Friday, October 15, 2010

"Children in Charge"

Don’t miss this column on what went into the House of Cards that got sold as bundles of mortgages, the collapse of which has led to so much economic pain for all the but the wealthy bankers who believe they are the “best and the brightest” – those doom-hawking hoodwinkers – whose toxic products have been gradually infecting every nook and cranny of our world financial and monetary networks.  It’s important to know their nefarious slights of hand, so we can protect ourselves from the coming attractions, as the money works its way ever deeper into the political system, thanks to the “inJustices” – those supremes so in love with the free market, that they are willing to sell out the Republic to the highest secret bidder in our current electoral advertising Hoodwinkery, which is simply another form of bundling toxicity as straw-spun “gold”.

There!  I hope that piques your interest!  Read it. Or don’t blame me if you didn’t see it coming….

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rent a friend?

Now I’ve heard everything!   Yes, you can rent a friend.

Commentary: Maybe people will think I am a snob, but honestly while I can chat with almost anyone, it isn’t every day that I run across someone with whom I can really talk, someone trustworthy, interesting, open-minded, empathetic, with a sense of curiosity, a sense of humor, a bit of wisdom.

Apparently some people need to impress others.  Impress with a rented stranger? Or they're lonely - and almost anyone will do.  This is very, very sad.

Just think, civilization has arrived at a point where fire protection is optional and "friendship" is a business transaction!

I recall during the years of bushco thinking, what else don't we know? Now I'm thinking, where is this all leading....???

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I write

Cross posted from here.

I have these verses from Psalm 137 ringing in my head:
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows* there
we hung up our harps.

3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
4 How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy.
“On the willows there we hung up our harps.”  That’s the dry land. In metaphor.  Context of today’s world.  The desert ~ if you truly care.  Where somehow the “heart” often seems to be missing.  If you are an exile as I feel I am.  (I’m speaking metaphorically.)

If you pay attention to what’s going on the world, and keep your ethical principles tuned up, it is a painful lot you have chosen.

You could join those singing the tune of whoever pays the piper. Or you can join the mourners.  Keeping your spirits up by remembering you’re not alone, that even the psalmist knew your sorrow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Movie hits generational nerve (updated)

I read reviews for restaurants I will never eat in, ballets I will never attend, movies I will never see.  You could wonder about the meaning of that.  So could I – being a shrink and all.  But that’s not the subject of this post.

I was reading this movie review.  For a movie I’m sure I’ll never see.  Well, ok, “never say never” and all that, but trust me, I see very few.  I might go and see that new one by Julie Taymore with Helen Mirren.  Because I admire both women.  But I digress.

I love the freedom of digressing in a blog…

Ok, back to the review.  Something tells me this movie has hit upon a huge fissure in our society.  Generational.  Ethical.  Here’s the quote from the review that piques my interest:
Many older people will watch the movie, which was No. 1 at the box office last weekend, and see a cautionary tale about a callous young man who betrays friends, partners and principles as he hacks his way to lucre and fame. But many in the generation who grew up in a world that Mr. Zuckerberg helped invent will applaud someone who saw his chance and seized it with both hands, mostly by placing them on the keyboard and coding something that no one else had.
Yup.  I’ll never see the movie but I am an “older people” and I totally identify with the description.  Made me wonder about Josh Marshall… I hate to say that, but it did.  Especially this part:
“When you talk to people afterward, it was as if they were seeing two different films,” said Scott Rudin, one of the producers. “The older audiences see Zuckerberg as a tragic figure who comes out of the film with less of himself than when he went in, while young people see him as completely enhanced, a rock star, who did what he needed to do to protect the thing that he had created.”
I know there’s not a huge overlap here.  But I think this speaks to a huge ethical gap in how some of us view integrity as a very high principle versus others (yes, I can see myself distancing from “them”) view success and fame and money as the objective and betraying people or principles as simply an unfortunate byproduct or worse,  simply inconsequential.

I have no solution.  It’s painful to be older and look at young people and see this happening.  I wonder if the financial downturn will change things at all or maybe make them worse (worse by my definition of course).

It’s amazing sometimes how you can stay at home and just read the reviews.  And there it all is – whether you experienced it personally or not.  But even so, you’re affected by it.  Well, at least I am:  Someone concerned about principles and people.  Someone never motivated much by fame or money or status or power.  Yes, I’m in the group that’s deeply bothered here.   And I’m guessing maybe Josh Marshall, perhaps even unbeknownst to himself, is in this other group.

Update: Here's Paul Krugman a day later.  Different topic but same problem:
Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.
Money talks.  And we've shifted the money to those willing to buy people!  People for sale.  Public offices for sale.  You name it.  Sold to to the highest bidder!
Only if enough people are willing to do what's right - for low pay - can we dig ourselves out of this hole!   Doctors.  Lawyers.  Professors.  IT people.  Electricians.  You name it!

