Category Archives: Uncategorized

What is Fame Good For?

Last night I was celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown when Kiefer Sutherland and other cast and crew of Designated Survivor (ABC, CTV) came into the bar to blow off steam after a long shoot in the Royal York Hotel. Maybe my assumptions reflect my own introversion, but I would not feel comfortable approaching a celebrity in a public space because, in keeping with the golden rule, I wouldn’t want to be pounced on every time I went out. However, the birthday girl is considerably more outgoing than me (OK, to be fair, probably 99% of planet is more outgoing than me) so pics were taken.

Kiefer Sutherland was a great sport who not only posed with us for a group pic and wished my friend a Happy Birthday, he also, admirably, tolerated some behaviour that’s described in Cards Against Humanity and probably should have stayed in the deck. My friend dragged me over to get a pic with Kal Penn too, but I’m not sharing the whole thing here because we were in front of a planter and it looks like I was wearing orchids in my hair. I told Penn I admired his work on House, but it wasn’t until I Googled him later that I remembered why I liked him enough to tell him so and it has more to do with his activism than his acting. Penn, who also worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement under Obama, supported Sanders in the primary and this is also the guy who made a racist’s tweet backfire by using it to raise over $850,000 in a crowd-funded project called “Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.”

When Penn won “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown” recently, he donated the $25,000 prize money to Palestinian Refugees. Having your face on TV speaking words written by others isn’t something admirable in itself. Reputation is what other people think about you, whether they know you or not. Character is who you really are and actions speak more clearly than the cleverest words onstage. I admire Kal Penn not for his reputation, but for his character, because he’s trying to make the world a better place. This is what fame is good for. Thank you, Kal, for being a such a good sport last night. But for being a compassionate citizen of the world, thank you very, very much.

Which side are you on?

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Koch Puppet-Masters

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This image pretty much sums up how greedy billionaires are destroying the biosphere. (If Clinton won, George Soros would have been pulling the strings, just like he’s been doing for Obama.) We can’t save the planet until enough people wake up and realize they don’t live in a democracy anymore. Hitler was absolutely evil, but everyone knew it. Charles and David Koch are cut from the same cloth, they have way more power than they should, and worse, they wield it in secret. They aren’t the only evil douchebag puppet-masters controlling government policy, but they are certainly among the most destructive.

If you want to learn more, here’s an article:
http://www.rollingstone.com/…/koch-industries-responds-to-r…

… and a documentary:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N8y2SVerW8

Plus great site for research:
http://www.prwatch.org/topics/koch-exposed

earthrisekillingmeme

COVERT REVOLUTION 2016: CORPORATIONS VS. DEMOCRACY AND THE PLANET

chomskybusinessTHE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. IT WILL NOT APPEAR IN MEDIA POLLING.

Evidence is emerging that there has been a quiet coup and counter coup in the United States, quite apart from the corporate coup that has already turned the former democracy into an inverted totalitarian Oligarchy.

Corporate “news” outlets lie like rugs and their election predictions cannot be trusted. This is the year that a third-party vote matters the most and can really make a difference. However, you cannot expect the media to give any indication that there is a groundswell of support for alternatives to the two-party system.

Trump is a climate denier, but Clinton has failed to speak out against fossil fuel extraction and will also allow fossil fuel companies to continue destroying the biosphere. This is why it is so important to vote for somebody, else in this election if you can do that without causing worse damage.  However, it is important to understand that if you want your vote to count, you have to consider political demographics. Where you live has an impact on whether your 3rd party vote would be wasted.

Bernie Sanders’ supporters can hope that he is appointed the nominee, in the unlikely event Clinton resigns prior to the election. Depending on where you live, writing in Bernie Sanders might take electoral college votes away from Clinton and Trump, in several states including California. However, if Sanders supporters split the vote in California, they may regret it.

The Green Party is the ONLY one to prioritize saving the biosphere and the ONLY one to stand with Standing Rock and Jill Stein has picked up a large slice of Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are angry that the Clinton camp cheated.

If you not in a swing state, you can help boost a third party over 5% in the popular vote, which gives them ballot access in 2020.  If you believe the whole game is rigged, voting for a third party is even more important because a solid showing in the popular vote now can send a message to the “duopoly” that their days are numbered.

The most important thing is to STAY AWAKE after the election, no matter who wins, and demand ANTI-CORRUPTION laws that will give the people enough power to stop corporations from destroying the planet.

Destroy the “One Ring” of Corporate Greed

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I stand with Standing Rock because I recognize they are at the front line in the war to save the biosphere from greedy   corporations. People need to learn the truth about who really has the power today, and why the truth is hidden.  That is why I’m building AWAKEupedia, to build a collection of  IMPORTANT LINKS WORTH SHARING. #ILWS is a hashtag people can use to spread awareness about any issue, including DAPL.

