Plastic Is Killing All Life On The Planet

Stories like this break your heart. A whale dying because its stomach was filled with plastic that we dumped into their living space.

For a long, long time, we’ve taken plastic for granted. It’s ordinariness was even the point of a classic line of movie dialogue: “I have one word for you… you listening? Plastics.”


“Plastics…”. Who knew that son of a bitch was actually a Bond Villain?

The Reason So Many American Journalists Suck At Journalism Is Cos They Suck At STORYTELLING

Ever hear someone massacre a joke? They trip all over the set-up and blow the punch line then wonder why no one’s laughing. That’s America’s news media — except it’s not a joke they massacred, it’s the truth.

While everyone has a story, not every can tell a story — or tell their story. What most of America’s journalists don’t seem to get (it’s not evident in their reporting) is that Trump-Russia IS their story. They’re not just neutral observers in this dumpster fire, they’re both witnesses and active participants. Their very neutrality, in fact, has been turned against America.

Russia is attacking us as we speak. We are living through World War Three — a Cyber War, an Information War, an Intelligence War — no less threatening to our security and future as a bombs n bullets war. Instead of ammo, the Russians fire lies, propaganda & misinformation at us — and they use our own news media to do it. And our news media — unaware to see that THEY are indeed PART of the story — continue to go along with it. They continue to repeat Russia’s misinformation & disinformation.

Lies mingle with Truth to create a new-fangled concoction of half-truths — like a poisonous slurry that’s about to swamp us all.

Good storytelling demands that the storyteller have PERSPECTIVE. To gain perspective, you have to continually add to your story’s foundation. As you learn new info, you make it part of the story. When you learn that Trump lies more than he tells the truth, you make “Trump’s a liar” part of the story. You don’t start every day’s reporting by assuming he’s telling the Truth. That would take the story backwards.

By the same token — when you report breathlessly about all the ways Trump is betraying the country and then turn to the subject of election 2020? Trump doesn’t suddenly STOP being that traitor. He’s the TRAITOR who’s “running for office” again — by using Russia to guarantee his win — just as he did in 2016. Our MSM keeps saying “Russia meddled in 2016” as if “meddled” is some vague abstraction with results no one could possibly identify.

That’s our MSM normalizing what should never be normalized.

When Fusion GPS first got hired by the Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump, they did their “due diligence”. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material on Trump: video, newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio interviews — everything. What they found there — in publicly available material — so concerned them about Trump’s obvious criminality (at the very least he laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos) that they contracted with former MI6 intel pro Chris Steele whose contacts inside Russia were unequaled.

Fusion saw the story — and incorporated it into their narrative.

Our MSM, on the other hand, keeps (even now when so much of Steele’s raw intel has been proven correct) referring to Steele’s output as “unverified”. That might have been so two years ago. It’s not true today. To say it is to distort the story significantly.

The whole basis for storytelling is “add information”. Learn something new about the story? You add it to the story — and make it part of the storyTELLING.

And yet — on MSNBC & CNN, we still get reporters who refuse to add information to the story — or do so grudgingly then wonder why everyone else always scoops them.

Maybe our reporter class should go back to basics. Learn how to tell a joke. Get good at it THEN return to reporting. Otherwise they’ll continue turning our Democracy into a joke — and ain’t no one gonna laugh at that.

Japan's Pearl Harbor Surprise Attack Wants To Teach Us A Lesson About Right Now; Will We Listen?

We think of WWII starting for Americans the moment the Japanese attacked our Naval base at Pearl Harbor. That’s not entirely accurate.

The Japanese arrived at Pearl Harbor and started bombing it — killing Americans & doing grave harm to our navy. But the Japanese didn’t just suddenly appear at Pearl Harbor. They had to plan their attack. They had to move assets into forward positions in order to launch it. Then they had to set off on the attack itself.

The Japanese arrived at Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. A Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings dove from the clouds above Oahu. But the Japanese task force that attacked Pearl Harbor — including six aircraft carriers, left Japan on November 26, 1941 — two weeks earlier. That’s really when Japan declared war on us — with the intention of attacking the base at Pearl Harbor.

In theory, a murder isn’t a murder until the victim dies. But, up to that moment, it’s still attempted murder. There’s still the plotting of a crime, too — both being criminal acts. The act of rearing back to throw a punch you intend to throw regardless is very much part of your attack. The instant you pull the trigger, the act is irreversible.

We’ll set the planning aside — too abstract.

