Questioning Group Think

When I was a young hippie woman I used to wear a button that said, “Question Authority.”  Questioning Authority seemed like the best policy then and it still does.

It is one of those rules  like, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Every single day for the last six months I have been getting 20-40 emails from various elected officials telling me how the sky is falling and how we are doomed if I don’t give them money I don’t have.

My partner and I are really going through some hard times after a series of minor disasters combined into a major disaster.

Things are bad to the point of my selling off my trans-library and archives on  eBay and our looking for things to sell on Craig’s List/FaceBook Swap Meets.

Mostly though,  the pitches combined with a growing feeling that both the Democrats and the Republicans actually represent the interests of Wall Street, the Banks, and the ultra rich  leave me feeling apathetic.

It sometimes seems as though the two parties met in a big board room and dealt out a bunch of cards with freedom denying special interests on them that became the make or break issues.

I’m old enough to remember when both parties had leaders who banged heads of their parties various morons and stubborn jerks until the two parties were able to work out compromises.

But then too I’m also old enough to remember when there were actual newscasts on television instead of propagandists pounding their particular messages in to the heads of the sheeple that follow them 24/7.

In June we were doing a swap meet in a small town where the cable service in our hotel room was out.  I picked up a trashy action thriller paperback and realized I actually enjoyed reading something other than “non-fiction” propaganda.

Face it many of the social critics wrote one book which they issued under many different titles.  Considering the stress we are under I’d much rather read formula fiction from Lee Child or some other fiction writer.

I mean it doesn’t take some genius prognosticator to see that mankind has totally fucked up and we are rapidly heading into what preppers call TEOWAWKI (The End Of the World As We Know It) and the SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan).

Butter has gone up some $2 since the start of the year.  Our food supply is being impacted by major drought.  We have well over 7 billion people and most people seem unwilling to recognize that population is at the root of all the multitude of disasters that are coming home to roost.

At the same time activism has fallen victim to the false allure of Identity Politics, where allegiance to and commitment to the group and group think has replaced individual thought and any questioning of authority. Woe unto the person who deviates from the Stalinistic approach to group think.  People who are wannabee activists, aka make a middle class living doing activism will mount Twitter Campaigns and troll you into submitting to criticism/self-criticism, aka forced confessions, or face social ostracism for heresy.  I know about such campaigns.  Nearly 15 years ago I was subjected to one that lasted over two years.  I came very close to suicide.

When it comes to Transgender Group think, I am a heretic, an infidel, a non-believer.  I honestly don’t give a shit.  Rights are rights and bullshit is bullshit.  I support the rights and try my damnedest  to ignore the bullshit.

We divided people up into these identity factions, told them that is the be all and end all of their existences.

When someone asserts we must be “out and proud” trans-women, I am forced to ask, “Why?”

Being transsexual/transgender isn’t the same thing as being gay.  It just plain isn’t.

For us coming out equals transition and living the sex/gender of our core being.  That doesn’t equate with being out and proud.  That equates with living the sex/gender of our core being.  They are two different things.

I have a lot of trans-friends on FaceBook and when they aren’t posting about being trans they aren’t really different from non-trans-folks.  Those of us who are old have the same problems as old non-trans-folks.

I realize there are trans-folks out there who want to celebrate their trans-ness and that’s okay but lay off the trip pushing.  Your trip is not my trip. Trans-folks are very diverse people with diverse politics and likes/dislikes.

We face a very hard future.  Identity politics has been a major part of the problem that has got us in the situation we are in.

I really don’t give a shit if a change of direction and way of doing political activism means the whole current crop of activist suddenly winds up working the floor in big box stores.

We need a new direction.  We need to rethink the dogma.

 

 

Islamic State Militants Execute Female Iraqi Human Rights Activist

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

09/25/2014

BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants with the Islamic State group tortured and then publicly killed a human rights lawyer in the Iraqi city of Mosul after their self-proclaimed religious court ruled that she had abandoned Islam, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Thursday.

Gunmen with the group’s newly declared police force seized Samira Salih al-Nuaimi last week in a northeastern district of the Mosul while she was home with her husband and three children, two people with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Thursday. Al-Nuaimi was taken to a secret location. After about five days, the family was called by the morgue to retrieve her corpse, which bore signs of torture, the two people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, her arrest was allegedly connected to Facebook messages she posted that were critical of the militants’ destruction of religious sites in Mosul. A statement by the U.N. on Thursday added that al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called “Sharia court” for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before the militants sentenced her to “public execution.” Her Facebook page appears to have been removed since her death.

