Rest in peace, Mr. Sakamoto. So my ambient Sunday 2 will step back to what I consider the first, and maybe still best, Ambient album ever. Brian Eno’s Ambient One Music for Airports. I bought it after having bought Here Come the Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain and Before and After Science, and I honestly thought there was something wrong with my turntable. I fucked around with it a little bit and it slowly dawned on me that this was exactly what it was supposed to be. I learned just how brilliant Brian Eno is. 1/1 is sublime.
The Ultimate Discovery
Electricity! This might be the most important book I’ve read in, well, forever. I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that there is only energy, and that all matter is just energy. If we could somehow turn the energy of the universe off, everything would disappear. That blows my mind. And in my book, I talk about Energy as a sort of God, that which gives us life, that which sustains us and IS us – and everything else. So I talk about the fact that God is Everything and Everything is all a part of God.
I’ve been waiting for this book: “We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body’s Bioelectric Code, and what the Future Holds.” The author, Sally Adee, (I believe) coined the term, Electrome, much like the gut Biome, of which we’ve talked about quite a bit recently. She does a deep dive into the history of how we came to understand energy and our bodies and life, with great stories of the scientists and others who worked on this over time, then how every cell has energy, and on and on. I won’t give it away, because it’s really, really interesting.
As our understanding of how electricity manages our body and, as she points out, is a sort of separate nervous system, and what it can already do and what can be possibly done with it in the future, it really feels like I’m reading about the future of medicine wrapped in lots of great stories at the hands of an amazing author. She’s obviously super smart, but makes it not only accessible, but quite the story! If you’re into this sort of thing, I would strongly recommend it. It’s a blast to read and also a glimpse into the future of medicine. We are electric. We need to recognize it and see what we can do with it to better ourselves and our future.
“…in 2017 the Kentucky Coal Museum covered its roof with 80 solar panels because the technology saved the organization money.”
Susan Joy Hassol, Scientific American Magazine
There’s something awesome about that, but pretty much how it’s been here in reality. Big corporations have been planning for climate change for decades, the military even longer, but out here in TV land, we ain’t gonna plan for nothin’!
The release of heat trapping gases last year was the highest ever recorded. And there’s really no denying that a climate crisis is upon us as we watch giant storm after giant storm, heat wave after flood after fire rattle the nation and the world. We’ll survive, but we have to agree that mitigating the effects of climate change will be extremely expensive. Like, really fucking expensive – cleaning up after storms, floods and fires, moving homes, people and infrastructure, dealing with the massive migrations away from the equator. If we’re thinking we have border issues now, have a seat and watch this.
So how can we in good conscience pretend that what we’re all doing is still okay, and that we got rights to burn all the fuel we want, whenever we want, and how we want? It’s ludicrous and really, really, really fucking mean to our kids, grandkids, great grandkids and onward. At this point, we are the absolute worst fucking ancestors in the history of the planet.
Yeah, sorry about that whole “earth” thing, kid. Here’s the bill.
Hair Mask (Hair Shirt?)
Taking a shower tonight I reached into the skyline of shampoo, conditioner and who knows what else is in there and I grabbed one that said, “Hair Mask”. Imagine that. A mask for your hair. We live in a nation where a much too large portion of the population was unwilling to wear a mask over their mouth and nose during an airborne pandemic to protect their friends and family. An airborne pandemic, by the way, that killed more than one million of us. I wonder how they’d feel about a hair mask.
But on the positive side, all the rest of us did! We masked up and for all sorts of reasons. Some people were afraid for themselves, wanting to stay healthy, not wanting to die (go figure), but didn’t we even more often hear people talk about other people, as in, I have to make sure I have a mask and get a test before Saturday when I go visit my grandma? Stuff like that-there. It was a beautiful thing and we can be very proud of the effort we all made. We saved millions of lives by doing the right thing.
A democracy like ours needs its people to pull together occasionally no matter what you believe. We need to make sure that we insert a little responsibility to all those rights we like to talk about. And most of us did. Warms the heart.
