Archive for May, 2014

The Single Most important Question of our Lifetime.

May 23, 2014

Here it is: Why do you think the United States government has spent untold billions of dollars since 9/11 — building a vast secret and frighteningly invasive and inclusive technological infrastructure – and a national secret police force – to spy on, and to control its own people? 

Why?

Why was it done in total secrecy and with secret budgets and funding? What do they know that we don’t know? Why isn’t anyone talking about this?  Who’s running the show here? Why all the god damn urgency?

These are not stupid or venial people we’re talking about here. This is not an inconsequential effort, nor is it an inconsequential amount of dollars that went into the development effort.

I mean this whole juggernaut — to design and implement a fully operational and fully integrated surveillance, monitoring, tracking and control system that captures the interests and thought patterns, financial records, medical and legal records, business and social relationship networks, and the tracking of behavior and movement patterns of every citizen in the entire country — required focused intentionality greater than what it took to put a man on the moon. Or an effort equal to or surpassing the catalyzing, designing, selling, logistically supporting and implementing and managing a war in the Middle East from start to finish. And it required the cunning and deception required to clear the legislative and legal pathways to conduct massive worldwide financial fraud that consolidated the world’s wealth into the hands of 200 people.

That deliberate. That focused. That intentional. And again, why was it done?

For what purpose? With what supporting rational? Based on what massively compelling body evidence?

To make things better? To show the world that “freedom” is alive in America?  To build and support a better and more equitable Democracy? To build a better future for our children? To create a better world through invasive technology?

Yeah, I know. I feel it too. We know why already. We just don’t want anyone to tell us.

Jesus. How the hell did we get to this point? I sure hope somebody is thinking about what to do beyond robo-cops and “crowd control” — and how to crush anarchy dead in its tracks the second someone lifts their head to protest. Hope someone is thinking about soft landings and how to keep the wheels on until we can figure out what’s next.

Which raises the second most important question of our lifetime.

That is, what’s next?

Now that we’ve pretty much determined that capitalism and our current financial and wealth management systems are both a sham and a scam…and are largely irrelevant to all but those who are abitratraly keeping the game alive until they decide to stop supporting it (and who also believe it’s pretty much over)…what’s the new capitalism replacement system going to look like?

And now that we have come to accept that our once cherished principles of Democracy and our bicameral form of government doesn’t work real well when the oligarchs own the players and control the game…what do we do to clean up the pig pen and get the will of the people in the process again?

And that now we accept our economy, once anchored on citizen employment in the actual production of goods and services – and kept honest and vibrant by competition, and workplace and labor laws and market place controls to insure it’s vibrancy — has been hollowed out to the degree that we just don’t make anything anymore…and that more and more people are living in a world they can’t afford to live in.  So what do we do about creating a world that has meaningful work for all — that sustains individuals from beginning to end — and families with oppressive financial challenges?

And here’s creepy thought:

I’m pretty sure that somewhere deep in the think tanks and skunk works of those fine secret organizations who have brought us the past 30 years of disembly of right reason – these questions and all the other questions that are linked to them are being thought about seriously and intensely.  These are, as we have learned, serious and intense people.

And, as we have also come to realize, they tend to work in the dark…off-line and in total secrecy…and in their own behalf.  Not in our behalf.

Definitely not in our behalf.

And, to be completely honest, I’m not at all sure anyone is working in our behalf right now either. And that’s a little scary don’t you think?

So…how about those Twins?

Who are you voting for this cycle?  How do you even decide?

Virile virus’s from Vidalia…

May 12, 2014

Seems like bad computer shit is raging all around these days. Wearing us down. Don’t know about anyone else but I’m about to give up and let these unrelenting insistent hacker dirt balls have their way with me. 

Tired of fighting a fight that can’t be won. Tired of thinking bad thoughts that maybe all these clean-up and anti-virus people are actually the ones putting all this nasty stuff in there in the first place. And that paying for protection just stops them from doing things that would destroy us completely. For a while anyway.

