Happiness is all in your mind

Here is a Buddhist nun named Gen Kelsang Nyema speaking about the positive state of mind that we label as happiness at a TEDx talk. I really appreciate the point she makes about “outsourcing our happiness and our unhappiness onto people and circumstances.” I think that is a profound point to keep in mind.



Posted in Philosophy & Science

Shinyribs – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Shinyribs is an American country-soul, swamp-funk band from Austin, Texas. Shinyribs began in 2007 as a solo side-project of singer/guitar player Kevin Russell, then of long-time Austin band, The Gourds (another great band). Here is an absolutely beautifully simple rendition of the very catchy song by Simply Red. I hate to say this, but just about every cover I hear of this song is better than the original. Apologies to any Simply Red fans out there.



Posted in Music & Art

Robert Fisk – Life After ISIS

For over 26 years he has made Beirut his primary home as a middle east corespondent for the London Independent newspaper. Robert Fisk is among the most experienced white people reporting on the middle east region of the world to a mainly western audience. I’m amazed at his “unembedded” journalism in war zones and other very dangerous situations. As well as his very real views on what he sees and learns in his travels. For example, he interviewed Osama bin Laden three times between 1993 – 1997 (he is fluent in Arabic). Fisk is very knowledgeable about history and the present, which of course is key to having insight into any subject. He has won many awards for his work and gives talks around the world. All this at the age of 70. (Also worth reading is his colleague at the Independent, Patrick Cockburn (pronounced “cōburn”)

Here is a talk he gave in April at the University College Dublin entitled “Life After ISIS”. He points out that he thinks ISIS has the emotions of a guided missile. The human rights situation in Iraq, Syria, and the surrounding countries is very dire. Here Fisk explains. He gives a picture of the destabilization of the middle east region and what he describes as the weapon that is ISIS.




Posted in World Events

Alice Coltrane

She could play the jazz harp like nobodies business and she could play the piano quite well too. Alice Coltrane was John Coltrane’s second wife and she was very much her own musician. She could certainly hold her own ground and had a long career in music.




Posted in Music & Art

Largest mass shooting in US history, Nothing will change

Here we are again. I’ve written about this again and again and I am certain we will revisit this again and again for a long time.

Blame will be shifted to the appropriate scapegoats. Hate crimes against Muslims will continue to sky rocket. Assault weapons will continue to flow into the hands of anyone and everyone who has the cash. No regulations to prevent this sort of thing from happening will occur. And the only answer is to encourage the public to carry guns so that they can play cowboys and indians with the bad guys. The actual ballistics of what happens in a fire fight is unmentionable. That would be bad for the gun industry lobby.


Many details will come to light about this as information is gathered. But the one thing I have not seen mentioned is what this means to the gay community. They seem to be the clear targets of this atrocity and there is little mention of this. I hope that the media will engage LGBT people out there and shed light on what they have to deal with, and have had to deal with for a very long time. Outlets like Fox “news” will need to find a good angle to divert attention away from the fact that the victims are people whom Fox “news” will always work to marginalize. It will be hideous to see what spin they use to make Americans believe that the largest mass shooting in US history (so far) is the fault of impoverished Muslim extremists on the other side of the planet, and not the fault of a confused kid with hatred towards gays in his heart and a hate filled terror group (Daesh, or ISIS) to latch onto. If Americans do perceive that this if the fault of Islamic terrorism (it is possible that the murderer has more extensive ties to the Daesh then a brief statement in a phone call) then Americans also should understand that the assault weapon that killed so many, and is meant to kill so many, was purchased legally from a gun dealer.

Above all thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this tragedy.



Posted in World Events

Buck v Bell: A Supreme Court Failure

I have been meaning to post about this disastrous supreme court decision from 1927.

