Done

By Terry Plotkin

Sometimes I get fed up past my ears with someone or something and I am done.  I am blessed and cursed with a high pain threshold. So it can take me a long time to get to a place of finality where I question my intelligence for putting up with things that should have long been discarded. Past loves come painfully to mind, crappy jobs, bullying too. The good news is I eventually, however belatedly, reach a point where I put a stop to it.

So it is with being a political junkie. I have followed the goings-on in Washington. I know most of the senators names, what they look like, how they talk, where they are from, how they vote, and what party they represent. I follow the theatre that passes for governance. I root for good things to happen. I hope that things will get better. Not any more. I should have listened to Sting when he sang, “There is no political solution to our troubled evolution.” That was over 30 years ago. I could have saved my brain a lot of verbal pollution if I had listened to him. Instead it has been C-SPAN, MSNBC, Nate Silver’s web site, Democracy Now!, Sunday morning talk shows.Spare me! Or better still, I will henceforth spare myself. The two capitalist parties can battle it out for the rest of the century and there will be little to show for it. How could it be otherwise?

No more Meet The Press or This Week. Don’t care what the Speaker says nor the Majority leader; they don’t speak for me. I don’t want to hear from the Minority leader either. Never did watch Fox News; I plan to keep it that way. Joe Scarborough can fluff himself up, talk incessantly, and interrupt people all he wants, but I won’t be listening. No milquetoast news from CNN. I don’t want to hear Amy Goodman grinding her axe, or Rachel Maddow spoon feeding me her points, or Chris Hayes and Mathews inviting guests on so they can do all the talking. Don’t want to know the polls. The majority of voters are ignorant. Don’t believe me?  Listen to the morning call in show on C-SPAN and you quickly will. Or look at who they vote for. I can no longer listen to so-called journalists, who think they are wise pundits, who sit on panels without having been out where the action is, who think politics are gossip, who treat world events like sports, who say things like “at the end of the day,” and “that being said,” before they launch into another pseudo analysis of a situation they do not understand. I don’t want to hear speculation about whether Hilary Clinton will run or desire to hang on any of her words. She won’t turn things around the way they need to go unless you are from Wall St. or a neo-con. I don’t want to listen to the war drums beating and their cheerleaders masquerading as reporters. Don’t want to tune in to commercial breaks where I can hear about the side effects of medications, class lawsuits being filed, cleaning products to kill bacteria, quick food to be prepared by soccer moms, fake love, fake friendship, lies passing as information, or how to keep my penis hard. I’d rather do my morning stretches on the floor in silence than listen to that drivel. I am saturated. I can’t take any more. I can’t even say good bye. We still have very serious issues to deal with. Don’t look for the press to properly address them, and don’t look for solutions from Washington. The TV has gone silent in my house. I don’t miss it either. Who knows, maybe it will make room for clearer voices to penetrate my mind.

 

 

Unexpected Events – Part 2

by Terry Plotkin

Unexpected Events – Part 2

 

Optimism. That is what my friend asked me for in a post. OK. I admit that my last post about World War 3 was not exactly feel good material. I am not an optimist, nor am I a pessimist. One could say I’m a realist, but the question of what is reality is most complicated, and I firmly believe that humanity is largely ignorant of it. The most optimistic thing I do is plant garlic in October. The belief is that it will come up in the spring and be harvested in July. So far, so good.  I am a strategist. I attempt to look calmly and, hopefully, wisely at a situation, and see where things are at, and where they are likely to head. It makes no sense to me to think in any other way. Positive and negative outlooks are subjective in nature. They refuse to look at the whole picture and factor out sudden change. I don’t want to exist in a bubble of my own creation. But I am mindful of my friend’s request. The spirit needs to have hope. Presented below is an optimistic outlook. Or at least that is how it would appear, but sometimes a positive development can have a negative unforeseen downside and vice versa. Sometimes the apparent loser wins and the winner loses. Enough of this.

 

Many people think that climate change is the biggest issue we face. I don’t think that is true (I will leave that discussion to a future post.), but it is a big deal. Occasionally, a technological breakthrough comes along that changes the way the world operates. We live in a time where we have witnessed it first hand with the advent of the internet.  The technological revolution we need now, the one that will permanently alter the landscape, make a huge dent in world poverty, help solve the looming fresh water crisis, put an end to the main cause of war, clean up the polluted air, lessen the corporate stranglehold around the worker’s neck, protect a massive amount of fragile wilderness, and change the geopolitical landscape of the world. What technological change could do all these great things? A new way to generate electricity.

There was a time back in the 50s and 60s when the nuclear industry promised electricity that would be safe, clean, and too cheap to meter. OK. They were wrong. About all 3. Not even close.

But the promise of clean, safe, and very cheap electricity could become a reality. For instance, right now a solar panel is about 15% efficient. What if an invention, using something superior and cheaper than silicon, increased the electrical output 10 times or more? Something like this does not seem farfetched to me. Suddenly the whole picture would shift. Climate change could be quickly reversed. The burning of coal, oil, and gas, would soon cease, the oil companies would quickly lose their clout, countries like Saudi Arabia would lose their money and dark influence, poor people who have never had access to electricity could use it to help lift themselves out of poverty, workers would find themselves with a higher standard of living, desaltination plants could be built to provide ample drinking water, wars in the Mideast over oil would no longer need to be fought. Many people that have been on top would find themselves heading to a more sober life, and those who have languished at the bottom would catch a huge uplift.

