Since you asked…

Warning: Pop culture references ahead. Sorry if you don’t watch HBO.

It’s a strange experience for Greens: getting asked what we think. It does happen, though, usually at times like just about now.

Yeah, Sanders.

Whenever the Titanic parties seem to have a prominent candidate with good progressive credentials running in the primaries, we’re asked if we’ll “support” him/her.

Let’s run through some things that might happen with such a candidacy. But first, some things that will definitely NOT happen:

(1) He will not get elected President. FucktheKingsmallThat’s as certain as that he will not get the Dem nomination, which is as certain as a much-liked character dying toward the end of each Game of Thrones season.

Every bit as scripted and well-known to the actors involved, too. Even if his campaign is as sincere as I am when I order a chile verde burrito, a progressive platform such as his will never get the hundreds of millions needed for a successful campaign. That can only come from the .01%, and they ain’t buying it. That’s the stage of our history that we’re at, and it’s not changing any time soon. Continue reading

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Spoiler alert! Trigger alert! Every lert you can think of. Them lerts are everywhere,
dang ’em.

Remember that line from Jeremiah Johnson:

” …a tribe’s greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.”

That’s what Hannah Arendt ran into when she coined the phrase “banality of evil”. It was just too much for some people to think of the Nazis as ordinary humans, trying to get through the day like anybody else. She was ostracized for proposing that the archetypal enemy of the 20th century was not a nation of monsters. The thought that some of the greatest evil in recent history happened simply because millions of people doing ordinary jobs didn’t have the time, energy, or courage to look closely at what they were doing was too horrible to contemplate.

But that’s the terrifying truth: Most of the worst of humanity comes out when people are simply lazy, projects are underfunded, or there’s not enough time to do a good job. Since this happens all the time, any of us could fall into it any time, as either perp or victim.

Submitted for your approval: the case of the murder of Hae Min Lee.

abouttowatchnightmareYou’ve all listened to the podcast by now, right? In a twelve-hour binge, if you only discovered it after it was done, eh? Listen here, if not:

So you know that the prosecution had a very weak case:  the word of one presumptive accomplice, known as Jay, who never did any time for his part and told the story VERY differently every time he was questioned, backed up only by the defendant’s cell phone
records, which MIGHT partially corroborate SOME of it. The prosecution simply didn’t use any parts of the records that might have disagreed with their narrative. Continue reading

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What we’ll never know

Today is the 16th anniversary of the disappearance of Hae Min Lee, the subject of the most popular podcast in the world to date:

If you’ve truly been living under a rock for the last few months, please check it out.

It has been the subject of much discussion among journalists, amateur detectives & such, notably on a certain subreddit:

That subreddit has been shut down for the day in memory of Hae.

I’ve followed some of this discussion, and must say that Redditors are surprisingly well-behaved in their online arguments, compared to some that I’ve seen elsewhere. Must be well-moderated.

Much commentary on the case has been written, including:

Just as a teaser, for those uninitiated:

Serial is a spinoff of This American Life that tells a long story in 12 chapters in audio. You can easily listen to it while doing something else, as long as no one is talking.

It re-examines the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999, for which her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed,  is now serving a life term.  So where’s the mystery?

(1) how he was convicted on what seems exceedingly flimsy evidence.

(2) why the prosecution’s case was so flimsy

(3) what actually happened, including the basic “whodunit”

Sarah Koenig takes you through the reporter’s journey as she tries to find the truth amid lots of conflicting information.

Later on, I might have more to say about this, but right now I just wanted everyone to be aware of it, and at the very least listen to the podcast. Yes, the whole thing. I’ll know if you don’t.

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Do Dems want advice? Doubt it.

GarbosorrowIn the commentary following the Dems’ expected mid-term drubbing, I’m getting echos of childhood and not-so-childhood.  Let’s see if you can follow me here.

We’ve all known that kid. Any number of activities could be used to illustrate, but I’ll keep it simple and just say you’re playing badminton.

You’re using one of those cheapo badminton sets with maybe ONE reasonably straight racket out of four, which he keeps for himself, because it’s his set. He takes the side of the net with the sun at his back and in your eyes. The side without the doggie do to watch out for. He makes up his own rules in the middle of the game. He bickers over calls that a ref would make if there were a ref. At some point, maybe when the bird goes astray, he stops to talk to the hot babe next door while you stand there like a fool wondering whether he’s going to continue the game or not. If he loses a round, he whines to play another round until he wins. Maybe this happens with several people he plays with, and eventually, whenever he proposes a game, eyes turn down, voices are stilled.  Everyone is just a little too polite to tell him why no one is interested.

We’ve all known that kid. Most of us have BEEN that kid from time to time. If we’re smart, we learn to recognize the situation and mitigate it somehow, and prevent repeats.

nobodylikesyoucareSome people don’t learn, or don’t want to learn.