Engage and Enrage
It’s the art of politics on the right side of the aisle here in the good old USA. But if you see us as one nation, under God and all of that, shouldn’t y’all be working harder to engage and assuage? Why would anyone want to pit one group of Americans against another? What are they hoping to achieve?
And beyond just politics, we do in general very much like our groups, those with whom we share something important to us, be that an address, a job, a style of dress, a place of worship, a school, a sport, a pop star, a hobby. And we are proud of those groups and so when our group pride is somehow hurt, we rally our group against other groups, ostensibly our enemies, but almost always just a bunch of Americans who ultimately share the same beliefs about life, love, family and friends.
So what do we do? We resort to inflating the importance of small issues, things that might look or sound bad or wrong or weird, but are ultimately no skin off our backs. And we say these things over and over to keep people thinking about them (they say that hearing something 14 times will lead a person to action). It’s called propaganda, and it works.
Anger, distrust, unhappiness, jealousy, and ultimately violence; that is what they’re hoping to achieve. And when you think about it, the more we’re beating up on one another down here in the trenches of life, the rich and powerful stay busy, accumulating more power, and getting richer and richer and richer.
Thich Quang Duc and Wynn Alan Bruce
Most people my age and older have some knowledge of, and may have the image (above) seared into their mind of when Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, set himself on fire to protest the police and Vietnamese army’s massacre of Vietnamese people during a celebration that turned into a protest. At the time Vietnam was 90% Buddhist but the current ruler, Ngo Dinh Diem, was Catholic and wanted to “westernize” the nation and so banned the display of religious flags. On May 8, 1963, they celebrated Phat Dan, or the day of the birth of the Buddha, religious flags were displayed, and the massacre ensued. A month later, on June 11, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk who was not at the massacre, sat down in the middle of the same street, began meditating, set himself on fire (doused in gasoline) and sat motionless as he burned to death.
An American photographer happened to be on the scent and got the iconic, jaw-dropping photos that exploded across the globe. Thich Nhat Hanh, another Vietnamese buddhist monk, prolific author and teacher, often brought him up in his writings, and while I never committed the man’s name to memory, I never forgot that image since I saw it as a teenager in the 1970s.
Recently, a blip in my online, 24-hour news feed, filled with stories of mass shootings, war in Ukraine, awful American (and worldwide) politicians and people, and the ongoing, ever-expanding destruction of the planet thanks in large part to human-induced burning of fossil fuels, was something about an American who did something similar in Washington DC. I’m appalled and embarrassed how little attention I paid.
Reading the obituaries in the local paper this morning I stopped cold when I saw: “on the steps of the Supreme Courthouse…”
“Bruce, Wynn Alan
Born in Green Bay WI Aug 25, 1971 and died on Earth Day April 22, 2022 on the steps of the Supreme Courthouse in Washington DC. His father, Douglas Bruce (Holly), mother Martha, stepbrother Eric (Jamie), extended family and friends in Minnesota and Boulder, CO and around the country are greatly saddened by his death but respect and honor his commitment to the issues of climate change and the environment.”
Unless you’ve got your head jammed straight up your ass and/or have been fooled by extremely effective but idiotic right wing media, you understand what is happening right now to our climate due to humankind. I’m human and not at all pretending I’ve been doing much myself. In fact, my passion for doing something about this has been washed away, shall we say, having watched the world (and more importantly, individuals like you and me) do absolutely nothing about it.
Scientists have been warning us for decades, and year after year, the climate has been proving them almost exactly right, but to pretty much no avail. So I’m now at this point hopeless we’ll do much about it and wondering what we’ll do about the consequences. How will we handle the flooding of coastal and inland low lying areas? What will we do about the incredible heat waves that will make many places currently filled with humans uninhabitable? How about the massive fires that will only get worse and worse? Who’s going to pay to rebuild after the super storms keep coming and damaging property, farmland, and infrastructure? And in the current pandemic of xenophobia what will we do with the mass migrations due to heat, flooding, fires, storms and water shortages?