“By torturing and executing a female human rights’ lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency,” Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, said in a statement, referring to the group by an acronym. The statement did not say how she was killed.

Among Muslim hard-liners, apostasy is thought to be not just conversion from Islam to another faith, but also committing actions that they believe are so against the faith that one is considered to have abandoned Islam.

Mosul is the largest city held by the Islamic State group in the self-declared “caliphate” it has carved out, bridging northern and eastern Syria with northern Iraq. Since overrunning the once-diverse city in June, the group has forced religious minorities to convert to Islam, pay special taxes or die, causing tens of thousands to flee. The militants have enforced a strict dress code on women, going so far as to veil the faces of female mannequins in store fronts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

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The Tamale Underground

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

Street vendors must skirt the law to make a living.

BY Rebecca Burns
September 8, 2014

Each afternoon in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, 70-year-old Cuala resumes her quiet game of cat-and-mouse with police. After spending a few hours openly hawking cool drinks or hot chocolates from a cart, the street vendor (who declined to give her last name because of legal concerns) stocks an unmarked cooler with tamales, making furtive lunch sales to customers in the know. The stealth tactic reduces her profits, but lessens the chance that she will be arrested and ticketed: While the sale of drinks and packaged desserts is legal, street vendors like Cuala are prohibited from selling prepared foods in Chicago.

Though carts offering tamales, elotes, cut fruit and other treats are a common sight on Chicago streets, the Windy City is one of the few major metropolises that won’t grant such vendors business licenses, citing the difficulty of regulation and potential health concerns. As a result, street vendors, many of whom are poor immigrants, are subject to harassment from police, arrest and punishing fines of up to $1,000.

Some, like Cuala, resort to subterfuge; others vend only in the early morning, when police officers known for targeting vendors aren’t on the beat; others dash off the street whenever a police car approaches.

Whatever the strategy, the result is the same: Vendors, many of whom have already been shut out of the formal economy because of their age, childcare responsibilities, language barriers or immigration status, are forced to remain in the shadows. Street vendors and their advocates say that the ongoing threat of arrest represents a major barrier to growing vending businesses enough to make a decent living. It also takes a psychological toll on vendors.

Cuala once worked temporary jobs, but can no longer get hired: “They don’t want anybody old,” she says. She began selling tamales seven years ago. But one day last year, as she was handing tamales to a customer, a police officer grabbed them, threw them back at her and threatened to arrest her if she continued to sell on 26th street, the bustling thoroughfare that runs through Little Village.

Since then, Cuala has been in “constant fear” when police pass by and sells her tamales more surreptitiously. But her new strategy can yield as little as $80 each day, she says, whereas when she sold in the open, she made up to $200. The result, she says, is that it’s now impossible to save money, and she and two adult nephews whom she lives with must get by “day by day.”

All this could change soon. Arguing that street vending is an inextricable part of the fabric of city life, a coalition of vendors, labor activists and community groups are advocating a City Council ordinance that would legalize vending.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

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America’s Political Spectrum Is Not Left to Right, It’s Top to Bottom—And It has Failed the People

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

Every day, there are populist uprisings, both large and small, all across this country.

By Jim Hightower
September 17, 2014

My father, W.F. “High” Hightower, was a populist. Only, he didn’t know it. Didn’t know the word, much less the history or anything about populism’s democratic ethos. My father was not philosophical, but he had a phrase that he used to express the gist of his political beliefs: “Everybody does better when everybody does better .

Before the populists of the late 1800s gave its instinctive rebelliousness a name, it had long been established as a defining trait of our national character: The 1776 rebellion was not only against King George III’s government but against the corporate tyranny of such British monopolists as the East India Trading Company.

The establishment certainly doesn’t celebrate the populist spirit, and our educational system avoids bothering students with our vibrant, human story of constant battles, big and small, mounted by “little people” against … well, against the establishment. The Keepers of the Corporate Order take care to avoid even a suggestion that there is an important political pattern — a historic continuum — that connects Thomas Paine’s radical democracy writings in the late 1700s to Shays’ Rebellion in 1786, to strikes by mill women and carpenters in the early 1800s, to Jefferson’s 1825 warning about the rising aristocracy of banks and corporations “riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman,” to the launching of the women’s suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848, to the maverick Texans who outlawed banks in their 1845 state constitution, to the bloody and ultimately successful grassroots struggle for the abolition of slavery, and to the populist movement itself, plus the myriad rebellions that followed right into our present day.

