Thursday, December 29, 2011

You Do Matter - Your Actions Do Count - Don't Stop Trying

I've only recently returned from what has become a Christmas tradition for me, and that's visiting my brother. He, his lovely wife and their two very bright and kind boys, have been my way of connecting to the holidays in a way I just cannot do without.

My brother and I have never shied away from talking about politics, I'm the dreamer, and he's the cold dose of reality I always need to provide balance. We don't always agree, but that never stops us from a spirited conversation while he graciously drives me from and to the airport.

Our conversation ended true to form, we were unable to solve the troubles that ail this country, but as I sit here pondering our discussion, I can't help but notice that we ended it as always, with a feeling of hopelessness.To be fair, let's just say that was my feeling. We both agreed that the following topics needed to be dealt with, though we had few immediate answers as to how to go about dealing with them. I'll list them in the order of importance as I see them, again my opinion not necessarily my brothers.

  1. Big money needs to be removed from politics. At present, we have a sitting government that only provides the public with lip service during an election, and once they've won our votes, proceed to work for those who provided the greatest financial backing. These backers are of course never too shy to remind their benefactors of the consequences they will incur if they are ignored and their needs go unfulfilled. Campaigns need to be publicly financed, with a rigid set of controls and 24 hour auditing. Anyone caught spending money in excess of what was allotted them, to be disqualified.
  2. Corporations are not people too! But because a Supreme Court who is supposed to rule without bias, has said otherwise, they can vote, and they can spend unlimited funds on ad campaigns that support the politicians of their choice. These are the same corporations who aren't liable beyond the occasional fine, for crimes that any actual PERSON would go to prison for.
  3. A plan must be set in place to generate living wage jobs, with opportunities for all to do more than just live to work. The middle class in this country are rapidly disappearing as all the once solid manufacturing jobs are headed overseas. Cheaper foreign labor has allowed corporations to continue to provide their primary share holders a 10% increase in profit sharing every year. Our government has done little to nothing in order to stop or reverse this, instead - we find out that not only is China providing incentives to lure the jobs overseas, but so is our own government!
I'm going to stop at these three, because it's easy enough to see the snake eating it's own tail. Yeah we could and did talk about corporations and the rich dodging taxes, public entities like the Post Office and our school systems going bust, or illegals ruining everything, but really I see no point in continuing.

If this country were a tree, an arborist would tell us what we already know, it's sick. If you want it to live, you gotta take care of the roots.

As I said, our conversation was more about identifying what was wrong, and less on how to fix. It wasn't from a complete lack of trying, but human nature, the need for cheap and easy instant gratification, and it's availability...makes any solution, hard to implement.

As a consumer based economy, we have only two real means of power afforded us by the Constitution, the freedom to organize and the freedom of choice. What does that mean to you, even if you don't feel like pitching a tent on city property? Well, it means you can be as involved as you want to be, in the change that's going to happen in this country. Here are some of my suggestions...
  • Vote! Yeah even if it's just for the lesser of two evils.
  • Stay aware of current events that effect you, your neighbors, and your country. Use multiple sources for news, avoid using the major networks as your soul source, and for what ever gods you choose to follow - sake, DON'T WATCH FOX NEWS! 
  • The next time you make that major electronics purchase, ask yourself if you want it or if you need it. Consider what went into it's packaging, what effect it had on the environment, and ultimately what effect it will have going back into the environment when it's no longer functional. The next time your shopping for flat screen TV's, try running a search on the companies that made the units. What's their record on environment, how do they treat their workers, etc...
  • Try growing some of your own food and when you can, buy local fruits and vegetables, you'll be supporting local growers (jobs), and helping to maintain a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Use recycled goods, shop with reusable bags, and of course - RECYCLE!
  • Avoid using or purchasing food goods packaged in plastic if you can. My rule is, if I can buy it in glass or cardboard, than buy it that way. Folks, bottled water, unless you have a health issue or the water available to you is not drinkable, get a filter and bottle your own. You'll save money, and you'll help in a huge way towards reducing the amount of CO2 put into the air, and plastic into our oceans.
  • Those of us who can afford it, try and shop for all your goods locally. Avoid shopping at the big box stores for basic needs, use them only if you must or in an emergency.
  • Banks - Bank locally, avoid using the big banks, stick to local community and union banks.
So what? Am I a saint? Do I do all of these things? No, but I do some of them and mean to do more when I can. It isn't about just me, it's about all of us trying to do these things, to effect change.

Singularly we can do very little but as a cooperative group, there's very little we can't do.

Here's hoping we all have a very Happy New Year.

Just Joe

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What the Hell?

As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting upon all that has transpired this year, and with emphasis on this countries banks.

Folks, if your doing business with any of the major banks of this country, and you can afford to go elsewhere...why haven't you? Seriously, after all that has transpired, after all that has been revealed to us, why would any of us continue to trust them with our money?

What's that? Your unaware of any wrong doing by said establishments? Wow! OK, let me preface my response to you with a question of my own... Have you had you head up your ass for the last five years?

Let me break it down for you in simple facts...
  1. Banks and Mortgage firms gave home loans to people they knew were at risk of default.
  2. Banks and Investment/Management firms took advantage of relaxed restrictions in regards to retirement/401K options, by converting low risk and low fluctuating slow growth packages to very aggressive, far more volatile and risky ones. This strategy optimized the banks possible gains, while exposing the investors to greater possible losses. Many of those losses at the height of the crash in 2008 exceeded 30% of a persons retirement package.
  3. The bottom of the market nearly dissapeared when investors realized what had happened and started to sell their shares. This was avoided when the government stepped in and threw a very public 700 billion dollar life jacket to the banks, in order to secure confidence in risky mortgage backed securities markets. By the way this was a ruse by the federal government, the truth is, the sum of money loaned to the banks was in the trillions of dollars in cash and loan guarantees.
  4. The banks took advantage of the interest free Federal Reserve bailout, and were able to not only save themselves, but turn a tidy profit to the tune of 13 billion dollars by loaning the Federal Reserve the money back to them with interest.
  5. Bank of America is paying no Taxes for 2010, and is instead receiving a one billion dollar refund from you and I.
  6. What was our award for giving them that refund? Oh! Yeah they tried charging their customers an additional monthly fee of five dollars for using their ATM cards. After a media shit storm of epic proportions, and the worst possible timing of it's announcement to do so...the Occupy Wall Street Campaign had just begun, they shelved the idea - for now.
Here's something we all need to remember, were doing banks a favor by letting them have our money in their vaults. The deal has always been, please keep your money with us, we'll keep it safe as long as you let us play with it...I.E. - Make More Money. Somewhere, over the years we have forgotten about that covenant, and allowed them to charge us for basic use of our fucking money!

