I missed posting a journal entry for last week because I was taking a little R&R trip to Myrtle Beach, SC
. It was our first time there and it was a nice trip that included time with our granddaughter. There were a lot of Facebook moments, but I know the followers of this journal want more than that. For any such trip, they want my observations on how it relates to the world situation or what inspiration I pulled from it that we all can learn from. So OK, fair enough.
Myrtle Beach is a major resort area. Its main business is tourism and there are very many resorts, hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, and every kind of attraction/shows that anyone could think of to extract tourist money. There's nothing wrong with that other than that it's done on top of all the ills of modern life. The whole area is an example of suburban sprawl and that struck me on the ride over--the endless highways, power lines, featureless shopping centers with their acres of parking lots, garish billboards and garish "welcome centers." Most people don't notice all that any more than they notice the SAG trails overhead, but I've become sensitive to it all. Even though there are spots of beauty (or at least, not eyesores), the subconscious question has to be: "In the face of societal collapse, is all this worth saving?"
One thing I would not want to save is the crass commercialism that supports the sprawl. I could see that the "timeshare
virus" was active in the area. We encountered two instances of sales-persons offering discount tickets to attractions in exchange for a time of "just listening" to a sales presentation for a timeshare. Now, we stayed in a resort apartment that was someone's timeshare, that is, we were "renting" the little two-bedroom apartment on the edge of a golf course that someone had purchased as a timeshare. It was certainly more comfortable than a hotel and probably less expensive. Renting the place for a few days was certainly much better than owning it, which would be like another mortgage. It would only make sense, to me, for someone with a lot of money and a desire to make (at least) yearly trips to the resort area, but the sales reps push them like "Breaking Bad" meth.
We didn't take the reps up on their offers. I have learned my lesson about timeshare presentations. They are the definition of hard sales and I've had to break from my normally calm demeanor twice, with much rudeness, to fend off such attacks at Disneyworld and in Mexico
Back at Myrtle Beach, we did visit one "spot of beauty" at the Broadway at the Beach
shopping and amusement center. This was a boardwalk around a big lake or inlet surrounded by restaurants and shops. At one end was a small amusement park and the Ripley's Aquarium. The aquarium was pretty cool and it featured a "tunnel" walk through a tank that contained sharks among other fishes. It was neat to see and I took a lot of pictures, but always with the realization that sea-life is dying off even faster than life on the land, and huge parts of all the oceans are dead zones. That's the reality behind the fun.
We took this trip over the weekend of April 25, which was Earth Day. The weather was mostly sunny though colder than normal (and some rain did come through and it kept us from visiting the actual beach). SAG spraying
was lighter than usual. I've heard it was the same throughout most of the US and I suspect they held off since people might be a little more cognizant of the bizarre skies during a "nature" holiday. But they didn't stop altogether and I got a good picture of a SAG trail and spraying artifacts over our apartment's back patio. That's the reality behind the fun.
At one point, we were having breakfast at the resort's $8 buffet. It was in a large room with windows at one side that overlooked the palm and shrub-lined street and let in a lot of sunshine. At one end, a video projection covered a section of a wall. It was of a sunset over a beach with a sound track of shushing waves. It was a nice touch, and it reminded me of the 1973 movie, Soylent Green
At the end of that movie, an old man (played by Edward G Robinson) is voluntarily euthanized because he can't take anymore of the horrid condition that life on earth has become. So he takes this option that is provided to everyone by the ruling powers and, as he lies dying, he is shown a huge video of natural scenes of earth as he remembered it from childhood--the way it "used to be." We're at that point now. I doubt the skies will, in my lifetime or my sons' lifetimes, return to what they were in my childhood.
Even so, with the holdback of the SAG spraying this weekend, the weather was closer to normal than I've seen it for a while. The sky was bluer and the clouds almost looked natural. It makes me think that if the ruling powers did stop the spraying, then the weather would return to a more normal state than many activists think (though there would be a "rebound" of severe weather and we would be far from being "out of the woods").
So you might be asking yourself at this point: can't he just relax and enjoy himself? I often ask myself that question, and the answer is that sometimes I can. I did have some relaxing moments over the weekend and I didn't talk about any of this. It's just that it's always there, and I know it. That's the reality behind the fun.
This last Friday (Apr 17), I attended the 2015 Carolina Writing Workshops event at the Columbia Convention Center. It was not a "workshop" in the sense of groups working on something and having breakout sessions and such, but rather, it was several presentations throughout the day on subjects related to getting published. The central event (in my opinion) was the "Writers Got Talent" session where four literary agents critiqued a one-page piece of writing (usually fiction) submitted by the workshop attendees. That session was the eye-opening, takeaway for me.
The event started at 09:30a. I got there a little after 09:00 and found that most of the other attendees had already arrived. They (about 40 in number) were by far a group of middle-aged author wannabes looking for information, inspiration, and a break. Just like me. A big draw was that the event offered (for an additional fee) the chance for attendees to "pitch" their work to a literary agent in the hopes of persuading them to make an offer of representation to traditional publishers. More on that below.
The event offered roughly hour-long presentations on a number of subjects of interest to aspiring authors:
- Your Publishing Options Today
- Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Queries & Pitching
- How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Author Platform & Social Media Explained
- How to Get Published
These were all presented by the same person, Chuck Sambuchino
, who is an accomplished and knowledgeable veteran in the the writing and publishing industry. I found him to be very outgoing, likeable, and with a humorous nature that infused his presentation style. He works for Writer's Digest magazine, blogs for them, and is a freelance editor when not writing his own books and teaching this Writing Workshop. I had thought the workshop might be slanted towards traditional publishing but was pleased to find Chuck very balanced in his approach to talking about publishing options.
This was the first such workshop I've attended and it struck me as a window into the reality of publishing--seeing and hearing from people who are working in the industry--that I've only read about until now. It verified a lot of what I've read, both by what Chuck and the agents said and by demonstration. So I learned a lot and took a lot of notes, especially when Chuck was talking about pitching and How to get Published.
