american dichotomy. 

In a recent talk with a friend, the thought was presented to me that it’s not politics that divides us, it’s our humanity, or lack thereof. I don’t know that it’s necessarily a lack of humanity. It’s a different set of values. It’s not inherently wrong, bad, evil, whatever…it’s just different. Different priorities. But to me, the biggest problem is that those two sets of values and priorities seem to be diametrically opposed, with no middle-ground compromise possible. 

Take the refugee situation for example. One side would say that their opponents discriminate against persons they do not know in order to be better protected; the other side would say their opponents prioritize the protection of others over our own people. Replace the word ‘protection’ with any other — health, wealth, freedom. Two sides of a coin…never shall they meet.  Because one side’s viewpoint is the antithesis to the other side’s viewpoint. 

Sure, you can take either side to a negative extreme. But that doesn’t represent most people, who I tend to believe are inherently good. On the other hand, I’m having trouble seeing how there’s any middle ground. Each side would say that the other has fallen victim to extremist propaganda that prevents any kind of compromise. We’re not going to voluntarily move in their direction, and vice versa.  I believe we have been dragged too far in their direction, and they feel the same in reverse. So — what to do??…….

It used to be that the two sides could debate and battle and then compromise. Dave Obey talked about spirited debates with rivals in Madison, where they gave each other hell but at the end of the day settled on something together in order to benefit the people, then had beer together afterward. Those days are long gone. And I don’t think they’re coming back. The rhetoric is too heated, there’s too much at stake, and we’re too far along separate paths on each side, evolving toward what we each believe to be a perfect ideal. Any concession to the other side is seen as compromising one’s core values. 

Lincoln brought together various different factions in a coalition during the civil war — alliances that would have been unthinkable in pre-war times. This gave him hope for the eventual reunification of the entire country. He had a grand vision of unity. But I fear he only delayed the inevitable. There has and always will be two sides of the coin that is Man — individualist and humanist. And I think it would be…interesting…to see each ideology taken to its logical conclusion, in separate environments that befit each.

When we win, they fight. When they win, we fight. Why? What will fighting ultimately accomplish? We are two that can never be one. Our America is not their America. Our interpretation of freedom is not like theirs. When they feel more safe, we feel less safe. When they feel comfortable, we are uneasy. When we feel our values have been vindicated, they feel theirs have been violated. And on and on…the coin flips over and over…sometimes one side faces the sun, sometimes the other.




Eight years ago, we voted for hope and change. We endorsed diversity, acceptance, bipartisanship, community. We extended our hands and asked you to join us — not as victors standing over the fallen, but as friends. You rejected our offering. We asked you to honor America’s tapestry of diversity — you demonized it as reverse-racism, as religious persecution. We asked you to ‘coexist’ in peace — you told us to go fuck ourselves. You chose to listen to extremist demagogues instead of your neighbors, family and friends. You wished you could ‘eradicate libtards’, ‘purge and cleanse’ your America of anyone who didn’t think like you. You stewed in your own hate until it boiled over.

Now, in an ironic twist, you echo thoughts of hope and change, as the architects and champions of this unprecedented climate of division now assume total power over all three branches of government. You tell us to get over it, stop being sore losers, unite for the good of the country. And in an ironic twist, it is we who are now bitter, as we mourn eight years of trying and failing to bridge the gap, trying to overcome divisive and hateful rhetoric, trying to reach out those whose hearts were hardened against their neighbors. Some of us may even cling to our guns — not out of anger, but out of fear.

And yes, we are afraid…what have you shown in eight years that would have us not be afraid as you now assume total control? This division and fear is your legacy…and your destiny — and ours — is now in your hands. What will you do with it?…



when you realize the person who claims they ‘know what’s best for you’ has only their own interests in mind, it’s time to let go of their authority over you. be they peer, parent, police, preacher, professor, professional, politician, president — they have abused their position, and if they cannot admit it, you must free yourself from their control. such persons, whether right or wrong, do not deserve blindly unquestioning obedience. we are all human, and all equal — to abuse the trust of another, to manipulate, to coerce or otherwise take advantage of a position of power or authority is to do wrong. and to deny this wrongdoing by invoking protection of laws of men or laws of gods is also to do wrong. for all laws are superceded by the golden rule — ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’

it is human nature to be imperfect…for this, we have the act of forgiveness, which brings us back to the golden rule. we all do wrong, and we would like to be forgiven when we do. but when the wrongdoer cannot admit wrongdoing, and indeed doubles down by casting blame on the victim and / or claiming justification through rules or laws, this is a grave abuse of position and trust. at the least, this creates mistrust and hurt. at the worst, it creates monsters — the corrupt, the abusers, the molesters, the manipulators, the exploiters, the thieves…whether near to us or far, whether large or small, when we fear or refuse to call them out, they continue to do wrong and continue to thrive on further misdeeds.