That’s the Dems saying “Low turnout killed us! Why aren’t more people showing up to vote? How can we get them to show up? Would it do any good to, like, take a stand for something? Nah….” Continue reading

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Nothing Certain, but Some Clues: Measure K in Orange Unified

Most of my readers have seen the compilation of personal endorsements that I’ve been publishing for local elections this November. You might wonder why I’ve made so few endorsements myself.

Well, I like to maintain a little credibility, and that makes me cautious about such things. I KNOW you all believe me about the communication from aliens published in a recent post, but endorsing candidates and ballot measures carries risks a whole order of magnitude higher for making oneself an ass.

My hand was forced recently when my mother in-law, in all innocence, asked for my opinion about a flyer she found on her doorstep. Click to embiggen, as they say these days.








A bond measure. I don’t like bond measures. Just a prejudice I have that governmental units should save up for major purchases, just as people should. Better to collect interest on savings than to pay interest on debt, right? …….. RIGHT? (sound of crickets) Continue reading

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Rebuffed by the boss, into the arms of “union thugs”

Any good free marketeer can tell you how to make sure your job is well paid:

Make it a service that’s very much in demand, and one that not many people want to do, or are qualified to do.

Anyone with the slightest grasp of demographics has been telling us all the following for 50 years:

As soon as baby boomers get old enough to start shuffling away from this mortal coil (like, right about now), health care of all kinds will be very much in demand.

So, a lynchpin of the healthcare system; the person who stands by your bedside, keeping you alive and reasonably comfortable, who has to go through some difficult and expensive training, (continuously to keep the license renewed), who does a messy, sometimes dangerous job, who sometimes has you quite literally by the short & curlies, but can get sued if anything goes wrong, ought to be sitting pretty when it comes to demanding good compensation, right? Continue reading

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Alien contact, and some more clues for them.

I received the following message recently, and thought you all should see it.


Dear Mudge,

Your post entitled “Living in the Uncanny Valley” has come to the attention of the Placement Authority for Helixontakers.  “Helixontakers” is a very crude translation of what we call our “people”. It has no pronunciation, since we don’t use sound for our language. It refers to something we do that involves moving through seven or eight dimensions, performing an act that you can’t imagine.

That name in translation was shortened by an early observer (usually ignored, as prophets are) to “Helots”. Here he is seen describing his own crude assessment of our nature:

We tried to explain a bit more to him, but he hopped a freight and disappeared before we had a chance. Continue reading

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Coherent Criticism of Big-Name Social Media

I’m not really prepared to add any remarks of my own right now, but would like you all to read this column by Bruce Dixon and comment on it.  I’m especially interested in hearing from people who HAVE used the big-name social media to promote good causes.  As always, no need to use your real name when leaving comments.


Posted in communication, Facebook, organizing | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments


Readers who’ve been with me for a while might remember my long digression on “The Great War” some years ago here:

We’re now approaching the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of that war.  As with any such round number coming around, there might be quite a few essays about it circulating soon.  Let’s see if I can get a jump on them.

The U.S. made a pretty big deal last year about the 150-year anniversary of Gettysburg, and I guess that’s to be expected.  Europe and the Commonwealth can be expected to make a much bigger deal about the Great War than Mercans will.  It’s a more relevant
thing to them, for some fairly obvious reasons.  So maybe I’m filling a little gap here, just for my friends, pointing out this watershed in Western history.

FreeTradeThe basics are covered in that earlier digression, but let’s expand a little.  In fact, let’s just jump over a few centuries.

The early eighteenth century had a great war in which the question to be decided was:  “Will France control western Europe?”

The early nineteenth century had a great series of wars over the question:  “Will France or Britain dominate the western hemisphere?

The early twentieth century had The Great War,  a contest over “What state, or alliance, will control most of the world?”  As it developed, the question became, “Will Europe survive this at all?”  Those questions were so big they required a whole additional war twenty years later.


ozymandiassmallIn the early twenty-first century, the questions are:  “Will the planet be habitable a century from now?” and “Does anyone in our government have any shame left at all?”

So, as I sit here looking at my grandfather’s dogtag from WWI, let’s just think of the world then and now, and see where it leads us. Continue reading

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I want to be very clear about this.  The title above is NOT an insulting rhetorical question.  I really want to know what you’re thinking.  It’s easy to comment anonymously here.

sombodyexplainittomesmallPlease explain some things to me.  I’m just taking wild guesses at what some activists are thinking when they send me communications.  You’re my comrades.  My tribe.  I want to help, but I have to understand you first.

Haven’t heard much from most of you in the last month or so.  Yes, I understand, “We need to ACT NOW TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM TOTAL DEVASTATION”, but not during the holidays, right?  The biggest exception is big national orgs that want me to send money during the “holiday season”.  I don’t know why they think people have money to spare during that time, but these are people who are always asking for money anyway.  I won’t try to understand.

Anyway, here are some questions, and the reality I perceive that prompts them.

Continue reading

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