So here's what I suggest to those of you who for some insanely dumb ass reason have stayed with the big banks, pull your money out, and invest it in a local bank or credit union. Sure, they too are likely going to charge you for services, but never to the degree to which these other criminal establishments like Bank of America have.

Don't reward criminals, don't give them reason to think that the public doesn't care, make them pay - even if our elected leaders refuse to.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Love Again...

...with my Nook Color. What did you think?!  - Sheesh!-

OK let me explain...

I'm not married, I have no kids (OK three cats), and except for a vehicle who's maintenance is repeatedly ignored... With just the basic cost of living expenses, I have few things to gobble up my extra cash.

My weakness, gadgets...namely of a computer/tablet nature. I have absolutely no reason to have more than a Desktop, a Cell-phone and maybe an E-Reader. 

Of course, a more accurate audit would include an Acer net-book (almost never used), a now dead 7 year old Dell Laptop (may it rest in pieces), a Nook Color, an Acer a500 Tablet (very nice), and lastly the Apple iPad II, which I had to buy in order to give me a reason to purchase the really cool Belkin Folio Blue Tooth keyboard case... I know, right?!

Trust me, no one knows better than the addict, that they are in fact...addicted. Not me though...I could stop really...

I started down this road of debauchery with the best of intentions, I just wanted a taste, but didn't want to commit too much in the way of funds...cuz the car needed to be fixed and...

I was looking to buy an E-Reader.

It would seem that age has provided some fraction of wisdom to my buying habits, so I did some research and came across an article talking about how Barnes & Noble had just released their color E-Reader. I was intrigued, and then more so when I dug a little deeper, finding a whole host of hackers dedicated to exploiting technology for the common man - me. Well, sort of common...I'm a man...and... Oh go blow!

Anyhow, these dedicated gadget guru's had literally dissected the device, in form and code. In doing so, they found that the Nook Color was a fairly powerful Android tablet, shackled in firmware that kept it from being used to it's full potential. On top of this discovery, they'd devised a way to root the device, giving it all the functionality of it's original intent as an E-Reader, but with full access to the entire Android Market.

After watching a few very informative rooting video's, I was out the door and back in 30 minutes with my new treasure. It was easy to root, and due to the device's design, with little risk of bricking (screwing up beyond recovery). I was ecstatic and proclaimed the Nook Colors virtues to any soul that would listen.

I was happy for a while with my new love, but she was moody and prone to uninvited upgrades from B&N, who was desperately trying wrestle her from my control. It was a battle, and one that would prove very frustrating. So..., I did what many people in a loveless relationship would do...I strayed and shacked up with an a500.

You have to understand, she was so beautiful, so affordable, and so powerful. I could not look away from her Honeycomb sweet promises, or her dual core processor and nVidia graphics...I was in LUST, and so I was very bad.

I had my way with a500 and she with me...but always I would think of my first love...lying there on the bookshelf, neglected, dejected...

I thought I was happy, and really in a carnal sense, I was...but it wasn't until I wandered through my local Target and fell to the seductive charms of the Belkin Folio w/Blue Tooth Keyboard (for iPad's only), did I realize that my happiness was but a simple self imposed delusion.

iPad and I shacked up for a while, as tawdry lovers trying to forget their pain, she the loss of her father (Steve) and I with my addiction denial...until one day..., the ring was mean...

Barnes and Noble had the audacity to come out with a new tablet, called the Nook Tablet...

It was like a sexier version of my first love, calling me back to the fold, promising that all was forgiven...if I would just give her one more chance...

"NO!" I shouted, "I cannot do this...or can I? No! I must look away.... But she's got a new Dual Core processor, access to Hulu and Netflix! I cannot...please don't tempt me further..."

I ran to the bookshelf..., "Nook my's me I've come back...if you'll have me."

So we got back together, I tried running her as a stock E-Reader again, the attempt was fleeting and the urge to buy the new Tablet constantly growing like a slow cancer, until...


Folks, this is a custom modification of Gingerbread specifically designed for the Nook Color, it's rock solid, it exploits the Nook Colors Blue Tooth capabilities, and provides full access to the Android Market. It's smooth as silk, and except for the fact that you cannot (as of yet) run Hulu (Netflix works great, but not in Hi-Def), it's fraken awesome.

This OS is like the pill that Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Orig Star Trek - Epis. 6) gave average looking females to make them insanely desirable. Only after four days this pill has yet to wear off, and has truly unleashed this little machine.

I took it down to the Barnes & Noble in Santa Rosa yesterday, aside from the improved graphics of the Nook Tablet, with CyanogenMod-7.1.0, my Nook Color put it's younger sibling to shame. I soon had people bombarding me with questions about how they too could do the same to their Nook Color... Management began to move in my direction, so I made my way out the door with a sly smile. Oh yeah, I'm in love again.

P.S. - For those of you who've bought the Nook Tablet, fear not, Cyanogen will undoubtedly be modded for you too. Imagine what it might do with your hardware....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

And the lies keep coming...

I don' know about you, but I'm getting real tired of ads, or rather the propaganda spewed upon us by network television. The airing of these blatant untruths is the direct result of major media having lost all measure of integrity due to a lack of government regulation, and large corporate interests who've taken full advantage.