there are people who were once close to me who have acted in selfish and degrading ways, who refused to accept responsibility or blame when confronted, and who doubled down by invoking a right to their actions by their perceived authority over me. i reject such actions, i reject such positions and i reject such authority. you are not forgiven. i could forgive, i could forget, if these transgressions were against only me…but they are also against my children, and for this i will not back down.

i have talked with my children. i have explained the order of rules and laws and authority. and i have also explained that when these are broken, someone must speak truth to the wrongdoing, and the wrongdoer must submit. even if it me, their parent…for i am human, i am not perfect, and i am bound to do wrong. i have told them that they must confront me…and if i am wrong, i must admit wrong, i must apologize and ask forgiveness. there will certainly be times when we disagree on interpretation, times when my experience outweighs theirs, and i can see what they cannot, understand what they do not. but i want my children to stand for what is right and just. blind obedience enables wrong and injustice, destroys critical thinking, creates slaves. only when truth, equality, humanity, goodwill and the golden rule reign supreme will we be free.




i recently (finally) finished reading Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’. i have to say that it was most depressing. it was a hard read. to find out that everything you learned about history in school, everything you think you know, is either a lie, an untruth, a misrepresentation, is incredibly disturbing. everything you think you know about how this country came to be, how it has grown, how it continues to operate…was whitewashed, glossed over, important facts and circumstances left out when it was presented to you, in order to make things seem more appealing and hide some very ugly truths. i’m glad i read it, glad i learned it…but to find out that this country was founded not on ‘freedom’ but on protecting wealthy interests, and everyone else was (and still is) strung along with some fancy language, is most alarming. to find out that this has been the modus operandi all throughout our shared national history is very distressing. i mean…we all have this notion that revolution occurred in more noble times, and was fought to save ‘the people’ from the tyranny of a faraway king…but the reality is that this is not so. i mean, think about it — everything took a shit right after the founding fathers died ? no…it was always this way. ‘the system is not broken — it was made this way’ is one of my favorite found quotes.

and there are other recurring themes throughout the last 300 years — dividing people through racism and classism in order to maintain rule, diverting restless energy from uprising into a more easily-controlled and corruptible ballot box, a view of manifest-destiny with regard to resources both human and natural, deliberately making things out to be too complex and therefore unchangeable…along with the aforementioned intertwining of wealth and power. it is incredibly sad to see the patterns of the past and realize that we have come no closer to true freedom and enlightenment.

it is true that we have gained concessions — voting rights, labor rights, civil rights — but they were never given…we ‘little people’ have always had to wrest them from the powers that be. and we continue to see these evils manifest today — things like (but not limited to) citizens united, keystone xl, the NSA spying, guantanamo on a national scale…penokee mine, voucher schools, redistricting on the state level. and we’re destroying the earth, our only home. we could have had highly-developed solar by now…but we killed off the programs in the early 80s because the companies that suck explosive dinosaur goop out of the ground have our politicians on their payroll. our natural resources should be treated with a responsible, sustainable and conservative mindset…instead, we face losing them forever due to greed. water, earth, air, life…slipping away. we should be working toward a common good, with humanity in mind. but we aren’t…and it seems like we can’t, we won’t. we are the smartest species on the planet…and the dumbest for not living up to our full potential. the list goes on and on…i can’t bear it. Zinn offers some hope at the end of his book…but having died in 2010, he did not see our latest and worst turns of events. i wonder what he would have to say…i wonder if he would still have hopeful words.

and it is with this knowledge that i fear that i may never experience true freedom in my lifetime…and that my kids won’t either. my partner and i will never know the relative economic and societal security that people of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation had and still enjoy. many of our our parents’ generation are busy enjoying their retirement, having handed the rest of us a royal mess due to their apathy and / or inaction…you know, i shouldn’t overly generalize — some people of yesterday certainly fought for what was right, as do some people of today. but overcoming the apathy and inaction of the rest of the populace that makes up a majority is an uphill battle i fear we can never win.

