unfortunate, but evidence that cannot be examined is not evidence at all.

The song, according to documented historical records would seem to have originated in France, not England. The prestigious New Oxford Book of Carols which not only cites the French roots of the song, but says it is based on a game that children would play on the Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany. In the game, each child would have to try to remember and recite the objects that were said by a previous child. If successful, the child would add another object to the list for the next contestant to recite. If not, the child dropped out. The game would continue until there was a winner.
There are also other problems with this catechism falsehood.
The assumption behind it is that the song allowed Catholics to secretly embrace their beliefs behind the backs of non-Catholic Christian leaders during a time when being a practicing Catholic was against the law under Anglican rule. None of the doctrines said to be represented in the Twelve Days of Christmas, however, was any different from the beliefs of Anglicans or even Presbyterians. There is also the question that if the song was that important for teaching or remembering doctrine, why was it associated only with Christmas? Still a few versions make the generic claim that it was concocted in some land that outlawed Christianity such as some unknown Muslim country...but it's French origin seems to make that absurd as well.
(Unless France is a secret Muslim like the American President is claimed to be by the same folks that tout this false rewrite of history). One final note is that the first printed version of the song is said to be in the children's book "Mirth Without Mischief" published in 1780 and that describes the song in similar terms as the Oxford Book of Carols.
The Twelve Days of Christmas" is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with fanciful evocations of gifts, dancing and music. Nonetheless, people continue to make up nonsense about "the beauty and truly biblical and spiritual meanings locked away in this wonderful song" that puts Christ into Christmas where he doesn't appear to be. I suggest those who consider this tale to be "beautiful" and "inspirational" (despite its obvious lack of truthfulness) should consider its underlying message: That one group of Jesus' followers had to hide their beliefs in order to avoid being tortured and killed by another group of Jesus' followers. Of all the aspects of Christianity to celebrate at Christmastime, that doesn't sound like a particularly good one to place importance on

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Signs That The End Is Nigh

I have no clue how this exists. But it does.
The question is; and it is an eternal one...why?
Surely the end is nigh.

Friday, September 24, 2010

America - Founded As A Christian Nation?

"The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..."
--from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797

This is particularly of interest because it was drafted while George Washington was president. It was ratified while John Adams was president and it was signed into law with a unanimous vote. Let me reiterate that...a unanimous vote.
Not one single legislator said "nay". We need not point out that the founders were still active in government at this time, Washington and Adams both presided over the development of this treaty, that if they had any notions of this country being founded as a "Christian Nation" I think they would have objected to at least the language of this treaty. So America is not a Christian nation and that is historical fact. It became a point of law in 1797. End of story.
Read the treaty here.

In this cartoon in the Political Register, September, 1769, an indignant New England mob pushes a bishop's boat back towards England, frightening the prelate into praying, "Lord, now lettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace." The mob flings a volume of Calvin's Works at the bishop, while brandishing copies of John Locke and Algernon Sydney on government. The crowd shouts slogans: "Liberty & Freedom of Conscience"; "No Lords Spiritual or Temporal in New England"
Ah, the age of reason! Sure there were the Puritans and that ilk too but don't imagine for a moment that they were a majority. Escape from tyranical religions in their home countries was a popular reason to throw caution to the wind and venture to the new unknown wild frontier outpost.

Glancing at some websites that claim the U.S. WAS founded as a Christian nation, I came across these arguments and I'd like to address them:

Emblazoned over the Speaker of the House in the US Capitol are the words "In God
We Trust."

Well, yes but it was stuck there in 1962, pretty safe to assume the founders had nothing to do with that... and the concept of god is not unique to Christianity now is it? This was the cold war era, the anti communist hysteria was in full bloom and one of the slogans of the time in propaganda dispersion was "God is on the side of capitalists" this is the same reason it appeared on currency. Again no founding fathers were involved having long been dead.

The Supreme Court building built in the 1930's has carvings of
Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Um, how many framers of the constitution were involved in the 1930s? None. Many of these buildings were raised in Washington as part of FDR's New Deal to get people back to work, artists and indeed musicians were employed by this forward thinking program...I wonder if any musicians played Via Con Dios or some other tune that referenced a deity? I wonder if this doesn't indicate we are founded as a Jewish nation since it's Moses in the statue? Maybe it means Sandra Day O'Conner has a burning bush? Or is it likely the story of the 10 commandments is a mythology that relates to "laws" which is the primary concern of the SCOTUS?

You never know.

God is mentioned in stone all over
Washington D.C., on its monuments and buildings.

(See Above.)

The word GOD is not limited to Christianity, Deists believed in a god of nature, but dismissed all supernatural concepts of god. God is a very general term, Jupiter is a is is the very popular entity Mammon. Phsicists regularly refer metaphorically to God. Yet largely this is not the Hairy Thunderer...perhaps the Cosmic Muffin?

As a nation, we have
celebrated Christmas to commemorate the Savior's birth for centuries.