Throughout the day, attendees were pitching their work to the four literary agents. I considered doing this as well, but was hesitant to spend the extra money ($50 per 30 minutes with an agent). Not only did I feel my manuscript wasn't ready, the idea of paying for the pitch time just didn't sit right with me. You don't ordinarily pay agents to consider your work and if you send them a written pitch you don't pay for that. I think it would have been fairer to just open the pitching to all attendees.
There was no extra fee, however, to submit the first page of your manuscript for a panel critique, promoted as Writers' Got Talent. This was done in the spirit of American Idol and the idea was the judges (the four literary agents) would hear the first pages read (by Chuck) and then offer their comments. I submitted my first page from Power of the Ancients and it turned out to be the very first one read.
There were two critiques of my page that were made mostly by two of the agents. They felt there was too much description (basically at one point) and two little action ("something needs to happen, quick"). They offered these critiques for just about every submission read and, according to Chuck, these are the two main critiques that cause agents to reject manuscripts right off the bat. Beyond that, what most impressed me about the agents' critiques was the the vitriol in them. I mean, they really ripped most of the submissions and did so with a caustic, "this sucks," attitude. Two of the agents in particular did this. I felt offended by that, and mine was not nearly as ripped as much as the rest. Good comments were few-and-far-between.
Maybe it's just the nature of their jobs and the fact that they read so many such submissions every day, and it leads to their being jaded. Later, Chuck made the comment that agents "look for reasons to reject a manuscript." I had heard that before and it's apparently true. Now I'm sure that the sheer volume of manuscripts and pitches they receive forces them to seek to narrow down the pile quickly. But that strikes me as the same situation where a professional is "too busy." Like the optometrist or dentist who is so busy they can't devote more than a set time to each patient whether the patient's condition calls for it or not. The patient is nothing more than a commodity. There is something wrong with that.
This is the point where I'll hear: "Yeah, well, that's just the way it is, Foy. It's dog-eat-dog out there and you can't be a pussy..." I know there is truth to that, but it's the truth of Mother Culture
Whatever the reason for the agents' harsh attitudes in their critiques, what I did NOT hear from them was any positive indication of why they were agents. That is, there were no comments about the satisfaction in finding an author with a story they could get behind. There was no indication of a desire to find literary work that inspired and said something, and getting it to the world. I'm not saying they did not have such desires, it's just that, if they did, they didn't express them in the course of the workshop.
Still, as I said, positive comments for the one-page submissions were few, but one was allowed to my offering in an agent saying: "There's some beautiful prose there."
All-in-all, though, the workshop was, to me, well worth the fee. Though overwhelming at times, it verified much of my reasoning for taking the publishing path I'm taking, and offered insights into how I can continue and what my options are. My aim is to provide information, inspiration, and entertainment to those who honor me with their readership. I know you're out there.
I am a big fan of David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
. I love his prose and the way he weaves a story together from a very intricate web of characters and events, often spanning a setting of centuries. His plotting keeps the reader engrossed, whether depicting a battle of immortals or a character trying to figure out how to escape a retirement home. All these elements were at work in Mr. Mitchell's latest novel, The Bone Clocks
, that I recently read and reviewed
. You'll see in my review that I loved the book, but even so, Mr. Mitchell made a few points in it that I disagree with.
Now I noted in my review that there is a section set in the Iraq "war" that is a character's recollections. I thought it was well done and really put the reader "on the ground" in the senseless violence of Iraq from a journalist's viewpoint. I thought it didn't go far enough, however, in denouncing the criminality of that conflict, and so I was a bit uncomfortable with it. Still, I could forgive that. What prompts me to comment, are a couple of other passages in the book.
The first is from one character's internal monologue:...I take a deep, shuddery breath to stop myself crying...it's everything: It's grief for the regions we deadlanded, the ice caps we melted, the Gulf Stream we redirected, the rivers we drained, the coasts we flooded, the lakes we choked with crap, the seas we killed, the species we drove to extinction, the pollinators we wiped out, the oil we squandered, the drugs we rendered impotent, the comforting liars we voted into office--all so we didn't have to change our cozy lifestyles...we summoned it, with every tank of oil we burned our way through. My generation were diners stuffing ourselves senseless at the Restaurant of the Earth's Riches knowing--while denying--that we'd be doing a runner and leaving our grandchildren a tab that can never be paid.
(David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
, Random House, 2014 edition, p560-561)
I agree with his assessment here of the current state of the world. I don't completely agree, though, that it is because we are selfish louts consuming the world without thought, or care, that doing so is at the expense of the next generations. Yes, people do that, but they do so driven by a "dominator
" culture that is parasitic to humanity and run by a psychopathic, patriarchal, oligarchy. It is these, at the top of the pyramid, that are ultimately responsible for our planet's destruction and I will not take the blame for them.
I did not vote liars into office. The system will only put liars into office, regardless of whom I vote for (if I have a vote).
So does that mean that you and I have no responsibility for the state of the world? No. I believe it behooves us to do what is right and to resist evil as much as we can. It's just that I will not, in doing so, pretend that the world's ills are a result of common thoughtlessness (basically, gluttony). No, there is a driving evil for this that we have not been able to overthrow in ten thousand years.
It is best not to engage in mindless consumption as if the earth were a limitless resource, and so believe that tomorrow will always be like today. That is delusion and it is a support of the oligarchs that they depend upon. We can fight them, and erode their system, to the extent that we can come out of this delusion.
Now considering the above, there is another passage in The Bone Clocks
that I found most interesting and probably indicative of Mr. Mitchell's mindset:Unthinkingly, I've looked up at the sky. My imagination can still project a tiny glinting plane onto the blue...a jet airliner, its vapor trail going from sharp white line to straggly cotton wool.