and it is harder when good people are made to feel as though there is no hope, and that they are helpless to do something…that the problems are so complex, the people so divided, the establishment so corrupt, that change for the better is impossible. in terms of our individual family units, our kids rely on us to keep our jobs in order to keep them fed and sheltered. tough to go out protesting and raising hell or even vote or stay on top of all the complex issues when we’re pulling overtime to make ends meet, stretching the work week into the weekend…and getting kids to and from practice, tending to their owies, their homework, reading them a bedtime story. but do our kids on the whole not suffer for our lack of forward progress on the common good ? what good will be left of our society and our planet for them to inherit ?

i would gladly give my blood, sweat and tears to a righteous cause that stood any kind of chance. imagine a world where your occupation was to make things better, not be detrimental ! imagine having free time away from that occupation to enjoy life and to do as you wish ! but it is not possible for individuals to be successful anymore, when fewer and fewer entities consolidate resources and power for their own greedy ends, and they squeeze the little guy tighter and tighter. the ‘american dream’ is a lie for most, a nightmare for some.

i am not sure i can make any difference. this country is becoming more and more prohibitive to any kind of meaningful change, and the potential for happiness and security is slipping away. (‘change’ — not just the latest empty campaign rhetoric, but also a recurring one throughout our history, according to Zinn.) no matter how hard i work, i will never be economically secure…no matter how much i speak out, how many connections with like-minds i make, i will never know freedom from fear. the desire to close the circle and protect my own is strong. maybe i could do better somewhere else…maybe i could taste true freedom…maybe my kids and their kids would have a shot at life, liberty, happiness, love…in a place that treated people better, a place that values life over profit.

but which is more impossible — the uphill battle to make a change right here ? … or cutting our losses, selling everything off, and making the uncertain jump to some faraway place ? betting everything on an individual dream that might not even come true ? or betting everything on a collective dream that might not come true ? i just don’t know…

techno babble.

– – – daft punk – – –

so, i’ve seen a couple of movies scored with ‘techno’ now…(yes, i realize ‘techno’ is probably not the right term…the same way ‘metal’ isn’t the right term for a lot of the heavy rock that’s out there)…anyway, i love what it does for the movie, and i love the music. the new ‘tron’ with music by daft punk was killer, and i just saw the movie ‘hanna’ with music by the chemical brothers…wow. the way the music overlapped with the sound effects in the movie was just brilliant…really heightened the experience.

even as a rocker dude, i’ve always liked electronic music. anyone who says it’s not real music because it’s made on computers and not with instruments or whatever isn’t really listening. it can be just as creative as anything a ‘real’ band is doing…alternately, a ‘real’ band can produce some real shit. electronic music when done right is full of great sounds and great hooks. the way some of these songs build and build is really incredible. and when that distorted uber-heavy bass drops in, and starts playing a minor-key riff over and over ? i melt. just as heavy and powerful as anything from the rock world, in my opinion.

sometimes i take my keyboard and hook it up to my guitar amp, set the beat to ‘techno’ and the voice to ‘square wave’ and just make up my own techno for like an hour. yes, i realize that’s probably the equivalent of a 9-year old with short fingers trying to play the riff from ‘iron man’ on an out-of-tune guitar…but i don’t care.

as much as i enjoy a lot of this type of music, i’m never sure where to step in to go further. to me, it doesn’t seem as clearly defined as rock or metal, where if you like one particular band there are a bunch of other bands you will surely dig. groups that do electronic stuff seem to run all over the place in terms of style, at least to my ears. so, if you have some suggestions for me for stuff that sounds like music from ‘tron’ or ‘hanna’, i’d be keen to dig into it.



i’ve come across a couple of articles recently that describe the current (gridlocked) state of politics in the US, whether between politicians themselves or those that align with them, and of course some of this translates to our daily lives and interactions as well. i struggle to reconcile the need for harmony and unity and forward progress — whether personally or in the world around me — with the desire to just retreat into my own safe world. more often that not, my thought is — if someone aligns themselves with a worldview that is directly antithetical to mine, i’m not particularly interested in what you have to say. i don’t want to live in their world. at all. ever. when this is a member of your family, this is very difficult to reconcile. and of course this includes but also transcends politics.