The ones that really goad me are those promoted by, the Corn Refiners Association "Sugar is Sugar", ConocoPhilips (Power in Cooperation), and those multitude of commercials promoting the American Petroleum Institutes host of lies about Alberta Tar Sands.

Sugar is Sugar?

Let's start with my most hated ad, "Sugar is Sugar". This is the biggest load of complete bull-shit ever force fed upon the American public. The Corn Refiners Association in this country has a sizable wallet, and with it they are now funding a very large campaign to convince the federal government to allow them to rename "High-Fructose Corn Syrup" to something far less benign sounding - "Corn Sugar".

Folks, this is where critical thinking needs to click into overdrive, and you have to ask yourself, why? What difference does it make? I mean if sugar is sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup is sugar, than who heck cares what it's called? Let the lobbies have their way for cripes sake, let em call it "Really Good for you Stuff" for all we care. Right?

Maybe, but probably not. Take a closer look. Did you know that most European countries limit the use of high-fructose corn syrup? It's cheaper to buy, and well...after all it's the same. So what's the problem?

The problem isn't in the initial cost, it's the resulting cost where it's far less appealing than real SUGAR. You see there are a whole host of studies which the media in this country has done a stellar job of obfuscating. These studies show, a direct link between high-fructose corn syrup and a whole host of debilitating diseases like diabetes.

I know what your thinking, isn't that the same direct link that real sugar would have if it was the prevalent sweetener used? No, not really, the studies show a distinct difference between the two. But don't trust me, do your own research online, Google it!

Here's an article I found to share with my friends at work, this one is based on a study conducted by one of the smaller, lesser known universities, maybe you've heard of it?

Consider studies like this, coupled with the fact that the majority of these European countries have nationalized healthcare, and you begin to understand their incentive to limit the amount of this stuff in their national diet.

For every positive misrepresentation of what high-fructose corn syrup is, their are a multitude of studies that put them to shame, and by sources that have nothing to gain from freely providing the results. Oh alright, they were probably funded by the countries governments who have national health care programs, you know the ones that want to be proactive in maintaining the health of a nation and keeping expenses down...

Power in Cooperation?

To be fair, there are many large energy companies spouting lies about Hydraulic Fracturing to gain access to natural gas trapped in the earth. But ConocoPhillips has earned my ire with their misleading "Classroom" ad. It show's three presumably bright college students, with a mute professor, in the middle of a heated debate about natural gas.

It's all very cute, maybe you've seen it? Two girls, one it it.

Interesting, maybe that's not a professor at all... Perhaps this was a guest speaker from...duh...I dunno...the American Petroleum Institute? Yeah, that makes sense, that would explain why he wouldn't have suggested that the students research the subject more closely, rather than blindly accepting the American Petroleum Institutes own claims about the safety of Hydraulic Fracturing.

This ad is akin to a fox lecturing hen's on the safety of unfenced chicken coops. The sad thing is that it's indicative of what we as a society have become. The video ends with their ConocoPhillips new trade mark statement, "There's Power in Cooperation"

So...what am I supposed to take from this ad, and that last trademarked statement?

Well, the ad started with one of the students questioning the environmental safety of the process, but after a few choice industry talking points from the other two, and some conferring with the guest speaker while the narrator for the ad blathers on about ConocoPhillips, she caves and agrees with them.

The message is clear to me now, "Trust the American Petroleum Institute, don't listen to anyone else...were the experts, were here only to serve your best interests. Just cooperate with us, don't fight us, COOPERATE....."

Yeah but what about the industries opponents and documentaries like this one... 

If your interested in the truth behind the lies presented in this and other commercials like it, do some simple research. You can start here....

And lastly...Alberta Tar Sands

Ever hear the statement, "America is addicted to oil."?

The truth is, mankind is addicted to oil in the worst possible way. Were junkies, we cannot stop individually, we need to act as a group to stop the madness.

The best analogy I can give to describe the Alberta Tar Sands, is that the United States represents a strung out heroin addict, strapped for cash, looking for a cheap fix.

The filthy oil thats obtained in Alberta, while leaving behind an environmental disaster there, is then to be piped across the heartland of our country, jeopardizing aquifers that stretch for thousand of miles. It represents the dealer on the street, selling us a new kind of high, one made in a outdoor lab in the woods...lets call it "Crack". I think you can see where were going here...

But hey, don't listen to the words of a raving conspiracy freak, take a look at the ads provided by...who...oh yeah! Who better to trust, but the absolute benchmark of  environmental stewardship, Exxon Mobile...

But wait...what about these detractors...

So what's the point of this latest blog rant? It's simple really, don't be the hen who takes the word of the fox.

Just Joe...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Journey Quest

All right you pathetic excuses of humanity! I.E. My friends...

I talked about this at least a year ago, and I loaned the DVD to friends in an effort to spread the word.

The folks that produced and brought to you The Gamers and The Gamers II - Dorkness Rising, have created Journey Quest! A free, multi-episode fantasy farce of catastrophically hilarious proportions was given to us for free, in the hopes that enough of us losers would be willing in future to support additional seasons of the show.

This is a unique experiment that bypasses the idiocy of Hollywood, and gives us what we want.

I'm asking fuck that, I am telling you to go to the following site and donate some of your hard earned green backs, so that hope for this show and others like it to come, will not die!

In case you've never seen this show, it's now freely available on Hulu at...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"The Help" ...needs none.

Yes, just when I was about to scream in frustration over the complete lack of anything worthy of celluloid, someone answered my cry with an absolute gem.

Folks this is a movie you should take your children to see, ages eight and up. I know eight sounds a bit young, but in this day and age, exposure to bigotry is going to be Sesame Street tame compared to the Grand Theft Auto game they've been playing at the next door neighbors house.

This will be educational for them, (nothing violent) and very entertaining for you. Your toughest job will be to field their questions after the movie. If they don't ask any, then you should...ask them what they thought, ask them how they felt about what those women were going through. For cripes sake, don't waste a perfectly good opportunity to help your kids understand what is and what is not acceptable human behavior.

Enough preaching, on to the the movie...

