The Fix is In – Soaring Winter Heat, 2008; or, Just Who Says So? And If We Know So Much Now, Why is Nobody Acting to Avert It?

August 6, 2008

Here we are in the summer of 2008 and already at mid-year, the local and national news has been fed the directives from its corporate masters and informed us that winter 2008-2009 will be appallingly expensive if you, as a human being who needs to avoid freezing to stay alive, want to heat your home. So, I want to know, who told them this? Where has this information come from? Which executives sat down and decided that home heating will be expensive this winter? Give me some names! Who are they? How do they know so far in advance what is going to happen? The media never tells us. We’re just told that the word comes somewhere from on high, so get used to it and tough shit if you don’t like it. History tells us in times of heavy speculation, prices soar. Guess what’s a popular commodity for speculation right now? That’s right, oil and gas. The fix is in folks. Let’s see if the corporate-owned politicians in either of the corporate-owned political parties will do anything about it when it hits. And, since we already know so much in advance, why is nothing being done these many months in advance to stop, avert, or ease the situation, or ensure fairly priced energy to average citizens? We have several months to take actions, but instead we’re just told we have several months to brace ourselves. Last winter, people had to borrow money to heat their homes, or got so far behind in their payments that they’re still playing catch up. Why are basic necessities that used to be manageable, marginal expenses in the monthly family budget, like heating and health care, now luxuries affordable only by Rockefeller types? The more deregulation we’ve gotten, the higher things have gone—which completely puts the lie to all the BS right-wing promises. Old people and families will freeze this winter, but that’s OK; it’s the free market, after all, and that’s the highest good to which we can aspire. Right? Remember when those Enron energy managers were overheard on an infamous telephone tape laughing at making a killing by shutting off power plants so that California’s grandmothers would have to pay out the ass for electricity? It’s happening again, folks. And what kind of answers do we get from apologists for this kind of system? None, just the usual nonsolutions, defense of the energy status quo and tired diversionary epithets: “Communist!” “Socialist!” “Whaddya want companies to give the energy away for nuthin’?” So, just what kind of fucking country and world is this becoming? Who runs the law in this country, corporations or citizens? Congress can pass a price cap in two seconds if we all demand it. But that won’t happen because we know who really runs the country. The Boston Tea Party looms; the warm cushy mansions harboring the fat and satisfied few will be invaded; the revolution is coming folks, and I’m there. -EG

Home Energy Prices Are Expected to Soar (at New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/business/06fuel.html?ref=business

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R.I.P. George Carlin: A True Giant

June 23, 2008

George Carlin is with the worms. Not with God. He knew that was bullshit, and said so.

Unlike Tim Russert, whose eulogies ate up inordinate amounts of bandwidth, newsprint and talking head time this past week, Carlin was a real giant, a true innovator. Perhaps it’s petty to play a game of “dueling dead guys” or “my dead guy is better than your dead guy,” but, unlike Russert, who, when all is said and done never really spoke truth to power, Carlin did. The fact that Fox News hounds eulogized Russert as vociferously and lovingly as anyone else tells me that. Faux News fans cringe at the likes of Carlin, aetheist, critic of religion, and the Bush and Nixon regimes, and general thorn in the side of those with fascistic tendencies.

There will be a lot said about Carlin, I should hope, in the coming days, particularly by other, more articulate and insightful bloggers.

I’ll only note that I always considered it ballsy that PBS hired Carlin to be Mr. Conductor on the pre-school kids’ show, “Thomas the Tank Engine,” considering what a controversial figure he was. That was a great ‘fuck you’ to the Jesse Helms’ and the like of the world who staged political assaults on public TV.

I’ve known Carlin’s work since the ’70s and own all of this records and CDs. He was one of the funniest men who ever lived. Too bad he won’t be around anymore to blast the purveyors of bullshit.

-EG


Tim Russert This, Tim Russert That

June 16, 2008

As another year was ending a few years back, a chemistry professor once wrote me an email noting the great and somewhat astonishingly fortunate news that, yet again, not one scientist of any kind, be it astronomer, physicist, chemist, or whatever, had passed from this Earthly life in that particular year of Our Lord A.D. I mean, he said he watched the TV news and read the newspapers and could find nary a word on the passing of notables in those fields. Yet, anyone who’d had some measure of fame as a talking head on TV always seemed to get wide coverage.

