Best wishes for the New Year to all of my readers. Thank you for taking time from your life to stop by and share in a few of my thoughts, babbles and meanderings. I will be back come Monday with an reimagined version of Keeping Your Head in (All) the Game(s).

Holiday Visuals

The Occupy Movement has recently kept me away from sharing the interesting visuals I find while surfing the web.


Elephant Hawk Moth

Dandelion Bear/National Geographic

thanks for these Sandy


May Your Day Be Merry and Bright

In the Meadow We Can Build a Snowman

Winter Solstice

A Joyous New Year to All

December 21st 9:30 PM PST
December 22nd 12:30 AM EST
5:30 AM GMT

Colored Pencils

Public Art

Awhile back before my blog was consumed with the Occupy Movement I was collecting images for a series on Public Art. These are a few I had queued up - enjoy.

trompe de l'oeil

yes, faux lego

The Last Six Months Out My Window

I wish I could put into words how dramatic this nightfall was. Every aspect of the Bay, the Bridges, The City turned shades of grey. Everything became crystal clear, the water of San Francisco Bay was a sheet of granite. Before the nightlights took over the view was frozen in whites, greys and blacks.

These are all shots from the Berkeley apartment
where I lay my weary head each night
here the Golden Gate Bridge
from ten miles away

sunsets come in shades of purple

whiter shades of pale

grays & greys

the black paper silhouette SF skyline

Another Year End Pause

"I must say lately I've been feeling a bit consumed 
by all this writing." 

For the past several months my blog has been dominated by the Occupy Movement. Elsewhere I have had myself on a very strict writing routine on another project. I have not been using the blog as a creative outlet as much as I have in the past. It would seem that my relationship with this blog is changing.

Last year I took a year end break from blogging, I am going to do somewhat the same this year. So for those who have not been fans of the political writing, there is some good news - I really hate to discard content I've had on hold the last few months, so I have half a dozen visual posts queued up for your viewing pleasure between now and the new year.



As I look back the number of blog posts per year has risen steadily since I began here nearly five years ago.

In 2007 I wrote 40 blog posts, mostly about poker.
In 2008, I was up to 56, still mostly poker
In 2009 there were 160 posts and I made the shift away from poker.
I was up to 186 posts in 2010.
2011 will reach over 240  daily offerings before we hear Auld Lang Syne .

While I take the remainder of '11 off from actively writing the blog, I am also going to reconsider how I want to engage in this exercise with myself and with all of you going into 2012. My first post of the new year will address whatever plans I hatch over the holidays. I have been tempted to start a second all political blog but again that would take away from my other writing for which I might actually get paid.

I know I have been single minded and a bit harsh over the last several months, I literally have been Occupied. So no more politics (here) until 2012.



Some Personally Occupied Perspective

Call this my penultimate post of the year, check back Sunday for more on that.

I want to look at the four major points I have discovered in the past two months that are driving the Occupy Movement, the Tea Party and me personally.

I. Income Inequality, which for me is better expressed as Opportunity Inequality. The land of the free and the home of the brave has become a rigged game. Wall Street and Washington DC have conspired to put the American Dream so far in debt that none of us will ever have the opportunities our national government was originally formed to preserve and defend. We must tear down those institutions that are too big to fail, because only the nation deserves that label and if we do nothing - the nation will fall.

II. Money in Politics. This one has surprised me. I really had no sense of just how angry the overwhelming majority of citizens are that the government has been bought. Everybody knows it. Everyone is mad as hell about it, except those doing the buying. Once again we see the coalition of greed between Wall Street and elected officials. It has got to stop or we will get the same result - the nation will fall.

III. The Main Stream Media. No one trusts them anymore. No one. Several of my conservative friends gave up on Fox News because they just knew the news would be slanted every single day on every single story. CNN may actually be worse with Wolf Blitzer's breathless excitement over the endless stale parade of republican debates and new polling results. The good news is that the internet provides so many avenues of excellent on-site sources for news and commentary from the thoughtful to the extremely paranoid. Everyone can tune in the ultimate in Free Speech.

IV. The Department of Defense. For me, defense spending has been at the heart of our budget problems for decades. Do you realize the United States still maintains a force of nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea nearly 60 years after the military conflict ended. Not to mention huge bases in Germany and Italy staffed and maintained since WWII. Just last week Barack Obama agreed to huge new military expenditures for a U.S. presence in Australia.

To put it simply. We are not the police force for the world. We should not be. The U.S. Constitution is not a blueprint for the world. There actually are other cultures different from the one we know and they are not for lack of a huge military inferior to ours.

Cutting the U.S. Defense Department by 25%* would fully fund programs in health, education and research; including government seed monies for research and development to reassert the U.S. economy on the world stage. But we can do none of these things if we keep dumping billions of dollars into foreign wars that drain our resources not to mention maiming and wounding our military.

*By the way, none of the DoD cuts should come out of veteran's benefits for medical services or counseling.

V. Other issues. Yes, there are more. You probably don't agree with my top four. The Occupy Movement is about facilitating all voices; the needs and demands of those voices. Occupy is a call for deep change—not temporary fixes and single-issue reforms—this is the movement’s sustaining power. Here are some things you can do to get involved.

