Reality check

Time to check the Fact Checkers. It's more important than ever.        

Stand back and look at it. Is it a "whisper" or does back itself up? Ask yourself, who's talking? Find out their sources and methods for determining what is ACTUALLY a "fact". Find out where their money comes from. Find out who agrees with them. Find our which institutions, political pacts, fact checkers, authorities, and public figures agree with them and know who pays THEIR bills.

Ask yourself, who's talking? Find out their sources and methods for determining what is ACTUALLY a "fact". Find out where their money comes from. Find out who agrees with them. Find our which institutions, political pacts, fact checkers, authorities, and public figures agree with them and know who pays THEIR bills.

And if this is all too hard for you, if you accept something as "fact" because it fits what you already think or someone you like tells you it's true then, my friend, you're an easy target for anyone appealing to your fear and anger rather than your reason and strength.

Want to give yourself a chance? Learn to tell the difference between the shit and the ice cream. Know how to check the facts and the fact checkers AND be willing to change your mind when the fact checkers don't check out.

American Exceptionalism

I'm putting this article here from Medium for my future reference and yours if you're interested in seeing America without makeup.

 American Exceptionalism Is Getting You Killed
Indi SamarajivaIndi Samarajiva

America is choking to death on its own mythology. The ‘strongest nation in the world’ cannot defend its own Capitol. The ‘oldest democracy in the world’ is attacking the right to vote. The ‘richest people in history’ are broke and dying in lakhs upon lakhs.

(White) Americans consistently refuse to believe what is happening to them because it’s not supposed to be happening to them. Our democracy cannot be collapsing, it’s so old. The pandemic cannot be out of control, we’re rich. From the crazies of Q-Anon to sober talking heads on TV, everybody agrees, America is exceptional and things cannot be exactly what they are.

The country cannot be corrupt, that’s for Africans. The country cannot have a coup, that’s what we do to South America. The country cannot be collapsing, that’s the ‘third world’. And yet here you are.

American exceptionalism is wrong. Worse than wrong, American exceptionalism is precisely what’s getting you killed.
American Myths

As CLR James said, “a myth that has lost all contact with reality is the direct source of immeasurable confusion, catastrophes and disasters.” That’s precisely where America is today. The myth of American greatness has come completely unmoored from American reality, and disaster has ensued.

The most central myth is that America is a city on the hill, destined for greatness, blessed and best among nations, leader of the free world. Every country has some delusions of grandeur, but no one believes it with the confidence of an American. Because for many years, they’ve been right (as in might makes right). America was the lone superpower for years, with consumer goods and power to rain death anywhere upon the globe. Now a microscopic virus has shown how fragile it all was.

The fact is that the central myth of America — that it is an old, strong, and prosperous democracy — is not true. None of it is true, but the fact that this has become a quasi-religious belief makes it impossible to fix anything without also melting American brains. People would rather die than believe that America sucks. So they’re dying.

Let me unwind these myths as gently as I can (not very gently).

    American democracy was founded by black people just 55 years ago.

Your democracy is shit

American democracy is only 55 years old and it was founded by black people. Modern democracy is one person, one vote, and America only got universal franchise in 1965, after 56 other countries. American democracy isn’t old at all, it’s very young, which explains a lot. The fact that your founders are black people like Rosa Parks and John Lewis, of course, completely short-circuits many American brains.

American democracy is also not very good, built as it is on a centuries old voter suppression system. Literally nobody else waits for hours to vote. In most countries the popular vote winner wins. Nobody waits for two months to seat the President. Your democracy is honestly quite shit, as you may have noticed, because it’s on fire.

    Your security forces are more likely to join white terrorists than to resist them.

Your defenses are weak

Americans are surprised that their Capitol was so easily overrun, but that’s misunderstanding what American ‘defense’ is, and who it is. America’s ‘defensive’ troops are actually ‘offensive’ troops, bombing poor places and torturing Muslims for sport. Starving people in Yemen or endlessly occupying Afghanistan has nothing to do with your freedom and security, as you may notice as you can’t fucking go there.