I don’t watch TV much, so when practically everybody last week expressed their shock to me that Tim Russert, the NBC news/talk show host, had died, I had to really probe the recesses of my memory to try and figure out who that was. I thought I knew who they were talking about, but I had to go on the internet and check and make sure my recollection was correct. It was, and I have to admit, perhaps shamefully, to being underwhelmed by the information.

For people who watch a lot of TV, it was cataclysmic news. Which is perhaps an indication that we need to be watching less TV and get some perspective.

Frankly, I’m far more concerned about the mole that I’m going to have to kill that’s been digging up my tomato garden. When the time comes that I have to decapitate it with a shovel, I will grieve greatly that I had to resort to such an action. The poor thing just wants to live, but at the same time my family and I have to eat and no animal is going to ruin all the effort I’ve put into this thing.

It’s too bad Tim Russert died, and died too young. He did seem to be a talented man. But it’s kind of funny to watch the media overdo things when one of their own dies.

A lot more people died in Iraq last week, but that’s old news.

-EG


Is Alex Jones Under Attack?

March 4, 2008

No matter what you think of master internet radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (I agree with him and disagree with him roughly 70/30), you have to honor his right to articulate his message.

Today, right now, in the afternoon of March 4, 2008, Jones’ show has been sensational, featuring guest Russell Means of the Lakota Republic, the torture of people and animals in Iraq, the fact that trained killers sent to Iraq are enrolling to become our future policemen, and much more.

Several times today, the show mysteriously cut out (including during Means’ interview from a phone line in South Dakota).

The question is: Is the show under censorious technical assault by the Bush fascist government?

Go to the show now and listen and see if it happens again.

Infowars.com.


Enough with the Elvis Trashing, Already

March 12, 2007

Billionaire entrepreneur Robert Sillerman owns the “likeness” of Elvis Presley.

He bought it from Priscilla Presley and the Elvis estate for $100 million.

And, loathe though I am to side with monolithic corporate control of what should be public-domain national treasures, part of me is rooting for Sillerman to take decisive control of the Elvis Presley “brand.”

Why?

Because the cheap debasing of Elvis has gone on long enough. And it’s not funny anymore, folks.

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Yes, I laughed at the affectionate horror-comedy film Bubba Ho-tep, with Bruce Campbell essaying a poignant serio-comic portrayal of an aged Elvis. Elvis was made fun of, but the overall film was sympathetic to Elvis and to the past, and it justly criticized society’s warehousing of the elderly.

I’ve laughed at the Flying Elvi, Elvis fat jokes and drug and toilet jokes. I even had my own “Elvis sighting” (or maybe it was Conway Twitty) and joked about it with friends.

At some point, however, the parody Elvis, or the idea of the campy Elvis has overtaken the real Elvis in the minds of the public. I daresay that for most young people now, the parody Elvis is the one that first—and probably exclusively—comes to their minds.

Mind you, I’m not one of those Elvis fans who treats the man like a religion and who deny the darker sides of the King. There’s room for Elvis parody, spoof, satire or whatever in my universe.

But at some point, it became too easy, a too-cheap shot, the proverbial shooting of the fish in the barrel.

And the 30,000 Elvis impersonators with their “homages” of varying quality have not necessarily helped matters.

(Maybe 30,000 Elvis “fans” can be wrong).

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What has set me off is seeing the continued proliferation of these over-the-top caricatures after watching or re-watching several of the real Elvis’ televised concerts.

Have you seen the DVDs of “Elvis, That’s the Way it Is,” or of the TV specials “1968 Comeback” or “Aloha From Hawaii”? Elvis is sensational in these programs. He could do it all. Even the big-white suited Elvis doesn’t come off campy so much as cool. Yes, I said cool.

If you haven’t seen these shows, you really are missing great entertainment. In them, Elvis looms large and commands respect. His talent is awesome.

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I had never been a “fan” per se of Elvis before, but watching these shows converted me. It also provided me a mini-cause to try to change people’s misguided perceptions about Elvis, as an artist and showman.

Watching these shows makes you realize how far the caricatures have strayed from the real Elvis.

The proverbial last straw for me was a banner atop an mp3 site, Albumbase.com, which features yet another outrageous pompadour and white-suited Elvis caricature.

Yep, that’s original.

