One Last Taste of Freedom

What kind of world are we living in ? For eight months of the year I live in a hamlet of some forty registered voters and some fifteen kids. As far as I know, there are three farmers, a mason, a nurse’s aide, an electrician, a teacher, a leather worker, two social workers of some sort, the family who rents the upstairs of city hall (job(s) unknown), a young divorcée, and four retirees, five, including me. Or six, if you include the asshole who lives just to the east of us across the road, who has, even though he’s an asshole, a beautiful garden. He showed it to me maybe six or seven years ago before I started taking care of his cat who he more or less abandoned and then got all pissed off when I told him his cat (who had more or less taken up residence with us) had come down with an infection and did he have the number of a veterinarian, did he even know that his cat was not well ? He told me to fuck off, to mind my own business.

One of the interesting things about that incident, now that I think about it, is that it represents, in a scaled down kind of way, the capitalist ethic. He acquires a cat (somehow, we don’t know) most probably to try and control the mouse problem that is so common in an agricultural setting where everything is built of stones and certainly not hermetic. Kind of like the factory owner who hires workers, and then, when they become ill or disabled, fires them and puts the care of the worker in the hands of the public who may or may not give a shit. In any case, the cat owner, like the factory owner, feels no responsibility or social conscience for someone who was providing him a) with an income, or b) with a service. Privatized profit, socialized costs.

We, of course, assumed the responsibility of seeing that the cat got the care he needed. It’s a long story (even kind of funny), but he ended up being sent to Paris to be treated for a cancerous tumor on his right flank. So, there are still some good people in this world.

And that brings me back to the original question. The small, incidental world that took care of Croc (my name for him because he tended to bite and scratch if you bothered him too much, although he was in the process of claming down), exists. It’s a matter of generalizing that ethic, that sense of uninterested care and community that, somehow, needs to be developed. Or rediscovered.

A lot of people are claiming that « social media » is somehow going to bring us together, to save us from the calamities of continuous war, environmental destruction. Two of the biggest questions of our times. I don’t see that happening.

What I see happening is the infantalization of way too many people via all the electronic diversions now available. They’re not talking to one another directly, they’re somewhere else, comforting themselves in some narcissistic nether world, or in anguish because someone didn’t « like » them on some social media channel. And all of this done at distance, as if some electronic god was giving each of them a thumb up or down. Rather than having a real conversation with the person sitting beside you on the train or the Metro, for example.

Electricity, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many ways of producing it and many ways of using it. It’s just that the ends to which it being put to use these days may not be in our overall interests.

It’s not that I’m against « spreading the word » that something is going down. But what is the hurry ? The problems we’re facing today are not new, nor are they « news » for anyone who has a sense of history. This shit’s been going probably since before the wheel was invented.

Or maybe it’s just that I never believed in the corporate way of looking at things. I could have, since our family had a booming construction materials business. Maybe it was because my degree was in the liberal arts rather than business administration that I was considered somehow inept or subversive because I pleaded for organic development, self-sustaining communities (we were into real estate, as well), rather than those anonymous subdivisions that have destroyed the landscape, the environment, and the long term economy of the US. Plus, I thought two weeks of vacation was criminally not enough, since my father took off when he felt like it.

I lasted maybe six months, turned my back on all that and ended up working ranches in Wyoming and Montana, just to get all the frustration out of my system, to get out into the clean air of the Rockies, bend my body to the exigencies of the seasons, the lazy days of irrigation, the intense efforts of harvest, the celebratory end of season, the slow, steady winter fencing. Working with people who, to me, were mythical and monosyllabic. Who had more humor in the wink of an eye or a simple glance than a year’s worth of Comedy Central (as I was later to learn). And more authentic. More heartfelt. Less denigrating.