(David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
, Random House, 2014 edition, p565)
This is a description of a small part of what we see over our heads
every day: high flying airplanes leaving long aerosol trails that don't dissipate, but expand into cover like (ugly) "straggly cotton wool." This is Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering (SAG) that is currently the principal means for the oligarchs' destruction of the earth. In averring that this describes a "vapor trail
," perhaps Mr. Mitchell has reached another line that he cannot cross.
As an author, David Mitchell is currently enjoying a popularity and influence that rivals J. K. Rowling at the height of her Harry Potter
series. So it is fascinating to me to see that he even touches on issues that lead to a consideration of the world as it really is. Most fiction writers do not. They stay within the accepted constraints of their genre, as imposed from above.
Perhaps if we can cross that line ourselves, in our thinking and in our actions, we can encourage our artists and bards to do the same. It is only there that we have any chance of finding a better world.
Annually on April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. The Autism Academy of South Carolina will host a Light It Up Blue Columbia celebration on April 2nd. The celebration will include games, food, prizes, and a 1.5 mile Color Me Blue fun run.
(AASC News & Events)The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2015. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.
My wife and I volunteered to help out at the Autism Academy of South Carolina event to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. It was held in the AASC's sizable parking lot behind their building in Columbia. There were a number of "vendor booths" where businesses were selling jewelry, cosmetics, Tupperware, books for kids, food, etc, in exchange, I'm sure, for a donation to the school. And there were games and entertainments, mostly geared to kids.
Donna and I hosted the duck pond, which was a child's wading pool with about ten, small rubber ducks floating in it. Kids simply chose a duck and if it had a star on its underside, the child won a candy or toy prize. And if they didn't pick a starred duck, they could keep trying until they did. Well, sometimes you get multiple chances in life.
Probably about 200 or so people came through with their kids. I expect most were associated with the school somehow, either by working there or having a child enrolled. It was a generally good time for all. A few characters wandered around (Easter bunny, Sesame Street's Elmo, a rooster, etc) to amuse the kids and take pictures with them. There was some dancing led by groups on a stage, and it was all topped off with a 1.5 mile "run" through downtown Columbia.
After the event, Donna and I took a little tour of the school. The facilities looked decent and well-kept in a building that I understand was donated by a local Lutheran church. I learned too that the school's enrollment was somewhere between 30 and 50 kids. The work they do is described on the AASC website:Our team of highly qualified professionals is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families struggling with Autism and related disorders. We provide one-on-one and small group ABA therapy for children and adolescents age 2-21 in a center-based setting. In addition, AASC offers parent training, school consultation, social skills groups, and summer camps.
The impression I got of the staff was one of people dedicated to what they were doing and passionate about helping kids afflicted with autism. Donna and I were glad to donate our time and money to the school.
I run across the topic of autism fairly often in my daily studies of world events and so was interested in the school and the Autism Speaks
organization that promotes the Light It Up Blue awareness campaign. I was especially interested in what these groups had to say about autism causes, so I made a little survey of their websites.
In their Facts About Autism
page, Autism Speaks notes that:
- Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
- Autism prevalence figures are growing
- Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the U.S.
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
These are the kinds of facts that are usually given to express the horror of a given disorder or disease, and the reason for urgency in addressing it to find a cure or help sufferers. They certainly apply to autism, and I expect that there are similar facts regarding the prevalence of alzheimers, fibromyalgia, brain cancer, and similar health problems.
Which brings me to the question of autism causes. No one addressed that (within my earshot) at the awareness event. So I checked out the websites and found statements like:According to the Autism Speaks website, there is no known single cause for autism, although the best available science points to important genetic components.” In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of non-genetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk. The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk.”andExperts once believed that autism was almost entirely hereditary. Then research with families participating in the Autism Speaks Autism Genetic Resource Exchange showed that non-inherited influences on early brain development account for nearly half of a child’s risk for developing autism.
These factors include maternal infection and high exposure to air pollution during pregnancy.
So they say they don't really know what causes autism, only that there seems to be genetic and environmental (pollution) aspects that reinforce each other. I was interested to see that they conceded (to some degree) that a toxic environment was at least largely to blame. And considering the skyrocketing prevalence of autism (1-in-68 now, but in 10 years it could be 1-2 according to at least one study; see here
), I would think Autism Speaks
and other such organizations might want to look a little deeper at the toxicities in both our physical and political environments.
There is a widespread resistance to vaccinating children because of the link from vaccines to autism. An Italian court agrees
, noting a 1271-page confidential GlaxoSmithKline report
that "provided ample evidence of adverse events from the vaccine, including five known cases of autism resulting from the vaccine’s administration during its clinical trials..."
The problem is that vaccines are typically loaded with adjuvants such as thimerasol, mercury, and aluminum. All of these are neurotoxins.
And these neurotoxins (especially aluminum) are also being sprayed on us constantly so that every breath we take is saturated with them. That spraying is part of the Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering
(SAG) program being carried out constantly over our heads. Just look up and spend some time watching the skies. You'll see the planes flying at high altitudes leaving long trails. Most do not dissipate but stretch from horizon to horizon. Within a few hours, they spread and cover the whole sky. Sometimes they do dissipate, but if you watch, you'll see a pattern and you'll notice that the sky is never dark blue (as it was ten years ago) but is always, at best, a pale, milky blue. And the sun, even on a "temperate" day, is always blazing hot (because of increased UV reaching the earth through the Ozone region which is greatly shredded by the spraying).
There is plenty of evidence that this ultimate crime-against-humanity is being carried out, and its link to autism is only one ill effect. See here (especially the video).
At one point during the Autism Awareness event, 68 blue, helium-filled, balloons were released (see picture). They drifted into a sky full of SAG spraying artifacts. The irony was striking: A beautiful expression from people touched by autism and passionate about helping its victims, is seen against an ugly backdrop created by what is likely the leading cause of the disorder.
If you are open to what I've said here, then perhaps it's enough to make you angry; perhaps angry enough to want to do something. If so, then I would say you can help the victims and attack the causes.