Really? Did you know From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. So back around the time of the founding of the nation Christmas wasn't really celebrated by the entire nation. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870. Christmas was a rather "adult" holiday in the old world with much drinking and revelry...the Puritan elements didn't celebrate it at all.

Oaths in courtrooms have invoked God from the beginning.
Well no, not from the beginning.
Text of the Oaths of Office for Supreme Court Justices...

Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are required to take two oaths before they may execute the duties of their appointed office.
The Constitutional Oath:
As noted below in Article VI, all federal officials must take an oath in support of the Constitution:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The Constitution does not provide the wording for this oath, leaving that to the determination of Congress. From 1789 until 1861, this oath was, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States." During the 1860s, this oath was altered several times before Congress settled on the text used today, which is set out at 5 U. S. C. § 3331. This oath is now taken by all federal employees, other than the President. State level oaths are a matter of states and not the nation.

The founding fathers often quoted the Bible in their writings.

Well, yes but not as an authoritative religious book, often they were questioning passages. Of the most active and well known "founders" most were subscribers to of the age of reason philosophies and did not embrace superstitions or the supernatural at all. I am speaking of the principal architects of the constitution which includes Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, and Hancock. Even Hamilton, who was known to bitterly disagree with Jefferson on some matters was influenced by John Locke, an enlightenment author.
The bible as literature is one thing. As literally true unquestionable doctrine it is something else. I often quote the bible yet don't believe it is supernatural or literally true in any sense. Most of the well known Founders were Deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. Now if we are speaking of the 250 men who were involved in the government in some way through the first couple presidencies we might be able to say generally they were Christians, but it's a guess as there simply not enough data on all of their beliefs...Madison, Jefferson, & Franklin wrote a great deal about their personal beliefs and their private thoughts are well documented. We must remember that yes many came to the remote colonies to escape religious persecution (From Christians incidentally) but many more came for the same reasons people go to any look for a better life, or in the case of the merchants; to seek fortune, or to escape something . There were an equal number of merchants on the Mayflower who could care less about Calvinism, Puritanism, or any other "isms: that you never hear anything about, but the Pilgrims could not finance the trip themselves, the merchants had the means.

The national anthem mentions God.

Was Francis Scott Key a founder? No. The Star Spangled Banner became the national anthem under the Herbert Hoover Administration...long after the founding fathers died. (And how many have ever heard that 4th stanza that mentions God? If we were trying to discover whether Key was a Theist this might be clue. But has nothing to do with the forging of the Constitution) This has no bearing whatsoever on whether the founders created the nation as a Christian nation.

The Declaration of Independence mentions God.

Yet Jefferson's words were originally "All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable." The words were changed in the final draft to appease some members of congress who probably were in fact theists. Again, God is not limited to the Christian idea of God. Oh and incidentally we are not governed by the Declaration of Independence-- it is a historical document, not a constitutional one. God is not mentioned in the Constitution, and Jesus appears nowhere in any official government historical documents.

The Bible was used as a textbook in the schools.
So was the "Grapes Of Wrath" and "Green Eggs and Ham".
Doesn't make it a true story. Or demonstrate any evidence that the founders sought a Christian nation.

The Founders were students of the European Enlightenment. Half a
century after the establishment of the United States, clergymen complained that
no president up to that date had been a Christian. In a sermon that was reported
in newspapers, Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, protested in
October 1831: "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than
Unitarianism." The attitude of
the age was one of enlightened reason, tolerance, and free thought. The Founding
Fathers would turn in their graves if the Christian Extremists had their way
with this country.

Consider this: IF indeed the members of the First
Continental Congress were all bible-believing, "God-fearing" men, would there ever have been a revolution at all?

"For rebellion as is the sin of witchcraft." 1 Samuel, 15:23

Would they have initiated a rebellion if
indeed they thought it was equal to witchcraft (a crime punishable by death in Christian circles at that time)?
But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

The New Testament gives clear
instructions to Christians on how to behave when ruled under a monarchy, as were the Founders.

1 Peter 2:13: "For the Lord's sake accept the authority of
every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right."

Paul wrote in Romans 13:1:

"Let every person be subject to the governing
authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities
that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resist authority
resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."

The Founders clearly did not heed what was written in the bible. If they
were in fact "good" Christians, there would never have been an American
Revolution. Compare the above passages with the Declaration of Independence:

"...when a long train of abuses and usurpation... evinces a design to
reduce (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their
duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future

A thinking person can judge for themselves.

Was The U.S. founded as a Christian state?

You know the answer.

And it was written into law in 1797.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insufferable Arrogance And The "Plutonomy"

From Without Shoes
“This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites.
I call you my base.” --George W. Bush to his supporters at a campaign rally.

The leaked 2005 internal Citigroup “Plutonomy” memo describes how the richest 1% of the population has replaced the democracies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia; with a form of government they have coined “Plutonomy.” This relatively newly coined term combines plutocracy and economy, where only the wealthiest few rule and everyone else are essentially irrelevant slaves.