Of course, we’re already paying for increasing storm damage, controlling and putting out growing fires, cleaning up and relocating people after massive flooding, but it’s that last one that I really worry about. Here in the U.S. people are filling their pants because there are 60,000 people at the southern border trying to get into our nation of 330 million people. What about when there are 10, 50 or 100 million people clamoring to get in? What big beautiful wall is going to stop them? How about when the entire population of Southwest U.S. starts running north and east? What happens then?
We’ll see. Then, by the way, is only a few decades out, maybe sooner. But here we sit, doing nothing and not even noticing, when Green Bay’s own, Wynn Alan Bruce, sits down in plain view and burns himself to death in an incredibly brave warning to all of us of what’s coming. Blip.
A Little Help?
“When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22
Not sure about you, but everywhere I look I see Help Wanted signs. They are in windows, on restaurant tables, billboards, huge banners draped on buildings, in urban, suburban, exurban and rural areas – everywhere – Help Wanted signs. Some of these are for better paying jobs but most are for line cooks, dishwashers, service industry, construction, fast food, hotel staff and the like. These are jobs traditionally held by new immigrants and people low on the socio-economic ladder. Businesses are desperate for workers at a time when our jobless rate is at an historic low of 3.6%.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently at least 11.3 million job openings in the United States. The actual number will be higher due to very small businesses that often go uncounted.
“The Horror at the Border”
The reports are true: There was a record number of encounters with migrants at the Southwest border of 1.6 million in 2021, just over 1 million of those involved single adults. About a quarter of those were repeat crossers, so the number of new people trying to get into the U.S. was about 1.2 million. The number of people traveling in families was 451,087, also a record.
Sixty-three percent of these people were from countries other than Mexico, most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, another record. Some of these were the migrants we read about or saw on television who walked in caravans hundreds and even over a thousand miles to get to our border.
Republicans among us gnash their teeth, wring their hands, and bellow about the catastrophe at our border. It’s good politics as they can dumb it down, blame it on President Biden and do nothing. Of course, the real reasons these folks are coming in such huge numbers is that there are no jobs in their own countries, they are in mortal danger and/or they want their children to have a better life than they had. The very same reasons every American’s family came to our shores.
I’m sure you’ve already done the math, but here we go: Had we welcomed every single one of those one million single adults at the border and got them each one of the 11.3 million jobs, we’d have filled less than 10% and still have 10.3 million job openings, we’d not even notice the number of Help Wanted signs having gone down, and business owners would still be desperate for workers.
I’m not advocating for that, of course, as it’s all much more complicated, but in general, the average American’s idea of immigration and our borders is shockingly skewed. This is mostly due to misinformation and mostly from right wing media and politicians. They understand that instilling fear into voters, in this case, with “illegal immigrants at the borders,” is extremely effective and distracts voters from the actual issues our elected officials should be focused on – the best education, affordable healthcare, climate change and others that truly affect American individuals and families.
Humanity is the Story of Migration
All Americans are from immigrant families. No matter where you are on this planet at some point your family immigrated to where you currently live. They did not spring from the ground like tulips. Life on earth is defined by migration – constant, ever-flowing migration. Keep an open mind, listen to your heart and don’t buy into the fear-mongering. There are often solutions smack dab in the middle of problems.
We think we know
Sentient beings need a brain, right? A nervous system to tell the body what to do in the world. It’s what we know. It’s all we know. But there’s a single-cell slime mold, sans any nervous system, that learns, passes knowledge to other molds, and repairs itself within minutes. No one knows even how to categorize this organism.
It’s been around for millions of years, but we have no idea what it is. Is it an animal? Is it a fungus? It’s capable of memory and adapts its behavior. It solves problems of moving around a labyrinth.
“The blob can navigate without eyes, limbs or wings. When researchers sliced up the organism and sprinkled them in a maze, the blob consolidated into its original form.” And get this: “After introducing the experiment to a new blob and allowing it to merge with another, the new super blob show incredible smarts. ‘Somehow during the merging process, the naive cells learned a behavior for a situation that they themselves had never experienced.'”
Crows taught to fear a particular human will give birth to baby crows that have never seen that human or know anything about it, but know to fear it. What do we know?