It was fantastic, I felt it really captured a taste of what was happening in this country in that era, and in particular that portion of the South. Of course the casting was absolutely stellar, that for me was enough of a selling point. While I would be perfectly comfortable drolling on and on about how great Emma Stone's performance was (it was), I think that it's high time we give some attention to the less favored cast members.

No I'm not talking about Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, or any of the other fine ladies who portrayed the movies title, I'm talking about those who played the roles of the worst kind of humanity life had to offer back in that time. In particular, I would like to congratulate Bryce Dallas Howard for her superlatively played role, she was easily and believably the most despicable character one could hope for in such a film.

Friday, August 19, 2011

This just in...

So I have had absolutely no luck with finding homes for my three little monsters, Cali, Tosh and George...err Georgina...

Which means that I have to get them used to spending their days outside, while I'm at work. I live in the country and these three have basically been shacking up in my studio cottage since their mother gave birth to them in my closet. (See previous post for details.)

Last Saturday they got their distemper immunization, and thus began a gradual acclimation to the idea that they were free to go outside as long as I was home and had the sliding glass door open.

Sunday they were out nearly the entire day, and wow did they sleep well, as did I for a change. The past few week days they've been allowed to go outside early in the morning, and at some point would pop back inside for love and kibble before I went to work. I was keeping them inside while at work and then letting them out again when I returned home, with the understanding that they had a ten o'clock curfew.

I knew that like any teenage right of passage, at some point they would rebel against these rules and restrictions, and I was prepared to make allowances. Sure enough, on Thursday morning, they simply did not want to come back inside. I knew this day would come, and so I made my goodbyes to Cali and Tosh, and then found myself searching for one last glimpse of Georgina...

Oh! There she was, in the lowest branches of a medium height pine tree. She seemed happy and so I waved goodbye. Yeah I know...I should have seen it coming right?

I returned home to the happy hello's of Cali and Tosh, who were just gushing about how fantastic their day had been, when I began to notice the petulant cry of their missing sibling.

George had moved from her earlier respectable perch of 6 feet, to a spectacular height of about 23 feet, and she had at some point in the day developed a real fear of heights. In short she was stuck.

She had the whole climbing up principle down, it was the climbing down part that was the real trick.

As you can imagine, I spent hours out under that tree yesterday, cajoling, calling calmly and lovingly. I shook kibble, I displayed luxury cat foods, I (yes with much guilt) resorted to trying to get her mind off of her fear of heights by spraying her with water. It sort of worked, she moved down three feet. Then...I left her alone to regroup. The sun was gonna go down in an hour and so I made a rash decision...

I don't know about you, but I haven't climbed a tree since I was...14? Yes, I had to try...and damn! I managed to get within 5 feet of the little rascal, and what did she do? You guessed it, she just climbed 6 feet higher!

George slept in the tree last night, and only moments after I called work with my embarrassing excuse for having to not come in, there she was...on the floor...eating her breakfast kibble.

She's sleeping quite soundly right was a rough night for her, although she does have a very lovely pine sent.

Poor Georgina....crazy cat!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

So a funny thing happened to me on the way home...3 months ago...

For the last fifteen or so years of my life I have lived alone, and I have grown very accustomed to it.

Like any life style there are down sides, but I have learned to accept them and have become very fond of never losing an argument with myself, and who doesn't love having total control over the remote?

I'm not by any means a selfless person, I have very few responsibilities outside of work, no children to tend to, nothing to tie me down, etc... People have often told me that I should get a pet, maybe a dog or a cat, to which I have always given a firm, "No thanks." I'm barely responsible for myself people, why on earth would anyone want to subject my ineptitude's upon some hapless creature?

Which is why I find myself in the most unlikely of situations, and what my mother has laughingly referred to as a very odd midlife crisis.

Three months ago, I was minding my own business, and coming home late one night with groceries. It was raining steadily and I had little to no light when I arrived at my front door. In my haste to get the groceries inside I'd left the door ajar while I went for the last few bags.

With groceries put away, and the rain outside falling at a steady tempo, I eventually fell asleep.

In the morning I woke to a cat providing me salutations, "Hello...I would like out now...thank you very much."

"What the, who the, how the heck did you get in here?!" I asked with a measure of confusion while checking the doors...both locked.

To which the cat, in a way that only cats seems to be able to inflect - said, "I hardly think that matters, the point of fact is that I want out. Now please."

I figured at that point that it must have slipped inside during the grocery episode, in an effort to escape the weather.

Seeing nothing else in my very tiny studio apartment amiss, I shrugged my shoulders and opened the door. The cat made it's exit without so much as a thanks, typical cat.

I took a shower, dressed and had my allotted coffee for the day. With fifteen minutes left before I needed to go, I spotted my closet door open. Did I leave that open all night? Did the cat sleep in there? Did it do anything else in there? Oh shit...

I spent the next ten minutes looking around in there, but much to my relief, found noting.

So I went to work, and when I got back home, I found a very familiar looking cat at my door. "Took you long enough, do you mind opening the door now?"

"Look cat, I don't mind the occasional visit and all, but it's not raining and I'm not exactly running a boarding house" I tried opening the door to get inside while blocking it's entry with my shoe...

With catlike agility it slipped past with hardly an effort, and headed straight for the closed closet door. Stopping and then looking back with catlike annoyance, "Did you close this? What the heck is it with you people and doors, anyway?"

Awe shit..., I walked over, opened the door and listened while SHE slipped inside. Sure enough, her entrance was soon answered by multiple kitten like sounds. That weekend, I confirmed the arrival of three very tiny, and very uninvited guests.

I was all prepared to put them in a box with a nice warm towel and place them in a nice dry nook of the properties car port. The mother would find them, and my involvement would be over.

Here's the problem, I didn't do that, instead I found myself overwhelmed with a measure of selflessness I'd never known. The instant I pulled the first of them out, Cali - I knew that I wasn't going to put them out, and abandon them to all the perils of a feral cats life. My normal self said, "Do you have any idea the nightmare in money and loss of sleep this is going to cost you?"