It is important to understand that solving any of the life-or-death problems we face requires us to ACT to take our power back. Americans will not enjoy democracy again until they dismantle the corrupt two party system controlled by Oligarchs. If you are sick seeing no progress while greedy billionaires continue raping the planet to death, consider sharing and discussing these ideas with your friends and family:

  1. Giving the Senate to democrats means Bernie Sanders becomes chair of the Budget Committee.
  2. If you think climate change is a big deal, even Ron Paul thinks you should vote for the Green party
  3. Don’t buy the narrative of ‘inevitability’ the media promotes. It is a lie.
  4. Don’t get important information from corporate media sources, they spew propaganda.
  5. Don’t lose sleep about who ends up in the white house this time around, the secret government is real.
  6. The way to take democracy back is to by-pass the whole corrupt political system using ANTI-CORRUPTION ballot initiatives, starting at the municipal and state level.
  7. The way to save the biosphere is to establish ANTI-ECOCIDE laws at the local, federal and international level.

 

 

Before the Flood Needs a Sequel

earthrisekillingmemeI just watched Before the Flood on National Geographic, hoping that the filmmakers dug deep enough to get to the root of the problem. Although the film is a strong call to action, I was disappointed that it didn’t follow the story far enough to locate and identify the source of political inaction in America.  The sad truth is that corruption is so extensive, and the political institutions so compromised that voting will not fix this problem unless and until anti-corruption ballot initiatives are passed in every state and eventually in Washington to get fossil fuel money out of the political process.

One of the saddest moments of the film was scientists blaming themselves for failing to inform the public, but that failure cannot be laid at their feet. The fourth estate – the news media – has failed spectacularly, an there is little hope for improvement now that corporate ownership is more concentrated than ever. The mainstream media frames issues and shapes public opinion. Algorithms on social media and Google are manipulated to promote the same narrow view of what is possible. Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” exposed the Propaganda Model but having accused the media of complicity, that understanding of power was  never allowed to bubble to the surface of public consciousness in America. It is time to wake up and connect the dots between political corruption, corporate malfeasance, and media complicity. We need to lay the blame where it properly belongs. As Utah Phillips said:

The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.

This is no time for blind optimism, but fear of the future won’t help either. The time has come to get angry at the crimes fossil fuel companies commit, especially in North Dakota. We need to recognize that what is ‘legal‘ and what is ‘right’ may be very different, in a world where corporations have been allowed to write laws that members of congress often don’t even read.

Before the Flood is a great documentary, but like the Paris Accords, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I strongly recommend that in his next film, DiCaprio focus on the obstructionist fossil fuel corporations, even if they threaten to sue. If we’re too afraid to step on the toes of the oil giants, we cannot hope to stop them from destroying the biosphere. They have too much power and they are not going to give it up voluntarily. The world would be a better place if the biggest multinationals were broken up into smaller units.

The next film I want to see will focus on the current DOJ investigation of the horrifying fact that EXXON KNEW about man-made climate change in 1981 and spent decades hiding the truth and lying about it. A crime of that magnitude should result in prison for perpetrators and the company should be liquidated.  Ecocide should be recognized as an International Crime Against Humanity under the Rome Statute and people of all nations should demand that their governments ratify the treaty. We need to fight to take back control of our governments and hold the fossil fuel giants to account. We can all begin by standing with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Climate Crisis Solution: Reclaim Democracy

earthrisekillingmemesmall

I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:

“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”

This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.

Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if  a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.

This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by  elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.

When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.

Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

 

Transplant Industry has a Dirty Little Secret.

Murder. It doesn’t get much dirtier than that. We’ll never know how many organ donors declared brain-dead could have recovered if given a chance.  We do know that sometimes, perhaps very rarely, people recover from being in a state considered too far gone for doctors to offer any hope.  Even if this hardly ever happens, we need to allow for this possibility when organ donation protocols are designed because it is certain that some organ harvesting operations kill people who might have recovered full function. In Texas, a man’s father pulled a gun on doctors who wanted to pull the plug on his son, saving his son’s life.  Not only did the son survive a stroke, he is now fully recovered. This happy ending may not be the typical outcome of a traumatic brain injury, but it is possible and this possibility gives me the creeps when I think about what could happen to me or someone I love under such horrible circumstances.