But the moment the Japanese fleet left port — the attack was on. The only thing standing between the Japanese and carrying out the attack was time and distance. And then timing so as to arrive when the Americans living at Pearl Harbor would be least likely to expect anything — and most vulnerable to the attack’s intended outcome: the crippling of the American Pacific fleet.

We are under cyber attack. We’ve BEEN under cyber attack for nearly four years now. Donald Trump isn’t POTUS because he “won” election 2016 freely & fairly, he “won” because Russia launched the most successful intelligence operation in history — a CYBER WAR relying on, among other things, weaponized polling data and a steady stream of propaganda.

Anyone who thinks you need bombs or bullets to win a war anymore will lose every war they ever fight going forward. Cyber war is cheap and just as effective — if not more effective. Fact: Russia (or perhaps various other bad actors) could shut down America’s power grid tomorrow — and we would be forced to sue for peace — losing the war.

We are under attack. Russia has already put its asset into the White House. They’re using that asset — Trump and everyone around him — to actively undermine every facet of American Democracy. If our Republic goes away, there will be no backstop to Russian hegemony. Putin will have his Greater Russia back. The world will have more authoritarianism, more corruption, more darkness.

Until we — our news media especially — embrace this Truth — that yes, indeedy, we ARE under attack — this very well could be World War Three we’re living through — we will not stop it from happening.

It seems like a no-brainer. Someone’s hitting you — hard. Either you demand that they stop hitting you or you return fire — and you force them to stop.

That’s where we are. It’s where we’ve been — in the not-all-that-distant past. Can we not repeat yet another historical mistake because we refused to take any lessons from it?

The Bible Is What Happens When Books Meant To Answer "One" Question Are Used To Answer Another…

I’ve always said Hebrew School made me the atheist I am today. That’s not entirely true. I have been an atheist since inception. Hebrew School simply closed the deal.

But I don’t regret any of my religious education (which lasted from age 6 to 14). I genuinely learned a lot from it. In particular, I had one truly excellent teacher — Henry Hyman. Mr. Hyman taught this: the bible is a religious text. It isn’t a reliable work of history. But, as a religious text, it is incredibly valuable.

In other words, Mr. Hyman taught “perspective”.

I remember one especially meaningful conversation I had with Mr. Hyman. It was probably when I was 12 or 13. Like I said, I was born an atheist. Skepticism runs in my blood alongside the red and white blood cells. I bumped hard on the Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac story — and I said so.

I’m sure I didn’t articulate well what bothered me then but the same terrible lesson still disturbs me: Jews are meant to revere Abraham (the foundational “First Jew”) because of his absolute fealty to Yahweh. If Yahweh says “kill your son” (“sacrifice” being a kinder-gentler way of saying “murder in cold blood”), we’re supposed to look to Abraham for guidance. Well, we’re meant to think, since Ol’ Abe was down with killing his son, who are we to go a different way?

To Mr. Hyman’s credit, he tried very hard to sell the metaphorical qualities of the story as a whole over the more disturbing, realistic story beats themselves. I wasn’t having it. In the end, Mr. Hyman encouraged me to continue asking questions. Either I was going to find an answer inside the faith that satisfied me or I wasn’t. That he appreciated that fact — that he encouraged a 12 year old to think that way — I am eternally grateful.

Want to have a religious debate? The bible — OT or NT — are excellent resources. Want to know anything about history? Avoid the bible like the plague. Yeah, sure, there’s “background information” — lots of good insight into both Jewish culture and how Jewish culture thinks about itself. But if you want the historical record backing up your “faith”? Prepare to be disappointed.

As Mr. Hymn said: “The bible is not a work of history”. No, it absolutely is not. Fact — it is debatable that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. The Egyptians kept records. Lots of them (they’re called “Hieroglyphics”.) Nowhere in those records do we find Hebrew slaves building pyramids or a Hebrew prince rescued from certain death, raised by an Egyptian princess and slowly remade into a kind of Hebrew Avenging Angel.

Someone made that story up. Or they took a small thing and wrote it larger. Kinda like how Paul did with Jesus. If Saul of Tarsus never has his “come to Jesus” moment on the Road to Damascus, then Christianity never happens.

Jesus — whoever he actually was — did not “invent” Christianity. If you sat him down today and explained to him what “Christianity” was, he’d look at you like you were nuts for suggesting HE was its “founder”. Jesus was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew.

As for creating the Christian church, what we can ascribe to Jesus (at least it’s one of his more consistently reported on teachings) is a very simple (and very Jewish) message — “Do Unto Others”. Also “You don’t need a church in order to have a relationship with god”. Jesus’s message is spiritual perfection — it teaches people how to live a good, happy, successful life and it even teaches them how to do it: be nice to people.