Supporting the work of an autism school like the Autism Academy of South Carolina is a good way to help those kids and families devastated by the disorder.
Attacking the causes includes raising public awareness that vaccines (as presently constituted) are dangerous and that geoengineering
is going on and is destroying life on earth.
There is, at this time, an online petition placed on the White House website that demands geoengineering be stopped and an investigation into it be launched. If the petition signers exceed 100,000 in number, then the Obama administration is supposed to comment on the issue. Now topping 100K signers will not stop SAG but it could be another way to raise public awareness and let the government know that we know (assuming they even let the petition counter pass 100K).
I hope you will digitally sign the petition. I did. You can find it here
. And if you do sign it, please let me know by posting a comment to this journal entry.
Caring for autistic children and adults is caring for the wounded in the War of the Damned
that we are obliged to fight.
Ever since I read The Coming Global Superstorm
(published in 2001) some years ago, I've been interested in the idea of the current global warming trend actually leading to a new ice age. As counterintuitive as that sounds, the science behind it is sound and it is, as presented in the Superstorm
book, pretty frightening.
The basic idea is that a warming climate melts the earth's ice packs (the North Pole, the Greenland ice sheet, Antarctic ice sheets, glaciers, etc) and so floods the north polar Atlantic ocean with fresh water which slows and then stops the thermohaline circulation
(current pulling warm gulf waters to north polar waters). This removes a climate barrier that allows cold arctic air to fall south and smash into warmer air and produce really big storms. If this keeps up, the colliding air can produce a monster storm that covers the whole of the northern hemisphere (superstorm). If this occurs in the winter and the storm drops enough precipitation to freeze into vast ice sheets, and if it is enough to not melt over the following summer, then the ice will reflect sunlight back into space and so cool the earth and encourage the formation of more ice over the winter (a feedback loop). And so you have an ice age that lasts for a hundred thousand years or so.
That's the simplified version of the scenario. There are many other variables involved (like the activity of the sun at the time of the superstorm, the amount of methane hydrates released, etc) but in recent years, scientists have verified the warming-before-ice-age process from ice cores, though the superstorm part is controversial.
This process, that I call the superstorm scenario, is the foundation for the setting of my coming Dentville
novels. It is also the premise for the 2004 move, The Day After Tomorrow
Now, with all that in mind, I was interested to see an article this week on the Geoengineering Watch website
that asked the question: "Are The Climate Engineers Attempting To Shut Down The Gulf Stream?" The article stemmed from a study published by a number of climate scientists in Nature Climate Change
where they report on a substantial weakening of the Gulf Stream (the thermohaline circulation) across the twentieth century, and say that its weakening since 1975 is unprecedented. See also the writeup on the report on Whitley Strieber's website (he wrote the original Superstorm book with Art Bell) here
The Geoengineering Watch article notes that the climate manipulation process that has been ongoing over the US for years, could very well be mimicking (or exacerbating) the processes that create the superstorm scenario. In the article's words:The incredibly anomalous cold zone in the Eastern US which extends into the North Atlantic is completely engineered and thus completely unnatural. In recent years precipitation has been consistently robbed from the Western US and pumped in to the Eastern US to help fuel the engineered cool-downs there. This constant flow of precipitation along with the unprecedented flow of meltwater from Greenland is reducing the salinity and thus the density of the surface waters in this critical area of the North Atlantic which are normally very saline and dense in this region.
Why would the geoengineers want to bring on an ice age? The article suggests:Could this be their final attempt to slow the catastrophic thawing of methane on the seabed of the Arctic (which is a risk to all life on Earth) by cutting off the flow of warm ocean currents to that region?
If this sounds crazy to you, I would suggest that the world is largely run by crazies that would not hesitate to sacrifice the well-being of billions if it would keep the earth habitable for themselves. Check out the links I've provided and do your own research.
Beyond that, here are some of the week's happenings against the backdrop of the War of the Damned
: A Global Research article
reports that the horrendous California drought has left the state with only about a year's worth of water in its reservoir reserves. The state's only contingency plan, according to a JPL scientist, is "praying for rain." But it seems that while the geoengineers like to play God, they are not so moved by prayer, at least not the prayers of the thirsty masses. They are more likely to keep up the drought and so promote the privatization of water supplies for the profit of Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, etc.Ukraine
: The US House of Reps passed a resolution
urging President Obama to send offensive weaponry to the Ukraine army. This is something that Obama has been threatening to do (though not fast enough for many US congressional hawks), and that the European Union leaders (especially Germany and France) want him NOT to do. It seems that, while the EU leadership is fine with ethnic cleansing in Donbass, they would prefer it not happen at the expense of getting nuked themselves. This has been a growing sticking point between Washington and the EU and it seems to have finally prompted Obama to back off on the saber-rattling. In a significant move
this week, he backed the Ukrainian junta President (Poroshenko) over the hand-picked (by the US) Prime Minister (Yatsenyuk) in a dispute over heavy-handed tactics in some political maneuverings. Obama, in essence, gave Poroshenko permission to be rid of Yatsenyuk. He also put his plans for sending weapons to Ukraine on hold. It seems that, for now, Obama is willing to forgo war with Russia to preserve the US alliance with the EU.Greece
: Greece remains under pressure from the EU Troika to continue implementing austerity policies in order to continue to receive loan money. Greece requires that money in order to avoid default. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been making the round of summits and meetings with EU leaders and all have warned him to commit to austerity (in the face of Syriza's mandate to abandon austerity). In spite of being forced to balance servicing EU loans and providing for the country's needs:...the Tsipras government passed a “humanitarian bill” in the Greek parliament, at a cost of just €200 million. The bill provides free electricity and food stamps to some families in dire poverty. Under constant pressure from its creditors, Syriza had already drastically scaled down the humanitarian program from a still inadequate €1.8 billion euros.