Citigroup was likely not alone in having this malevolent attitude towards the people and democracy. In fact in a sense, though I am very angry about this phenomenon, Citibank itself was merely observing what is so, and attempting to profit from it. Of course whether through irony or strategy, Citibank was one of the recipients of the great "bailout" in which John Q. Publics assets were simply seized by the AIG, Goldman Sachs, and the wealthiest firms on Wall Street.

If your not familiar with the memo, here is a link to it. Citibank has been actively removing this document from websites claiming it is a copyright infringement. (The truth is it is very unwelcome bad publicity). Again, this is not to single out one corporate entity. By observation it is glaringly apparent that we have allowed democracy, as minimally as it was practiced to be completely subverted. The one thing the plutocrats fear is democracy, the idea that their vote is no more important than another voter horrifies them. Of course they get around this two ways.
By turning all political debate into a meaningless clown show, and by using the vast wealth at their disposal to simply buy off the political process. The fact is even if a candidate starts off wishing to work for the will of the people, they will corrupt or extort them. They will smother them with disinformation, and threats of fearsome consequences if anything is done to make their game less prone to cheating.

In this game in which 99% of us are unwilling pawns, Bankrobber #1 has $500 billion in assets, Bankrobber#2 has $250 billion, and John-Q-Public (owner of the gameboard) has $500 billion. The banksters agree to pay $100 billion to the winner, (but good old John-Q-Public is not even informed of the game). The Banksters also agree that for each piece captured, $25 billion will be stolen from the owner’s assets and given to the player who lost the piece. The game is played and Bankster-1 wins. He receives $100 billion from Bankster-2, and $150 billion for the six pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $750 billion. Banker-2 pays $100 billion to Banker-1, but receives $250 billion for the ten pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $400 billion. John-Q-Public’s assets are reduced to $100 billion, and he has no idea what the hell happened.

There IS a class war, but it is the wealthiest 1% who are attacking everyone else and frankly winning every single battle handily. Other than obscene greed what is the motivation? The fact is, the gap between the rich and the poor is a better measure of the health of our economy than the S&P 500 or the Dow. Today, the concentration of privately held wealth at the top is at its highest peak since 1929, the year the financial markets crashed and gave rise to the Great Depression of the 1930s. At that time, 25% of the population was out of work. Despite our economy being mired in the deepest recession since the 1930s, people in the top 1% continue to prosper and own as much wealth as those in the bottom 90%. This is all well and good for the extremely wealthy, but a disaster for the vast majority. Of course there is a plan, and it was set in motion in 1980 and continues to drain the wealth of the middle class today - Trickle Down Economics, the idea that letting the greediest and most morally bankrupt among us do whatever the hell they please will somehow benefit all eventually. History demonstrates this scheme cooked up by Donald Regan (Goldman-Sachs), who hired Ronald Reagan as their spokesperson simply concentrates wealth at the very top while removing it from the vast majority of people. The economy is great for a handful of billionaires who know the best way to rob banks is to own them. After the great depression, the economy grew and prosperity was shared, the middle class grew and so did the fortunes of the wealthy.
But a different course was set in the 1980s and has been adhered to ever hell with the peasants in the middle class, make the aristocracy richer. And they certainly did just that. The disparity between the haves and have nots grew algorithmically. The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the all economic growth over the period 1993-2007 while household incomes for non billionaires shrunk dramatically due to outsourcing, layoffs, and closings. The "globalization" plan is simply a scheme to turn the American workforce into a cheap workforce able to compete with a Vietnamese sweatshop.

Government is FOR-SALE, 99.7% of all 200 million eligible voters are vastly out-spent by a tiny 0.3% of all 200 million voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more). How can the remaining 99.7% of all 200 Million eligible voters hope to out-spend the vastly wealthy who abuse their wealth to control and influence government? The bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians are merely carrying the water for their wealthy donors. As a result, corruption, gross hypocrisy, corporate welfare, graft, pork-barrel spending, subsidies for activities contrary to the public interest, waste, and other manifestations of unchecked greed are rampant. We now have a government of, by, and for those that abuse vast wealth to control and influence government.

And while many voters know this, the voters do a very strange thing. They complain about corruption, give the President and Congress dismally low approval ratings, but then still reward incumbent politicians within Congress with a 85% to 90% re-election rates which empowers and rewards corrupt incumbent politicians to grow more corrupt and irresponsible. It also saddles the President with a dysfunctional Congress. It is no mystery that things continue to deteriorate, and the nation's problems continue to grow in number and severity.

What can we do to stop this downward spiral? Demand democracy. Democracy is the greatest fear of the plutocrats. They are after all small in number, there are 99 of us for every one of them. We must demand politicians act on our behalf. We must NOT reward them with votes when they don't. We MUST change the SCOTUS decisions that have declared money is free speech, and the recent decision that as free speech the amount of influence that can be bought has no bounds. Frankly, before the rise of the robber barons, corporations were not permitted to influence elections under threat of having their charters revoked. K street and lobbyist peddling must be shut down entirely. The vulture capitalists need to be brought to justice, and their ventures once more regulated. The middle class needs to stand up for itself.
No we will not be serfs, we will not be indentured slaves, our work is valuable and we should be paid fairly in exchange for it. The alternative is too bleak to consider.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FDR- Fireside Chat -January 11, 1944

“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence,” “Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

If only we had listened, if only we had not allowed the regulatory tools he gave us to be dismantled our economy would be booming and for one and all not just a meager handful .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

230 Reasons Why You Should Be Cynical

If you still have any illusions after considering my list, the bitter pleasure of cynical commiseration may not be for you...but for everyone else....sharpen those barbs!