But, of course, not everyone wants to see these religious texts for what they are. We have a whole segment of our population — uber Christians, evangelicals & fundamentalists — who believe that the words of the bible magically appeared on parchment. They say “divine inspiration” motivated the writing.

J. K. Rowling feels exactly the same way. She might not call the inspiration “divine” but her readers do.

Using the bible — old or new testaments — as anything other than a dated “how to live in the past” manual is guaranteed to screw up your life. Ask yourself: if the men who wrote those texts had been aware of germ theory, if they’d had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet and all the information we now have today about our bodies, the natural world, the cosmos, would they have written the texts they wrote in exactly the same way?

Doubtful. Do televangelists avoid electricity because it would have been unknown to Jesus? Of course not! Modern religionistas use technology when it suits them to accomplish their goals. If any religious work’s author had had access to our modern knowledge base, it would have fundamentally changed what they wrote.

That makes it even more appalling when the faithful try to use their religious texts to answer science questions. They’re compounding the ignorance of the past by continuing to make it part of the present. Wrong information doesn’t suddenly become right.

Bullshit doesn’t suddenly become true.

Magic doesn’t suddenly become real.

The bible doesn’t suddenly become anything other than a story based loosely on reality.

Dear American News Media: Here's How You Can Tell It AIN'T About "Politics"…

Let’s cut to the END of the chase, shall we? Both sides DO NOT “do it”. Both sides DO NOT commit TREASON in order to hold onto power and impose a permanent state of minority rule. Both sides don’t do it because one side doesn’t HAVE to. They can sell their ideas to America.

That would be the Democrats. They want to govern. They want to solve America’s problems by empowering as many Americans (of very variety) as possible because, Democrats know, THAT is American Exceptionalism.

The other side — Republicans — want to drag America back to the 50’s — the 1850’s — when everyone who wasn’t white, Christian and male knew their place. That’s the America conservatives want to conserve. Except for white, Christian men however, no one else (who grasps what they’re up to) could possibly want that. Consequently, Republicans have to use “other means” to win elections.

Republicans have to cheat. They have to restrict voting wherever possible because anyone who doesn’t look like them might not vote like them. C’mon — if all those migrants fleeing Central American drug violence (born, as it was, on American city streets) were guaranteed Republican votes? They’d all be limo’d across the border, given an American passport and dropped off at the first job center. Republicans have to suppress the vote. They’d already be an extreme minority party otherwise.

When Republicans knowingly took Russian money, when they knowingly repeated Kremlin talking points, when they SHOWED UP IN MOSCOW on July 4, 2018 — they were acting both politically (to further their political goals) AND criminally.

By contrast, when the FBI began to investigate Trump’s involvement with Russia back before election 2016? That WASN’T political. Same token — when Obama sat the Gang Of Eight down in September 2016 to relate the IC’s profound concern that Russia was using active measures to impact election 2016 on Trump’s behalf, Moscow Mitch McConnell acted FOR POLITICAL REASONS when he told Obama he’d attack Obama’s TELLING AMERICA THE TRUTH as “political”.

How’s that for bitter irony?

When Republicans deny sworn testimony, when they insist Trump has done nothing wrong, when THEY repeat Kremlin talking points as Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana did Sunday on Meet The Press, they’re acting POLITICALLY. Their goal is a political goal.

That, American News Media, is where “The Politics” ends.

Yes, Democrats are political creatures too. Yes, Democrats DO act politically when it benefits them. And, yes, prosecuting the president and the Republican Party WILL reap significant political benefits for the Democrats.

However — if the Democrats were acting out of politics, this effort would have died already. It isn’t political tribalism driving Americans toward impeachment (50% of us want Trump impeached AND removed), it’s righteous indignation at a president and his political party. What We The People — and the Democrats — are responding to is an assault on our whole way of governing ourselves. Our reaction to this political assault on our system isn’t itself “political”. It’s a reaction to wrong-doing, immorality and outright criminal behavior.

The victim saying “Ouch!” or “Hey, stop victimizing me” isn’t being political. They’re being “a victim” — and not by their choice either. That’s how you can tell it ISN’T politics. Are the Democrats reacting to violations of the law that harm not only themselves but America?

Yes.

It’s that simple.

It ain’t politics.