The European Commission saw the Greek parliament's support for this bill as a "declaration of war." Even so, senior Syriza leaders have said they will consider approaching Russia as an alternative source of funding. This apparently prompted a visit to Athens from the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Vitoria Nuland. Ms Nuland, you may recall, was instrumental in facilitating the US coup that overthrew the Ukrainian elected government and installed a puppet regime. See here
. Watch out, Greece! The b---h is back!Otherwise
: Dimitri Orlov posted a blog entry
where he provides a fascinating overview of the evolution of a feudal hierarchy to a capitalistic hierarchy to an anarchistic (after collapse) hierarchy. I've always found Dimitri's observations of current events, and their historical precedents, to be right on.
I'm working hard on my first Dentville
novel and have made significant progress. I hope to have the manuscript developed to a point where it is ready for editing within the next couple of weeks. That should facilitate a publication date sometime in the late summer or early fall of this year. While this is a labor of love for me, it is definitely a labor. I agree with George Orwell (see photo) that no one would engage in such an undertaking without being driven by some demon. So mine is at work and it drives me to make these journal entries as well (and fills me with ideas for books and short stories that I will seek to bring to fruition as long as it's possible for me to do so).
Now writing fiction is definitely an art and I have long said that I am far more of an artist than a technician. Therefore I appreciate and enjoy the creation of a story (or an essay) as a work in itself and strive to make that act of creation aesthetically, technically, and inspirationally, right. I believe that, like a painting or a savory meal or a fine wine, a piece of writing should be pleasing in the consumption. My aim is to make my work just that.
At the same time, however, I have, in my latter years, become more and more politically aware. That is, I've striven to look outside my bubble, even as I've struggled to survive and provide for my family, and see the world as it really is. As I've gotten older I have become less and less able to be satisfied with the consensus of what reality is (especially in the US) and with the conceit that everything is OK, will be OK, our leaders wouldn't do that, and that the future will be like the past. There is too much serious stuff going on and I have to speak of it and point it out, though I be pilloried in the effort. My demon will have its way.
Integrating these two impulses--art and social commentary--is the challenge I cannot avoid. I just have to work out how best to do it. In my writings, I want to inspire and entertain readers, and also say something. In his brilliant essay, Why I Write
, George Orwell described his own struggle with expressing art and making comment:
So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose and style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information...The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.
Yes. Exactly. Mr. Orwell got it right on so many levels.
One of the activities this age forces on us is The War of the Damned
as I mentioned in my last journal entry. Here are a few updates for that war from this past week.Ukraine
: Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (installed as PM in last year's coup by the US) announced the resumption of war
with Donbass (ethnic Russians in eastern provinces of Ukraine who are a self-proclaimed independent republic now). Yatsenyuk says: “Adequate financial resources are available” now to retake Donbass. He's referring to material and financial support from the US and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I guess that means the cease-fire is over.Greece
: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assured the Greek people
that they will not return to the policies of austerity, "despite pressure from European lenders." He also spoke of "...an honorable compromise..." that requires the recognition that "the previous policy of extreme austerity has failed." While that's certainly true, his language sounds like he is still depending on a reasonable negotiation with the Troika, which I believe won't happen. The same article noted that the European Central Bank (ECB) would be opening a new headquarters building in Frankfurt later in the week and that the Blockupy
organization planned a mass demonstration there. That demonstration
happened on March 18 with about 10,000 demonstrators taking part. There was some violence that the Blockupy representatives distanced themselves from. This is typical with such protests and, considering the organization being protested, makes one wonder about agent provocateurs.Philippines
: There were demonstrations in the Philippines against the government acting at the behest of the US to assassinate two FBI-wanted terrorists that led to slaughter of a Filipino commando unit. The operation
, which was apparently US planned and meant to be a "surgical" killing of wanted terrorists in the midst of the Moro rebel army, was botched when the Moro caught the commandos in the act and a firefight ensued. The Moro rebels cut off the commandos escape by attacking the army unit charged with covering it. About 44 Filipino soldiers were killed.Weather/Climate
: A government climate scientist published this article
on the Truth-Out website, explaining the persistent weather pattern over the US of serial "winter storms" in the east and record heat/drought in the west and midwest. Compare the article to this one
on the GeoEngineering Watch website that takes the same data and views it in the light of verifiable, obvious, and ongoing Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering (SAG) operations. Also, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has confirmed
that Arctic sea ice is at its lowest volume ever recorded. This shows that the earth is warming and NOT cooling in spite of the "winter storms" that have marched through the eastern US and left record snowfall in Boston. They also confirm (along with numerous studies) that "2014 was the warmest year ever recorded." All this is further confirmation that humanity is in deep doo-doo as dramatized here
.Syriza in the US
?: The most hopeful article
I read this week was one by Chris Hedges about Kshama Sawant, who is a member of the Seattle city council representing the Socialist party. That she was elected at all strikes me as a miracle. She is up for reelection after a year of some legislative successes. Mr. Hedges tells us:...she has helped push through a gradual raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle. She has expanded funding for social services and blocked, along with housing advocates, an attempt by the Seattle Housing Authority to allow a rent increase of up to 400 percent. She has successfully lobbied for city money to support tent encampments and is fighting for an excise tax on millionaires.
All this has earned her the enmity of the political establishment, including the Democratic Party. A lot of corporate money will oppose her reelection. Progressives are gathering around Sawant's campaign and I wonder if it could be the nucleus of a real, representative party arising out of the morass of corruption that so burdens our citizenry. This is the amazing scenario that happened in Greece with the rise of Syriza to power. Sawant lent support to that hope by saying:
"Our campaign needs to be a launching pad for something bigger. It needs to be about building a mass movement, a viable radical alternative. This is what is happening in Greece and Spain.”
* * *
This is an overview of what's going on around us and is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. I expect that George Orwell is watching all this somewhere and its all very familiar to him--just bigger in scope.