Deranged self said, "Yes, and even still I find that I cannot do otherwise. These three were delivered to me by fate, and I would hardly be a proper host if I kicked them to the curb."

To which self replied, "Your an idiot."


So I'd like to introduce you all to Cali (Calico), Tosh (Tuxedo), and Georgina (Tortoise) going vogue.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fourth of July - A Constitutional Reflection...

As the Fourth of July weekend arrives, I find myself in need of reflection.

What comes to mind the most, is the origin of this country and how it's first generations were influenced by religious and ideological persecution, to form a republic bound by a formal declaration of intent titled, "The Constitution of the United States".

The best part of this document is the beginning, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

To examine this, I'd like to break it down some, starting with...
  • We the People of the United States...
What does that mean to you? To me, it means THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, ALL OF US!

There is a less than 2% minority group of people in this country who believe that they are the people referred to in that statement.
  •  ... in Order to form a more perfect Union
The use of the word Union in this document is very painful to the 2 percenters, and is generally regarded as one of the earliest influences of Communism. 
  • ...establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense...
    Justice is relative only to their interests, and domestic tranquility can be bought with private security firms and gated communities.Common defense is important, but that's what everyone outside of the 2% club can be fooled into providing.
    •   ...promote the general Welfare
    Promote welfare? Who the fuck wrote that into this document?! Probably the same filthy commie bastard that used the word UNION instead of...I dunno...oligarchy?
    • ...and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
    This part is easily bastardized by the 2 percenters, to them it's just saying that God has blessed them to take liberty of everything for themselves to increase their prosperity. Clearly the Constitutions editorial staff back in the day missed a typo or two...

    Shit, cop em a break! The whole thing was written in cursive and spell check had yet to be invented.

    Seriously folks, I know I wrote this to be amusing, but the joke is being played on us everyday by that 2% minority who only look at us as resources to be used to enhance their bottom line - PROFIT.

    Just Joe

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Scary Parrallels in Disaster Capitalism

    I've recently finished one of the scariest books ever written.

    As I turned it's pages, the sedimentary layers of fiction that had been used to obfuscate reality, dissolved. It was as if all the lies that have been laid upon me, indeed upon all of us, were gradually but methodically lifted, revealing what they were clearly meant to hide.

    I know this author has an agenda, and like anyone trying to sell a new version of history, those most effective at doing so, are the ones who can provide the facts, the means and the resources used to do so. This methodology invites anyone to prove them wrong, or at the very least check their work. For me, it engendered an immediately measure of trust.

    I will confess that I have a belief system which lends me greater appeal for her presentation, certainly more so than it would someone of a conservative right persuasion. I have for a while described my politics as being a hybrid blend of conservative liberalism. I recognize the need for balance in all things, and believe that it's necessary for all aspects of life to survive in harmony, be they diet, religious beliefs, or political ideology. You cannot have extremes in anything, without paying a heavy toll.

    One last reveal, I have a core belief, and one that those of a religious bent might find offensive. I don't mean to offend, I only wish to give a clear picture of who I am and how I think.

    You see, I believe that as a species, humanity is the worst thing that has ever populated this globe. I dare anyone to find another living thing with even the most base social skills, that has done more harm to it's own species, and it's own environment. We claim evolutionary victory over all living organisms, and the right to do with them what we wish. In doing so we have revealed our worst fault, and anyone willing to objectively examine humanities existence could easily prove the level of that arrogance.

    Compare any dictionaries definition of the word, and there are many, most will agree with my favorite. The Urban Dictionary, defines arrogance as, "The act or habit of making statements, or actions, based on pride, self-importance, conceit, or the assumption of intellectual superiority and the presumption of knowledge that is not in evidence or supported by any facts or experience." OK, I added the, "...or actions" because that typically goes hand in hand with making statements.

    So..., enough of these minor illuminations into the madness of my method. Let me share with you Naomi Klein's, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and the scary parallels I see happening in our country.

    This book was a gift given to my years ago by a very dear friend, and since her passing, I have only just recently been compelled to read it. My initial impression after the first 263 pages, "Holy crap this was a good but painfully difficult read."

    Folks, I know in our busy lives that many of you do not, cannot, or will not make the time for reading, and that's a damn shame. Too many of us survive day to day off the gruel that the major networks pimp out as "News". The Fourth Estate in this country is dead, gone are the Edward R. Murrow's of broadcast journalism and in their place are corporate puppets who dance to the purse strings of General Electric, Viacom, Disney, News Corp, and Time Warner.

    It's time to move on to the Fifth Estate, which thankfully thrives today in the form of published print and the Internet. Thanks to the internet, I was able to imbed the adapted 79 minute documentary that is freely available through a simple Google Search...

    I hope you enjoyed the movie, but I have to tell you, the book is far more graphically revealing and well worth the read.

    So what are the parallels I see happening here? It is my opinion that his country is currently undergoing and has been subjected to "Chicago School" shock therapy since the economic meltdown of 2008. Politicians in this country are advocating the privatization of any public government function that can be run by private industry for profit.

    Folks imagine if you will a world where your local police department is run by a private security company, a world where if you failed to pay an additional fee or you were late with payment, the fire department might only arrive to insure that the homes of your neighbors, those who had paid on time, would not catch on fire. Can you even conceive of a world were libraries and public schools were a thing of the past?

    If those visions aren't enough to get you to reflect on what's happening in this country right now, I urge you to take a look at how the Michigan State legislature has voted to provide the governor the power to dissolve any democratically elected local or county government  within the state, and replace it with one of his own choosing.

    That's not democracy folks, that's fascism in the extreme and it's actually happening right this very minute, IN OUR COUNTRY!

    We cannot allow this to continue, we must work together to stop this cancerous disease before there is nothing even remotely resembling  what the founding fathers of this country intended.


    Just Joe

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Super 8 - is super awesome!