America is wholly unprepared to defend itself against its greatest threat, which is white America. Your intelligence services merrily drone an ‘Allahu akbar’ from 10,000 miles away but won’t track public Facebook events in their own city. Your security forces are more likely to join white terrorists than to resist them. Your cops and and border police are the same, they’re offensive forces pointed at brown and black people. When it comes to the actual threats America faces, your ‘defenses’ are more likely to turn against you than help.
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    The modern image of America is a car in a bread line, the perverse juxtaposition of seeming prosperity with actual poverty.

Your people are suffering

The general myth of America was that all its sins were OK because it somehow worked and delivered prosperity. This doesn’t work anymore, and it never did for many people. America has worse public health than Ghana, worse infrastructure than China, and a weaker democracy than Malawi. Much poorer countries have better healthcare (like Cuba) and literally no one goes into debt peonage for education like Americans. Nobody imprisons as many people. Nobody has active-shooter drills in schools. Nobody is dying of COVID-19 so bad.

America has also completely divorced its ‘economy’ (ie, rich people’s yacht money) from people’s actual lives. Stock prices go up while people go hungry. The modern image of America is a car in a bread line, the perverse juxtaposition of seeming prosperity with actual poverty. Life is pretty shit, as you may have noticed if you’re alive.
America Is A Country In The World

I say this not to dunk on America (well, a bit) but just to welcome you to the world. We’re all in some shit, aren’t we? In the third world we regularly get printed reports about how much we suck and how we can do better, and a lot of its true. You guys should now take some feedback from us. The central myth of American exceptionalism is that America is not like other countries and is thus not comparable (except maybe to other rich, white people) but that’s not true. America is just another country in the world. We can send consultants. Or just ask the black, indigenous, or ‘illegal’ people in your midst. They get it.

White Americans are not used to examining how you suck, but this dooms you to never getting better. It’s like never going to the doctor because you were in great shape in high school. Uh OK, that’s how you die of gangrene in the modern world. Your nation has literally turned into a Bruce Springsteen song, which is not a good thing.

America has been a failed state in a Gucci belt for years, and now even the belt has fallen off. I’m telling you, the empire has no clothes.
The Mental Collapse

This should actually help you because you could then see your problems, learn about other solutions, and fix them. Rather than looking down on the third world, you could look up to places like Mongolia, and learn. Unfortunately, this just isn’t human nature. People will literally die before swallowing their pride.

Rather than admitting that they voted for a grifter, many Americans have created a whole-ass world where Trump is a hero, secretly fighting Satanic pedophiles, and not, you know, just a grifter. Rather than admitting that America has failed on COVID-19, they’re saying COVID-19 doesn’t exist. This sounds crazy, but it’s one way of resolving the cognitive dissonance of America’s collapsing myths.

Even liberals really struggle with the core fact that America is a just another country in the world. April D. Ryan asks “what makes us different from a third world country & dictatorships?” The answer is nothing, besides hubris. Nothing makes you different. Looking down on these countries just makes you ignorant. April Ryan seems cool, but even she inhabits the same mythology of American exceptionalism.

Pete Buttigieg will say “weapons like the one I carried in Afghanistan have no place on our streets or in our schools — least of all in the hands of white nationalists” ignoring the fact that white nationalists shouldn’t be carrying weapons in Afghanistan either, and that chickens come home to roost. Buttigieg seems like a douche but not evil. Even his brain cannot process that Americans should not be using these weapons on anyone. Even to him, America is an exception.

This idea that exceptionalism is some protective secret sauce (ingredients: blood of Jesus, 11 herbs and spices, OxyContin) is precisely what’s getting you killed. There is no fucking sauce, you’re just another country and you’ve committed the cardinal mistake of smoking your own propaganda. Just look at where you are, look at other people, and try to do better. You’re not better than everybody else. It is this idea that’s made you so much worse.

Again, I’m saying this ‘solution’ like it’s possible, which it is, theoretically. Just not psychologically. People would rather believe that Americans are the victims of their own demise rather than their cause. People will literally believe in a modern Protocols of The Elders of Zion rather than looking at the elites looting in front of their eyes. This stabbed in the back mentality leads, of course, right to Hitler ’32.

So this is where you are. Face down in a ditch, insisting you’re among the stars. The first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging, but half of Americans don’t even believe in holes.

Perhaps you think I’m building to some solution but I’m not. I have no idea where you’re going (your children will have to figure that out) but you’ll never get there without understanding where you came from, and where you are. All I can tell you is this. America is exceptionally fucked.