WHAT POPULISM IS NOT: An empty word for lazy reporters to attach to any angry spasm of popular discontent. (And it’s damn sure not Sarah Palin and today’s clique of Koch-funded, corporate-hugging, tea party Republicans.)

WHAT IT IS: For some 238 years, it has been the chief political impulse in America’s body politick — determinedly democratic, vigilantly resistant to the oppressive power of corporations and Wall Street, committed to grassroots percolate-up economics, and firmly rooted in my old daddy’s concept of “Everybodyness,” recognizing that we’re all in this together.

Although it was organized into a formal movement for only about 25 years, Populism has had an outsized, long-term, and ongoing impact on our culture, public policies, economic structure and governing systems. Even though its name is rarely used and its history largely hidden, and neither major party will embrace it (much less become it), there are many more people today whose inherent political instincts are populist, rather than conservative or liberal.

Yet the pundits and politicos frame our choices in terms of that narrow con-lib ideological spectrum, ignoring the fact that most of us are neither, or a bit of both. Our nation’s true political spectrum is not right to left, but top to bottom. People can locate themselves along this vertical rich-to-poor spread, for this is not a theoretical positioning: It’s based on our real-world experience with money and power. This is America’s real politics.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

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Transparent? Meh…

I haven’t watched “Orange is the New Black.”

I don’t spend money on Netflix and have no intention of starting.  Actually I wouldn’t watch it if it were free on a channel I do get.

“Transparent” has zero appeal.  I probably wouldn’t be bothered watching it if I were paid to do so.

I honestly have no interest what so ever in the fictionalized drama of elderly/middle age transition.

I have far more interesting stories in real life.

Seriously at any particular time I have at least a couple of people on Facebook who have friended me because I am a pioneer of sorts and honestly I’d much rather put energy into giving a real person a few words of encouragement than get into some sort of fictionalized character.

My world doesn’t revolve around the trans-community to the exclusion of other communities, nor do my cultural interests.

Telling someone to hang in there and that things will get better might be enough to get them through a bad patch.  A helping hand, even a place to crash for a night or two, encouraging some one to start 12 stepping or seek help if they are on a kamikaze course might just save a life.

But when it comes to movie I tend to like stupid action flix with lots of car chases, kung-fu, explosions and gun fights.  I’d rather curl up with an Andrew Vachss or Lee Child’s book than yet another trans-book.  I groove on outlaw country and hard core roots music along with jazz.

Sometimes I think the whole idea of “trans-identity/trans-community” seems way too obsessive.

I guess what I’m saying is that I like what Laverne Cox has to say as an activist but there isn’t much chance of my reviewing or commenting on “Orange is the New Black.”

As for “Transparent”… Don’t get me started on the drag face aspect and don’t hold your breath on me ever watching it much less reviewing it.

There is more chance I’ll watch “Dallas Buyer’s Club” mainly because it is free on demand now and because I like Matthew McConaughey.

 

Friday Night fun and Culture: Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

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4 Ways Amazon’s Ruthless Practices Are Crushing Local Economies

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/4-ways-amazons-ruthless-practices-are-crushing-local

The price of Amazon’s success is worker exploitation, the destruction of local enterprise and the creation of a corporate oligarch.

By Jim Hightower
September 25, 2014

Even by the anything-goes ethical code of the corporate jungle, Amazon.com’s alpha male, Jeff Bezos, is considered a ruthless predator by businesses that deal with him. As overlord of Amazon, by far the largest online marketer in the world (with more sales than the next nine US online retailers combined), Bezos has the monopoly power to stalk, weaken, and even kill off retail competitors—going after such giants as Barnes & Noble and Walmart and draining the lifeblood from hundreds of smaller Main Street shops. He also goes for the throats of both large and small businesses that supply the millions of products his online behemoth sells. They’re lured into Amazon by its unparalleled database of some 200 million customers, but once in, they face unrelenting pressure to lower what they charge Amazon for their products, compelled by the company to give it much better deals than other retailers can extract.