    I haven't seen a movie by myself since  Mary passed away, I've tried but the titles and trailers have been lacking in any promise of substance. I did see "The Kings Speech" with her mom, we loved it and I'm pretty sure that I proclaimed it to be the best movie of 2010.

    I guess I haven't really been in the mood, until recent glimpses of "Super 8" started to show up and I knew, or rather hoped the movie matched the quality the trailer hinted at. Well I went to my local theater yesterday and I'm happy to report that it was fantastic.

    In the tradition of the movies producer, J.J. Abrams, has paid a true homage to the master who created similar classics that brought the kid out in all of us with, "ET", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Jurassic Park", "Goonies" - yeah I said it, "Goonies!"

    Folks, this movie reminds you of better days, times when we had steel mills, a sizable middle class, and dare I say it, even some measure of innocence - still.

    I loved it, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to forget reality for just a little while and be a kid again.

    Just Joe...

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Truth Hurts

    You know,

    Forgive me, but I'm not going to join with the ignorant youth of this nation, and dance over the death of Osama bin Laden. Don't get me wrong, he had it  coming and justice has been served. I'm with everyone on that.

    What sours the event for me is truth, yeah I know, take a shot of Jack and dance with us on his grave Joe! Truth is the real killjoy here, sorry folks.

    Lets cover the facts in brief...

    Osama and his minions took the lives of two-thousand, nine hundred and seventy four people on September 1st, 2001. In doing so they irrevocably and directly affected the lives of tens of thousands of it's victims families, friends, New Yorkers, and the world.

    Bush and his minions, invaded Afghanistan and then not long after, Iraq under the auspices of finding, capturing or killing the leaders of this terrible action on US soil.

    Here are the results...

    Not bad, if your into the whole death and carnage thing I suppose.

    I no longer subscribe to the bull shit, all that matters is truth. Of course this only touches on a part of that truth, the loss in dollars to our economy with our blood sweat and tears can be found here...

    I'm sorry, but what the fuck is everybody dancing about?

    Just Joe

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    The Day the Music Died - Part II

    A couple of weeks ago, the car radio stopped working.

    It took me a few moments to realize, but it finally dawned on me. The radio was on the right preset, so... What the fuck...?

    A quick look at the organizer showed April 1st had come and gone, but for some inexplicable reason, the worst kind of putrefaction was spewing from my speakers. Dreadful realization set it and I knew what it probably was. I didn't want to accept it, but a check with friends and colleagues confirmed my worst fears.

    Strangers, people who had no concept or care of this radio stations place in Sonoma County, had changed it's format overnight. Motivated only by profit, they took from us, our friends, and the music we loved to listen to.

    Here's the painful part, they were well within their rite to do so, it's their radio station. As listeners, we were simply benefiting from the byproduct of their source for commercial revenue.

    So here's the thing, we can bitch and moan, we can try in vain to get idiots to see a reality different from their own, or we can bury our friend, and work together as a community to see a Phoenix rise where not too long ago, a Fox once stood.

    Oh! I like that...

    The Phoenix - Sonoma County's community organized source for Rock. Yeah, let's give all those corporately owned stations, the BIRD!

    Check out the following web page, these folks are trying very hard to Bring Back the ROCK to Sonoma County!

    Just Joe

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Nook Color

    A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a new toy. Initially, I was interested in buying an E-Reader, the Amazon Kindle came to mind. And then I saw the advertisement for Barnes & Noble - Nook Color.

    Folks, this is not just a simple E- Reader, this is a fully capable Tablet dressed in sheep's clothing. After a days worth of research, some agonizing over my skill set with computers and the possibility of wasting $300.00 on a "Bricked" unit, I paid a quick visit the Best Buy.

    Thirty minutes after getting home, I had a fully functional Android Tablet. I totally recommend buying one of these, it's really a sweet little diamond in the rough.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Bank of America - Gets Outed as Tax Dodger - Where was the media?

    Folks, if you relegate yourselves to basic media, ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and FOX, your missing real journalism. In fact what your doing is falling victim to massively biased corporate interests, because it's massive corporations who run these networks.

    Want real journalism? Then go out and find it, it's freely available on the internet.

    My last entry talked about a well organized group of British citizens that have taken it upon themselves to alert the public of corporations allowed by their government, to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile that same government is cutting services that could have easily been funded by the tax revenues avoided by that same single corporation.

    I am pleased to say that it would appear that the article in "The Nation", was read by thousands of people in this country, and has served to inspire the following citizens group here in the States.

    Check them out, they just held their first event, their target...


    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Oh! You gotta check this out....

    You know, say what you want about the British, but damn - I love them!

    I was at lunch yesterday, reading one of my favorite news resources, "The Nation" and I was drawn to the following article titled, "How To Build A Progressive Tea Party" by Johann Hari.

    God this was a great article, and it really shows the power that everyone with the luxury of being connected through technology, can have in the face of political and economic injustice. I can only hope that such well organized fervor could happen here in this country.

    Hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.


    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    George W. - Under Threat of Arrest for War Crimes, Cancels Trip...

    Awe shucks', it seems that Europe and in this case Switzerland in particular, has decided to honor and abide by the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Not only are they abiding by this solemn promise, but they are being asked by groups such as Amnesty International, to enforce and try those who have broken said agreement.

    To put it simply, those parties representing countries who have pledged to and have done so by signing the charter, are bound by International Law to adhere to it. Any parties in power, or having represented the interests of said countries, suspected of breaking this law, should expect investigation, litigation and possible incarceration.

    The former Bush Administration spent a lot of time and money during it's stay in the White House, looking for ways to ensure their twisting of the Conventions text, to suit their own means. So convinced was George W., that in his recently released autobiography, he openly admitted to having approved the use of water-boarding and other forms of torture.

    One small problem, even though a representative of the United States signed the Convention Against Torture in 1987, it's never been officially ratified by any administration since. So..., we changed our minds. That means that legally were covered, and George W., has nothing to worry about.

    Just because a bunch of other countries signed and ratified some stupid convention, that doesn't make it the law. Does it? You know what? I think this could be a truly righteous cause that George W. could take up in defense of those countries that value their perceived right to torture and humiliate people. 