Come on home

2020 was a hard year and I'm certainly not alone thinking that. What difference does a flip of the calendar mean? Ten miles into the woods, ten miles out so it's the direction you're going that matters. Better make sure you're going in the right direction. Even then, it's a long walk back.


Piano for Wild Macaques in Temple, Lopburi, Thailand

Paul Barton also serenades elephants.

Penultimate day

 So, today is the second to the last day of 2020. I wish I could believe the insanity is over but, as the ole saying goes, Ten miles into the woods, 10 miles out.

Getting to the end  (sound on)


Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction 2020

In the year 1226, as Genghis Khan strode across the earth, he saw the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky, a sublime event which did not occur again for another 397 years. Unfortunately, at that time, poor Galileo couldn't see it because that time the planets were too close to the sun. Today, however, today—794 years after Genghis Khan gazed at this dazzling conjunction of planets—today—during the northern Winter Solstice—Jupiter and Saturn again join to form the Great Conjunction.

On this shortest of days, this longest of nights, this time of re-calibration, endings and new beginnings may we find the peace we seek and the strength we need for the years ahead.

Jupiter - Saturn Great Conjunction
Winter Solstice 2020


Live and let live

Happy Thanksgiving. Celebrate all life, not just your own.


Watchful waiting in the Old Garden

Passed Eleanor do Antiga Jardim and one of her peachicks on the street the other day. She honked at me when I photograph them which is totally understandable. Also saw a black rabbit in a nearby park the other day.  She was also, understandably, suspicious of me, not that I meant her any harm but how could she know that? I'm worried she's there. Probably someone "dumped" her there. It's not a suitable place for a lone rabbit. I need to call the animal shelter. And on a lighter note, I saw one of the peacocks was standing alone on the sidewalk in the sun this morning. Didn't photograph him.

The mysterious "wild" Black Bunny
Doctor Miguel texted last night about 11 PM regarding the results of my recent lung biopsy. It does not appear to be a re-occurrence of the myoepithelial carcinoma so they are recommending watchful waiting. This means, another CT scan in three months and, if that's clear, we'll go to semester scans.


Paris bells - London fireworks

A long period of reconstruction lies ahead. Trump tore this nation apart in four years. It will take many more than that to heal it before we can begin moving forward again but, if we stay true to course, we can do it. We have to. The future of life on earth depends on us.

But tonight we celebrate.

fireworks in the night sky: Fireworks in London, church bells in Paris as Biden win celebrated abroad



Autumn equinox 2020

My eight-year-old grandson to his mother the other day . . .

Frank's flowers

"Mom, this is all so big. First the Covid, then the fires, and then my friend's house burned down." He proceeded to go into the yard, collect some flowers, and put this little bouquet on his desk."


Our changing world

Irregardless of what you or I may think is the biggest problem facing us today . . . whether it be Covid, or the economy because of Covid, or Trump himself, or Nancy,

Bones in the Desert

or Boris, or Vladimir, or Xi, or Bolsonaro, etc etc. they are not it. And, vile inexcusable and unacceptable as it is, racism is not the biggest issue of the day, or sexism. Nor is abortion, animal rights, free speech, freedom for or from religion, freedom to wear or not wear a mask . . . whatever, whatever . . . cause, right, privilege, power, belief, or hope anyone individually or collectively cherishes . . . with all those things still squarely on the table and more and urgent as ever . . . the greatest, most urgent problem facing America and the world, both human and wild, is our deteriorating climate. 

It's not happening tomorrow. Earth's climate has deteriorated to the point that it has now become its own cause. It threatens all life as we know it, not just the poor, starving, dirty poster-polar bear stranded on a chunk of ice that broke off a melting glacier. Earth's climate is rapidly deteriorating by the day, by the hour, and threatens all life on earth . . . yours, mine, theirs, its . . .  ours . . . because in this we are one.

Our house is on fire and we humans, the cause and only hope, are inside oblivious, arguing about other things as it burns.


Year 17

photo by asha
Corn Moon

Corn Moon is now high in the sky and
Barkie the dog has begun her nightly soliloquy.
First day of September
seventeen years later.