Lest you think predator is too harsh a term, consider the metaphor Bezos himself chose when explaining how to get small book publishers to cough up deep discounts as the price for getting their titles listed on the Amazon website. As related by Businessweek reporter Brad Stone, Bezos
 instructed his negotiators to stalk them “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” Bezos’ PR machine tried to claim this sneering comment was just a little “Jeff joke,” but they couldn’t laugh it off, for a unit dubbed the “Gazelle Project” had
 actually been set up inside Amazon.

This top-level team focused on doing 
exactly what Bezos 
instructed: Pursue vulnerable small 
publishers and squeeze their wholesale
 prices to Amazon down to the point of no profit, thus allowing the online retailer to underprice every other book peddler. When Stone exposed Gazelle last year in his book, The Everything Store, the project was suddenly rebranded with a bloodless name—“Small Publisher Negotiation Program”—but its mission remains the same.

Today, Amazon sells a stunning 40 percent of all new books, up from 12 percent five years ago. It is even more dominant in the digital book market, which is fast catching up to the sales level of physical books and is widely perceived as the future of publishing. Electronic book sales were non-existent just seven years ago; today about a third of all books sold are e-books, and Amazon sells two-thirds of those. Of course, Amazon also owns Kindle, the largest-selling device for reading digital books.

With his market clout, deep-pocket financing, and ferocious 
price-cutting, Bezos has forced hundreds of America’s independ
ent bookstores to close and has humbled the superstore
 book chains that once preyed on the independents and dominated the market. Borders, the second-largest chain,
 succumbed to bankruptcy in 2011. Now Barnes & Noble, the largest brick-and-mortar bookstore, is stumbling. It has lost millions of dollars, closed dozens of stores, shrunk most others, and suffered the embarrassment of its own board chairman frantically dumping big chunks of Barnes & Noble stock.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/4-ways-amazons-ruthless-practices-are-crushing-local

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Rebecca Solnit, What to Do When You’re Running Out of Time

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175896/

by Rebecca Solnit
September 18, 2014

The Wheel Turns, the Boat Rocks, the Sea Rises 
Change in a Time of Climate Change 
By Rebecca Solnit

There have undoubtedly been stable periods in human history, but you and your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents never lived through one, and neither will any children or grandchildren you may have or come to have. Everything has been changing continuously, profoundly — from the role of women to the nature of agriculture. For the past couple of hundred years, change has been accelerating in both magnificent and nightmarish ways.

Yet when we argue for change, notably changing our ways in response to climate change, we’re arguing against people who claim we’re disrupting a stable system.  They insist that we’re rocking the boat unnecessarily.

I say: rock that boat. It’s a lifeboat; maybe the people in it will wake up and start rowing. Those who think they’re hanging onto a stable order are actually clinging to the wreckage of the old order, a ship already sinking, that we need to leave behind.

As you probably know, the actual oceans are rising — almost eight inches since 1880, and that’s only going to accelerate. They’re also acidifying, because they’re absorbing significant amounts of the carbon we continue to pump into the atmosphere at record levels.  The ice that covers the polar seas is shrinking, while the ice shields that cover Antarctica and Greenland are melting. The water locked up in all the polar ice, as it’s unlocked by heat, is going to raise sea levels staggeringly, possibly by as much as 200 feet at some point in the future, how distant we do not know.  In the temperate latitudes, warming seas breed fiercer hurricanes.

The oceans are changing fast, and for the worse. Fish stocks are dying off, as are shellfish. In many acidified oceanic regions, their shells are actually dissolving or failing to form, which is one of the scariest, most nightmarish things I’ve ever heard. So don’t tell me that we’re rocking a stable boat on calm seas. The glorious 10,000-year period of stable climate in which humanity flourished and then exploded to overrun the Earth and all its ecosystems is over.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175896/

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The Academic Impostor Behind the Pit Bull Hysteria

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-anthony-cooper/merritt-clifton-pit-bulls_b_5866176.html


09/24/2014

The most influential advocate for the eradication of pit bulls is an academic fraud. Merritt Clifton is prominent not simply because he has been making noise for decades, but because he uniquely claims to be a rigorous statistician: a scholarly expert. People who hate pit bulls lean on this man’s putative expertise.

And he’s a charlatan.

