9 01 2010

You’ve heard this kickass song by Michael Ferranti and Spearhead. Now see the words to it here:

See a great video with the song here:

And, finally, see an even better video by the guy who made that video, here:

Feel like fighting now? See why you’re right:


27 11 2009

Dear Readers,

Please take a look at this much earlier post of mine, reporting stuff I’d learned on the Internet from an ACTUAL SWEDISH PERSON:

Now another Swede has come along and told more of the details of life in Sweden in the form of comments to that post. See the comments of Annika about paid parental leave.

If this blog does nothing more than inform a few working Americans how good life COULD be for them, and in fact is, every day, for millions of people just like them in the premier progressive, democratic country of Europe, it will have done a hell of a lot of good.


7 08 2009



How many stories like the one in the url above have you read or heard about over the last 20 years? Think back. The first case I remember where a “disturbed” guy set out to shoot a lot of strangers was back in the 1966 — the “Texas Tower” incident at the University of Texas in Austin, in which a man on top of a high building with a high-powered rifle killed 17 and wounded 31 innocent people before he was stopped.

I remember how surprised and horrified all us high school kids were  — and the teachers even more so. After we’d all talked it to death for a few weeks we decided it was an amazingly unique awful thing that would never happen again, and we forgot about it.

The joke was on us. Today no-one (at least no-one who is awake to the world around him) is surprised, by these shoot-em-up events, which seem to happen more frequently each year.*

Today, in fact, when life gets so infuriating you just can’t stand it any more, you need not always just decently kill yourself. There was never any real satisfaction in that traditional form of relief anyway — at best it merely freed the angry brooder from the burden of continuing to be his implacably resentful self.

Now, luckily for the terminally disaffected, the means to go far beyond suicide and wreak real revenge on the unsatisfactory world are available everywhere. Your right to access those means is jealously guarded by the National Rifle Association, and by millions of “traditional males”, who would never think of restricting the availability of this toy of theirs in order to frustrate a relatively few multi-murderers.

Since it is too obvious to need stating that the ready availability of guns in the USA, due to their ability to kill a satisfyingly large number of folks quickly from a distance, is probably going to increase the number and success of rage-induced massacres here, I have to assume that the smarter gun lovers take note of this and then routinely say, in essence, “Hey, those [strangers’] lives are the price we pay for freedom!”

It’s a price that will inevitably grow over time. Over the last forty years I’ve watched the gun multi-murder become an established part of American culture. We even have a special term for it, “going postal.” I wonder how high the kills-per-year numbers will have to get before the traditionalists will let something be done about it?**

And, in the meantime, will growing fear of such rage events gradually turn our schools, offices, and now health clubs into armed fortresses? Guards are everywhere already, including where I work. And my recently-constructed office building is laid out so you have to swipe your keycard at two different doors to get from outside to in. The place is a prison turned inside out, and you can’t help but feel like a prisoner as you go about your business there.  Meanwhile on the streets, policepersons walk around on hair triggers always — with predictable results.

To me it all looks a lot like the days of the Cold War, when the best defense was a good offense. Both sides piled up more and more weapons, but somehow neither America nor Russia ever felt any more secure. Will the mounting misery and irritation of our new, domestic cold war always just be dismissed as the “price paid for freedom”?  Or will it instead finally be the death of one of our most basic freedoms, the freedom to move about in the world unchallenged by authority?


*Here’s a site that shows the number of “mass” (victim death count of ten or more) murders for the years 1948 through 2007:

The page has a point of view, but the data are straightforward, and I doubt that they have fudged the numbers.

I’ve been unable to find any site that tabulated all multi-murder incidents over time, including incidents with a death toll of less than 10.

**Hint: It’s taken seventy years for the ever-increasing death and suffering caused in the USA by another of our traditional American practices to just POSSIBLY be about to end in reform at last. How many lives have been destroyed by our you-get-what-you-pay-for health care over all those years?


24 05 2009


by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Here’s the YouTube video:

(which takes this very strong rap and visualizes it perfectly. But don’t watch it if you’re a right winger!)

Now the Lyrics:

A revolution never come with a warning

A revolution never sends you an omen

A revolution just arrive like the morning

Ring the alarm we come to wake up the snoring

They tellin’ you to never worry about the future

They tellin’ you to never worry about the torture

They tellin’ you that you’ll never see the horror

Spend it all today and we will bill you tomorrow

Three piece suits and bank accounts in Bahamas

Wall street crime will never send you to the slammer

Tell all the children in the arms of their mammas

The F-15 is a homicidal bomber

TV commercials for a popping pill culture

Drug companies circling like a vulture

An Iraqi baby with a G.I. Joe father

Ten years from now is anybody gonna bother?