 

How’s that for a positive outlook?

Unexpected Events – Part 1

by Terry Plotkin

We witness that life can pivot on unexpected events. Some examples: The World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina, or, on a personal level, a diagnosis of cancer, a chance meeting of a future life partner, a car accident, or an employment opportunity that takes us to a new city and new friends. These things happen suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, and it changes the picture we thought we were looking at. Permanently.

 

The CIA did not foresee the fall of the Berlin Wall even though they studied the situation constantly. No one thought Japan was crazy enough to attack Pearl Harbor. I saw an exhibit once of the shapes of people dug up from the ancient volcanic eruption in Pompeii. They had excavated the fossil remains of people going about their daily business: eating, sleeping, lounging on the patio, cooking in the kitchen. When disaster struck, they died on the spot. I doubt anyone was contemplating their imminent demise at the moment the top of the mountain blew off. Most likely, they were doing what people are doing right now: going about their daily business, immersed in the minutia of life.

 

Sudden change is inevitable, but somehow we push it aside and expect history to unfold more or less linearly. Yet, the evidence shows that, at times, life lurches in a new direction.  To function, we must cope with the shock that comes with that and meet the future as it presents itself.

 

The world today seems ripe with the possibility of jarring events that could derail our plans, subvert our dreams, that go against our economic models, that our leading intellects do not see coming, and that our leaders are too blind or loathe to confront. We are akin to being on a rollercoaster wearing a blindfold, except this ride has not been inspected for safety; no one knows what direction it is heading, or where it will end.

 

Allow me to spin a few scenarios.

 

The Islamic State came out of nowhere (again unexpectedly), and with its stunning advances has made war-weary Americans, and a tragic President, to get dragged back into a war that anyone with any sense wants out of. Bombing from the sky is the most we want to do for now. It seems no country wants to fight them head-on, even those that are directly threatened. The Islamic State has one big advantage over all its enemies: They don’t care if they die, and they don’t care if you die either. The world leaders are yet again trying to contain a threat that they call terrorism. But no one asks why so many people opt for organizations like this, why they are growing in popularity, and how is it that their weapons were made and paid for by the United States? Is it possible that the more they are bombed the more they hate and the more they resort to desperate violence? No one knows how to stop it; no one knows where it will end; no one expects there to be victory or defeat. The limited goal is to contain and diminish it like attacking a recurrent tumor with another dose of chemotherapy. However, many things in life don’t go according to plan. The cancer might grow out of control.

 

The Pope, a man who seems to understand the human condition as well as anyone, ponders whether WW3 has already begun. It seems preposterous at first glance to think that a band of ruthless, yet lightly armed, zealots can trigger a World War.  But discontented people with religious fervor are all over the world. Many of the countries they live in are far from stable. Some are ruled by tyrants without the support of their people. Some of these countries are drenched in oil and fabulously wealthy. Some have huge arsenals, including nuclear. How quickly will the picture change if Saudi Arabia were to be taken over by an Islamic State type group? Not so far-fetched a possibility when you consider that Saudi Arabia is ruled by a small clique hated by many in the Arab world. How would the West respond to a major disruption in the world’s oil supply being controlled by a terrorist band armed with a vast cache of American weapons? Then there is Pakistan, which is stuck in a constant state of turmoil, a Taliban insurgency, and, yes, a stash of nuclear missiles. What do you suppose a terrorist group, bent on revenge and unafraid to die, would do if they controlled those weapons? These types of real threats can come on suddenly while we, as is our way, are distracted by over-hyped, short-term media events. It is quite possible that we could soon be tossed into a raging sea, in over our heads, out of sight from shore, without a life jacket. What if the Pope is right?

 

End of Part 1.

 

10,000 things

by Terry Plotkin

I can’t help but feel shame for some things I’ve done and haven’t done. Things that are close to me and things that are far away, things that belong to my family, my tribe, my community, my country, my people, my race. I feel shame for things I can control and things I cannot, for people I know and those I have never met. For meager contributions, sins that run deep, stupidity anchoring us in mud, cold wars, Sharia Law, Civil wars, meat eaters, self-righteous vegetarians, homophobia, white people, missionaries, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus too, trivial lives, shabby reforms, intolerance, and too much tolerance, arrogance morphing into hubris, weakness, abuse of animals, poisons on plants, nuclear weapons and waste that never goes away, incivility, obesity, genocide, ignorance of our karma and our place in the universe, agent orange, slavery, bullying, sexism, pollution, elitism and the sense of entitlement that goes with it, ingratitude, Arabs, Israelis, imperialism, Russians, Americans, British, French and yes the Germans, Chinese, Japanese, old Spain, plastic everything, consumerism, materialism, bankruptcy, southerners, jails and who is in them, leftist, evangelists, so-called conservatives, Republicans for sure but Democrats too, and the 10,000 things.

You’d think I, we, all would at least develop a little humility.