Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yes, the World is getting ickier.

Hi, folks. Not feeling like ranting about anything at the moment; it's pretty much all been ranted before.  I'm more interested in trying to share insights that might, just maybe, be useful in the years ahead.

I think the "world", in any and all of the senses of that word, has never been so unstable as it is right now.

Politically, socially, economically, and environmentally, we are at the edge of the cliff; and not moving away from the drop.  Rather we seem to be heading off the edge; faster and faster.

What to do- is a vast and variable conversation.  But one thing seems clear to me- you need to see what is going on with open eyes; and a mind well acquainted with History.  Politically, socially - we have been here before.

I'll give just one example that hit me today.  Japan has announced it will "form new bodies" to deal with "terrorism".  Below is their statement; and then my "in actuality" translation.


"Japan's government has launched bodies to counter international terrorism in the wake of last month's Paris attacks.

"A ceremony was held at the prime minister's office on Tuesday to open an intelligence unit in the Foreign Ministry and an inter-ministerial liaison body in the Cabinet secretariat.

"Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said strengthening intelligence gathering capabilities is urgent. He encouraged staff whom he called professionals in international terrorism-related intelligence to do their best to obtain vital information.

"The Foreign Ministry unit consists of 4 senior officials, each monitoring one of 4 regions -- Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North and West Africa. They are to work with staff at overseas diplomatic establishments and exchange information with foreign intelligence services.

"The liaison body, headed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, consists of senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the National Police Agency and the Public Security Intelligence Agency.

"It is to consider anti-terror measures under the leadership of the prime minister's office."


So.  The message for public consumption is "We are working hard to make your life safer; because you should be afraid of the world now."

The reality of what is going on could be put this way: "Wow, guys, we've got a blank check to set up all the Secret Police we ever dreamed of; with no oversight by anyone, ever!  So; here is where we start! Our political opponents are so totally toast!"

Japan is not the only place this is happening right this second.  Historically; this kind of police action has resulted only in abuse, the destruction of political opponents and personal enemies, and long bouts of hell on earth.  Increased security for the common people - simply never happens this way.

What can we do?  Personally.

Should we vote?  Yes, because it CAN get much worse, much faster, if you don't.  Engage.  Get others engaged, too.  Although voting procedures are often corrupt around the world; we have multiple proofs that voting can still sometimes result in surprises - e.g. Greece and Myanmar most recently.  It's a mystery how the people sometimes prevail - but - sometimes we do.

It's worth a shot.  Because just staying out of it - historically - means losing for sure, every time.

Hang in there.  And if you've been thinking about making changes in your life- do it.  Now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Upside Is Really Great Surf.

Polka Dot Gallows today, from the LA Times, forsooth.

So.  El NiƱo is here- and on track to be the most intense on record, actually.  Which means?

Floods, mudslides, drought and crop failure in Africa and other places;

11 million children in immediate need of food.

But hey!  Really great surf in California!

Oh, and beach communities battered into oblivion.

Always look on the bright side!

And in that vein; isn't it great how our ability to focus on the utterly trivial is being honed into perfection by our need to ignore reality - at any cost?


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Once in a while.

I had one of those very rare successes in parenting today.  Not that it looks like it's permanent.

Smidgen - who is now 10... (your eyes can't be bugging out more than mine)... is, of course, a child of these times.

Plugged in, far too often.  Her school allows kids to count books as "read" - if they are not read, but  merely listened to, via the omnipresent omnipotent earphones.

I struggle against it- particularly as these are the years when she is really able to see and remember the world around her.  She's had plenty of great experiences so far- but I find that the really wonderful time we had together when she was 5 - she cannot recall.

So this morning - a gorgeous bright October day, brisk in all the best traditions, maples right at peak color, sky pellucid blue - she announced that ho-hum she was going to lounge her butt upstairs and see if maybe she could find something to do.

I did not actually throw her outside and off the porch, though the impulse was hard to resist.  But we did have a substantial father-daughter conversation about inside, outside, days which can never be recovered, lost opportunities, October, and all that stuff.

She can be enticed into things.  So I baited her into going outside- and making noise, something she is appallingly fond of.  "Go strangle your duck outside, down into the valley."

Go strangle your duck is our current code for practicing her newly adopted oboe; particularly when it is operated in its weaponized mode.  She's decided not to be offended, but rather to cheerfully accept the language.  "Can't, my duck is in the car, not here."

"Fine.  Then get one of your old recorders, and go play that."

"Okay!  ...  Which one, the blue or the red?"

Getting very close to the just actually throwing her, at this point, which I was able to convey.

She went.  Out.  Until she came back in after 5 minutes; "Daddy!!  You have to come, QUICK!"

Really?  And why is that?  Any hints?  Is something bleeding rapidly?  Have we discussed clarity in communication previously?


And there is.  And the owl came - because of the weird trilling and clucking she was producing from the recorder.  Really.  Flew right up.

Young and foolish, almost certainly, and calm enough that I was able to go back in the house for the camera, which does not have a telephoto lens but is a camera I know well - and get this, which is greatly enlarged from - this -

Really, the owl is there.  And Smidgen is a complete owl freak; she collects any that can be collected, drinks out of an owl mug I brought back from a trip... etc.  And it is a Barred Owl.

I did not fail to point out that I had been correct about the advantages of being outside.

She graciously deigned to agree.

But it wore off, after lunch.

I'll take what I can get.  :-)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Polka Dot Gallows! Japan Empowers Women!

I haven't been doing Polka Dot Gallows posts for a good while- it's been too easy; and too depressing-

But today; amid all the global catastrophes in progress that don't bear examination; I did find one that is pretty much pure theater, entertainment.