The last time around, at shipping season, Jackson plead my case for joining the crew up mountain, on the Continental Divide, where we herded and fed beef and sheep before loading them up for the west coast. The boss decided otherwise, and I decided to tarp over the back of my ’49 Chevy pickup and head back to my books, banging the steering wheel all the way down our branch of the Ruby to Alder, where I spent a few weeks drinking and supposedly hunting with my brand new 30-06 with the guy who talked me into buying the rifle down in Twin Bridges in the first place. First day out, I got a good sized deer from a decent distance, called it quits, refusing to shoot anything but inanimate shit. We ate the deer with the regulars at the bar just before I left, with a crushing hangover, and no idea where my rifle was. Couldn’t have cared less. I was heading east and had an uneasy feeling about going that way. My only comfort being the little straight six sitting right in front of me, clicking away like a clock, and the bottle of Jim Beam on the seat next to me, and the immensity of the slow slide down to the Missouri, where I bathed one early morning, amongst tree trunks and large stones, oblivious to the cold, giving my body one last taste of freedom.


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Maybe It’s Too Early. Or Too Late. Konstantakopoulos

I’m not sure where to start since I came across some of these links about five this morning, my normal wake up time these days, and some of them date from earlier, maybe not so random, internet archaeology.

I figure I might as well start at the top. Whitney’s review of Kovalik’s new book is almost an incitement not to buy it. Not because he pans it, but because, as reviewed, the book adds nothing that hasn’t been written about before. What the book does leave out is any discussion of the OSS’s (the outfit that spawned the CIA) concerted efforts to create the European Union (EU) and their wonderful little stay behind terrorist organizations huddled under the the cover of Operation Gladio (a continuation of the age old false flag gambit) to ensure that any truly Left-leaning Europpean political movement was discredited. So, as much as I prefer books to the internet, I don’t think I’ll be purchasing this one.

Speaking of books, here’s a strange story. I was offered, via email, a free Kindle copy of a recently published book. Since I don’t do Kindle or Facebook or Amazon or a lot of other (a)social media, as most of them fall under my personal BDS movement, I wrote the author proposing cash for a copy on a USB key or even a real copy that he surely had lying around. Or even a barter deal, my memoires for his book, though I explained that said memoires were still not quite finished. I got back a blow-off saying it would be simpler if I just ordered the book from a book store. My reaction ? Great alternative solidarity, and I’ll pass on your book. Typical Western lose-lose situation.

So next on the list is Macron’s election to the French presidency. An absolute disaster for everyone in France but for the oligarchs and their butt boys. Skip down to the the Johnstone piece for a bit of nuance and perhaps wishful thinking. She always thinks outside the box, and with her friend Jean Bricmont, are considered oddities, even dangerous, by the traditional, caviar Left (see the Proyect link).

As for Manchester, from my point of view, Pilger’s pretty much spot on, but stresses the security measures more than I would expect from him. You want security ? Don’t go shoving bayonets up the ass of a head of state !

Alas, imperialism is still alive and well, and everyone but the very few suffer for it.

Trump ? The Democrats ? Most of the world (outside the EU and other various pet states) is either cringing in embarrassment or laughing, and saying, « American exceptionalism ? If only we could keep it within its borders ! »

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Binary Solutions: Why Is The Left So Stupid?

The Le Pen – Macron contest for France’s presidency didn’t have to be like this : yet another choice between the lesser of two bad choices. You’d think the French, having witnessed the disaster of the US election, would have thought twice about allowing themselves to be Judas-Goated into such an electoral slaughterhouse. But they did.

And they didn’t get any help from any of the assorted Left or Alternative party leaders who decided, for reasons unknown (or maybe not, see below), not to combine their ideas and numbers into a solid, reasoned coalition to offer a real alternative to the media-driven joke of an election in which they have placed themselves as the ultimate losers.

Macron convinced fewer than 24% during the first round. Had Mélenchon and the rest of the outsiders, who all had, to a varying degree, relatively progressive and not incompatible ideas on most everything, been able to set aside their personal agendas, their egos, or whatever else goes on in the minds of people who decide to enter politics – especially a presidential election – , they could have easily found themselves in the second, and final round. And, as far as I’m concerned, a very good chance of winning.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out this kind of behavior, when I wasn’t reading Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Leonardo’s Bicycle – a must read – or listening to the reasoned exasperation of my son-in-law on the same subject, when I came across, by chance, this morning, the following article :

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, written by Carlos M Cipolla way back in the mid 70s. I urge anyone who’s confounded by what’s going on these days to read it, but here are the Five Basic Laws :

  1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a certain person (will) be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
  3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

Corollary: a stupid person is more dangerous than a pillager.