Yell Fire, yo, yo, yo

Here we come here we come

Fire, yo, yo , yo, yo

Revolution a comin’

Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Everyone addicted to the same nicotine

Everyone addicted to the same gasoline

Everyone addicted to a Technicolor screen

Everybody tryin’ to get their hands on the same green

From the banks of the river to the banks of the greedy

All of the riches taken back by the needy

We come from the country and we come from the city

You play us on the record, you can play us on the CD

All the shit you’ve given us is fertilizer

The seeds that we planted you can never brutalize them

Tell the corporation they can never globalize it

Like Peter Tosh said Legalize it

Girls and boys hear the bass and treble

Rumble in the speakers and it make you wanna rebel

Throw your hands up, take it to another level

And you can never, ever, ever make a deal with the devil

Yell Fire, yo, yo, yo

Here we come here we come

Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Revolution a comin’

Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Kind of reminds me of Alan Ginsberg’s poem Howl! Or the leftest ferment of the 1960s. But none of that did any good. Nothing changes. Did the serfs ever manage to revolt against the feudal lords?


16 05 2009


And check out Norway and Denmark:

(Scandinavians found to have “highest level of life satisfaction in the world”)


Whereas we, the beneficiaries of our much-touted economic “freedom”, are overweight, overstressed, prone to overdrinking, credit-addicted, nutcase-religion addicted, liable to break out in workplace killfests frequently, and becoming jobless at an alarming rate!)



7 03 2009

Here a bunch of people explain why I love France much better than I could:

This lineup of comments arose in response to a Roger Cohen column finding — Surprise! — that France is inferior to the USA because we have an admirable “culture of risk” and they have just a tacky old “nanny state”.

Here’s a book that provides a  bit of background on the whole question of living to enjoy vs living to work.

As late as the 1970s lots of people looked forward to a gradual decrease of the workweek in the USA (while earning the same pay), due to the promise of more automation primarily. I never heard anyone then say that  anticipating that prospect with pleasure  was unAmerican. Now I bet some folks who stumble on this blog will think that. I respectfully submit to you the possibility that you have been propagandized on this point over the last 30 years. 

I liked the idea of more leisure just fine, personally. I don’t know about you, but I have lots of interests, and I would like as much time as possible to pursue them — such as would be provided by the much-maligned French 35-hour work week, for example.

All I can add to the above is this:

“Dear Reader of this Blog (the vast majority of you who have to spend your whole lives working for a living): This is your one and only life!  Is being an optimum worker bee really the highest and best purpose you can imagine for it?”


23 11 2008

Recently I got gently reproached by my favorite cousin for some of the content of “Plagiarism is the Sincerest Form of Flattery.” She’s a Southern Baptist and, apparently, a conservative Republican, so I can see why she would have been offended. She is also a smart cookie, a good citizen, a hard worker at a socially-valuable job, and a kind and caring person.

I’m sure there are millions of Americans like her. How is the bitter liberal or leftist to deal with the existence of such people?

By looking inside himself for the source of his bitterness, maybe?

What I find when I do that is simply fear.

When I reposted the fantasy of Blue States’ seceding from the Union I was very uneasy. The election of President Obama had made me hopeful for the first time since the Reagan days about the future of the USA–but it was a tremulous hope. Something that I value greatly has a better chance now than it did before of being preserved, but it could also be catastrophically lost. The current slide downward of the world economy could unleash extreme rightest forces that could take it all away. Think Germany in the early 1930s.

There has been created in the Blue States over the last 50 years a new order of personal freedom that was unimaginable to me when and where I grew up (Texas, 1950s and 1960s). A young person today is free to be any of a number of things–Republican or Democrat, right-winger or leftist, atheist or devout, gay or straight, business-obsessed workaholic or epicurean layabout, faithfully-married spouse or sexual libertine, etc., etc. No longer is there just one socially-acceptable way to be a man or woman–a single acceptable role defined by stern religious authorities who cite innumerable rules which are all declared to be from God, and therefore unwaivable.

The rule setters were in charge everywhere in the old days, except maybe the biggest cities. Individuals in those days could not stand against all that authority and be themselves, unless they were willing to absorb unbelievable amounts of social pressure and abuse. So they suppressed their deviant thoughts and/or feelings and/or politics and created false selves that lived out the prescribed conventional lives, hidden in plain sight among the truly conventional.

Today the rest of the First World, notably Europe, has been out of that box for a couple of generations at least.

But here in the USA the issue is still in doubt. We liberal Blue Staters fear that folks in the Red States will do what their leaders, at least, seem hell-bent on doing—getting the whole nation back in the box that I grew up in in the ‘50s or ‘60s. I remember it with such sadness that I am terrified of its return.

And that is why we make fun of the folks on the opposite side of the Great Culture War. Humor binds fear.