Here in the Louisville, Ky., area alone, several business use unauthorized depictions of Elvis to sell their wares. Here’s the website of the Third Avenue Cafe, just a mile up the road from my work on Third St. Notice the outrageous caricature of Elvis dining. I’ve been to this pseudo frou-frou eatery before; they have a mannequin suited up as the white-cloak Elvis (of course) that sits at a window seat (and outside during the summer).

This local auto dealer, Jim Butner Auto Sales, uses Elvis in its slogan and features a white-suited you know who in its TV advertising. Guess it’s easier to make fun of Elvis and divert attention from the fact that your own name is But-ner.

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Sillerman has already indicated that the gravytrain may be ending for the Elvis impersonators. Once he gets control of the brand, only “authorized” Elvi—no doubt with a hefty kickback to Sillerman—will be allowed to publicly perform.

On this I have mixed feelings. There are no doubt some impersonators who do the King justice. Most of the ones I’ve seen, though, look ridiculous and do no service to the artist’s legacy.

But, it is America, and we’re supposed to be free to imitate the famous, to do impersonations and to look stupid doing so.

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And getting the Elvi clones in line won’t do much to stop the proliferation of other goofy Elvis imagery, especially on the internet.

Maybe in getting richer, Sillerman will make the world less interesting, a little less crazy, messy and wild. Corporate control tends to do that.

But I’m not going to mourn too much if one more stupid, lame, unimaginative Elvis caricature bites the dust.

-Evan


When Weirdos Ask Good Questions

March 2, 2007

Against my better judgment, I’m becoming a fan of Coast to Coast with George Noory.

You know, whacko overnight radio.

Radio where people call in claiming to be psychics or have visions of Armageddon. People who have had sex with aliens. Lotcoast_to_coast.jpgs of conspiracies are forwarded, nearly all of which Noory seems to agree with.

It’s the old Art Bell show. (Semi-retired Bell only hosts the show on Sundays, typically).

The show is good from the get-go, from the moment the deep-voiced announcer gravely intones the various continental phone numbers: “West of the Rockies, George Noory can be reached at…”

A whole vast sweeping continent in the midnight dark ready to tell ghost stories. It just gives you a chill.

I find myself drawing the curtains, lest I be startled by a peeping grey alien.

Red Elk the shaman discusses his dreams of a coming cataclysm. Indian mythology, Jesus and aliens all get jumbled together in a tasty melange.

Breaking news.grey_alien.jpg Seven-foot-tall reptilian beings have been spotted in the French Quarter in New Orleans. No, it’s not Mardi Gras. The witnesses are credible, so verifies the guest UFOlogist.

Somehow, amid of all this Weekly World News fodder, a seemingly legit story manages to find its way into the mix.

Did you know that honeybees are disappearing, en masse?

That’s right. The honeybees that pollinate vast swaths of American agriculture land are flying off and simply not returning to their colonies. Absent massive numbers of bee corpses, where are the bees dropping dead?

This is not a bogus story. It has made CNN and the pages of the New York Times. Pesticides, genetic mutation, global warming? Nobody knows why it’s happening. But the effects on the honey industry and on agriculture in general could be devastating.

And I wouldn’t have known anything about it if I hadn’t listened to Coast to Coast.

My old reporter’s instincts told me to check and verify with other sources, and so I did.

But the danger of shows like Coast to Coast, of course, is that the ignorant and gullible don’t know when to distinguish the fantasies and the lunatic conspiracies from the legitimate stories.

But tabloid radio is little different from the mainstream media in that regard, as old-line TV networks sell out their hard-news reputations for celebrity gossip “specials,” pedophile-entrapment series’ and opinion shows masquerading as news.

It really takes an enquiring mind to sift the wheat from the chaffe.

Another good example is Alex Jones’ Infowars site.

Jones’ perspective/worldview is of the old right-wing (non-neocon), libertarian, isolationist sort. Which means among Jones’ loopy, looney labyrinthine coalex_jones-bw.jpgnspiracy theories about the evils of the New World Order and big government, he is nonetheless asking a lot of surprisingly good and hard-hitting questions. Questions which governments and the mainstream media have not satisfactorily answered.

Take a cursory glance at his site and you’ll see a lot of points on which to agree. It’s just his over-arching conspiracy construct that taints some otherwise good observations.

Jones is presently battling the BBC over a provocative 9/11 conspiracy incident that makes the British network look like an accessory to an evil plot.