Critique:  So part of it is generational.  But mostly it's human nature.  Greed is the key!  (And whether your ethics gets in the way of your greed.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

“inadequate fingerprints”

This is a true story.  The names are changed to protect the innocent.  It’s a story about Homeland Security:  Your taxes at work to protect you from a 71 year old person who spends time working on a 14th century manuscript – which is poetry.

The said individual, let us call him IF (for “inadequate fingerprints”), has been in the US for nearly 44 peaceful years.  However, due to allegiance to this person’s own nation, IF has never taken the trouble to go through the US citizenship process – thus has no little US flag.  Nor big one either.

Homeland Security is in the Federal Building.  Downtown.  To reach there you must have an appointment.  These are sent by mail.  You are given a time and only unless you have a medical problem can you change the date and time.  Even if you have a medical problem, their phone system makes it nearly impossible to reach them or arrange anything whatsoever.

IF has a medical problem.  Just going through security would help them see that.  They know that already.  For this is the second time IF has been summoned for “biometric” processing.

You might not know this, but Green Cards used to last forever.  No longer! IF found this out the first time when arriving back in the US after a family visit in a foreign land which is not named to protect the innocent.  Upon arrival and the showing of the Green Card, which had always been sufficient until that moment, IF was told:  “This card has expired.”

But wait… Right there and then a new one was processed.  Right there in an Airport not to be named.  You know why.

So now Green Cards have an expiration date.  Less than 10 years apparently.  Now here’s the interesting thing.  There is apparently no law that says they must be updated.  It’s only if you leave the country that anyone would notice – apparently.

In any case, even though IF has a medical problem (which possibly might be helped by surgery, but which makes it very difficult to travel, let alone visit Homeland Security), still the determination had been made to apply for the new card “just in case”.   (The medical condition is not life threatening, but merely life-disruptive.)

The medical condition necessitates a lot of washing.  IF thinks of them as “ablutions” – perhaps it’s a way of distracting self from the reasons… which involve very private parts of the body.  And hands of course.

Now hands have fingers.  And fingers have finger prints.  They also have arthritis.

Now on the appointed date, at the appointed hour, IF appeared for the appointed “biometrics”.  One would hope that Homeland Security, which makes use of the most modern methods, would have machines to capture the pattern of an iris.  Or perhaps would take a swab of DNA. But no… fingerprints were wanted.

The modern fingerprint is made on a glass plate connected to a computer.  This writer personally has no idea if ink is involved at all anymore.  That’s because only the person with the letter ordering one to appear for an appointment can even enter Homeland Security.

A little detour to describe Homeland Security.  Many people work there.  Few people are called to show up.  The last time IF was there (ah, yes…”last time” – you can see where this is going…) there was only one other person with an appointment.  There were 3 security guards.  Guarding.  And a bevy of … well… I guess they’re bureaucrats.  Officials.  Maybe like in some Kafka novel.  Naturally the guards do a careful security check.

So there was IF.  Willing to give finger prints.  With hands that were swollen from so much washing….  The lady tried and tried!  Indeed, IF’s “significant other” (someone you would never suspect) wondered where IF was… since it had been hours and hours and no IF was returning from the Federal Building.  What had occurred in the Homeland Security interview?  Had they suspected IF’s involvement in the long ago protesting of a dictatorship in a foreign land?  Indeed, IF had been careful when the Patriot Act was passed, nervous that his significant other had chosen to protest this and that. (Living in a dictatorship had had its effect.)

Well, long story short… the female Homeland Security Official pushed so hard on the fingers for the fingerprints, that poor IF had to plead for her “not to push so hard” due to “I have arthritis in these fingers”.  To no avail…

Finally, after seeking assistance from a supervisor, the official was given leave to accept the “finger prints” and allow IF to go home with the swollen, painful fingers, following the stern warning that if there was any need after the application was processed further, the FBI would contact IF.  Hmmm…

This is the kind of individual your taxes are protecting you from!

Now comes the letter… NO, not from the FBI.  (not yet…)  Homeland Security had determined that the fingerprints were “inadequate” and new ones must be taken.  This time they would not be taken in the afternoon, a good time to find parking (perhaps) near the Federal Building.  But at 8 am.  Together with the warning that the time could not be changed “unless there is a medical reason” – came the stern warning:  If you do not show up for this appointment, your case will be closed.

Case would be closed… What would that mean? 

Mind you, a poor person could not apply for a new Green Card in this day and age.  It costs no less than $370!!!  Oh, yes…  Poverty and Green Card do not mix!

So, now what?  One would hope that if the fingerprints are inadequate, Homeland Security would consider that perhaps the methods or the means or the goal of fingerprints is inadequate.  And some other “biometrics” might be considered.  But apparently, in this day and age, when guards are paid to guard and officials to officiate, well…. the procedures must be followed!