Since I Stopped Drinking Alcohol, I've Come To See Clearly — America Has A Problem With Alcohol

Want to know if Americans drink too much alcohol? Quit drinking for a day. Better yet a week — or a month. Better yet, quit drinking entirely. I wasn’t forced to quit drinking by the mood stabilizer that saved my life. Alcohol can increase the intensity of any side effects the lamictil causes but, by itself, it can’t hurt you. What I found lamictil does to alcohol is give it a terrible aftertaste that ruins the whole experience.

It doesn’t matter whether the alcohol’s in a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or in a martini — just when you expect the glorious aftertaste of whatever you’re drinking to carry on, instead you get grapefruit skin and lots of it. I was cooking clams al vongele the other day. It’s basically clams, parsley, garlic and a bottle of wine (I like to add a little celery and some Pernod to kick up the licorice qualities). I poured in the wine and Pernod — got the sauce back to a simmer and sampled it, expecting exquisiteness.

Instead, I got grapefruit skin. A bottle of wine is a bottle of wine whether it’s in your glass or simmering away in a sauce. It takes a lot longer than you think to burn off alcohol as you cook with it. I forgot that basic fact at first — then wondered why the sauce tasted so awful.

When I was growing up, my dad collected wines — French reds. He and his friends would buy Bordeaux futures — as yet unharvested (ungrown even) grapes in the expectation that they’d become great, age-worthy vintages like 1970 or 1971. When I say my dad “taught me” how to drink, I mean he taught me to appreciate the thing I was guzzling like it was bug juice at summer camp.

I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a responsible drinker — same as there’s no such thing as a responsible gun owner. 99% of the time — absolutely — most people behave responsibly toward both alcohol and guns. It only takes one slip up however to produce tragedy — one half glass of wine too many that resulted in an accident or traffic fatality or a gun that wasn’t locked up properly in its gun safe — and became a murder weapon.

In both instances, “responsible” becomes “irresponsible” just like that.

I was a lot less responsible than I gave myself credit for being. I’ve no doubt I drove while over the limit on multiple occasions. I know for a fact that I dodged a bullet or two or three where alcohol and driving are concerned. I know for a fact that I am hardly alone having that in my past. Sometimes I marvel that any of us are actually still here and walking (or driving) around.

Before lamictil made alcohol taste like shit, I LOVED drinking. I adored it. I marveled at the craftsmanship that went into a great scotch or a complex bottle of Petit Sirah (I loved em big and inky). I drank every single day — usually two glasses of red wine, sometimes a third glass. On rare occasion a fourth.

I was kinda known for getting even more opinionated than I already am. That’s a lot of “opinionated” to drunkenly throw at people. I don’t recall ever being drunk. I don’t recall ever being wasted or shit-faced or rat-arsed. But then, I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t watching me.

These days, when I go to a party or a bar with my wife and/or friends, I’m the lone teetotaler. When the bartender or wait-person turns to me for my order, most of the time I don’t have one: I’ll have water, I say. Their face always betrays them. My beverage will not benefit their tip. I might as well be dead, as far as they’re concerned.

It’s strange to watch your friends as alcohol takes them over. That’s what alcohol does. It changes how people act. While making them feel good for a bit, it also undermines their motor skills and slowly destroys their capacity to make good decisions. I’ve never seen my friends get out-of-their-heads crazy from drinking. But I have seen them get loud, belligerent, unreasonable, disrespectful and downright unpleasant.

When my kids went off to college, I feared for them as they encountered the drinking cultures on their respective college campuses; I worried especially for my daughter since campus rape culture (like campus fraternity culture) is tied to campus alcohol culture. I was grateful to learn that she and her friends prefer marijuana to alcohol. No one has ever died from marijuana poisoning as they have from alcohol poisoning.

I feel almost blasphemous saying this: alcohol prohibitionists weren’t wrong. They wanted to accomplish something impossible in a free society — prohibition of a product the people want. Prohibition didn’t just make alcohol illegal, it criminalized virtually the entire population while giving organized criminals a nearly perfect product to sell. Prohibitionists used the wrong methodology though their insights were rock solid. Alcohol is far too easily abused. And alcohol abuse causes far too much long-lasting social and personal harm to too many people.

Ads for alcohol are aimed (alarmingly) toward young people. Hell, alcohol products themselves are aimed alarmingly at young people. If you have to fruit flavor alcohol up to make it palatable, maybe you aren’t really ready to drink alcohol. That may look like an umbrella in your drink, it’s not; it’s training wheels. And if you really need training wheels on your alcohol, maybe you shouldn’t ought to be drinking alcohol.

