Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Oregon Charleston Connecticut Boston Isla Vista – in Memory

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I’m as tired of updating this post as Obama is speaking about the massacres.

If it Were Up To Me

Written and performed by Cheryl Wheeler

 Every time there is a mass shooting in America, someone puts together a video featuring this song and posts it on YouTube. No doubt there’ll be another version out shortly.

Disasters that come from the mouth

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The guy with the gun pulled the trigger in Tucson. But the constant vitriol of hate and demonization by political “leaders” and others helped set the stage.

In 1998, there was a flurry of anti-gay hate speech. Religious groups, sports figures and politicians fell over each other in their eagerness to get in front of a camera and denounce homosexuals, all because President Clinton had appointed James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Hormel’s sin was being gay.

In June of that year, Trent Lott, then Senate Majority Leader, happily pandered to his base by upping the volume of venom considerably, very publicly comparing gays to alcoholics, sex addicts and kleptomaniacs, characterizing gays as sinners and a “problem to be solved.” (more…)

A Fake Society for a Fake World

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

From Hollywood to Oprah, seems like is taking a swipe at Mark Zuckerberg and his thrown-together monster, Facebook. I got burned by the two-faced beast too…

Every geek, techie and IT pro I know has exactly the same opinion of Facebook: Don’t. Go. There. Ever. Facebook is a giant con, they all say, a tentacled medusa crafted to steal personal information, parse it into marketable chunks for sale to the highest bidder. Privacy, as we have been informed by Zuckie, is dead.

I adhere – or did – to the no-Facebook ethic. It wasn’t hard: 25 years ago with a single PC and a database program now known only to aging geeks I extracted personal info from tiny, innocuous client lists that made my conscience burn. I know well what can be – is being – done with the terabytes of personal info that everyone is shoveling onto the ‘net.

That’s not the only thing about Facebook that makes me queasy. A virtual social network? Posting life’s little conceits and embarrassments on some public wall? Friending as a verb? Unfriending? How very high school. Ugh. My dislike is not unique: “I hate the very idea of it,” is a critique I’ve heard and read many times.

(more…)

A scathing exit

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I heard an interview on Fresh Air with Tony Judt, a British and American historian, or, as he preferred to call himself, a teacher of history. Judt’s interview with Terry Gross starts with his battle with ALS, which consumed the last two years of his life. As compelling as that story is, it was his description of his last book, dictated during his medical travails, that riveted me.

Ill Fares the Land is a summing up of the lessons Judt learned from his lifetime of studying and analyzing the 20th century.

Short and to the point, the book is a brutally honest description of our world today: what we’ve we’ve surrendered as a society and who we’ve surrendered to.

Given the hellacious election season now underway in sad and mad America, what Judt says about politics and politicians pierced like a honed dagger.

Below is an excerpt describing our current crop of “leaders” that really caught me.

Ill Fares The Land

By Tony Judt
pg 133-135

The men and women who dominate western politics today are overwhelmingly products or, in the case of Nicolas Sarkozy, byproducts of the ’60s. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are all ‘baby boomers’. So are Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the ‘liberal’ prime minister of Denmark; Segolene Royal and Martine Aubry, the bickering challengers for leadership of France’s anemic Socialist Party and Herman Van Rompuy, the worthy but underwhelming new President of the European Union.

(more…)

Why nothing works.
Part 1: Let’s save the park!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

An outbreak of community activism has turned into a crash seminar in why absolutely nothing gets done in America any more.

I’ve become involved with a group trying to keep a large, “unactivated” chunk of San Francisco’s McLaren Park from being strip-mined into a disc golf course. I have doubts as to how successful the group will be – read on to see why – but the cause is just and true: McLaren Park is an oasis of wildness in a densely urban environment, the last bit of city land untouched by developers, planners, and others who consider unbulldozed real estate “wasted”.