-and here is an analysis of Occupy from Mother Jones that is worth considering even if you haven't been in a tent in twenty years:

"The occupations provided a catalyst, but the most interesting conversations haven't taken place in the camps via the human mic. They've happened among the millions of people who found that kids in tents were quite effectively articulating their own sense of abandonment. What comes next is the question that should occupy us in 2012, and beyond."

Medical Marijuana (9): DEA & Me

Several readers have pointed out that my series on Medical Marijuana lacks a final report. Sorry, you're right, here we go. I want to deal briefly with the politics of pot and then I will summarize my own experience with using marijuana to control my chronic back pain.

First the legal/political issues. Marijuana prohibition is bigotry. Bigotry against people in pain, patients recovering from chemotherapy, those suffering from arthritis, glaucoma and literally scores of other illnesses and medical conditions. Such prohibition is also contrary to the expressed views of freedoms we allegedly hold to be self evident in this country. Both politically as well as scientifically we know this to be true:

"In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care."
US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition," (September 6, 1988)

The prison overcrowding problems in this country would disappear tomorrow if we released those persons who are serving time for simple possession of marijuana. The war on drugs is a failure for its inclusion of marijuana as a drug. There simply is no scientific evidence to prohibit the sale and use of cannabis; there is only fear and that fear is destroying lives unnecessarily.

As to the results of my own experiment with marijuana as a pain reduction tool, I must admit to negative results. You see using cannabis alters perception in a variety of ways. For those who do find relief from pain the use of marijuana often provides pain free or pain reduced responses that cannot be obtained from other pain relievers including narcotics.

On the other hand, marijuana does make some individuals more physically sensitive. Unfortunately I fall into that category. Marijuana heightens my sensitivity to all somatic stimuli including pain. I do not experience more pain with pot but I am more aware of the pain I have. Not a good outcome in my case.

So for me, the medical marijuana experiment has had an negative outcome. I will be sticking with other forms of pain intervention both pharmaceutical and other non-traditional interventions.

Previous posts in this series:

Medical Marijuana (4): Botanical Chemistry
Medical Marijuana (3): Human Experimentation
Medical Marijuana (2): The Dispensary

NOT Occupying Obama

"Obama's hope of somehow harnessing the Occupy Wall Street movement as a left-wing of the tea party is a pipe dream. Obama was yesterday's messiah. He has turned out to be a false prophet and his erstwhile supporters are out for revenge."

That's the final conclusion of a short article on Yahoo! news. For those in the Occupy Movement it comes as no surprise. Conservatives will probably believe that it's just more propaganda because for them Occupy is an Obama election strategy. For the liberals this is a chilling message and therein lies the truth from my corner of the political landscape. The president and the democrats are not going to be able to mobilize the energy of the Occupy protest in 2012. Not a chance.

Yes there are voters at the camps and in the marches who will pull the lever for Barack but not nearly enough for him to win. And this is not merely youthful defection from a cause that simply could not have possibly taken over D.C. in what is now still less than three years in office.

The facts, as seen around the tents, is that Obama didn't really try. He is, as many of us expected, just another politician. His entire career has been about compromise and the center, which as it turns out is not a viable strategy when the other side will not budge. The republicans vote as a bloc, descent is not an option in that party. They have become a bloated intestinal blockage in the American system and they think nothing of destroying the country if it means they get their way. Obama's reaction to such obstinate, obstructionist policy has been to make more pretty speeches. 

We have been listening, which is one of the big reasons there is an Occupy Movement at all. This is not an anti-republican or anti-democrat protest. Remember it began as Occupy Wall Street. Not Occupy D.C. This is about the criminal actions taken by greedy, heartless bastards at the expense of everyone else in the country. Hell, everyone else on the planet, they nearly destroyed the world wide economy with their avarice.

The hard numbers on the ground are not with the president. Certainly not the 99% and not the 50.1% either, not with the anti-majority tilt of the electoral college. But fear not liberals, have hope independents, stay alert middle class, lower class and even the few patriots in the financial elite - there is another way.

More on that other way later, I promise.

Speaking Truth to Power

See what happens when someone from the main stream media gets the opportunity to tell the truth and they actually do it! We seldom see this level of honesty from inside the corporate media monopolies . Or is the wall beginning to crack? Are the 1% losing their stranglehold on what gets reported? Remember when Walter Cronkite, 'the most trusted man in America,' turned against the Vietnam War live on the nightly news...

Here is a link to a calmer explanation from Dylan Ratigan about the facts behind his rant.

And if you really want to delve into the current worldwide economic crisis (aka: depression) might I recommend one of my favorite economists Steve Keen. Here is an interview he did last week with the BBC. There is a video and a transcription; I recommend reading over listening because he makes many points worth pondering several times over.