  • (from the same Wikipedia page).

There are those who will probably object that this kind of « science » is not humane, doesn’t take into consideration all of the aléas of the human experience, that it’s too snarky, too condescending, or even too eugenecist somehow. If that’s the case, leave a comment. Or not.

As Richard Moser once wrote to me : «  … I take a synthetic approach and like to have a lot to think about … ».

It’s time we get out of the Binary Box.

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Empire Abroad. Empire at Home.

Source: Empire Abroad. Empire at Home.

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The Magic Swamp

The Magic Swamp

I urge anyone stopping by to take a look at the links below. What follows is my interpretation.


Do the first round results of the French presidential election, Macron and Le Pen, remind anyone else of a recent election, say, in the United States ? Certainly looks like a copy-paste job to me. Albeit with a few revisions, rôle changes, a tension-raising tweak here, the near deification of a kind of « Pale Rider » stealth « outsider » there, and the script is pretty well finished. Anything too terrifying or game-changing has been relegated to the cutting floor. Or these days, simply deleted, or stored in some off-site server in someone’s basement.

You’ve got to hand it to these people : the media, the pollsters, and their political lackeys. They pulled it off again. They sold a Rothschild banker as a socialist ! Or as someone magically appearing from somewhere within the ruins of François Hollande’s hapless, obedient five years as errand boy for his masters in Brussels and DC.

From a purely superficial angle, it’s Chirac-(Jean-Marie)Le Pen, The Sequel. It sold then, why not try it again ? It appears to be working.

Except that Chirac, in spite of his own dubious baggage, was a known political quantity. His bon vivant habits were popular and appreciated by the rural community and urbanites alike. It was a no-brainer, and he won in a total landslide, 80%-20%.

Macron, on the other hand, was hardly known to the public, never having held elected office. But he wasn’t unknown to the politico-finance crowd, the real insiders.

Having seen their Obama creation leap from nowhere to the presidency, they decided to work their « hopey-changy » mojo on this election, pulling Macron from their Magic Swamp, and voilà ! Mesdames, messieurs, chers enfants … votre nouveau Président, Emmanuel MacClown, pour nous servir !

Are we going to cheer ? Throw something ? Simply walk out ? Organize yet another demonstration ?

This could get ugly. Or not.

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Robert Fisk still hopes for a Syrian ‘Arab Spring’

Good antidote for cognitive dissonance.


At the start of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011, brighter people in the West remembered Iraq, and so from the outset were sceptical about the forces behind this ‘awakening’. For us slower folk, it took the realisation that the West was never going to allow democracy in Saudi Arabia, but was intent on enforcing regime change in the most progressive and independent countries in the greater Middle East, to realise what a wicked scam the whole Arab Spring deal was.

Robert Fisk, however, embraced the ‘Arab Spring’ from the outset, and has promoted it directly or indirectly since, campaigning vigorously, for example, against Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al Assad, and generally peddling the NATO line of peace-loving demonstrators, met with violent repression, particularly in the cases of Libya and Syria.  Nothing since has given him pause: not the presence of armed militants from an early stage, the enormous pro-government demonstrations…

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Cognitive Dissonance: The Most Prolific Psychological Plague of our Time

The Rabbit Hole

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to accept what is true – Soren Kierkegaard


In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress (discomfort) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; when performing an action that contradicts one of those beliefs, ideas, or values; or when confronted with new information that contradicts one of the beliefs, ideas, and values.In other words, the term refers to the perception of incompatibility of two simultaneous cognitions, which can impact on their attitudes.

Leon Festinger‘s 1957 theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how human beings strive for internal consistency. A person who experiences inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to try to reduce the cognitive dissonance occurring, trying to “justify” their behavior by changing or…

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