The loudest voice in favor of eliminating pit bulls in Canada is probably Barbara Kay, a journalist with the National Post. Her campaign is largely successful: Canada has some of the most punitive breed-specific laws (BSL) in the world. And she told me proudly, in an email:

My primary source, you will not be surprised to learn, is animal-industry historian and investigative reporter for more than 40 years, Merritt Clifton, until recently editor of Animal People News and now editor of his own site, Animals 24/7. My other primary source is Colleen Lynn of Dogsbite.org.

Colleen Lynn is a menace; she’s a web designer who was once bitten by a dog, and has been on a vicious campaign to eliminate the pit bull type ever since. Still, she makes no pretense to academic credibility. Merritt Clifton, on the other hand, very much pretends to be an eminent scholar, and is truly dangerous.

In the first few minutes of the video linked here, for instance, you will see him pronounce: “I have more than a hundred peer-reviewed publications.”

This would seem truly impressive — that’s a hefty body of published work. It’s troubling, however, that not one of these publications shows up in a search on JSTOR, the comprehensive academic database online. Nor can I find a single example of his copious oeuvre in Harvard’s library, which can also be searched online. One hundred publications, admirably invisible.

I finally found one. Clifton mentions Asian Biomedicine in the video, and floating around the internet is a single article that this obscure journal published in 2011. The journal’s own website seems to have vanished, but they do say on their Facebook page that they are “peer-reviewed.” Perhaps there are a hundred such articles? Probably not: a sandbox draft of somebody trying desperately to get Clifton and his projects on Wikipedia lists one academic publication. This one.

The video is posted on a blog maintained by Josh Liddy, an activist against BSL, who notes that Clifton’s claims are “dubious.” Mr. Liddy is far too polite. These claims are “fictional.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-anthony-cooper/merritt-clifton-pit-bulls_b_5866176.html

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Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26202-sea-change-the-ecological-disaster-that-nobody-sees

By Richard Schiffman
Thursday, 18 September 2014

On September 21, in what is being advance-billed as the largest climate march in history, thousands of protesters will converge on New York City to focus public attention on the slow-motion train wreck of global warming. But while Americans are becoming increasingly aware that our industrial civilization is destabilizing the earth’s climate, fewer know about another environmental disaster-in-the-making: the crisis of the global oceans.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification – and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash – everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear – is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”

“If fish were trees, and we saw them being clear-cut, we would be upset,” renowned oceanographer Carl Safina observed in an interview with Truthout. “But the ocean is invisible to most people, an alien world.” It is hard for those of us who only see ocean life when it ends up on our dinner plates to get worked up about its destruction, Safina said.

Nevertheless, this world under the waves is vital to our survival, according to Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist. “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land,” Earle told Truthout. “It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26202-sea-change-the-ecological-disaster-that-nobody-sees

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Please Make a Donation

I don’t make a habit of asking my readers for donations.

This blog has been a labor of love and a way of sharing news I think it is important for readers to be aware of.

Last December shortly before Christmas the expansion tank on our hot water heater burst.  The hot water heater was in the attic, a design aimed at improving water pressure.

Unfortunately when the expansion tank ruptured it flooded our house.

We had been planning on selling our current house and downsizing due to our economic circumstances.

We have been fighting with the insurers since last December in an attempt to get our house repaired.

We are in dire straits.

Last week we received a notice that the Home Owners Association has place a foreclosure lien on our house and we will be forced out unless we can come up with a couple of thousand dollars.

Over and above that we are in arrears on our mortgage.

We have the support of friends who will do the repairs and help us sell the house once the insurance company settles our claim.

As you already know I have been selling off my library.

My partner and I are senior citizens.

I have been a life long activist and have fought the good fight as well as struggling with personal issues for nearly fifty years.

I was one of the pioneers of the LGBT community and one of the early pioneers of the TS/TG Movement.

Everything we have is tied up in our house at this time.

We are at a loss as to what we will do if we lose the house and are unable to sell it and move into something where we can afford to continue to live.

I always prided myself on my independence, my strength and ability to survive without asking others for much help.

I was the one others came to for help.

Now I am the one asking you to not only hit the donations button on the left hand side of the blog, but I am asking you to spread the word that I need help in the form of donations to survive.

The button will take you to Paypal.

Anything you can afford to donate will be greatly appreciated.