Now with the suspension of the constitutional directions for confirming a new supreme court justice, we see how blind justice can be.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Posted in World Events

The Bernie – Hillary Conundrum

Bernie Sanders first came to my attention in 2002 when he was one of the minority to speak out in opposition to the latest round of what I call blind patriotic fervor. I refer to the resolution giving president W. Bush (and all succeeding presidents) authorization to use military force in the sovereign nation of Iraq. What we call the Iraq War is in fact a protracted armed conflict. Famously the Constitution gives congress alone the authority to declare war. That hasn’t actually happened since World War II. Now, the executive has usurped that power. This is alarming because the executive (the president) is the one who also executes the war. So instead of having one part of the government decide to go to war, and then another part of the government carry out that war; it’s all one person who is the complete judge, jury, and executioner of war. Not very Democratic and not the way it was supposed to be.

And along came Bernie who pointed this out as one reason for his opposition to the Iraq invasion. Hillary Clinton voted for the resolution and favored an invasion (which was called liberation). That decision and the actions that followed forever opened my eyes to the indoctrinal machinery that is seemingly inherent in our nature and the few who reject that machinery. It goes to the heart of the difference between the two candidates. It also goes to the heart of where the democratic party stands today. As Noam Chomsky points out Sanders, an old friend of his is basically a New Deal Democrat. Today that is what the modern democratic party calls a far-left liberal, and what the modern republican party and Bernie Sanders calls Socialist. The classical terms of political philosophy can be wielded very ambiguously by our glorious media complex. For example the use of the word “Socialist”. I’m a Free and Fair Market Democratic Socialist myself. And that’s where Bernie is at as well. I agree with most of his political platform. To see him do this well is a pleasant surprise. If you feel appalled by Americans who want to put Don Trump in the whitehouse, remember Bernie Sanders wasn’t even expected to get over the first campaign hurdles.

Some of the many reasons I’d never want to vote for Hillary for president: 1) Her bellicose war mongering. Iraq will go down as one of Americas biggest foreign policy disasters. Lip service for Palestinians and millions of dollars of weapons for Israel and back room approval of illegal settlements. For me being a foreign policy wonk, her hawkish nature is very unattractive. Human lives are on the line. For example, President Obama called Libya his worst mistake. Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state who convinced Obama to support (enable) the overthrow of Gaddafi, the military dictator who ruled Libya for decades. Libya is now failed state, tens of thousands have died. Like in so many other countries we have “liberated”. 2) Support of a malfunctioning economic system and a deep indoctrination into it. She won’t release the transcripts of her speeches to the commissars at Goldman Sachs. She made $675,000 and betrayed the trust of working Americans by assuring Goldman Sachs that their unethical behaviour will be allowed to continue unabated. I’d love to take a look at those speeches. 3) The Environment. One of, if not the most important issue for the continuation of the human species. Hillary has supported fracking practices in the past and now has been changing her tune thanks to Sanders pulling her away from right wing views and back to the left. I could go on at length regarding my opposition to Hillary Clinton.

The democratic party wants to install Hillary as the presidential candidate. They have devised a way of sidestepping Democracy in order to do this. It’s called superdelegates. Their are two kinds of votes in the democratic primary system. Pledged delegates, these are the votes of American citizens in voting districts who vote for the candidate they favor. Once enough people vote for a candidate in that district then one pledged delegate vote is counted. This is Democracy. Then there are superdelegates, these are powerful officials in the democratic party (senators, congressman, governors, etc.) who have a special vote that does not reflect the will of the people, but rather their own personal “super” vote. One superdelegate vote holds the same weight as thousands of votes by average citizens. This is Oligarchy, not Democracy. This is a major factor in installing Hillary Clinton as the presidential candidate, despite the will to the people. If the oligarchic system of superdelegates did not exist, the primary race would be much more fair. If democrats who are superdelegates wanted to listen to the will of the American people, there would be many more superdelegate votes for Bernie Sanders. For example in my state of Colorado Bernie Sanders won the pledged delegate vote and won the state in the primary. However all of Colorado’s superdelegates are voting for Hillary, ignoring the will of the people. This sort of thing is common practice in American government. See the numbers below and play around with the mathematical possibilities and one finds that the democratic nominee is installed by a few powerful people (Oligarchy).