I recently met a former colleague whose daughter-in-law was written off as an organ donor, and only kept alive in order to save the baby she was pregnant with.  Nobody told Cliff how bad the prognosis was, so he kept talking to her, squeezing her hand and asking her to squeeze back for about a month before she responded.  Unfortunately, she is now severely disabled because she was given no physiotherapy to prevent her muscles wasting away, so she can no longer walk. In addition, her short-term memory is shot and she can’t talk either because of the ventilator that the hospital failed to remove on a timely basis. A 2012 article in the Toronto Star seems to suggest that if Mary Archer had died, her family might be better off and fails to nail the hospital to the wall for compounding their mistake by adding injury to injury. Instead of providing for the intensive therapy that could help Mary regain lost function, they’ve been throwing money at expensive lawyers to deny their liability.

Mary Archer is the woman who should have died, but she didn’t and the hospital who failed her has a moral responsibility to do right by Mary and her family now. Since her very life is a rebuke to both the hospital and the multi-billion dollar organ transplant industry, keeping Mary in the hospital that nearly killed her, where she subsequently suffered several falls which may have caused further harm should have been viewed as a conflict of interest. Mary should have been moved to a top-notch rehab facility as soon as possible and given every opportunity to recover as fully as possible and Mary’s family should not have to pay for this. Justice demands this at a minimum.

The multi-billion dollar transplant industry needs revisit the protocols on the ethics of declaring someone brain-dead, because they are currently killing people who could have recovered. I’m not signing my organ donor card unless and until I have confidence that I won’t be murdered in ER.

Would You Like an Anti-Thought Vaccine?

The problem with vaccines is not just the over-zealous demonization of ‘anti-vax‘ crowd – even though few vaccine skeptics are against all vaccinations –  it is the conspicuous lack of debate. The pro-vaccine crowd does not want to have a reasonable conversation about risk reduction because it puts them on the slippery slope of acknowledging that vaccines are not 100% harmless.

We need to have the conversation about how to administer vaccines in such a way that the risk of injury is as low as possible. This may mean administering them spaced out over time or perhaps at later ages, depending on a patient’s vulnerabilities. Parents want to protect their kids from all kinds of harm – from both disease prevention tactics and the deadly diseases they fight – and parents will usually make good choices. However, INFORMED CONSENT demands honesty about legitimate risks, not stubborn refusal to have a reasonable discussion.

The bottom line is that vaccines need to be optional, no matter how highly recommended and preferable to doing nothing.  Even if vaccine injury rates or severity are far lower than the harms inflicted by the diseases they prevent, they fail the basic test of “first do no harm.”   Legislation that excludes the unvaccinated from public schools is a reasonable alternative to forcibly injecting medicine into someone’s body for the “greater good.” The fundamental right to bodily integrity cannot be violated in any society that calls itself “free.” The vaccine-booster crowd need to come to terms with this uncomfortable truth.

In the social media age, we have a wealth of information available, but separating truth from error remains a challenge. We need to evaluate each issue on its observable, measurable merits, not knee-jerk reactions or flame wars. Let’s talk about it, but let’s not pretend that thinking about vaccine safety is a bad thing.

 

How a Weeping Buddha Works

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Many of us have seen wooden carvings of weeping men curled up in a ball carved from a single piece of wood. They can be any size but are often around the size of a fist. It is said to be a good practice piece for apprentice wood carvers because it allows them to learn how to carve the larger, easier features of limbs and musculature without having to create the more difficult features of the face. As for the meaning of the image, some say that there is so much pain and suffering in the world, Buddha weeps so we don’t have to. Others spin a tale about a warrior who fought a masked opponent and only discovered after defeating him that his opponent was his own long-lost son. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, this sculpted image can be used as a powerful tool.

The weeping yogi can help people who suffer from depression to externalize their crippling pain. Many who suffer from the pain of depressive mental illness have a great deal of difficulty in understanding that their pain is not an integral part of their personality. Developing an awareness that “you are not your feelings” and also that “you are not your thoughts” is crucial in gaining control of your unruly mind. In order to benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or related treatments, it is important to learn how to take a mental step back and become an observer of your own thoughts and feelings.

By holding this little carving in their hands, conceptualizing the pain that it represents and observing that pain as being outside of themselves, sufferers may be able to take that necessary step back from their own pain. They may imagine that their little wooden buddy is feeling their own negative emotions and they may want to stroke his back in order to comfort him because they know how badly it hurts. This may put them in touch with their own compassion, not for a block of wood, but for themselves. It may even release a flood of cleansing tears that will wash some of that pain away. If used properly, a weeping Buddha isn’t a “magical” talisman but a functional mnemonic device that can help comfort people who are struggling to cope with psychological pain.

If you experiment with this technique, please share your experience or results in the comments.