Thinking that this whole net neutrality thing is yet just another hustle to charge us more for what we get for free now – and, of course, to preserve the world’s most invasive information and data collection system…and probably, before it’s all said and done, to extort a sir charge from us to keep them from crapping in our computers.

For dead sure…now that they’ve been doing it for while, they’ll never stop the spying and tracking and collecting and mining — and using our stuff to sell us stuff — and maybe to black mail us for porn viewership…and to sell our personal information to shut us down if we become too strident: about peace or agricultural sustainability, or about fracking’s impact on clean water…or global warming.

Or if we bitch too much about the nastiness of big banks or rigged elections…or bribery of elected legislators — or because we’ve become bleeding heart liberal malcontents about helping the poor get food stamps…or because we’re too rage-full about the eclipse of the middle class, or about the dismantling of the constitution…or about the ascendancy of the oligarchs…or about the hijacking of the political and Judicial processes in the country.

Or if, god forbid, things get cumulatively bad enough that people start actually bitching out loud — or become anarchists or something.

Yeah, they’re going to hang on to everything about us they can stuff into their data base, forever. That’s what it was built for I’m thinking.

Or at least that’s what Homeland Security turned it into.  Nothing neutral about any of this stuff.

Select. Delete.

Obituary for Ron H.

May 3, 2014

Ron and I became pals the better part of twenty years ago. I spoke at his funeral service. I wanted to give this eulogy. Basically his life is an almost perfect metaphor for AA and “how it works”. I didn’t intend this to turn out that way, but when it was done that’s what it was. A perfect circle.

 

April 2014

Good Morning. My name is Joe and I’m a member of a large club that my pal Ron and a whole lot of his beloved friends belong to.

It’s a club that’s pretty much grown up on the axiom advice that “if you want what we have…then you need to do what we do”. Well, for the people inside this church and for many more who aren’t able to be here this morning — the person who had what we wanted was our dear friend Ron…who was a beacon example of what it was we needed to do…to get what we wanted.

While the loss may be painful and hard for us to take, this can’t be anything but a happy occasion for us as members of our intensely important community…one of the last bastions of true humanity.

Most everyone here has heard Ron’s story a time or two – so there’s really no reason to tell it here again this morning. What I do want to talk about is the Ron we all knew and loved and saw and shared time and space and stories with, right up until Thursday night. That Ron.

When you get right down to it, there’s really nothing to be sad about. Ron had a huge full life and a million people who loved him and who were grateful to have him in their lives.

More than almost anyone I know, Ron had what we wanted. Ron was a thoughtful guy who had a real handle on who he was – and knew who he wasn’t. Ron was exactly and precisely the person he wanted to be. How can you beat that? He lived precisely the life he wanted to live…precisely the way he wanted to live it. He was at peace in and with himself. He was in perfectly clear and honest relationships with people he cared about and loved. And that just doesn’t get any better. He had – because he worked hard to achieve it – peace, and a simple, pragmatic and uncomplicated perspective on life…and a strong sense of serenity and settled-ness. He had the knowledge that he was loved. There is nothing sad about any of this. He was the man he wanted to be.

Ron turned 80 years old this past December. 36 years earlier, not too many people would have taken a bet that he’d ever reach 80. And in no small sense of irony tomorrow — April 10, 2014, would have been Ron’s 36th year medallion day. Two people came up to me earlier – from two different meetings where Ron had been a long term member – to remind me that tomorrow was his anniversary and that they had 36 year medallions they had been prepared to present at the next meeting.

Ron was raised in South Chicago. He was loved as a young child and went to a Catholic school…and he was a big kid…a really big kid, which made him sort of a magnet – sometimes for things a young man shouldn’t really be a magnet for. And before he was out of junior high, he…like so many of us…was ‘pulled into life’ before he ever got old enough to understand it.