    I think George and his entire former cabinet, plus legal advisers, should hop on a jet plane today, fly to the Hague, and demand that their case be heard. Oh, and I'd like the whole thing televised, from handcuffing to sentencing.

    Damn I'd like to see that. That, that would be good television!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    My Review of Roku HD Player

    Originally submitted at Roku

    The new HD, with built-in wireless, delivers top value in high-definition streaming.

    I Love This Device!

    By from Sebastopol, CA on 2/1/2011


    4out of 5

    Pros: High quality picture, Great value, Easy to set up, Built in Wi-Fi, Reliability, Compact, Video selection

    Best Uses: Bedroom, Primary TV, Living room, Secondary TV

    Describe Yourself: Movie buff, Netflix fan, Power User, Technophile, Home entertainment enthusiast

    Folks, for your money - nothing comes close to the simplicity, selection of services, and consistency that this little device can provide. Heck it's so simple my mother can use it!

    I bought one and then for Christmas, bought another for mom. She loves it!


    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Part VII - 1st Time European Travel - Impressions (Cornwall Part IV)

    Yeah I know...longest vacation telling ever! Truth is I did this mainly for me, though I've got at least one nagging lurker who won't be happy until I finish the darn thing. It's oddly comical really because she was there the whole time and probably has a better memory of it than I do. :)

    Ah well, the trials and troubles of having a wildly popular blog....So on to Mousehole!

    First I have to explain, the whole point of my wanting to see Mousehole was due solely in part to the Charles de Lint novel "The Little Country". I absolutely love this author, his characters and settings just always appeal to me. Here's a quick teaser... 

    When folk musician Janey Little finds a mysterious manuscript in an old trunk in her grandfather's cottage, she is swept into a dangerous realm both strange and familiar. But true magic lurks within the pages of The Little Country, drawing genuine danger from across the oceans into Janey's life, impelling her—armed only with her music—toward a terrifying confrontation.Come walk the mist-draped hills of Cornwall, come walk among the ancient standing stones. Listen to the fiddles, the wind, and the sea.

    If your a de Lint fan and you've missed this gem, your in for a treat. If you've never read any of his stories and your a fan of mythology, fantasy and just a really good read, check him out.

    Anyhow enough worship, all I can tell you is that once I'd read the book, I pretty much knew I had to go there someday. Oh! It's important to note that it was this book that first brought scones and clotted cream to my consciousness.

    So the day began with breakfast at the Warwick House, this day it was eggs Benedict, and it was delicious! I seem to recall I was finished first, so I let the ladies take their time with their meal and I took a quick walk across the street to say good morning to the Atlantic.

    With breakfast out of the way we made the call for our trusty cabbie Stuart, to let him know we were ready for our last day of adventure in Cornwall.

    While there are many things that make a day trip like this fun, there's nothing better than having someone who's lived in the area their entire life chauffeur, all the while regaling you with histories both native and personal.

    Stuart seemed to just know instinctively what we wanted, we started first with a fantastic roundabout drive out towards Lands End.

    While our host's at the Warwick House, poo-pooed the idea of involving it in our short lived exploration of all things Cornwall, we really enjoyed ourselves. Mainly we enjoyed the ride out and the storytelling of our driver.

    Lands End, is well... the south-western tip of England. It is very much a tourist trap, and not so much a true representation of Cornwall. Wikipedia says...In 1987 Peter de Savarytheme purchased Land’s End. He had two new buildings erected and much of the present theme park development was instigated by him. He sold both Land's End and John o' Groats for an undisclosed sum to businessman Graham Ferguson Lacey in 1991. The current owners purchased Land’s End in 1996 and formed a company named Heritage Attractions Limited. Attractions at the theme park include children's playgrounds and recorded music. Twice a week in August there are firework displays. Nearby is the Land's End Hotel.

    It was OK, we spent some coin to look through the telescope, and took some pictures. With the common touristy crud out of the way, we were back in the car heading to Stuart and his wife's favorite strip of sand, Porthcurno  Beach. So, more great scenery...
    It was of course a beautiful drive, everywhere you looked it was rolling countryside with the occasional glimpse of the Atlantic sparkling at the edge of the horizon.

    Much of fields were being prepared for planting. I seem to recall our chauffeur explaining that much of what was planted was potatoes and cauliflower. There were dairy farms too, after all we had to have a readily available source for making our clotted cream! :)

    Historical warmonger that I am, I was greatly intrigued by Stuarts explanation of the large white building cross from the tennis courts to our left and the very unusual building to the left of it. This was the home of the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

    Aside from the obvious camouflage paint job, this was actually the communication hub for Great Britain. This is where the Atlantic Cable came ashore, and was the main communications artery connecting the British Empire with its expanding frontiers between 1870 and 1918.

    Though no longer the soul source of communication, it was still a valuable means of communication during WWII and the German military was keenly aware of it's location. Stuarts father had been involved with helping to reinforce the place with the excavation and fitting of deep tunnels to protect from bombing and possible invasion. The Luftwaffe made more than a few attempts at knocking it out but always seemed to miss the mark.

    All right, enough mongering...our drive finally led us to a spectacular view of Porthcurno Beach.
    Now granted, on this day it was a bit rough, but anyone could tell that this would be a fantastic beach during the up an coming summer season. I didn't really take much of a look, but what this area is also known for is the Minack Theater.

    I borrowed this lovely image from the website, it's web cam image, and a very nice one too.
    OK, enough to the main event, but first Stuart entertained us with a story about his father, and how when ever they drove past this fairy tale thatched cottage he'd always declare his curiosity about who'd lived there...
    I seem to recall his father was not all to forthcoming with details, something mumbled along the lines of, "That old one's lived there for years..."

    Apparently the day after his fathers funeral service, Stuart and his aunt were driving past and was shocked to hear her say that the two of them had sort of grown up there. Needless to say our taxi driver was more than a bit flummoxed about this revelation, and said he nearly drove back to the cemetery to dig his old da' back up and give him a right piece of his mind!