The Hour After

Photographers call the light just before sunset - "the magic hour." The low, saturated illumination makes for memorable images. From my perch high above Berkeley with the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay I have a slightly different take on the lights of the evening. I often walk in the neighborhood during that last hour of waning light at sea level but I like to get back to the eighth floor for the view that follows.  You see after the neighborhood down below falls into darkness the sky is still bathed in color up here. Sure sometimes the fog blots out the light or the sun sets into a marine layer but tonight was one of those meteorologically perfect combinations of light and high cloudless sky.

At this time of year the sun sets directly behind the skyline of San Francisco. For a time the city is backlit in brilliant orange that slowly darkens to blood red. The skyline appears as if cut from black silhouette paper and the bridges stand out with only their lights to define them.

Tonight the air was calm making the clarity of the scene so acute, as if an opthamologist were flipping another lens tweaking ever more intensity into the picture with each passing moment. At times like these I feel a strong sense of loneliness, not so much that I am alone in the world but rather that there is no one sharing this brilliant visual sensation. As if the sight were really too much for one person to behold. Shared vision, shared awe.
these are not my droids, nor my photos

Occupying Creeping Bureaucracy

"OccupySF follows consensus process. Peoples Reserve CU and OccupyMission are not organs of OccupySF, 
as they exist out of process." 

That's a recent tweet communication from someone regarding the organizational structure of Occupy San Francisco. The statement is both twitter-speak and Occupy lingo. I will translate: 

As with many non-hierarchal meeting structures, most of the Occupy groups use some form of consensus building process in order to reach decisions. For one such process you can view this short youtube video. The intention is not to get stuck in the old leader/committee/elite decision making process. Everyone should be involved with an equal voice no matter who you are or when you joined the movement. So ...

"OccupySF follows a consensus process." There are often local tweaks and twists to the process but the basics are usually the same and Occupy San Francisco uses just such a decision making process in the General Assembly (GA) meetings and in sub-groups created by the GA.

"Peoples Reserve CU and Occupy Mission are not organs of OccupySF." The Proposed People's Reserve Credit Union and the new encampment in the Missions District are not extensions of the original Occupy San Francisco @ Justin Herman Plaza organization. They are separate entities functioning under their own forms of decision making arrangement.

".. as they exist out of process." These are the key words that prompted my post today. The author means that both of these offshoot organizations weren't not created via the consensus process within OccupySF, therefore they exist outside of that process and are not authorized nor formally condoned by Occupy San Francisco. 

Fine. I do not disagree with the content of this tweet and I acknowledge the difficulty of communicating anything in 140 characters or less. So I have no issue with the original author. I do, however, have a big concern about that queasiness anyone including myself felt upon reading "as they exist out of process."

Insider speak is necessarily exclusive of those who don't know the secret handshake and don't have the decoder ring. We can excuse that in a twitter communication or a brief email but there is a more serious hidden agenda here, I would be interested if you had the reaction I did.

Did you find the communication strident? Did it sound vaguely like - "we have rules and if you don't follow the rules you are out." Should the 99% already be broken into ten groups of 9% or ninety-nine consensus meetings of 1% each? Yes there does need to be some sense of order and some means of processing the hearts, minds and feelings of members but guidelines become rules, rules become laws and laws lead to exclusion not inclusion.

Recent Images from Occupy

"It's the Inequility Stupid!"

"Some people question the validity of the "rebelious" artists who made big money - they are accused by revolutionary purists of being a part of the system, and for being rich. I do not share that feeling - I think that it's OK to make big money - it's OK to become rich if it's based on creating a real value - art, inventions, services of products. What is not OK is a legalized systemic swindle - and that is what we are against..." - Roger Waters

I lifted the title for today's post from a Mother Jones article It's the Inequality Stupid! it has several graphic representations of just how large and pervasive is the wealth gap in the United States. You think you know because you feel it every day but when you see the numbers graphically you have to wonder why anyone in the 99% isn't with us on this.

Here's another interesting piece, this one from the Washington Post, they call it The Big Lie. The big lie is that our current financial mess was caused by Washington and not by Wall Street. Now the reasonable assessment is that there is plenty of blame to go around. But the perverse explanation goes like this - Congress made the banks lend to borrowers who could not afford to own those houses. What a lot of people seem willing to overlook is that it was not the home loans that brought on the financial crisis. No, it was the packaging of those loans into fifty and one hundred million dollar portfolios and selling them to pension funds and other financial institutions with false ratings. Then creating a secondary market buying and selling derivatives on those suspect loans. 

Now when exactly did Congress passed legislation demanding that Wall Street banks create such risky investment products? What Congress did or rather didn't do was regulate. I know that is a dirty word for conservatives but you can't have it both ways. If government is the problem and they didn't do their job, then the problem was not enough regulation and enforcement. If Wall Street was the problem then who was supposed to stop them - the government? If so, how without regulation? 

The Tea Party wants to blame it all on big government and Occupy Wall Street - well the name does say it all. But do we really want to have another good versus evil standoff here? Isn't the country already locked into inaction by the republican/democrat divide. Please take note that both Washington and Wall Street are promoting the divisions between conservatives and progressives, they want us divided because united we scare the hell out of them.

So hug a liberal, kiss a conservative or at least talk to each other. Keep your eyes on the real target - "It's the Inequality Stupid!"