I recently watched the final season of the Starz series, Spartacus: War of the Damned
. My wife and I had become fans of the series back in 2011 and we watched them all except for the last one (moving and cable changes lost us our Starz subscription). When it finally became available for streaming on Netflix, we jumped on it.
Overall, it was a fitting finish to the series and included those elements that impressed me from the beginning: subtleties of character (including the young Julius Caesar), setting and costuming realism (mostly), pseudo-shakespearean dialogue, some solid nods to history and legend, and some capable actors (but a shame Andy Whitfield succumbed to cancer after the first season, although Liam McIntyre did well in taking over the lead role). I wrote of my thoughts on the series in a 2011 journal entry
The series prompted me to thoughts about its socialist theme. Indeed, the legend of Spartacus became a socialist (populist) inspiration over the centuries and cannot be understood outside of that theme. So I was pleased to see it expressed in dialogue by the character, Crixius, shortly before his heroic death scene:
We built their mighty republic, with our hands and our blood and our lives. And we can see it fall, at equal cost. You opened my eyes to this, Spartacus, do not ask me now to close them.
That's the realization of awakened slaves (both chattel and wage) to the way things really are. They understand that their labor is being used (until the laborers are used up) for the enrichment and gratification of monstrous rulers (basically, the 1%) in a hierarchical system that favors monsters (psychopaths). And when the slaves resist, they fight oppressors that do not value human life and so will only fight to the death. This fight is often referred to as "class warfare." The "all or nothing" nature of it is what motivated Spartacus' army. Once they set on the path of rebellion, there was no other alternative for them.
This conflict is at the heart of all conflicts among nations and has been going on for some ten thousand years--ever since humans quit hunting-gathering, became farmers, and built cities, since Cain slew Abel, since we cast ourselves out of Eden. Some smart people have identified this change in human society as the Agricultural Revolution. I put some study into that and wrote this journal entry
Though this class warfare has been going on constantly since the beginning of civilization, it seems to me that it has only come to actual, head-to-head, fighting on a very few occasions. That is, when the struggle was between the oppressors and the oppressed and both sides recognized it for what it was.
Spartacus' rebellion was the first such fight (at least that we have record of). Though there had been other slave rebellions, his was the biggest and the knowledge of it has persisted to our time. And though it was put down after years of fighting at great cost to the Roman empire, it had the result of easing the institution of slavery in Rome a tiny bit. I believe share-cropping was introduced to work the empire's fields rather than sheer slave labor. I think our rulers have been seeking ever since to find that sweet-spot of maximum labor exploitation short of armed rebellion.
Another point of conflict in this war may have been the Paris Commune
of 1871. This seems to have been a time when workers were able to use the distraction of the Franco-Prussian war (the French army suffered some defeats and the French government had fled Paris) to establish a government ("commune") in Paris based on cooperation and democracy (i.e., socialist). It only existed for a few months before the French government was able to reassert control of Paris in a week of bloody fighting with the communards.
Of course there was the Russian revolution of 1917 but I think that revolution fared little better than the Paris Commune. Though it was certainly a battle between workers and rulers, it was soon coopted by a state-run capitalism that degenerated further into a totalitarian system that only paid lip-service to being a workers' state.
Then there was the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This fight was very obviously a struggle against slaveholders (called "fascists" by that time) and freedom-loving people from around the world joined in the fight against them (but not their governments; western governments favored Franco and his fascists). Probably not since Spartacus' time have slaves fought against masters as they did in the Spanish Civil War. Once again, the slaves lost, though the memory of what they tried to accomplish has persisted, and is commemorated in Ernest Hemingway's classic novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls
You may have noted that in these ruminations I've left out the American Civil War. That's because I don't see that war as being oppressed against oppressor, but rather a conflict between two oppressors over who and how to exploit.
What about today? Are there any points of conflict today that continue the War of the Damned? I believe there are two notable ones.
The first is Ukraine
. This conflict began as an attempt by US/NATO to capture a place of rich resources and further encroach on Russian borders (and punish Russia for stopping western plans for escalating the fighting in Syria; see this article
by Prof John McMurtry writing for Global Research). Using provocateur agents, US/NATO toppled the elected president of the Ukraine and installed a puppet with a cadre of neo-nazis who promptly began a cleansing (murder) of the eastern Ukraine (aka, Donbass) of ethnic Russians.
Seeing what was happening in Donbass, the province of Crimea overwhelmingly voted to solicit annexation by Russia (actually a return to being part of Russia) which was granted them. This is the only thing that stopped the western Ukraine government (based in Kiev) from letting their ethnic cleansing extend into Crimea.
The Donbass region of Ukraine also wanted to be taken into Russia, but the Russians declined in the apparent belief that such an action would be seen as a provocative encroachment giving NATO an excuse to attack. So the people of Donbass began to resist. With their only choice being to fight or be killed, they took up arms against the army of Kiev and began to steadily beat them (no doubt supported by Russian volunteers offering expertise and weapons; shades of the Spanish Civil War). There were mass defections in the Ukrainian army to the point that Kiev gave orders to shoot deserters. They also started conscripting children. And it seems the nazi units were better at lobbing bombs from a distance than fighting face-to-face.
Now the western corporate press had gone to great lengths to vilify Russia and President Putin in all this, with exaggerated (at best!) claims of "Russian aggression." In fact, they have generally accused Russia of doing everything that NATO has done. Still, I don't see Russia as representing the oppressed in this conflict. Instead, I see the people spontaneously rising up against the (corporate, fascist) oppressors (wannabe slaveholders) as being the people of Donbass (also refered to as "rebels" in the media). Their "no other choice" determination to fight to defend their lives, families, and homes puts them in Spartacus' army.
I pray the Donbass "rebels" don't suffer the same fate as Spartacus' army. I'm sure, though, that they will fight on, even in the face of US military aid
aid to Ukraine.
I believe the other current battle in the War of the Damned (perhaps even more so than Ukraine) is the fight of the people of Greece against the European Union banks.