    OK, now on to Mousehole...., whoops just one last stop. We had to see the Merry Maidens...right?!
    It reputedly dates from the Bronze Age, probably used in pagan ceremonies. It is one of the locations where the Cornish Gorsedd is held. The local Cornish name for the circle is the Dans Maen meaning dancing stones. Folklore associated with the site is that 19 maidens did not attend church on Sunday. Instead they went to this area and broke the Sabbath by dancing to music provided by two pipers.

    For their sins the maidens were turned to stone, hence the nineteen stones. There are two other standing stones of 12 feet plus, nearby to the circle i.e. the pipers of this taboo event.

    Yeah I know...what about Mousehole! Alright already....
    I loved this little seaside village, it was exactly as I imagined, with help from Charles de Lint's description of course! So with a hearty handshake and a promise to call the next morning for our drive to the bus depot, we said goodbye to our driver and set off to explore...

    The village was post card cute, and it was easy to see how this would be a place many would want to visit in the summer. Mousehole is a fantastic example of quintessential Cornish charm, from it's narrow roads, stone work buildings, and it's cobbled stone harbor walls.
      Everything about the place screamed quaint...

    Of course with a name like Mousehole, your bound to see a neighborhood cat, this one was reluctantly gracious and allowed us to take pictures and say hello with gentle pats and under the chin rubs...
    "What? A picture too, oh bother and darn! Tourists...typical..."

    One of the things I really loved were the narrow lanes, oddly while I dislike the modern and densely packed suburbs of the states, here I found it very charming.

    Here was a very nice, very personable advertisement for one of the larger more commercial hotel chains...

    Even in mid March it's hard to find a Vacancy...ho hum...
    I really loved the personalized touches that private residences took the time and care to add to the villages character.

    Course you cant forget the harbor and the images that it provides...

    After a bit of walking about you get kinda hungry, how about a nice meal at Pam's Pantry?

    Well what better way to end the visit than with more clotted cream and scones. Yum!

    Next part of the trip, and the last entry...Bruges Belgium.

    A Pause to Reflect, Resume & Change...

    Mary in York 2010
    With a close friends passing, one does think about the importance of life, and the living of it.

    The loss of my friend has truly forced me to consider my own life, what I have accomplished, the friends and family I have made and kept, the places I've been, the things that I have seen, and my attitude towards everything.

    With this pause to reflect, I have decided that I want more, more connection to friends, more places and experiences, but more importantly more from me. I have lived my life too much in auto-pilot, and with my 44th birthday swiftly approaching, I'm switching the damn thing off (the auto-pilot part).

    It's time to start being serious, time to start living, time to start finishing old projects and starting new ones.

    I think my friend would have told me this, actually I think she just did.

    Thanks Mary

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    For Whom Do I Cry?

    Years ago my father past away from Pancreatic cancer, and though I did not have the luxury of having him as a real father figure in my life, I always thought of him as Dad. So when he passed away, I wept long and hard, until reason asked, "For whom do you cry?"

    What a silly question I thought, but then the truth of it hit me. I was crying for myself, and what the heck for? I wasn't his wife, I wasn't a child who'd grown directly under his care, I wasn't even a real good friend. My loss was no where near to the degree of my brothers and sister, or his friends. But still I wept.

    I wept for hours and then days, and always I did so with the selfish realization that I did it for my own loss, and not for those who'd had lost so much more. After a while, and with gentle care, reason did help me to regain my bearing.

    Yesterday I lost a sister, and it hurts. It hurts because she adopted me into her life at a time when I needed it most, and with a measure of selflessness and honesty that I have shared with few others. So once again I weep, and again reason gently asks, "For whom do you cry?"

    I cry for Mary, I cry for her mother, and I cry for her family and friends, those I know very little and those I call my own. But mainly, and with selfish grace, I cry for my loss. The space that she leaves in my heart is immeasurable.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Thoughts On The Tragedy in Tuscon...

    I wasn't going to write about the events in Tuscon over the weekend, but how do you suffer through the usual bullshit that the mainstream media continues to feed us, and stay quiet?

    Over the last few years I've studied everything that's "Reported" with a fairly critical eye, mainly  because I'm looking for a glimmer of hope. I'm looking for someone who isn't just going to rehash the "EVENT", over and over again, but someone who's going to start asking the important questions, you know...the why's?

    I have friends and family who'll be satisfied with the the simple answer, just one or two people responsible, they've been caught and will be punished - end of story. But folks, if we've lost the skill to dissect the events that led up to and resulted in this Saturdays tragedy, then this country is truly lost.

    There's no way that I can look at an event like this and ignore all the threads that lead up to six dead, and twelve wounded. The thing we keep forgetting, is that it wasn't a gun that loaded itself and caught a ride to the local grocery store with the intent to kill a senator. The right of every citizen to bear arms is not why this happened, and while I laugh at the typical declaration given by proponents of firearms in every handbag, it's impossible to ignore the efficiency of a handgun to deliver death to the unprepared.

    Lets dig deeper though, what sort of environment exists that might actually help to generate this sort of tragedy?

    We live in a society that relishes all things violent, from the movies we see, the games we play, and the sporting events we watch. We have church groups who should be providing support and comfort to the needy, picketing the funerals of gay soldiers, aids patients, and a nine year old girl struck down by the bullets of a madman in Tuscon.

    We are a country that refuses to see the truth behind the continued hemorrhaging of our youth and our economy, all for the supposed sake of enforcing our political values in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We have politicians, supposed stewards of the constitution and the voice of the people, using hate filled rhetoric to generate divisive opposition against their opponents. We have corporately owned media existing only to consume such tragedies, and feed them back to us in a foul regurgitated gruel that only serves to inflate their ratings.

    I'm not sure what the hell is wrong with us, it must be something in the very nature of humanity to find violence so appealing. I understand that it's who we are and that we'll never be able to rid ourselves of it, but we should be able to recognize it for what it is, and strive to reduce some of it. Shouldn't we be able to do that?