Distractive Patterns

December 21, 2012

We are hardwired to see patterns.  It is a survival mechanism.  On the African Veldt our ancestors successfully passed their genes onto a next generation if they avoided being eaten by lions.  Discerning threat from amongst a tableau of shrubbery is a darwinian gift of this type of progressive conditioning toward pattern recognition.  This is also why I see the snouts and eyes of cats buried in floral wallpaper.  I used to think it was the acid.  Now I know it’s the  human penchant for scanning the environment for threat.

It’s easy to fall prey to fear in our pattern recognition.  After the Hurricane and the Newton tragedy no one is going to name their daughter Sandy for a while (one positive outcome will be that no will mount a Broadway revival of Grease anytime soon either).

As we are all inundated with prophesies of both doom (Mayan Apocalypse is only the most current flavor) and of a dawning New Age of peace and love (the Harmonic Convergence was a cosmic appointment reminder from the same calendar) I am thinking about how maybe the real hidden message is that within our consciousness is an innate longing to work through the endless yin/yang cycling and move to an age of Balance and if I may go out an a little Cartesian limb here, REASON.

So today on the Winter Solstice, that solar extreme of darkness I am wishing our world a prolonged period of the Middle Way, Neutrality and a cessation of againstness.  Maybe 12/21/12 can be the end, not of the world, but of the pendulum.

Now that would be ironic.


The Spam President

August 10, 2012

I was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. I donated, signed petitions, participated with MoveOn.org. Like many, I held a hope for a much more active progressive agenda but as a pragmatist I can at least revel in the passage of universal healthcare, the end of don’t ask/don’t tell, dismantling the cynical “no child left behind” apparatus and the albeit grudging support for gay marriage.

The diminution of my enthusiasm comes not from the president’s weak record on civil liberties, his escalation of the war in Afghanistan or his abandonment of the environmental movement. What has me twisting is the level of spam generated in his name, Michelle’s, Biden’s. It’s worse than Viagra and Nigerian princes combined.

I get that we live in the world of social media and I get that a big part of the success in 2008 was engaging the grassroots support, largely online. But now it’s too much communication, too much touch. Can you imagine a world in which I have to add the email address of the president to my spam filter? Now that’s ironic

Physical Specimen

April 27, 2012

I happened to catch picks 21 and 22 of the NFL draft last night and I was struck by the subtle racism of the commentary from the ESPN analysts on each in juxtaposition to the other.

Pick #21 was Chandler Jones, a Defensive End from Syracuse.  He was described as long, fast and able to create power from speed.  “an amazing physical specimen”.

Pick #22 was Brandon Weeden, a Quarterback from Oklahoma State.  He was described as having poise, vision and being a winner.

Now I know there is a difference in their positions, but the fact is that there is a plantation mentality at work here, where two white TV announcers call Weeden and winner and Jones a “physical specimen”.  Guess which of the four men is an African-American.

Oh, by the way, Chandler Jones is graduating with a 3.7 GPA.  Brandon Weeden has a 3.2 GPA.

Now that’s Ironic

To Tea or not to Tea

July 30, 2011

As a progressive I am very encouraged by the successful obstructionism of the Tea Party during the debt ceiling crisis in Congress. Not for the obvious reason that as with Gingrich’s 1995 hostage taking of the Clinton government. (which inadvertently gave us the Lewinsky scandal) their maneuvering towards a shutdown may well ensure a second term for Obama.

What I find encouraging is this. For a long time I have lamented the two party system in American politics. It drives all discourse the center and almost ensures that nothing ever really changes. The Tea Party is the first really successful third party in a hundred years going back to the Progressives (ironically a Republican splinter to left). The fact that they ran on Republican ballot lines is just a case of wolves in elephants clothing. They are a true, ideologically distinct party and they are pushing their agenda and winning. Short term I hate the direction they are moving the country. Long term I am truly hopeful that if the left can muster an energetic electoral strategy around a progressive agenda to challenge old school Democrats and garner support from the very progressive and independent constituencies that propelled Obama’s 2010 election, we could have a new voice for issues like climate change, alternative energy, civil liberties and investment in pure research and development which are the true drivers of economic growth.

So I’m excited about the Tea Party. Now that’s ironic.

One of the unexpected consequences of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden has been a severe drop off in the number of scripts submitted to Hollywood executives with Islamists, Jihadists and swarthy terrorist types cast as the bad guys.

This is not a new phenomenon; after 1944 Nazis were off the radar screen as it war as movie villains.  When Reagan got Gorbi to ‘tear down that wall’ the curtain came down on Russian spy movies.

There was a certain amount of Muslim fatigue already set in across the industry, but now the search is on for the next bankable evil adversary prototype.

Some possibilities on the horizon:

  1. Inside traders of Indian descent ala the whole Galleon rogues gallery
  2. Slow moving Japanese bureaucrats (extra perniciousness points if they are from an agency that regulates atomic reactors)
  3. Birthers
  4. Yoga instructors (or is that just me)
  5. Wisconsin State Legislators
  6. Reality Show contestants
  7. Reality Show producers
  8. Reality Show hosts
  9. Reality Show viewers
  10. Zombies (see #9)

Actually I’d like to see a movie where the bad guy is a movie executive who has no new ideas so she makes movies out of old TV shows and comic books.  Now that’s ironic.