For This Musician, Living Life To The Fullest Meant Leaving The City Of Her Dreams

After years of trying in San Francisco and LA I found the struggle wasn’t worth the pain and Dallas is an easier place to live.  Now if we can just down size out of the huge place we were sold on when moving here the journey to finding the right level to live in comfort while enjoying something described by a Swedish word “Lagom.” Lagom is associated with moderation, the word means not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. It typically refers to the etiquette of taking your share.

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/letting-go_n_5812598.html

By 09/18/2014

For 23 years, Barbara Bentree made Los Angeles her home, thriving on the bustle of city life.

A singer who studied music education in college, Bentree moved to California in her early 20s with, as she put it, “stars in her eyes.” She found work teaching in private schools, and in her spare time performed in one-woman shows, sang on various studio recordings and even appeared as a singer in several episodes of TV shows, including “Ally McBeal,” “Days of Our Lives” and “Wings.” Through teaching, she began to forge connections with people in the production world, and was soon being referred to work with children in the entertainment industry.

“I was young and single and really excited about being in a big metropolitan area,” Bentree said of those early years in Los Angeles. “To participate in movies and television was very, very exciting.”

Eventually, Bentree was recruited to work on “The Mickey Mouse Club” TV show as a music producer, auditioning and helping to train Mouseketeers, including famous alums Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. She worked in various production and music director roles for big networks, like Disney, and eventually met and fell in love with her husband, John Rangel, a pianist and composer, who relocated to Los Angeles from Florida in the early 90s to be closer to her. They married two years ago, after decades together.

The couple lived along the city’s striking coastline, in beachfront areas such as Pacific Palisades and Malibu — which were “wonderful” and “beautiful,” Bentree said, but very expensive. To keep up with the cost of their rented apartment, Bentree worked on several projects that were lucrative, but not artistically satisfying.

“When I was young and inexperienced, all of the TV and movie work was lucrative and exciting,” she said, but gigs as a studio singer crooning commercial jingles for cat food companies became less and less appealing. At one point, she looked at her life and realized she was spending 10 hours a week in the car, commuting back and forth to work on a particular project.

“It was a little nutty, and there was a lot of running around,” Bentree said. “When I turned 50, I started to have this feeling of, ‘Los Angeles is not the town for me to grow old in.'”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/letting-go_n_5812598.html

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Professional Hate Monger Bryan Fischer Exposes Himself as an Anti-Semite: Says All Immigrants Should Be Required To Convert To Christianity

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‘Poor people don’t plan long-term. We’ll just get our hearts broken’

From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract

Why do so many poor people eat junk food, fail to budget properly, show no ambition? Linda Tirado knew exactly why… because she was one of them. Here, in an extract from her book, Hand to Mouth, she tells her story in her own words

Linda Tirado
The Observer, Saturday 20 September 2014

In the autumn of 2013 I was in my first term of school in a decade. I had two jobs; my husband, Tom, was working full-time; and we were raising our two small girls. It was the first time in years that we felt like maybe things were looking like they’d be OK for a while.

After a gruelling shift at work, I was unwinding online when I saw a question from someone on a forum I frequented: Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive? I thought I could at least explain what I’d seen and how I’d reacted to the pressures of being poor. I wrote my answer to the question, hit post, and didn’t think more about it for at least a few days. This is what it said:

Why I make terrible decisions, or, poverty thoughts

There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6am, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes), then work, then I get the kids, then pick up my husband, then have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12.30am, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3am. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr Martini [her partner], see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork.

Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.

When I was pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel for some time. I had a mini-fridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC [government-funded nutritional aid for women, infants and children]. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12 for $2. Had I had a stove, I couldn’t have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron while knocked up.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract

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Naomi Klein on the People’s Climate March & the Global Grassroots Movement Fighting Fossil Fuels

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Climate change is real. Want to live? It’s up to people like you

I couldn’t go to this march nor could I afford to take the time to go to the Dallas Pride Day events.

Over the last year I have been overwhelmed with personal disasters that require me to devote my energy to dealing  with.

Sometimes all these marches seem to be energy diversions.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/climate-change-common-people-march-jarvis-cocker

Politicians don’t understand. They just smile and hold the hand of big business. And so we march. Because destroying the Earth is not a good idea. It really isn’t

for Creative Time Reports
theguardian.com, Thursday 18 September 2014

Do I really have to march? It’s actually a serious question: I mean, marching’s rather … military, isn’t it? Bit aggressive. Bit too much like what the baddies on the other side would do, don’t you think? Wouldn’t you rather saunter? Or stroll? Mince, even? A hop, a skip or a jump – anything but stern-faced, humorless marching. And let’s face it: we’re probably going to need a sense of humor.