And depressing; but worthy of a good big belly laugh, also.

Japan is currently being run by a government entirely owned by the Owners; big business, elites, and all that.  All their decisions and changes are designed to repeal all safety and health measures, and increase corporate profits.  Seriously; look into it if you want.

A big part of the reason the Abe Dynasty was elected is, they are experts at media propaganda; really, really good at it.  The melted reactors at Fukushima are a terrific example - most of the world thinks that Japan has of course responded to the leaking radiation in a fast, efficient, and effective way.  So the media reports.  The reality is - nothing effective whatsoever has been done.  Nothing.  Tons of money spent on things that don't work; but - the reactor cores are still leaking radiation directly into ground water, which is moving directly into the ocean.  Incidentally, your local physics professor knows this- and is silent about it.  (How do we know?  Fish keep showing up with very short-lived radioisotopes - that have to have been just leaked.)

So - since women in Japan do have the vote, and they are pretty universally unhappy about how women are still excluded from advancement in business and government - the Abe machine has now very effectively passed legislation to Empower Women!  Huzzah!

Here's the press release:

Female empowerment bill approved

Japan's Diet has passed a law aimed at enhancing the role of women in the workplace.

A majority of Upper House lawmakers voted for the legislation at a plenary session on Friday.

The law obliges the government to come up with a policy for offering women more opportunities in recruitment and promotion. It also calls for creating an environment where women can balance work and family.

The law requires the central and local governments and large companies to set numerical targets for female recruits and managers. Employers are required to make the figures public. The law also calls on smaller firms to draw up similar plans.
In case you are not used to translating press releases: "The Abe regime announced today that they are forming a committee to study how to empower women; and have directed that everybody else form committees too."
Total effect for women of course: Zero.
Actually, I'm having a hard time getting the belly laugh.  I hope you have better luck. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

A bit of GOOD news today.

Generally, it's a lousy news day - world stocks crashing, huge chunks of ice breaking off Greenland, whales dying in Alaska - not a lot of fun.

Imagine my surprise, when I ran into this article on neighborhood networking in Italy.  Read it, it's delightful!

And, a terrific model.  If I lived in a city, I'd for sure try to launch one of these in my neighborhood; or join one if someone has already launched.

It's simple- a couple of people launched an invitation to a closed group on Facebook; just for people in the neighborhood.  Both on Facebook; and with plain paper fliers.  Now- instead of a crowd of strangers; many know each other, say hello on the street- and help each other constantly; for free.

Of course this is how neighbors should act - but we rarely do these days.

I love it!  You should do it!  :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Role Models And Fate


Several times a week, I think "I really should make a post on the Little House blog- the folks there are so crazy loyal; and worth talking with..."

And then, searching my brain for something worthwhile to talk about; I come up pretty empty, except for all the horror stories rapidly escalating around the entire world... and who needs that?

You all know the world is a horror, and the trends are worse.  What we need of course is to find some way to come through it.

Without attempting to summarize the tome it would take to document why "popular culture" is a complete waste of energy and dead end for our species - I'll just note that probably many of you are in a fight, as I am, to get our children to see "the real world" - without it being filtered through their smart phone, iPad, video games, or latest dystopian megablockbuster movie series.

"Hey- kid - look at the dragonflies; they're catching ants with wings right over our heads!"
"What?  Oh.  Yeah, very cool, daaad.  Can we watch a movie tonight?"

This is horrifying.  Intractable.  Universal.  And I believe deadly dangerous for the world.


I'm re-reading "Anne Of Green Gables" at the moment- by myself, not with Smidgen.  Nothing bad about that, I still read stuff out loud with her; but this is just my current research.

Then today I found this announcement that a wonderful Japanese TV serial is being dubbed in Tagalog, for the Philippines.  Very successful entrepreneurship...

Anne, and Laura of the Little House series, and this Japanese girl Amachan, - and back about as far as you can go in popular literature - all start out impoverished, desperate, and struggling.  Our hearts go out to them.  And by the end of the book?

Anne winds up the top scholar for an entire province, Amachan winds up an actual rock star, after picking seaweed, Laura winds up happily married, well off, and a newspaper columnist...  Even Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm winds up well-to-do.

And these are the stories we give our children, to build their dreams on.  More current stories are the same; think them through. How many of the children reading these stories have any hope of matching these outcomes?

Very, very - very few, is the answer, and the vast majority know it by the time they are 12 years old.  Their future does not include becoming a rock star, or getting a full scholarship to Harvard - or anything, in fact, that the world will see as "remarkable".  They are just plain kids; with just plain lives to live.

Where are the role models in literature for just plain people - who live just plain lives - happily, and contentedly, without constant envy of those "better off", and endless dissatisfaction with their world?

I'm not even sure how I would go about writing such a short story, let alone novel; models to build on are - nonexistent, as far as I can remember this morning.

The knowledge that their future is without fame or a moment on stage with crowds cheering wildly - leaves the great majority of kids feeling hopeless, forgotten, and worst of all, useless.  Bleak.  So?  What the hell; drugs, party, indiscriminate sex, tribal hatred - why not?  No point to any of it, anyway.

How would you build a Japanese TV serial that told the wonderful story of - a common, satisfied life?  Or say, a hugely successful American TV reality show about - real, common folks; happy with their fate and place; every day?

Those are the models we desperately need.  The concept is so different- you might even be able to sell it, commercially.  Life is worth living; common lives very much included.  I believe.

Some of you are writers!  Please - see what you can do.  And pass this on to your writer friends.

Yes, the fate of the world may depend on it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

On The Ground. :-)

I've watched this video 4 times so far; twice with Smidgen.

Solar Impulse Lands In Hawaii