With Hillary waiting to make her democratic nomination official one is left wondering if any of Bernie Sanders has rubbed off on her. Will Bernie be able to continue to force her, er I mean, persuade her to act in a remarkably progressive manner? Probably not. If elected she knows what to do to maintain the status quo. As Frank Herbert said in his novel Dune: the spice must flow. The differences between Bernie and Hillary are pretty big considering what those differences are. But they do both have similarities as well, mainly opposition to the republican insanity that has turned the GOP into a three ring circus. It must also be mentioned that Hillary would be the first female president, which is of certain significance. But Elizabeth Warren would have been better, ha.

So I am told to hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton for president. This is possible, but I am very concerned about the pattern I am seeing in the electoral process in this country. The “lesser of two evils” vote. If I spend the rest of my life voting for the lesser of two evils, then how can there ever be good? What I come to realize is that getting out the vote is only the first step in actual positive change in reality. The rest of it is activating and using our civil rights to help ourselves. This requires hard work. If people are mad at the state of things they must be willing to take to the streets non-violently and communicate with their community. This is how to change the country. If folks are not willing to do this then they have only themselves to blame for their anger.



Posted in World Events

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

There’s a scene that has developed down under. In Australia and New Zealand. In rock music if there’s a scene happening, well that’s the place to be. Sorry, I love that term “scene”: A band does something really original and soon other similar bands are producing tones and musical themes of a like variety. It’s not really copying someone else’s musical sound, it’s more like a natural evolution of that scene. And it’s often difficult to pint point exactly where the origin lies because it all arises mutually.

I’ve posted about an Australia band called Tame Impala and a New Zealand/American band called Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Now I’d like to share another Australian band called King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. I really dig these bands I keep hearing these days. They have a distinct vocal sound and a definite psychedelic element, which is what I hear with this rock music coming out of Australian and New Zealand.





Posted in Music & Art

Dearly Departed

I wanted to do an update of people who are important to me, and perhaps to you too, who have moved on recently.


David Bowie:



George Martin:



Father Daniel Berrigan:





Michael Ratner:

“The conscience of our nation is up for grabs.”



Muhammad Ali:





Posted in World Events

Love is wise, hatred is foolish

In my first post for several months I’m going to dust off the blog and celebrate Bertrand Russell‘s 144 birthday. I first learned about Bert Russell after coming across a copy of his classic History of Western Philosophy at my grandmother’s home long ago. Of course if anyone is going to be reading someone like Bertrand Russell, it would be my grandma.

As one of the great philosophers and mathematicians of the 20th century Bertrand Russell is certainly not the household name he once was. He helped to define logical mathematics with his book Principia Mathematica. He was a progressive far ahead of his time, protesting World War I and going to jail for what were called pacifist views. Although in this day and age it would simply be protesting a brutal war and the word “pacifist” would never even come into thought. Unfortunately the term pacifist has a negative connotation these days. Not something to be. Of course many who reject pacifism also belong to a religion called Christianity who’s leader was a pacifist and laid pacifism down as a central tenet for his followers. Bert Russell also had a back and forth with the church and debated the existence of (how to spell this?) GOD. Being a rational man of science he couldn’t produce any empirical evidence of these metaphysical things so the answer seemed quite obvious. That, and he wrote a bunch of essays about it and that drew the disapproving eye of the holy see. Another thing that Bert Russell was a pioneer in is the Anti-Nuclear weapons movement. He realized the danger this new power posses for all life (an under-appreciated threat today that needs much more serious attention once again).

Among his political views was Anti-Imperialism, which was a fairly popular political stance in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. World War II changed all of that and since the end of it we never seem to mention Anti-Imperialism in our media. In fact it’s quite the opposite these days, those who call the United States an empire are scorned in most of our media. Just what one would expect to see in the news and information media of an imperial type of country. Russell won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950 “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” His should once again be a household name.






Posted in Philosophy & Science

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