Greece was on the edge of bankruptcy in 2010--people were out of work and the ATMs were empty. Being a member of the European Union (EU), Greece's neoliberal "solution" was loans from the Troika (i.e., the triumvirate of financial/political entities: the European Union (based in Brussels), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)). Their multibillion Euro loans refloated the Greek banks, but with draconian strings attached to "ensure repayment."
Those strings were the neoliberal (functionally equivalent to "neoconservative") policies collectively referred to as "austerity." They are commonly imposed on countries who make IMF loans and include things like the privatization of public works (utilities, lands, prisons, schools, etc), slashing wages and pensions, workforce layoffs, cuts in social programs, and so on. These policies are defacto thieft as they effectively move a nation's wealth from its people to the loan sharks (banks, oligarchs).
The consequences of the austerity policies on the Greek people are described by C. J. Polychroniou in an article
for Truthout:Wages, salaries and pensions were slashed by as much as 40 percent; public services and social programs were stripped to their bare bones, which included hospitals running without adequate equipment and medicine and schools functioning without heating oil in the winter months, unemployment shot through the roof (currently standing at nearly 26 percent, and over 50 percent for those 15-24 years old), poverty became a reality for one out of three people, and suicides became endemic in the early years of the crisis.
People took to the streets to protest, but earned only police repression and no relief from the unsympathetic Troika. Finally, on January 25 of this year, they elected a political party into office that consists of a coalition of left-wing elements and goes by the name of Syriza. Syriza took power on a platform of opposing austerity (where previous governments only cooperated with it) and immediately went into a month long negotiation with agents of the Troika. Their goal was to establish a four month extension of the loan agreements (which required renewal, or reaffirmation--like a loyalty pledge, by the new Greek government) without the austerity measures and so provide time to work out a permanent agreement that would raise revenue to service the loans by prosecuting tax evaders (which would be a huge source), taxing the rich, etc, and also abandon austerity and privatization.
The Troika, however, rejected all of Syriza's proposals and threatened to fail the Greek banks by suspending loan payments. They also stopped accepting Greek state bonds as collateral for ECB loans. In effect, the Troika threatened to toss Greece out of the EU if they refused to cooperate in austerity. Syriza conceded to the pressure. Its leadership is far less radical than the Greek people and they have no desire to leave the EU or not repay the IMF loans. They simply want to abandon austerity as an irrational policy. They found, however, that EU bankers have no sympathy for the jobless and the starving, and will not negotiate.
All this has led to a backlash from the Greek people and the more left-leaning members of the Syriza coalition who feel their leaders should have taken a stronger stance against the hated Troika and been prepared to take Greece out of the EU (aka, "Grexit"). It even led to a national hero (and member of Syriza) to apologize
for Syriza's performance and affirm that "...between slaves and occupiers the only solution is Freedom."
So what happens next with Greece? The factions within Syriza seem to be fighting over that question, but they need to stay together to have any chance at opposing the EU bankers. If Syriza fails, Greece would either return to a compliant government or, worse, to one led by extremists such as the New Dawn (basically, neo-nazis).
Prophecy scholar and seer, John Hogue
, has predicted that the Grexit (Greece leaving the EU and returning to public banks using the drachma for currency) will happen:Watch Russia and China come to Greece’s aid when it abandons the Euro Monetary Union between now and 2015. Russia will set up a naval base in Greece. Both Russia and China will shore up the Greek economy.
(John Hogue, Predictions for 2013-2014)
I expect such a scenario would be the best one for Greece, but it would also be a firming of the line being drawn between east and west (BRICS vs NATO). And that line is a battle-line as much as it is cultural and political demarcation.
Most observers fear that a Grexit would be the spark that unravels the neoliberal financial system presided over by the world's oligarchs. That may be, but I believe that unraveling is inevitable. And there are other sparks glowing among people struggling under the heel of the oligarchs. Populist parties similar to Syriza are rising in Spain and Ireland. The question is: how far will these parties be able to go, working within the neoliberal political system, to truly represent the interests of the citizenry?
Actually, there are many places around the world where battles in this war are being fought. Venezuela, for example. But it looks to me like Ukraine/Greece is where the pressures are strongest that will lead to the inevitable fallout.
In the real world, the War of the Damned continues.
This is the most dire time for humanity in the whole of its history upon the earth. Perhaps only once before have we, as a species, faced extinction. Scientists point to a time when human numbers were down to (I believe) the thousands and our survival then was a very near thing. Today, our numbers are comparatively vast (some 7 billion) but the threat to our habitat (the planet earth!) is just as vast in scope, and more certain than an asteroid hit, because it is a deliberate program of destruction.
That program is Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering (SAG)
that is in constant operation over our heads at all times. It is the reason you see jets flying at high altitudes leaving vast trails of particulate materials that last for hours and lead to overcast skies. Even "clear" days are only a milky-white, pale blue. And these particulates (metals with various carrying agents and chemical adjuncts) are toxic to all life on earth.
There are multiple reasons for governments (in the thrall of supragovernmental elites) to carry out "the program." The biggest reason is sheer control of the weather. That control results in the weather channel's named winter storms that have been blasting the US northeast (and also causing drought and record heat from Alaska through California and the southwest).
There are deep dimensions to this that are easily found with Google searches. Using honest discernment of the results returned, you can find the credible data, and confirm it with careful observation of the sky. It is a chilling activity, but one that will certainly burst our common bubbles of delusion as to how things truly are.
The best source for information on SAG is Dane Wigington's website: GeoEngineering Watch
Dane periodically puts out short videos on the status of earths climate as it is manipulated by SAG. His most recent is an excellent overview of how SAG is being used on the US right now. You can view it here
. It's only about 9 minutes long. Dane's presentation is based on NOAA and GFS weather maps that you can easily find for yourselves.
Climate change exacerbated by SAG is the backdrop and all-encompassing limit to everything we do. The distant horizon cannot be a symbol of dreams of escape-from-the-commonplace, when it is littered with aerosol trails.
