Thursday, June 19, 2003

Just because you are not interested in politics, does not mean that politics is not interested in you.

- Pericles

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Martha's Crimes

Martha Stewart was indicted two days ago.
Ken Lay was not indicted two days ago.
Bernie Ebbert was not indicted two days ago.
Martha and Kenny Boy

Kenny Boy was one of Dubya's greatest fund raisers.

The dogg predicts:
Martha will go to jail.
Kenny Boy will go to Aspen.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"Why, of course the people don't want war...But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

-- Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials


Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Gentrification of Lake County

This week I went in for my annual eye exam. During the exam the doctor and I were talking about coffee shops in Lake County. We both liketo spend a half hour in a coffee shop, reading the newspaper, before going to work. I realized that there are really only four coffee shops in the county. I mentioned a new one in a nearby town, and said, "They've got good coffee, but it's not a very comfortable place to read." He said, "Well, they don't want..." and then stopped talking quickly and changed the subject.

What they don't want is people who wear levi's and work with their hands. Or people who are too old, too young, too fat, too poor, to dirty, too shabby... They want customers who present an appearance of uppper middle class prosperity, smile through whitened teeth, and drive shiny SUV's. Them or tourists.

A few months ago I ran smack into this attitude in a small Napa Valley coffee shop. I'd been working all morning. I was wearing boots, levi's and an old shirt. After a half hour, the owner came over and asked me to leave. I left and haven't been back. A month after being evicted from the coffee shop, I was in Paris and dressed pretty much the same. I spent a lot of time sitting in coffee shops reading, and no one had a problem. Maybe they knew I was a tourist.
Lunch with former colleagues

Just had lunch with several people I used to work with. For the first half-hour the conversation was about house prices, the stock market, and retirement accounts. One man is buying a house in Portland, so his daughter can live there while she goes to school. "I get all that equity..." he said. Another hopes the stocks in his 401K will triple within the next two years so he could retire in comfort. Another said he was going to take as much debt as possible in the next couple years. Then if the economy goes south, he plans to declare bankruptcy and walk away.

A friend asked him, "And on what basis would you justify that (morally). Leaving creditors holding the bag?"

He said, "When my stocks went to nothing, and i lost my stock option, I figure 'they' took it away from me. Maybe it would be time for me to take a little back from 'them'."

No one had much interest in anything outside Silicon Valley. One asked what was going on in Lake County but quickly grew bored when I started to tell him.

I left lunch profoundly depressed. I believe there is an economic train wreck coming. My former co-workers are dealing with it by going as deeply into debt as possible. If I'm right, deflation or unemployment takes everything and they end up eating dog food. If they're right, inflation pays their bills and buys their houses, cars, and comfort.

I advocate another path. No debt, and good old Yankee self reliance. These days it's got a new name. It's called voluntary simplicity.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

email to Tom Friedman regarding his column of June 1, 2003:

"when a hegemonic power, such as America, emerges in the global system other countries will naturally gang up against it."

This didn't happen to us, because America was viewed as a benign power.

American actions and, perhaps more importantly, American words have shattered the benign image. America is now seen as a military threat, not just a commerical or cultural threat.

So, we are now at the stage where "counties will naturally gang up against" us. To do so openly, is to invite retribution. To not do so, is to invite irrelevance.

So, it is not unreasonable to expect commerical and military links to be quitely forming in an effort to restore balance to the world.

It is a curious outcome, a bipolar world has room for dozenes of viewpoints, a unipolar world has room for only one.

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