i struggle to understand the corporatist, ‘rugged individualist’, capitalist, fundamentalist, daddy-state worldview…i personally find so little in it that i feel is redeeming…and can’t imagine a way to approach a person who aligns with these views, much less try to understand them or what motivates them. i don’t want anything to do with the world they want. i wish they would just secede already. if their vision of the world is truly the correct one, then good for them — they have their own world, their own paradise, and can leave me and my kind alone.

i just can’t see how these completely opposing views on how society should be constructed can be reconciled without separating them into two different experiments.

if you read deeper into these things, you may find parallels in your own personal relationships with family and friends (or, estranged family and ex-friends, in some cases), and even others in your circle — like co-workers or group members. consider this —

We may define one idea or point of view as bad (black) and reject it, aligning ourselves with the good (white) perspective. Feelings of anger and self-righteousness often accompany this process, bolstering our conviction that we are in the right and the other side in the wrong. Hatred for the rejected point of view keeps ambiguity and uncomfortable complexity from re-entering the field.

Black-and-white thinking reflects the psychological process known as splitting. When we feel unable to tolerate the tension aroused by complexity, we “resolve” that complexity by splitting it into two simplified and opposing parts, usually aligning ourselves with one of them and rejecting the other. As a result, we may feel a sort of comfort in believing we know something with absolute certainty; at the same time, we’ve over-simplified a complex issue.

On the emotional front, splitting comes into play when we feel hostile toward the people we love. Holding onto feelings of love in the presence of anger and even hatred is a difficult thing for most of us to do. Sometimes hatred proves so powerful that it overwhelms and eclipses love, bringing the relationship to an end. More often we repress awareness of our hostile feelings; or we might split them off and direct them elsewhere, away from the people we care about. (from ‘The Emotional Psychology of a Two-Party System‘)

ever done this in your personal life ? i know i have. i suppose i need therapy…

on the other hand, i find it difficult to imagine a future with a person who, even if once loved, has such an opposing outlook on life that they are now incompatible with me. what are blood ties really worth when you cannot bond ? i’d sooner try to make a clean break and try to make my own way in life, or make a way forward with others of like-mind, surrounded by company i value and who value me.

so what’s the right way forward ?……

more reading : ‘Why Everything Is Politicized Even Though Most Americans Hate It

the beginning of the end ?

so, there are lots of stories and ideas and theories about the singularity…and i stumbled across a recent article about the possibility of ever-more-powerful computers making mathematical and scientific discoveries we cannot comprehend, which in turn led me to a very interesting blog post that revealed these truths :

Soon, we will no longer be able to understand a large fraction of the knowledge we have generated. In Scientific American in 2010, Danny Hillis made a similar point. Speaking about the world that we ourselves have created – an unbelievably complex anthropic society, complete with computer networks, manufacturing systems and transportation structures – Hillis argued that we have moved from the Enlightenment, a period where logic and reason could bring understanding, to the Entanglement, where everything is so unbelievably interconnected that we can no longer understand systems of our own making.

Should this matter? Perhaps we are simply following the same trajectory we have been tracing for thousands of years, in which fewer and fewer people are able to understand the most complex parts of our world. For a great deal of our history, the vast majority of humanity has understood its surroundings according to the knowledge of the day. From the four elements to the workings of the screw and the pulley, a significant fraction of our world’s knowledge was within the grasp of most individuals. As our world has become more complex and knowledge has increased rapidly, a smaller and smaller fraction of society has felt it has a true-enough understanding of everything.

In order to comprehend any advanced topic, one must learn all the foundational knowledge first, thereby recapitulating society’s creative process. In general, novel contributions to a field only come from those who have a firm grasp of the field’s foundations. As society’s knowledge increases, it takes longer and longer to acquire enough mastery of the basics to say something new. As our knowledge increases, and the amount of time necessary to spend learning foundational knowledge becomes prohibitive, fewer and fewer people will invest the time and effort necessary to make new discoveries – or, indeed, to understand them. We may eventually reach the point where discoveries require quantities of time and understanding beyond the capacity of any single human being.

stunning. not only are we ensuring our own extinction through our greedy destruction of our biosphere, we create our own obsolescence despite ever-increasing scientific discoveries, due to quantum leaps in technology that seem sure to one day become so incredible that they eclipse our own achievements…

what does our future hold ?…