230 random reasons YOU should be cynical!

  1. leaders
  3. outlaws
  4. lawyers
  5. backstabbers
  6. brown-nosers
  7. yes-men
  8. middlemen
  9. Men who try to be"alpha" males
  10. women who try to be "alpha" males
  11. good ol' boys who become president
  12. bimbos who become celebrities
  13. celebrities
  14. prima donnas
  15. dictators
  16. people who take dictation
  17. hypocrites
  18. charlatans
  19. MBAs
  20. mindless drones who get promoted to management
  21. conformists
  22. poseurs
  23. bores
  24. boors
  25. borscht
  26. weasels
  27. barracudas
  28. pedophile priests
  29. leeches
  30. internal parasites
  31. investment bankers
  32. old-money snobs
  33. new-money snobs
  34. fine print
  35. overbooked flights
  36. planned obsolescence
  37. $500 electronic handheld organizers that are almost as efficient as $8 loose-leaf organizers
  38. computer literacy replacing literary literacy
  39. computer viruses
  40. software bugs
  41. bugs
  42. the values instilled by video games (if it gets in your way, nuke it)
  43. thinking about a future society run by people nurtured on video games
  44. spam! spam! spam! spam!
  45. losing most of our day to meaningless work
  46. the term "superiors"
  47. the term "subordinates"
  48. cubicles and other sensory deprivation cells
  49. people who thrive in cubicles
  50. "It takes money to make money"
  51. "It's not what you know, it's who you know"
  52. staying at a job you detest because the alternatives are even worse
  53. executive bonuses that exceed your annual salary
  54. the "fast track"
  55. the "glass ceiling"
  56. watching everyone rise to the level of their incompetence
  57. the annual incomes of CEOs
  58. the writing ability of CEOs
  59. multimillion-dollar "golden parachutes" awarded to dismissed CEOs
  60. the practice of terminating veteran employees a year before retirement
  61. the term "terminating"
  62. "leveraging"
  63. "targeting"
  64. "impacting"
  65. downsizing profitable companies for the sole purpose of wooing investors
  66. the fact that investors reward companies for downsizing
  67. the fact that companies now exist only to woo investors
  68. self-infatuated bodybuilders who know all their muscles by name
  69. gated communities
  70. $900,000 yuppie MacMansions
  71. the growing gap between haves and have-nots
  72. professional jargon: the Tower of Babel revisited
  73. the fact that people expect you to understand their jargon
  74. "newspeak"
  75. "groupthink"
  76. totalitarianism
  77. mass movements
  78. mass media
  79. mass murder
  80. mass marketing
  81. special offer exclusively for Mr. Occupant
  82. lawsuits by people who spill coffee on themselves
  83. lawyers who encourage lawsuits by people who spill coffee on themselves
  84. the absurd amounts of money awarded to people who spill coffee on themselves
  85. the absurd amounts of money awarded to lawyers who prosecute lawsuits by people who spill coffee on themselves
  86. your death will be referred to as a "negative patient healthcare outcome"
  87. health insurance as a capitalist enterprise
  88. the effects of age and gravity on the human body
  89. drugs whose side effects are worse than the disease
  90. dandruff
  91. gout
  92. flatulence
  93. herpes
  94. psoriasis
  95. Alzheimer's disease
  96. Tourette's syndrome
  97. St. Vitus' dance
  98. hemorrhoids
  99. chronic sinusitis
  100. yeast infections
  101. athlete's foot
  102. gum disease
  103. crotch rot
  104. mad cow disease
  105. elephantiasis
  106. crabs
  107. male-pattern baldness
  108. irritable bowel syndrome
  109. having to worry about your blood pressure and cholesterol
  110. the fact that worrying about your blood pressure and cholesterol will probably raise both of them
  111. argumentative angry people who hate progress, decency , and spelling
  112. movie critics who give rave reviews to bad films so their names will appear in newspaper ads
  113. celebrity authors who earn more for a ghostwritten book than 100 editors make in a year
  114. the state of music today
  115. the state of Florida
  116. used-car dealers
  117. chain letters
  118. pyramid schemes
  119. people who refer to pyramid schemes as "multi-level marketing"or "instruments"
  120. lawmakers mesmerized by people who refer to pyramid schemes as "multi-level marketing"or "instruments".
  121. oxymorons like "corporate culture"
  122. millionaire sports players who grumble about their salaries
  123. boxers who bite off their opponents' ears or any other body parts for that matter
  124. sports teams made up of wealthy convicted felons