Other Ironic Hacks

June 9, 2011

I’m sure you saw the news about British intelligence replacing bomb recipes with cupcake recipes.  Now if that’s not Ironic Jihad,  I don’t know what is.

I did some digging and found out about some other efforts that have remained under the radar:

  1. Mosad officers anonymously enter Hamas’ most elite and deadly terrorist cell as contestants on MTV’s competition “America’s Best Dance Crew”.  (the joke is on the Israelis when the Hamas team totally rips it up to Cee-Lo Green’s “F*%# You”)
  2.  Irish government operatives in Dublin posing as members of the Northern Ireland Home Office convince the Rand McNally Company that they have changed the name of their capital city to Coopertino.  All 2012 Atlases reflect the change. (the hack has unintended consequences in the Tech Sector as well)
  3.  Cyberwar specialists at the NSA replace Al Jazeera’s daily satellite news stream with a Laverne and Shirley marathon throwing millions of people in the Middle East fall into a narcoleptic stupor.
  4.  US Marine Corp drone aircraft sneak into Cuba and paint handlebar mustaches onto all public images of Raul Castro in the hopes that citizens will think they are now governed by Rollie Fingers.
Now that’s Ironic

In his op-ed today Robert Bryce answers his own question but doesn’t seem to realize it.  Here is the piece

Mr Bryce rightly points out that small is beautiful, but natural gas and nuclear don’t have small eco footprints, even if they have smaller one than the mega wind and solar projects proliferating in the southwest and west.  Rather than extrapolating how much land would be used in these huge centralized installation promulgated by the very energy utilities that have been burning coal all these years, he should be looking at the vast real estate available and at hand right where the power is used.  Our rooftops.

While I am not one of those off the gridders, I am all for decentralized generation of power that obviates the need for a) huge centralized wind or solar farms, b) creation of transmission infrastructure that may have ancillary health impact and c) returning to the failed ideas of nuclear power or fossil fuel based power generation.

Let’s put our efforts into battery technology and local energy coops to handle the issue of capturing energy in off-peak times and meeting increased demand at peak times.  A group doing good advocacy work is Environmental Action

And how did we get to a point when it is the environmental activists who are the main opponents of alternative energy projects, it’s because we’ve gone big instead of staying small and local.

That’s ironic

The wrong goodbye

June 4, 2011

There was a memorial service this evening for Gil Scott Heron. The revolution will not be televised but the wake was

Now that’s ironic.

FoFo Fotos

June 1, 2011

Added a photoblog.



Just this week I received an email from a friend of mine, inviting me to a panel discussion during the Vision Festival called “Imagining a Culture of Resistance & Radical Vision: Artists & Social Action”.  Vision Festival is an annual Jazz/New Music event in Manhattan.  Now I’ve been a regular attendee of this festival over the last eight years (this year marks its 16th, so I am no early adopter).  Check out their offering at http://visionfestival.org/schedule/visionfestival16.

Now on the opening night of the festival is another panel called “Obama, Class Struggle, The Media & The Arts”.  As I read through the panelists I noticed this:  Marvin X – Prime Minister of Poetry, First Poet’s Church of the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists.  Now I like an alternate church as much or more than the next guy and was myself a member of the Looghamite Radio and Television Ministry back in the 80’s (stories for another day) and just the idea of Marvin X interested me. Also the name made me assume there must be a tongue planted firmly in someone’s cheek as regards the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists.  A Google search, however, revealed that while the LDER’s take their name and inspiration from Sun Ra, membership and study first require completion of the course “Overcoming Addiction to White Supremacy, 13 Steps”.  Now while Sun Ra had a strong strain of African nationalism and a early history of interest in the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, he also claimed to bring forward the philosophy of ancient Egypt by way of the planet Saturn and regularly dressed in space robes and a gold sequined turban.  I saw Sun Ra perform at least a dozen times over the years and clearly this was a man with a sense of humor about himself.

The fact that Sun Ra, Malcolm X (Marvin X and compatriots are also heavily influenced by Elijah Mohamed) were influenced by Marcus Garvey prove that it’s not OK to have a white guy in a hood tell people “why don’t you back to where you came from”, but it’s ok for a black man in a colonialist sea captain’s uniform to tell people “why don’t we go back where we came from”.  A valuable lesson on the importance of pronouns

Reading through the materials of the Egyptian Revisions made me think about an encounter I had with Israelite Revisionists last summer.  I was walking down Seventh Avenue, near Penn Station, when I saw several men behind a card table with a large poster depicting two tablet shapes (ala Moses as opposed to Bayer) within which were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the ‘true’ ethnic descendants of each.  Here is the basic information in a nicer graphic than the one sported by my Israelite brethren that day

One aside I must make, my father taught me as a child that we were Levites.  Apparently Jews know what tribe they are. My Grandfather couldn’t find his car in the Shea Stadium parking so how on earth we know which tribe we are is mystery to me.  So as a Levite my new found African cousins are in Haiti; ‘out of the frying pan’ as they say.

Back to the table on Seventh Avenue, as I stopped to take in the new information about the Diaspora, I was told by one of the acolytes ‘keep moving, there is nothing here for you’.  When I stopped, I was accosted with a verbal jeremiad peppered with references to myself as a ‘white devil’.  The bottom line; after 400 years of oppression as ‘the blacks’ now they want to be ‘the jews’.

Now that’s ironic