If you’re not real sure where you are and where you’re going, life becomes a lot like being a ping-pong ball in a gale…following the path formed by the wind pushing from behind. A young man ends up getting pulled into what’s in front of him, without much thought. Beguiled into the Guards underage; then the Marines; married briefly…a child lost in divorce…and getting pulled into life in deeper and deeper…and deeper, until it finally became time to stop.

That was 36 years ago. Ron had piled up a heck of a life story by then…but it wasn’t quite enough to stop being the man he didn’t want to be.

At 44 Ron had enough – and somehow (no one’s quite sure how or why) he ended up at a longstanding AA group. A 44 year old physically intimidating, attitudinally fearsome man – stoked with rage level anger and frustration — stepped into a group comprised of recovering white men – mostly his own age – with life and living problems that matched his — with a couple of ‘ old-timers’ who knew the ropes and the drill – and who had what Ron wanted. I suspect.

How do these things happen? Well, I’m thinking there was something inside of Ron Holloway that brought him to this point. I’ve been attending a Quaker meeting for some 20 years now and I have an idea of what it was that started Ron thinking about changing his life – particularly after spending pretty much the bulk of the preceding years headed on a course of self defeat and destruction.

Quakers have a simple but powerful belief that God exists in all people…and that as such, we must recognize and honor that god in ourselves — and in others. God is called the “light”. The light that exists in everyone. Some have a lot…others less.

A number of Quakers believe that it is this “light” that leads people to become their higher selves. The people they want to be.   I’m thinking that our friend Ron was lead by his own light — and his desire to get off the track he’d been on that was literally killing him, and to become the person he wanted to be. I don’t know if he had a notion of who or what that person was…but I completely believe that he was more than ready to step out of the wind that had been pushing him for all those years in a self-destructive direction.

Ron became part of that first meeting. And kept coming back. He stopped drinking…and he listened to what people were saying – and heard them being honest with themselves and with other people…and he heard them telling the truth. He heard them being sorry for what they had done earlier in their lives…and knew they were making amends when they were needed. He saw people taking responsibility for their actions and for their behavior. And he came to see and understand how one’s bad behavior affects others…and about how drama and chaos creates insanity — and how it creates relationships that are completely dysfunctional. And, he learned about the difference between living “reflexively” versus “reflectively”. And about how everything gets insane when we drink again.

Ron listened — and he thought and considered and then embraced the notions that made sense to him, that he felt were the things he needed to do – to get what he wanted.

And through time, Ron started to become the person he wanted to become.   He had stopped drinking. His anger dissipated. His patience increased. He learned how to listen — and how to hear what was being said. And he become honest about himself and his about his role in the many things he remained angry about. And about the losses and destruction his addictions had created.

Ron came to own himself. He developed a true self-esteem based on considered and thoughtful beliefs and values – and an understanding of who he was. Ron found he was living the life he wanted to live. He told his story freely and straight up and without guile. He shared his experiences and talked about the things that gave him strength and hope and that lead him to believe that what he wanted was within reach. And unbeknown to him, Ron’s life and thinking and stories were being accepted as examples others could accept for models in their own lives.

Ron’s mission was his commitment in helping new comers get started in the program. Ron told people the truth. People listened and could related because Ron was brutally honest and was totally real and his message was filled with serenity and hope and possibility. People wanted what he had.

And I, like most of the people here today, am profoundly grateful to have known Ron for as long as I have — and to have been able to learn from him how to live life a lot better. Can’t get any better than that.

He died a very happy and fulfilled man. And he died with his boots on. Having just finished having a fun and funny dinner after a being part of a great meeting earlier. Dinner out with the Perkin’s guys! Having just finished a piece of warm apple pie with ice cream. Where he spent most of his conversation talking to Jerry – a new comer.

Can’t write it any better.

And that’s about all I have.

I pass.

Joe B.