Morning rant

America is infested with fascists, beginning with our corporate overlords and their political wing, the Republican party . . . their media wing, FOX News . . . their army of battle-ready fascist cops protected by standard issue Get Out Of Jail Free cards   . . . their power-hungry colleagues, the racist evangelical churches, the party's foot soldiers, you know, that mob of ignorant motherfuckers worshiping Confederate generals in the name of Christian Jesus, those fucking alt.right vigilantes cheered on by the NRA . . . and the Karens and Kens of every color . . . fascist all. I'm done with all of it, all of it, all of it.

Where is America, shelter for those "yearning to breathe free"? Where is America, the "land of the free, home of the brave"? Fascists aren't free or brave. They are maggots fat on hate who scoff at facts and science, who think because their skin is "white" they are superior, or because there's a dick and balls hanging between their legs they're superior, or because they make a show of worshiping the white-skin version of brown-skin Jesus of Nazareth it's ok to betray their own ethnicity for a ride on the gravy-train. They're maggots thinking money and connections will forever keep them immune to the chaos they have created.

I'm done with the billion and trillionaire elites who hide in the ivory towers of their corporations then shove their US Supreme Court approved Corporate Personhoods into the world to do their dirty work. Corporate Persons . . . legal entities . . . created to absorb the consequences of criminal corporate activity, thus insuring the human power players remain above and beyond the law. I'm am so fucking done with them all.

The ultra-rich have turned America into a tax haven for anyone with enough cash and credit to buy-in. They are the ones who pay to change the law to fit their business plans and are draining the planet of its resources, destroying the beauty, poisoning the air, poisoning the water, poisoning the oceans, rivers, springs, lakes, wells, clouds . . . poisoning and eliminating top soil. They are destroying the very climate upon which life as we know it depends.

I am so done with the Republican Party and its president, Trump Corp, and all their climate change backers who live above the law in their corporate structures, skyscraper hideouts, island retreats, insider enclaves, underground palaces, international tax havens and whatever other fantasy worlds they have created to escape the consequences of their arrogance and greed.

There is, however, a footnote to all this.

Where do we go from here? It's chilling how successful the alt.right has been at brainwashing the unaware with their lies and loathing. I pity their obedient, hapless supporters who embrace wage slavery for themselves and their poorly educated children. I feel sad for everyone in America and around the world waiting for their fascist overlords to give a shit about them. They never did and they never will. 

It's heartbreaking realizing that collectively we humans have triggered a mass extinction on the planet, that all species on earth are being sucked into the environmental collapse with us. It's surreal looking through the web of lies America is suffocating in because . . . no matter what . . . no matter who or where we are . . . no matter what we think, feel, or believe . . . we are all in this together.


Ok. Sometime I just have so yell into the void. Rant over. I've included an antidote to all this poison below . . .


The Polite Press


Don Winslow, @donwinslow, just posted this video on Twitter. It's agonizingly years behind necessity but still an extremely important message.

I don't know about you, but I've been yelling THAT'S A LIE! at TVs, my laptop, and phone since Trump first came down that escalator on his way back to Hell but, on no! The Polite Press magnified his lies, paved his road to the White House with them. Poisoned and broke America with them.

Hey Polite Press! Stop being enablers and become the reporters you started out in life to be. Butch up! Get real! Take this son of a bitch on! Do it! Tell the fucking truth to his face, on camera, in print, every time he lies! Trump has no power unless you give it to him. This is war. Which side are you on?


Bird Park East - update

August - The highly rhythmic pomba (pigeon) chant was the first sound I heard this morning. It's a great way to start the day. I highly recommend it. I'm now on the balcony with my morning coffee, listening and watching pombas crisscross between trees and apartment buildings. It's nice being out here again. Earlier in the summer, I did my best to leave the area to the mother sparrow. She raise two separate batches of babies in the roof tiles and was fond of resting on the railing between feedings. She was very determined to keep their location secret. Even a look her way was enough to drive her off. The Waning Gibbous moon is visible in the windy morning soft blue sky. Swallows zig zag by. Chickens are clucking in the grass below. Roosters are hard at their usual crowing competition or whatever it is. It goes throughout day and is my preferred alternative to the now-noisy-again-world surrounding us. The friendly neighborhood fellow and his two white dogs are just now coming down the sidewalk on their morning stroll. The younger dog, as always, is on a loose leash and the ancient one, held together only by love, saunters behind sniffing the morning news. A couple of squawking parakeets just dashed by, a flash of green only. They are always off to somewhere else in the greatest hurry. And, most notably of all, Barkie the Dog barely barked at all last night. I remind myself it's not the new normal but it was damn nice.