  125. sports parents who browbeat their kids for screwing up on the field
  126. asinine chants of "We're #1!"
  127. sports fanatics who live vicariously through their teams
  128. anyone who lives vicariously through a soap opera
  129. eulogies delivered by clergymen who didn't know the deceased
  130. the worldwide triumph of American pop culture
  131. the profitability of bad taste
  132. disco
  133. velvet paintings
  134. the fact that the majority of autographed sports collectibles are fakes
  135. the need to purchase separate shoes for walking, jogging, tennis and basketball
  136. selling advertising space on anything that doesn't move and some things that DO (buses, stock cars, Olympic athletes, politicians)
  137. people who spend an hour clipping coupons so they can save 87 cents
  138. the licensing of dead celebrities
  139. people who gain an identity by wearing t-shirts with commercial logos
  140. "As seen on TV!"
  141. the fact that the entire economy of the free world is in the hands of gamblers and flim flam men.
  142. pop music after 1970
  143. life after 1970
  144. prejudice
  145. the plethora of con men claiming to speak for Gods.
  146. the perverse intelligence of inanimate objects that roll just out of reach
  147. price labels or packaging that won't come off without wrecking the product
  148. phones so small and complicated that despite their remarkable capabilities are useless for anything but a doorstop.
  149. 500 channels of mind erasing intelligence insulting bullshit
  150. man's treachery toward his fellow-creatures
  151. killing rhinos for their horns
  152. killing elephants for their tusks
  153. killing baby seals for their fur
  154. killing employees for their productivity
  155. the fact that it's easier in the U.S. to obtain handguns than Cuban cigars
  156. oil cartels
  157. the term "human resources" (we are not BAUXITE!)
  158. billion-dollar sportswear companies that increase profits from exploiting child labor
  159. clear-cutting the rainforests to make room for McDonald's beef cattle
  160. war
  161. street gangs
  162. rapists
  163. carjackers
  164. slumlords
  165. racketeers
  166. muggers who shoot you for a pair of sneakers
  167. people who but 300 dollar sneakers
  168. capitalism
  169. communism
  170. fascism
  171. commericialism
  172. terrorism
  173. antidisestablishmentarianism
  174. chauvinism
  175. Calvinism
  176. cannibalism
  177. corporatism
  178. plagiarism
  179. institutionalism
  180. optimism
  181. evangelism
  182. careerism
  183. industrialism
  184. mammonism
  185. materialism
  186. religionism
  187. rheumatism
  188. alarmism
  189. consumerism
  190. aneurysms
  191. Freudianism
  192. psychoanalysts who keep their patients coming back for 20 years
  193. patients who still hope for a cure after being psychoanalyzed for 20 years
  194. finding happiness only after getting a lobotomy
  195. brainwashing
  196. anyone associated with the O.J. Simpson trial who wrote a book
  197. sequels
  198. bad movies based on old TV shows
  199. the fact that those bad movies become blockbusters anyway
  200. blue-eyed Nordic Jesus
  201. motivational seminars that promise easy success
  202. people who pay to attend them
  203. the success of writers, musicians, and artists who sell out
  204. the wretched abject poverty of writers, musicians, and artists who don't
  205. obfuscation
  206. what the Spaniards did to Montezuma
  207. the fact that Tom Cruise is more famous than John Adams or Charlemagne
  208. MTV
  209. the fact that nobody reads literature anymore
  210. the fact that Walt Disney World is the biggest single tourist attraction in the U.S.
  211. the disappearance of independently owned radio stations
  212. the disappearance of independently owned everything else
  213. the perplexing success of the ugliest pop music
  214. the unlamented demise of Western Civilization
  215. the survival of tuberculosis bacilli and political parties
  216. Washington insiders
  217. dinner parties for Washington insiders
  218. buying an ambassadorship
  219. foreign ambassadors with 137 parking tickets who claim diplomatic immunity
  220. backslappers and palm-greasers
  221. politicians who sell out to lobbyists
  222. lobbyists
  223. photo opportunities and sound bites
  224. spin
  225. Rupert Murdoch
  226. The legal right to lie, fought for and won by a news organization
  227. mudslinging as viable campaign strategy
  228. the stock market soaring on news of higher unemployment
  229. knowing that all your knowledge and experiences will evaporate when you die
  230. Reading 230 excuses for being a skeptical, cynical, sarcastic bastard.