Disc golf, for those not in the know (and I sure wasn’t),  is one of those fake sports made up by bored post-pubescent males. Expensive frisbees, edges honed and hardened like an axehead, are thrown from coffin-sized chunks of concrete called “tees” at chain-link baskets on five foot poles called “holes”. Put 18 tees and holes together and you have a “course” consuming dozens of acres. Add beer and bongs to the discs whizzing by at 50 mph and you can clear a park of trees, picnickers, birds, meadows, hikers and dogs in no time. The city allowed a course in Golden Gate Park a few years ago. Today the area looks like an active Marine Corps training ground.

Park aficionados are very upset with this plan and not just for the obvious reasons. The decision to install the course was taken by the Grand Poo-Bahs of S.F.’s Recreation and Parks Department (affectionately known as “Wreck-Park”) without notifying anybody who actually uses the park – a big no-no here on the Left Coast, especially in this city.

(more…)

Please, stop “sparing me!”

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

It is a universally accepted truism that we medically complicated folks “have enough on our hands” and mustn’t be troubled with your problems. No matter how much we ask, how much we insist, however close we are, you are always “fine”, your life is always uncomplicated and all is going exactly as you planned.

Bull-crap-ola.

How many of you have told me when I’ve felt guilty about relying on you yet again for some necessary kindness that it’s not only not a bother to help but is even a distraction for you from your own day-to-day problems? Lots of you. Did you say that just to shut me up? Over concern for my health? Please. I’m not that fragile.

So why are you robbing me of the essential human tic of worrying about you like you do about (more…)

anemia [uh-nee-mee-uh]

Monday, March 15th, 2010

–noun

1. Pathology. a quantitative deficiency of the hemoglobin, often accompanied by a reduced number of red blood cells and causing pallor, weakness, and breathlessness.

2. a lack of power, vigor, vitality, or colorfulness: His writing suffers from anemia…

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrroad trip!!!

The car is tuned. It’s got new tires and is loaded down with jackets and maps and food for doggie and me and of course my camera and the tripod I always take and hardly ever use. The back seat’s converted into Otto’s Command Center so da pooch can survey the world from the comfort of his traveling bed. And we are driving down Highway 101 through the ridiculously green hills of an El Nino winter California listening to Roseanne Cash and Michelle Shocked on our way south to visit family and friends…

That’s what was supposed to happen. (more…)

About all that health stuff…

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I’ve got this deal going – in my head anyway – with the Three Fates. The Greeks called them Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, and they spin out, measure, and in the end cut the thread of our lives. We are literally in their hands.

My deal is, I get to stay alive for some unspecified number of moments after the liver cancer and transplant. I get to be conscious, occasionally functional, and once in a while I even get to thrive. I also get to experience each and every sensation of a body running down its weave.

I’ve started and not finished a dozen posts on my health trials of the past year. One did refer to my struggle last summer just to learn that I’ve comedown two impossible–for-a-transplantee autoimmune diseases, but that’s it. I feel guilt for not having posted more. (more…)

Flu shot

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I finally got my H1N1 shot today at a big inject-a-thon held in San Francisco’s Bill Graham auditorium. Out front, mimicking event volunteers right down to their day-glo vests and friendly manners, the anti-vaccine, it’s-a-government-big-pharma conspiracy! folks were greeting everyone, handing out official-looking yellow papers. Reading this you found not info on what to do to get your shot, not the who-gets-what-and-why of vaccinating, but furtively hinted-at, semi-argued, conflicting pleas to avoid this vaccine – all vaccines! – at all costs. Especially if you want to “Save The Children”.

I stuffed the thing in my pocket and went in.
After rolling up my sleeve and getting the poke, I dug out the crumpled paper. As I exited, I went up to one of the anti-vaccine guys and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, and I silently held out the crumpled paper and stood there. Looking at me quizzically, he finally extended his hand. I dropped the crumpled yellow sheet into his hand and walked away. He stared at me and the paper in his hand, never said a word.
You can’t argue with these folks. But you don’t have to carry their garbage.