Remember 15 February 2003? If you’re taking the trouble to read this, then you probably went to an anti-war march that day. Didn’t turn out so well, did it? Nothing really changed. The “largest protest event in human history”, as we remember it today, was effectively ignored. That left a nasty taste. It might even have put you off the idea of protesting forever. The marching boots were thrown to the back of the cupboard and you went into a major sulk. Maybe you even wrote a song about it. Yeah, that’ll tell ‘em. You wrote the words:

If you don’t like it then leave

or use your right to protest on the street.

Yeah, use your right –

but don’t imagine that it’s heard.

No: not whilst c***ts are still running the world.

– “Running the World” (2006)

And you thought: “Yes! Smash the system!” And then … time passed. Until you got this email:

On Sunday, Sept 21, a climate march through midtown Manhattan will kick off a week of high-profile climate events in the Big Apple. Promoted as an effort to bring unprecedented attention to climate change, the gathering comes just as international climate negotiations ramp up in a major push toward a new global accord. The People’s Climate March, being called the ‘largest climate march in history’ by organizers, will potentially draw over a hundred thousand people to walk through Manhattan and show a level of demand for action not seen since the era of Civil Rights marches and anti-Vietnam protests.

Can you be arsed? Do you risk being disappointed again? Or do you sit this one out? I mean, climate change is a bit old-hat now, isn’t it? And some people say it doesn’t even exist – people like … Nigel Lawson. (A note for non-British readers: you may be more familiar with his daughter, the TV chef Nigella Lawson. The fact that he gave his daughter a “feminized” version of his own name tells you all you need to know about him, really.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/climate-change-common-people-march-jarvis-cocker

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Emma Watson at HeForShe 2014

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: The Dixie Chicks

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Naomi Klein: ‘We tried it your way and we don’t have another decade to waste’

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/14/naomi-klein-interview-capitalism-vs-the-climate

The climate-change movement is making little headway against corporate vested interests, says the author of Shock Doctrine. But how does she think her new book, This Changes Everything, will help galvanise people?


The Guardian, Sunday 14 September 2014

Naomi Klein is the star of the new American left. At 44, the writer and activist has twice written blockbusters combining ground-level reporting and economic analysis that challenged people to take a hard look at what they took for granted: their shopping choices, America’s place in the world, and the devastating effects of arcane trade policy and rampant free market ideology. Along the way she gained a following that spans academics, celebrities and street and factory protesters.

Her first book, No Logo, about the power of brands over sweatshop workers in Asia who made the products (and the consumers in America and Europe who consumed them), politicised a generation of twentysomethings. It became the handbook of the anti- globalisation protests, and inspired two Radiohead albums.

Seven years later, her second book, Shock Doctrine, analysed how wars, coups and natural disasters were used as a pretext to impose so-called “free market” measures. Now Klein is back, writing about capitalism, only this time the fate of the entire planet is at stake. With her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, Klein hopes to set off the kind of powerful mass movement that could – finally – produce the radical changes needed to avoid a global warming catastrophe and fix capitalism at the same time. She argues that we have all been thinking about the climate crisis the wrong way around: it’s about capitalism – not carbon – the extreme anti-regulatory version that has seized global economies since the 1980s and has set us on a course of destruction and deepening inequality.

“I think we are on a collision course,” she says. Twenty-five years ago, when the first climate scientist was called to testify to Congress and make global warming a policy challenge, there might have still been time for big industries to shrink their carbon footprints. But governments at the time were seized with the idea that there should be no restraints on industry. “During that time,” Klein writes, “we also expanded the road from a two lane, carbon-spewing highway to a six-lane superhighway.”

When we meet in her Toronto home, Klein is juggling a schedule that combines the standard author book readings and television interviews and planning for an event in New York City billed as the biggest climate march ever seen. Her husband, film-maker Avi Lewis, is out shooting a companion film due for release in January. The two text back and forth during our chat.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/14/naomi-klein-interview-capitalism-vs-the-climate

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Barney Frank: Marijuana Legalization Will Follow in Gay Marriage’s Footsteps

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