Irony Deficiency And Wry Bread

Without Shoes editor Benjamin New

Irony Deficiency
What Is The Nature Of Cynicism?

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

Worldly evils, blatant acts of goofy sub-normality, and petty vexations drive us to distilleries faster than a Taco Hell burrito washed down with a Red Bull goes through your system. We are cynical and sarcastic, having concluded that though money cannot buy happiness, it can be used to rent it. We realize that people who describe themselves as "middle of the road" are in denial of the 18 wheeler bearing down on them at 70 miles an hour loaded with rubber chickens. We are overworked to the point that we must make clones of ourselves to handle the workload. The clones are identical to us in every way, except they shout obscenities all the time. This upsets everyone which forces us to dispose of them by pushing them off a bridge inevitably causing a policeman to arrest us for making obscene clones fall. Now if you aren't overworked then you are unemployed or underemployed. Offers for pre-declined credit cards are pouring into your mailbox. The "jobless recovery"? The mob is laying off judges and CEOs are reduced to playing mini golf. And if you are working it's a crap job that has ruined lives. Of course there's the
demise of Western civilization, the triumph of degeneracy, barbarism, evil, and MBAs, moronic cheesy books that stay on the bestseller list for 189 weeks, general chronic disappointment, and eternal damnation.

Merely a few causes for cynicism.

You understand there are no smug certainties of any kind... that all the world is a stage and it's littered with product tie-ins. You my friend, are a fellow cynic. We are kindred spirits, brothers and sisters under the skin. whether you are a disgruntled idealist, a subversive wit, a professional misfit, a skeptical jester, curmudgeon, social reject, misanthrope, or a secret sentimentalist who longs for a simpler, sweeter life...we are a tribe.

Were you born cynical? Or has cynicism been thrust upon you? Either way, we here at the Without Shoes blog say "give us your tired, bitter, alienated, underappreciated & overwhelmed because chances are you'll fit right in!

History Of Cynicism.

Cynicism is a Greek invention, like the Doric column or the gyro sandwich.
The first Cynics (for some reason when we refer to the ancient ones, the word is capitalized) were the students of a philosopher named Antisthenes, who in turn was a student of the more popular Socrates. Like Socrates, the Cynics believed that virtue was the greatest good. But they took it further than the old master, who would merely challenge unsuspecting folks to
good-natured debates and let their own foolishness cause their fall.

The Cynics were far more blunt when it came to exposing foolishness. They'd hang out in the streets like a pack of dogs ("Cynic" actually comes from the Greek word for dog), watch the passing crowd, and ridicule them for their pomposity , pretentiousness, materialism or downright wickedness. Fiercely independent, they led disciplined and virtuous lives. The most famous of the ancient Cynics was Diogenes, who reportedly took up residence in a tub to demonstrate his freedom from material wants. This cranky street-philosopher would introduce himself by saying, "I am Diogenes the dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels." He'd use a lantern by daylight, explaining that he was searching for an honest man. Even Alexander the Great didn't escape mockery. When the young conqueror found Diogenes sitting in the marketplace and asked how he could help him, the old philosopher replied "you can step out of my sunlight."

As you might expect, the ancient Cynics' habit of ridiculing their fellow citizens didn't win them many friends. People generally don't like to hear the truth. Truth is after all rare but demand for it is much rarer! Who wants to hear unflatterng truths about themselves, especially in public? But the Cynics, like the Blues Brothers; were on a mission from Zeus. As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote "A Cynic is a spy who aims to discover what things are friendly or hostile to man; after making accurate observations, he then comes back and reports the truth."

The ancient Cynics have turned to dust, but their successors have carried on quite nobly.
Juvenal, Rabelais, Swift, Voltaire and Mark Twain have all used the classic Cynics' tools -- bitter irony, biting sarcasm and mirthful ridicule!

It is up to us, my fellow cynics, to expose the follies & timeless foibles of humankind.
If you consider yourself a cynic, take pride in your heritage; as the world needs you now more than ever.
Cynicism gives us the often painful power to behold life without its sustaining illusions.
We simply can't pretend the emperor is dressed in splendid finery.
We are compelled to shout "Hey buddy your sorry ass is naked!"

Cynics are not prone to activism. You'd think we'd do something constructive about our discontentment. But we're smart enough to know that we won't prevail, and probably a little too jaded to attempt any labor that's predestined to fail.
What we do is retaliate with our personal brand of wounded wit. Truly, inside every cynic is a disillusioned idealist. Though we can't defeat oppressors, we can mock them!
That's about as much justice as a cynic can expect.

"If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?"
--George Carlin...Cynic

Monday, April 19, 2010

White Noise, Red Threats, Blue Monday

Jumbled collages of random frequencies.
No coherency whatsoever. An incomprehensible splatter on an indecipherable medium.
An inharmonious din.
A stench to the ear.
This is not a discourse.
This is not an exchange of ideas.
The methods and devices we use to communicate ideas may have progressed a bit in the last century, yet the ability to jam the signals has also improved exponentially as well.
And as with most everything, it is all a purchasable commodity.
Own the static, and you can control what messages may be heard in the din.
I'm talking about our experience of life in this pre-modern world we exist in, but particularly about it's politics.
Like all social movements great or small through history, the "tea party" is not homogenized.
According to recent polling it has been stated throughout mainstream media that people who identify with the tea party movement are made up of a quite different cloth than the typical images of these public protests with the misspelled signs and blatant racist undertones.
There are the hard-core libertarians, white supremacists and partisan Republicans that are not interested in any type of discourse. But there are also good people, with whom in reality, common ground can be reached. ( If the cognitive dissonance could be ceased).