Hands up. Please don't shoot me

How many have died with these words on their lips? Portland's Black Lives Matter's eerily beautiful protest chant evokes a haunting, and devastating question.

.Hands up - Please don't shoot me - Hands up - Please don't shoot me.

.Hands up - Please don't shoot me - Hands up - Please don't shoot me.


Happy 4th of July, America - Mask up!

Republican Pres. Donald J. Trump
Flag humper
For the past 50 years, Republicans have chosen either oil men or actors for Presidents and mostly elected Senators and Representatives who are racist and/or evangelicals dedicated to shoring up the crumbling legacy of the King/Priest rulerships of yore. As a result, America is now isolated from all it's traditional Democratic allies, as it slides into a corporate dictatorship run by men indifferent to the millions of Americans ravaged by COVID-19 while the President gallivants around the country at the taxpayer’s expense doing photo ops to feed his insatiable vanity.

Yesterday, America had the world's largest daily increase of pandemic victims, 55,000 reported in all, with 10,000 new cases in Florida alone.

Happy Fourth of July. Be sure to wear your mask and keep your distance.


Note to self - Stop playing Divide and Conquer

#1: Stop arguing.
#2: Silence is compliance.
#3: Blend these and change the narrative.


Was it a mistake?

Gen. Mark A. Milley, was it a mistake or, now that you've given Trump his photo op, is this just camouflage? You fucking hell looked like the tool of a repressive, fascist government to me.


Silly questions

There's a lesson here . . .



I'm currently sharing my work space with a spider. I've explained to him that it's not a safe place for such a little fellow but he insists. He's spun a line from the main table to the tip of a pallet knife in a jar of pallet knives on a different table and has been coming and going all morning. I'm trying to be a good neighbor but am worried  this won't go well for him. I'm not sure he can see me, or if he does, what makes of me but he did stop and look at me as I explained the dangers of hanging out in such a cluttered, always getting shuffled around place. I offered to move him out with Plantie on the balcony but he doesn't seem inclined.

is now
making his way
out from under the glass
Worlds beyond the glass


Blue Period

It's not done but I'm now far enough along on the project that this morning, Swami, Juan Carlos, Molly, and I are having coffee and viewing the four panel I've been working on for that last few weeks, illustrations for a poem I wrote called Blue Period. M. has not been invited to the showing yet as he must finish his morning porridge before, in his own words, he is fully human.


Gary's good-bye

"Same. Smaller. Quieter."

That's how my daughter described her dad when I inquired how he was doing yesterday then, this afternoon, to the same question she wrote, "He died this morning. About an hour ago."  I wish he'd lived a happier life but his death was not as lonely as it might have been—she was sitting beside him—had been all morning—nor was it particularly sad, coming as it did after a long illness, cancer not covid.

So . . . yesterday afternoon as the nest full of baby birds under the roof tiles chirped away at the top of their shrill little voices, and I was painting an illustration for one of my poems while listening to music with headphones on, Gary dropped in from America to say good-bye. He was wispy and floating and mostly transparent (imagine something between a whitish horizontal veil-like form with flagella and a thin floating, mostly transparent sea creature) and kind of stand-offish as always, but he was there.¹ My eyes got blurry for a bit but I saw him clearly in my mind's eye . . . he in thin air, me in afternoon light, us remembering what our dreams had been back then (did he chortle?) and who we'd been for each other. We forgave each other. He lingered a few moments more then said good-bye.

Portugal . . . about an hour ago . . .

¹· No. I wasn't stoned or drunk nor do I claim this moment to be a "Fact". Just sharing my subjective experience.


One world

Believe it or not, care or not, own up to it or not—we are making this planet uninhabitable, not only for us, but for life as we know it. If we don't quickly and radically change the way we eat, live, do business etcetcetc— the environment upon which we all depend will collapse beyond repair. This pandemic can be a preview of coming events or a lesson we learn from. Which is it?