* * *
Here is another link to Dane's video report.
I've written a lot in this journal since late last year about our move to South Carolina. In my last entry, I said the move was complete and we're working on settling in. That's still true. My wife is settling into her new job, dealing with the challenges it presents. I'm also settling into mine with its challenges. In the last couple of weeks I've done some solid edits and rewrites on my first Dentville
novel (Power of the Ancients
) as well as some supporting writing and research. All that's good. Still, we are in a new place, a long way from the only home we've ever known. I'm not homesick (though I miss our sons). Indeed, I'm glad of our changed environment and look forward to exploring it more. It just that making such a big move prompts pauses to consider.
Tomorrow marks our first Valentine's Day in our new home and I want to mark it with wine, roses, and my love and appreciation to Donna for the bold move she's made, and her belief in me. A friend told me this move would at first be "You and Donna against the world." He was saying we'd feel really alone in this new place until we became accustomed to it and made friends. He went through a similar experience some years ago. And he's right, but then again, it's always been she and I against the world in a lot of respects.
Now the world is hard thing to struggle with, especially at this point in human history. I've alluded to a lot of that in this journal and will have more to say about it. Indeed, I had thought to write a longer, more intense entry this time about the current state of world affairs, but decided to hold off on that and think brighter thoughts. It is a long weekend that begins with Valentine's Day, so, let's lighten up...for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself
May St Valentine's blessings be yours, and may the love of family and friends fill your life.
And if you're fortunate enough to be sharing your journey with your soulmate, let them know you're glad they're with you, and that you wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
In the words of one of my favorite Disney songs:I'll be there
When the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you.
Omigosh. I'm here. At my new home. Once again, my wife and I have packed up, lock, stock, and tomahawk, and settled elsewhere. This time, six hundred miles away to the eastern US coast. Donna started her new job here at the first of last December. I finished up my old job, tied up loose ends, and have now joined her in Columbia. I've been here for two weeks, and they've been weeks of intense settling in.
I've made the drive out here three times, and once back to Mississippi (I flew one time, and this last time, I've not gone back). The drive is grueling, taking about ten hours, though it is a straight shot down Interstate 20. It's not a particularly scenic drive, just typical Interstate travel through patches of pine forest regrowth and varying levels of suburban sprawl. But there are some interesting vistas from some pretty high hills (Appalachian foothills?) at elevations up to 1000 feet starting around Birmingham, Alabama. They level out by the time you reach Georgia.
One of the drives out was most memorable for being sheer, gut-wrenchingly, awful. That was when I went to spend Christmas week with Donna and take a first load of our stuff. I towed a uhaul trailor behind a borrowed Toyota Tacoma through the cold dark and constant rain with stormy stretches. Often I couldn't see where I was going. The trailer slowed my truck's progress and made it unwieldy on slick roads. I had to pay close attention as I often couldn't see very far ahead because of the dark, the rain, and the constant stream of warehouses-on-wheels (trucks). I was "flying by instruments" most of the way--relying on my GPS (Global Positioning System) device to keep me on track. Very often, I followed the GPS graphic as much as the actual road.
I've never owned a GPS until I bought one to make this trip and to guide us around Columbia. It's an amazing little box that strikes me as the pinnacle of human technology. It knows the roads to everywhere and can detect elevations and speed limits. Sure, you can find the fuzzy limits to what it knows, but the very fact that there is a humongous area of nonfuzzy info is just barely short of miraculous. Based on a street address, or sometimes just a business name (or even long/lat coordinates) it will guide you with voice and graphics to your destination. If you take a wrong turn, it will make the adjustment within seconds and guide you from where you are. It has taken me all over Columbia and the surrounding region and greatly hastened my learning my way around. Yes, it has short-comings. It is ultimately toxic to the environment like all digital technologies. It propagates the life-shortening pollution of microwaves. It is a tracking device for the NSA. People take these devices for granted and give no thought to what's behind them--they're just too useful to abandon (which could be humanity's epitaph).
Forgive me, I digress.
So my arrival at our little rental in Columbia filled the house with boxes of our essential stuff. A lot of my two weeks since has been unboxing it all. I've contributed a lot of boxes to the local recycling effort, which seems to be a good one and I give them credit for that. I would like to have saved the boxes, which mostly came from a Wine-and-Spirits store (boxes just the right size), we've no room to store them. In fact, there is little room in our rental that is dedicated storage space. That means we share our living space with our stored items and it has led to some creative setup in the house. It works, though, and makes me think it's better to pay less for a smaller space and make good use of drawers and cheap storage cabinets.
My computer made the trip successfully and I've setup my study/library/office so I'm online again. Of course, there have been the myriad details to attend to, like getting new driver's licenses and car tags (and fighting the bureaucratic inertia of such) and making the required adjustments for car and renter's insurance. But we're mostly through all that now, and I can pause and think about what I want to do for the first time in over two months.
South Carolina is a lot like Mississippi in ambiance. It's still the US South. There are subtle differences, however, that probably come from influences filtering down from the northeast. Like wine and spirits being more openly acceptable. It seems every store, from grocery to furniture stores, has a decent wine section. The quality and number of good restaurants is also impressive.
The mar in all this is that the SAG spraying
overhead is horrendous. It is far worse than what I saw over Mississippi and that was bad. On a "clear" day you can see as many as five jets in the same area at very high altitudes, flying in crazy, overlapping patterns as they release thick plumes of aerosols. I suspect this is partly in support of Winter Storm "Juno"
the geoengineers have created for the northeast. Geoengineering is the consummate horror of our times and my work will always include activism against it.
Regarding my work, I'm ready to get down to it, revamp my web presence and put out at least two books and all the other writing I feel the inspiration and need for. Stay with me.
So we're here, and life has changed. I hope to settle into a life more literary and engaged, write my books and create an infrastructure to support them. And maybe learn something in the process that I can share with you.