No I'm not insane, and my views have not changed in the least. Here is why I suggest this is the case. The reasonable people in this movement are largely those who like most of us, have seen their personal economic security laid to waste by the economic meltdown. They are worried about being able to pay their tax bills and the economic future of their children. Like many of us, they are disaffected, feel they are not represented and other than this "tea party" no one has engaged them. The community offers a respite from the isolation and ineffectiveness they are experiencing.
Here is that common ground-

The fork in the road, it's time to turn off the noise and find a way forward for all of us.

The middle class IS overtaxed, they are correct. After the last half century of "tax reform" by both political parties, the middle class pays the same percent of income in taxes today as it did in 1960. The very rich (with incomes over $2 million) pay half as much as they did in 1960 and the very richest 400 households pay two-thirds less. Big corporations like ExxonMobil and General Electric have gamed the system so that they pay zero or little taxes.

We are borrowing recklessly from our children's standard of living. In a complete bastardization of Keynes measured and sound economic philosophy of borrowing to invest in a future that returns that investment with interest and improvements when private interests can't or won't, we squander and loot. And I suggest this as someone who firmly believes in a mixed economy, that some things are best accomplished by private concerns while others are best achieved through collective effort.

Instead of using capital to approach full employment or stimulate domestic production, we have borrowed to give the obscenely rich and global corporations (whose only interest in our country is milking it dry and accessing it's resources and wealth for exploitation) tax breaks and fight two wars.

In the last eight years, we borrowed $700 billion to give tax breaks to people with incomes over $250,000. Remarkably the economic burden is dumped on the people who can least afford to bear it.

The standard of living for the middle class has been under attack for generations. For thirty years real wages have been flat and our economic security has declined significantly. This has been disguised by people working more hours and forced to take on unprecedented amounts of personal debt to maintain the appearance of stability. The economic crisis unmasked how our security was built on a bubble of debt. A job is no longer a source of health insurance or retirement security. You are on your own, go ****yourself.

Wall Street squeezes the middle class at every turn. In addition to the government taxes, corporations are also "taxing" us, with fees, charges and monopoly control over markets. The more power they gain over citizens, the more difficult it becomes to constrain them.

Where The Tea Party Is Wrong

President Obama is not the enemy. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have been hijacked by corporate overlords whose priority is to protect Wall Street financiers and greedy multinational corporations. President Obama is pushing back more than President Bush did, and he had an enormous mess to clean up (he inherited two wars, the Wall Street meltdown and a $10 trillion national debt). If we demand a government that protects Main Street and ordinary people against organized greed, he will respond.

Scapegoating vulnerable people is a dead end. Our economic problems were not caused by immigrants or low-income people. They were not caused by educators or firemen being paid decent wages or having decent health insurance. Wall Street greed in high places is what drove the economy over a cliff. The plan of the powerful elites is to divide and conquer by having us fight among ourselves, with racial divides, hate mongering, and bogus scapegoating. The hate mongering and blaming that is oozing from the TV's and radios is to distract from the real villains. Weak government is not the answer. If we shrink government, who will defend us against Wall Street and the corporate looters? The parts of government that should protect us against Wall Street greed, speculation and the assaults on the middle class have been weakened under both political parties. Sarah Palin and David Koch are no leaders and are using your movement to bilk it for personal gain. ignore the likes of them.

OK Then, What is the answer?

A fair accountable tax system. Wealthy people and corporations must pay their fair share and reduce the bite on middle-class taxpayers. Tax dodges that create one tax system for the privileged and another for everyone else must be eliminated. National debt must be addressed though at the same time investments must be made in our future.

Oversight of Wall Street. The financial sector is incapable of policing itself. We need strong public institutions to oversee the financial markets so that the reckless, unregulated financial activities that wrecked our economy never occur again.

Giant corporations must be reined in. We need a constitutional amendment to limit the power of corporations to dominate political processes including elections, campaigns and lobbying. Without this; democracy and liberty will not prevail. This is the root cause of virtually all social ills. And the true source of everyone's frustration with the political process.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Musical Metaphysics- Ben New's Collapsed Light

Music Reviews - by Art Sabot

At Last! The long anticipated release of Collapsed Light became a reality of sorts in April.
The new CD features 15 songs which offer quite a bit of variety, everything from swampy to cosmic with just about everything in between. The CD opens with a 15/8 Mahavishnu inspired theme called Cactus Juice, that explodes into a southern swing sort of groove which celebrates celebration itself. The second offering is called EVERYBODY NEEDS A LITTLE MAGIC,
it is an ode to Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band.
A heartfelt thanks for Don Van Vliet's uncompromising musical visions. The swamp guitar stylings recreate the mood of the good capt. in the verses, and refer to some of his work lyrically as well.
"Dr. Dark and me" for instance, refers to the song Dr Dark found on Lick My Decals Off.
The magic is of course the Magic Band.
Make a shamanistic gleeful noise! Alchemy! Music!

ALIEN SUN, the next number on the album,
asks the musical question "what if you woke up in an alternate universe"?
One in which you found yourself in a Sergio Leone film shoot
whose location was possibly in an unknown galaxy?
One in which you were the same but everything around you changed?
Tuco: "Hurrah! Hurrah for the Confederacy! HURRAH!
Down with General Grant!
Hurrah for General... What's his name? Lee! LEE! Ha ha.