The people are woke and global, sorry fatheads
Hearing about Vladimir Putin’s attempts to keep his citizens in the dark about what he was planning and now, what he is doing, in Ukraine is laughable. How is it that these angry old guys really think they can keep information away from people in the age of the Internet? Russia is a modern country, their people are logged in and connected to everyone else logged in. Yes, the state media controlled their message and was telling them one thing but just how many modern educated Russians believe their official state television? Probably about as many Americans who watch Fox News and believe that. (Fox has about 1.5 million daily viewers or about .003 percent of the American population.)
Russians get their news from many sources as do educated and curious people all around the world. They get Russian news, BBC, German news, and on and on – the new perspective is global, which many powerful men and women disdain as it sucks life out of the power to which they cling like deer ticks. Unless Putin could somehow corral the entire world of media into playing along with his lies, or build a dome across his 11 time zones, he is absolutely screwed when it comes to controlling what his people see, hear and know. And we see now how badly he has failed. Brave Russians are protesting in the streets, which to us in America might not sound so amazing, but protesting in Russia is not, shall we say, encouraged by the State. Protesters put themselves and their families in real, sometimes mortal danger.
Even North Korea, a veritable desert of outside news, can’t stop it all. Defectors have reported various ways their citizens still find a way to get western information, usually entertainment, into the country. If the Kim’s can’t do it, no one can.
Here in our own nation, fatheads around the country are banning or trying to ban books, like it’s 1952. This is the absolute dumbest (and dumbing) move the said fatheads can attempt. First, tell a young person with even a modicum of smarts and self-respect not to read a book and they will find a way to read the book. Duh. Second, ban them where? Books are everywhere. You could work to ban it in a school but another school with have it, so will the library, and so will, ahem, Amazon. And third, kids have printers. Got it, fatheads? We know that what you’re doing is merely to make others like you happy to further your political careers, but you look so dumb doing it, that it can only backfire. It seems that you also should read those books, and many more, until you get it.
Young people are woke and global (as are many old people). Your attempts to turn back the clock, jam the toothpaste back in the tube, close the barn door after the cows all left reminds me of the old guy on the 70s television show “Soap” who would snap his fingers and think that he’d become invisible when all the people around him just kind of groaned and went on with their business. You’re ridiculous. You have zero respect for the modern world and for the intelligence of young people. They don’t need you telling them what they can and cannot read. They need you to get the hell out of the way so they can build a new world that recognizes reality, not the wishes of a washed up generation who is handing those same young people a planet that we continue to fuck up on a daily basis.
This is not to mention all of the misinformation perpetrated by these same people around COVID. That led to dead Americans and lots of them. For that, if Christianity is correct, you will all land in hell. Sorry. Well, not really.
It’s ten below outside heading toward 20 below. If you’ve not felt that kind of cold, it’s dry; it’s really really dry. Body lotion vanishes like mist in Phoenix. Static electricity loves this kind of dry!
I have to roll up the trash bins so I put on my green puffy down jacket and a wool hat, making sure my headphone cord is on the inside so it doesn’t get caught on anything like the trash bin handles. It’s ten below and that generally means crystal clear. Not a drop of water in that air. There’s a delicate moon, just a sliver, running from 2 to 8 on a clock tip to tip. “You could hang a bucket on that moon,” my grandma Lucia once said about a similar moon at a different time.
It’s beautiful, but it’s also stupid-cold out there so I head back inside. I stop in the entryway and close to door behind me to keep the cold out. I pull off my puffy down jacket. The cord sticks to it and then peels off.
A pack of tiny firecrackers goes off in each ear. Electricity dances between the ear buds and ears. Each feels like one of those electricity balls that makes kids’ hair stand on end when they put their hand on it, but without the glass ball. It hurts! My shirt billows toward the jacket and hangs there for a second . I’m pregnant with static electricity; Marylin Monroe on the sidewalk grate. I shake the sparks from my shirt and throw my crackling hat on the jacket, watching as all around me the energy slowly snaps itself out.
I’ve had more painful shocks from static electricity, but this went on like a fireworks grand finale. I wonder if it’s going to give me any superpowers.