My suggestion? Pick up a gram of top quality sativa or hybrid instead (unless of course you want to go to sleep then pick up a gram or two of indica). As self-medcations go, cannabis blows alcohol clear out of the water. It’s so much more versatile (you cannot work with alcohol in your system just like you can’t drive with it or do athletic things with it because of how profoundly it impacts your motor skills).

Having switched from alcohol to cannabis, I’ve also come to see that America has a cannabis problem too. We don’t smoke anywhere near enough of it.

The Rule Of Law Matters — Unless You're A Republican – Or In The Main Stream Media

Not A Revelation — The story we’re all living through (the extended Republican-Russian coup d’etat dressed up as a bad reality series) is light years beyond what our befuddled Main Stream News Media can handle. “Both Sides Do It” journalism has so distorted their perspective that they don’t see the threat to their own existence staring them in the face. In theory, members of the press have a Constitutional mandate to be the final check on power in our system of government.

In practice, the American press are too obsessed with getting access to be a check on anything. The ghost of Judith Miller (the New York Times reporter who carried water for Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby back when Libby was put on trial for outing CIA officers) still haunts American journalism. Miller sacrificed her journalistic integrity in order to secure access within the Bush-Cheney White House. She lost all perspective and became Dick Cheney’s mouthpiece/apologist instead of a professional reporter, sacrificing the story itself in the process.

Judith Miller insisted that it wasn’t her job to judge the illegal behavior her access gave her access to. She worried that reporting it too quickly (or reporting it at all) would compromise her access to Dick Cheney. So, she compromised her integrity instead. She chose not to report that Cheney had outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent (compromising every agent she was handling) to pay her husband (Ambassador Joe Wilson) back for contradicting BushCo’s bullshit claims that Saddam Hussein was arming himself with nuclear weapons.

Republicans have no use for the Rule Of Law — because they’re criminals and the Rule Of Law cramps their style. It’s not like they’re subtle about their disdain.

It’s the American News Media’s disdain for the Rule Of Law that confounds. What did the Rule Of Law ever do to journalists to warrant it? As citizens — better informed than most — you’d think journalists would be leading the charge against Trumpian assaults on the Rule Of Law — and journalism. But American journalists are either deeply cynical or emotionally inert.

They’re among Trump’s most consistently enabling enablers. When Trump says things that clearly violate the Rule Of Law, people to whom following it is important run instantly to its defense. “Hey,” they might say in protest, “What you’re doing is violating/looks like it’s violating The Rule Of Law!” Instead, most journalist seem befuddled — as if it’s possible the Republicans could be violating the Rule Of Law — and if they are, what of it?

The Constitution obligates journalists to DO something when power over-reaches. Rolling over isn’t one of them. Neither is shrugging it off.

No one makes anyone BE a journalist. You’d think a dedication to the truth would be every journalist’s calling. And while most journalists can certainly pay lip service to “just wanting the facts”, they need to DO SOMETHING with those facts other than “report them”. If the facts say (if they even suggest) that someone has violated the public trust — never mind the law — that alone should set off every journalist’s alarm bells.

The Rule of Law is an artificial construct. We made it up. It only works though when we follow it. The rules of journalism — we made those up too. They’re flexible — so long as the truth is being served. Journalists play at neutrality but no one is truly neutral. That’s not a flaw. It’s a fact of life — one that journalists should acknowledge rather than deny.

When journalists (like NBC’s White House reporter Kelly O’Donnell) insist on giving every info-bite they report equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or bullshit — they destroy the audience’s ability to discern the truth — because Kelly O can’t seem to tell herself what’s true and what’s bullshit. To her, if words tumble from Trump’s bloated orange lie-hole, they must be true because the president said them.

The fact that the words Kelly repeats aren’t true — that doesn’t matter to Kelly O. In that instance, clearly, the truth is secondary to Kelly O. She refuses to get involved with what is or what isn’t true. The president said it — that’s all that matters to Kelly O.

And if the president violates the Rule Of Law — well, that’s not Kelly O’s problem either. What’s The Rule of Law to Kelly O but an abstraction she wants no part of anyway? Every time Trump violates the Rule Of Law — or the Constitution — or even common decency — it’s no different than if he had done something normal to Kelly O. Or every reporter like her.

The greatest damage Trump has inflicted on us is the demonstration of how fragile our Democracy really is. Even worse, our ability to agree upon a mutual truth has probably been destroyed forever. The way back — if we can get back — will be through The Rule Of Law. Following it. Respecting it. Nurturing it.

Giving a shit when it gets violated.

And, if you’re a journalist — reporting on it.