Jones and other 9/11 conspiracy buffs allege that many minutes prior to the collapse of World Trade Center Building Number 7 (the Salomon Brothers building), a BBC reporter announced its collapse on the air. Somehow the BBC had been “tipped off” but then mis-timed the collapse announcement.

Yet at the same time the reporter announces the collapse, a time-stamped video shows the building still standing, directly behind her left shoulder. It’s on the web, you can see it for yourself.

What does it prove? Was it merely a mistake, or proof that the building was slated for demolition as part of the fear campaign that would sweep a fascist New World Order into power?

Instead of saying Jones’ allegations are hogwash and offering proof of same, the 9-11.jpgBBC counters with (to paraphrase), “it’s old news, and anyway, we’ve lost our 9/11 tapes.”

The latter statement has raised flags at rival news networks. The idea of a major news operation “losing” or misplacing its 9/11 footage stretches credulity.

Rather than making Jones and other conspiracists eat crow, the BBC has added fuel to the fire. The conspiracy, so it seems, is deeper than previously thought.

The end result: Now it looks like Alex Jones is really on to something.

The 9/11 conspiracy theories don’t persuade me, but they are understandably appealing because they allow people to assign evil to particular cabals. Evil men behind closed doors are methodically and consciously planning world domination.

It’s comforting, in a way, to blame the man behind the curtain. It’s more orderly and understandable than messy everyday reality.

But, in truth, bad things happen in the world for more banal reasons, mainly having to do with the attainment and hoarding of money. Everyday corporate machinations are too dull. Blaming a system is a nebulous prospect for the population. Finding a Darth Vader is much more graspable.

So when you engage the fringe media, enjoy the goofy parts, and think deeply when, occasionally, they hit upon some damned good questions.

-Evan


When Evil is Confused for Smart

March 2, 2007

He was evil, sure, but he was smart; you can’t deny that.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Charles Keating, Dick Cheney, Ken Lay, you name the guy. All smart guys.hitler-study-map-65per.gif

As Pat Buchanan once observed, Hitler was a bad guy, but he sure had moxie.

Enron—The Smartest Guys in the Room, so the film title goes.

Al Capone was smart because he seized power and got rich by killing the right people and paying the right graft and instilling the proper fear. That guy may not have known much, maybe he didn’t finish school, but boy, he had street smarts.

I keep hearing how people who exploit other people or scam the system or usurp power and tell a big lie to sway large numbers of gullible people are smart. I still hear this every day. Hell, even I say it myself once in awhile.

Nowhere in this practical, survivalist, jungle-law conception of smartness does the notion of wisdom intercede. Were Einstein, Schweitzer, Gandhi or Cesar Chavez not smart for eschewing personal wealth and expending a lot of their energy to make the world better?

einstein-2-75perc.jpgTo me, a smart man is not merely so because of a facility to scheme and hoard. Moxie, cojones or a proficiency for reptilian power maneuvering do not mark a smart man. Wisdom does. A truly smart man is reflective. He sees the world as troubled, looks at the historical and social causes of those troubles and sets out—even at the cost of personal sacrifice—to correct them. To do otherwise consigns the world to the perpetuation of injustice, ignorance, hunger, inequality. Making the world better for all is the smart thing to do. Does a truly smart man want anything less than a cleaner, safer, more tolerant world for his grandchildren to live in?

The smart man (or smart person, to be inclusive) leaves the world better than he found it; not one who builds a a self-accumulated mountain of gold treasure and leaves in his wake a trail of tears, or scarred or poisoned Earth.zordon.jpg

A smart man knows that perpetuating a system that rewards greediness, pettiness, selfishness and ignorance is stupid, and ultimately suicidal.

Do I in my complacency, apathy, conformity and feeling of powerlessness and tendency toward self preservation exhibit the amount of smartness that I should?

No.

Am I a hypocrite?

Yes, but—and there is a but—there is a kernel of wisdom in my self awareness. The possibility of hope and change in my own self-criticism.

It’s something that a lot of so-called smart men never realize.

In the postmodern neocon world, ’60-style idealism that demands change, progress, social justice, et. al., is called naive. The really smart guys, they say, realize that humanity is scum and thus are smart enough to claw and scratch their way to their own material security.

I don’t call that smart. I call it giving up. I call it an insult to the intelligence and potential of the human race.

This is all nothing that wiser people have not said before—nothing better than what the best of the Greek, Roman, Native American, Chinese, German, French and other philosophers have said.

I just felt the need to say it.

-Evan