I stuffed the thing in my pocket and went in.

After rolling up my sleeve and getting the poke, I dug out the crumpled paper, went up to one of the anti-vaccine guys and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around. I silently held out the crumpled paper and stood there. Staring at me quizzically, he finally extended his hand. I dropped the crumpled yellow sheet into his hand and walked away. He looked at me and at the paper, confused.

You can’t argue with these folks. But you don’t have to carry their garbage.

Earth 2.0

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I saw the movie 2012 Sunday. No better way to get your mind off your own problems than to watch a big, messy Hollywood disaster flick where pretty much everybody’s fate is worse than yours.

2012 is exactly like every movie catastrophe you’ve ever seen: an estranged family fights for survival and the meaning of “family”; do-gooders shriek justice and compassion while everybody else panics and stabs each other in the back; heroic rescues give the audience – and the characters stuck in the mess – something to cheer. Bad guys get called-for comeuppance and sacred institutions (religious and secular) are reduced to richly deserved rubble.

Oh, and of course L.A. is destroyed. Again. Poor L.A.; no other city comes close to suffering as much cinematically as the womb of the entertainment industry. Kinda makes you wonder about the folks who run it…

There’s a lie in 2012’s marketing though, and I’m not talking about the bogus science. The movie isn’t really about the end of the world. It’s about the earth – more to the point us, humans – getting a chance at a makeover.

Sure, a good three-fourths of us are knocked off. “Civilization As We Know It” ends. Continents realign, the poles shift (to Wisconsin?), tsunamis scour half the land mass, and on. But by film’s end Things Stabilize and A New Dawn arrives – literally.

In other words, the earth – remaining humans included – gets an upgrade: a chance at a reboot to version 2.0.

And isn’t that exactly what all of us really want?

Our planet’s a mess. We’ve overpopulated it like rats on a sinking ship. We’re running out of resources, we’re only still eating because of hideous meat factories and genetic tricks made to our crops. To keep folks from thinking about all this education’s been turned into pop-culture quizzes and we’ve made a religion out of shopping.

But way down in our limbic brains we all know we’ve fucked up and hell’s to pay. Doesn’t matter who we blame – ourselves, our neighbors, those people over there, the rich, our gods or saints or sinners or politicians or just the roll of the dice – we know we all contributed and we’re all screwed.

Probably the biggest laugh in all the buzz around 2012 is the guilt some critics mention of rooting for John Cuzak et al while 6 billion other earthlings are being offed. Get real, critics! No one laments those people. Too bad about them, we tell ourselves, but when the apocalypse comes we know we’re with the elect. We will survive. This certainty isn’t just in our religions; it’s in our DNA.

What are movies like 2012 really about? What do we really want?

Another chance. And that’s what we want.

What we want is to toss away everything we’ve screwed up – in this case the whole damn world and everybody (else) in it – toss it all out like last year’s iPod and upgrade to the next version. Something newer, something trendier. More intelligent. Something like Earth, 2.0.

And we want more: we want something to force us to act, to do the right thing. Something like the realignment of the earth’s crust in 2012, say. Heaven knows we can’t do it on our own initiative: we can’t even agree whether Arctic ice is melting or if we should choose paper over plastic. Somebody – mommy? Are you there, mommy? – has to make us.

What a movie like 2012 offers is something to force us to act.

There’s another post-disaster movie out right now, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve read the book. Bleak, gray, filled with cannibals and hopelessness, strewn with wreckage, it offers no beginning to the catastrophe and no end. There are no shiny arks of salvation, no secret cooperation among nations. Just forage, disease and death.

The Road’s apocalypse is much more likely than 2012’s.

Which is why 2012 is packing the theatres and The Road will disappear in a week.

Who wants to fix problems when you can just upgrade and reboot?