God is with us because he hates the Yanks too. HURRAH!"
Blondie: [spits]" God is not on our side because he hates idiots also".

The 4th tune, TO GO ON, draws some inspiration, guitar wise, from Pete Townshend's work.
In general, the album is a collection of songs that share two traits,
one is they were done in the same time period
of roughly all of 2009.
The other is a duality of some kind. Quantum Physics and the artistic spirit.
Possessing opposing qualities in some sense.

Light and dark. Yin and Yang, Joy and Melancholia.
Contrast is the 1st law of art as they say. And Ben is an artist who paints with musical colors both subtle and vivid.

MATEWAN is a song dedicated to Coal Miners everywhere, and the tireless efforts of the organizers who fight for fairness. It is simply about one of the seminal conflicts in American labor's struggle against economic tyranny.
Listen for the Appalachian dulcimer!

The musicianship throughout is superb as is the production. The material is artsy without really being noticeably so. If I had to make a reference, I'd say Peter Gabriel meets Depeche Mode with more focus on guitar work than either of them. Overall this is certainly one of the best releases of the year. Highly recommended.

Other standout songs include "The Somnambulist", a funk oriented piece about sleepwalking through life and "Osiris Awakes" which features ancient Egyptian funerary texts as a texture as well as the vocal talents of EVRiM .

Visit The Ben New Files for more information.

Or buy the CD today (you won't regret it!) at CD Baby.

Go to the Ilike site for full listens to over half the songs and grab 3 FREE downloads!

Become a fan on Facebook.
There will be giveaways and exclusive music downloads.

Get Collapsed Light at

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Maynard Keynes - In his own words.

Bertrand Russel said "There are still many people in America who regard depressions as acts of God. I think Keynes proved that the responsibility for these occurrences does not rest with Providence.... Keynes's intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool. I was sometimes inclined to feel that so much cleverness must be incompatible with depth, but I do not think that this feeling was justified."

Mention the name of John Maynard Keynes to a conservative, and something close to an epileptic fit will ensue. Yet in reality, I suggest it was Keynes and his out of the box thinking, along with that other fellow whose name elicits rabid foam from the mouths of conservatives; Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who implemented many of Keynes economic ideas), that saved capitalism by taming it, regulating it, and molding it. (Had they not done this, communism or fascism would have likely been implemented to escape the Great Depression. Many of America's wealthy believed in Fascism and supported Hitler both in ideology and in financial arrangements). And frankly, if Keynesian economics and the Roosevelt controls on capitalism hadn't been overthrown in favor of a return to deregulated "Lazy Fairy" markets, (which caused the great depression), today's economic collapse could not have occurred. Keynes was essentially about full employment and the belief that capital was a means to an end...not and end in itself.
Deficit spending as investment in the future. Not to give wealthy tax cuts. Not to wage wars of choice for corporate imperialism. We can rest assured that his view of deficit spending for these purposes during times of relative prosperity would be a dim one. I for one, raise a glass in honor of his wisdom, courage, and indeed his wit which is in evidence in this small collection of my favorite quotes of his. Speaking of which, here they are!

One reason FDR was able to pass his ambitious agenda was he had massive support in the Legislature.

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

“It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong”

"The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy."

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

"Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago. "

"They offer me neither food nor drink — intellectual nor spiritual consolation... Conservatism leads nowhere; it satisfies no ideal; it conforms to no intellectual standard, it is not safe, or calculated to preserve from the spoilers that degree of civilisation which we have already attained. "

“The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propens”

"Perhaps a day might come when there would be at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors."

FDR Fireside Chats

"This is a nightmare, which will pass away with the morning. For the resources of nature and men's devices are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life...and will soon learn to afford a standard higher still. We were not previously deceived. But to-day we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time—perhaps for a long time." -(1930), Essays in Persuasion

"The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn't deliver the goods. "

The Keynesian Cross

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become 'profiteers,' who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose..” - The Economic Consequences of Peace

“The power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas”

"The classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight—as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions which are occurring. Yet, in truth, there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. "

"The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems - the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion."

“The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.”

“Regarded as a means, (the businessman) is tolerable; as an end, he is not so satisfactory”

“Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older”

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" -Reply to a criticism during the Great Depression of having changed his position on monetary policy

“For at least another hundred years we must pre­tend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”

“The engine which drives enterprise is not thrift, but profit”

"We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are."

"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues".

“The importance of money flows from it being a link between the present and the future.”

“It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.”

“Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.”

“Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be...”

"For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable."

"If I am right in supposing it to be comparatively easy to make capital-goods so abundant that the marginal efficiency of capital is zero, this may be the most sensible way of gradually getting rid of many of the objectionable features of capitalism."

"The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes."

"In the long run, we're all dead."

John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946)

"I should have drunk more champagne." These were his last words. (according to Ben Trovato's Art of Survival (2007) by Ben Trovato, p. 196)