Thursday, February 19, 2009

a pengie puzzle to start the day courtesy of jigzone. i get one every morning by email to wake my fingers and brain:

Monday, February 16, 2009

wish i'd said this

I'm not sure if it's because we're strung out on "Lost" episodes, or if it's because we're still suffering from a post-9/11 stress disorder that makes us crave "breaking news" alerts, or if it's because the economy has turned us into distraction junkies. But one thing is painfully obvious after Michael Phelps' marijuana "scandal" erupted last week: Our society is addicted to fake outrage -- and to break our dependence, we're going to need far more potent medicine than the herb Phelps was smoking.

If you haven't heard (and I'm guessing you have), the Olympic gold medalist was recently photographed taking a toke of weed. The moment the picture hit the Internet, the media blew the story up, pumping out at least 1,200 dispatches about the "controversy," according to my LexisNexis search. Phelps' sponsors subsequently threatened to pull their endorsement deals, and USA Swimming suspended him for "disappointing so many people."

America is a place where you can destroy millions of lives as a Wall Street executive and still get invited for photo-ops at the White House; a land where the everyman icon -- Joe Sixpack -- is named for his love of shotgunning two quarts of beer at holiday gatherings; a "shining city on a hill" where presidential candidates' previous abuse of alcohol and cocaine is portrayed as positive proof of grittiness and character. And yet, somehow, Phelps is the evildoer of the hour because he went to a party and took a hit off someone's bong.

As with most explosions of fake outrage, the Phelps affair asks us to feign anger at something we know is commonplace. A nation of tabloid readers is apoplectic that Brad and Jen divorced, even though one out of every two American marriages ends the same way. A country fetishizing "family values" goes ballistic over the immorality of Paris Hilton's sex tape...and then keeps spending billions on pornography. And now we're expected to be indignant about a 23-year-old kid smoking weed, even though studies show that roughly half of us have done the same thing; most of us think pot should be legal in some form; and many of us regularly devour far more toxic substances than marijuana (nicotine, alcohol, reality TV, etc.).

So, in the interest of a little taboo candor, I'm just going to throw editorial caution to the wind and write what lots of us thought -- but were afraid to say -- when we heard about Phelps. Ready? Here goes:

America's drug policy is idiotic.

Doctors can hand out morphine to anyone for anything beyond a headache, but they can't prescribe marijuana to terminal cancer patients. Madison Avenue encourages a population plagued by heart disease to choke down as many artery-clogging Big Macs and Dunkin' Donuts as it can, but it's illegal to consume cannabis, "a weed that has been known to kill approximately no one," as even the archconservative Colorado Springs Gazette admitted in its editorial slamming Phelps. Indeed, it would be perfectly acceptable -- even artistically admirable in some quarters -- if I told you that I drank myself into a blind stupor while writing this column, but it would be considered "outrageous" if I told you I was instead smoking a joint (FYI -- I wasn't doing either).

That said, what's even more inane than our irrational reefer madness is our addiction to the same high that every pothead craves: the high of escapism. Nerves fried from orange terror warnings, Drudge Report sirens and disaster capitalism's roller-coaster economics, our narcotic of choice is fake outrage -- and it packs a punch. It gets us to turn on the television, tune in to the latest manufactured drama, and drop out of the real battle for the republic's future.
the article comes to you courtesy of an organization called Alternet which offers a variety of interesting out of the ordinary online articles with what some would probably call a liberal bias in their analysis. i subscribe and check out what catches my eye.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

today's latest from one of my favorite comics non sequitur. the artist hates lawyers but uses a bit of lawyer-like latin joke for his title. i have him on my 'my yahoo' page along with doonesbury to start even the worst day with a knowing smile.

the official non sequitur home page will give you a larger version of the cartoon [in case you can't read it here] and some good comments. one of the better ones:

take away the insects and in 50 years the earth dies. take away the humans and in 50 years the earth flourishes

wiley, the cartoonist, has some words himself.

my response to this and many other non sequitur cartoons: a sense of irony is necessary to respond to life as lived by humans. it is a nonsequitur - it does not follow.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

renaissance richard

i'm proud to have had richard whitman as a friend for many a day. his resumes accurately describe him as an 'artist, actor, poet, and community activist and commentator'. lately he has added 'active grandpa' to those credentials. he is an undeclared keeper of the names and family relations of indian people all over the united states and canada. lately he has added 'active grandpa' to those credentials. hence the 'renaissance' thing.
today's words are devoted to the most recent multiple richards.
first we go to richard the actor. richard has become one of the actors working with a wonderful young seminole filmmaker sterlin harjo. i loved sterlin's 'four sheets to the wind'. richard began the movie by dying but went on to narrate in creek/seminole. now sterlin has made what might be called a prequel 'barking water. its the story of an earlier time in richard's character's life and richard and casey camp are the primary characters. the flick was at the sundance festival successfully and hopefully will be on our local screens soon. check out the official website and the trailer: barking water

on the flip side richard has been backed in to a recent series of events that give insight into oklahoma's true relation to indian people. when two young girls were killed in a small town in the same county where sterlin harjo was born. the horror at the killing was automatic and universal. however finding the perpetrator has proved impossible so far. along the way law enforcement folks published a drawing of a so-called person of interest. the drawing was of a 30ish indian man with long hair wearing a ball cap. the result was a state of paranoia/interest among law enforcement and the nonindian public whenever any indian man with long hair and a cap appeared near them. richard received some of this backlash more than once even though he was disqualified by age from the profile. he spoke out along with others. but the story took a personal bizarre turn for him when a journalistic faux pas turned him into a former 'prime suspect'. check out the native american times story post correction: Racial profiling follows Weleetka murders

in richard's honor i, for today, amend one of my regular comments on life: none of us gets much 'creative control' over the movie[s] of our life.