Friday, February 13, 2015

War Profiteering

The death of Kayla Mueller, and the consequent media spectacle, with the near immediate request by President Barack Obama to authorize war against ISIS anywhere in the world, puts into stark relief the extent to which war is embedded now as a significant part of GDP in America*. In a time of glaring "inequality", when the economic "recovery" is a contrast between those who are invested in Wall Street and everybody else, the direct beneficiaries of TARP and QE taking over America in a kind of quiet coup, what we have got since the fall of the World Trade Towers is a kind of global untouchable aristocracy encouraging conflict on every front. The economy poised at a kind of knife edge, any cut in military expenditures, with American growth anemic, European instability, Russian sanctions, a Chinese debt bubble, Japanese money printing madness, and global demand deflation, could result in de-growth for America and global economic depression. To deflect the people from the malfeasance and outright mismanagement of global economic affairs, and really outright plundering of national treasuries, war is ever the answer, the ultimate imperial distraction.

Good thing for GDP bean counters, the increased economic activity of the war profiteers, that America is increasingly hostile toward Russia, Syria, ISIS and North Korea. Little did Kayla know how "useful" her healing hands would be.

As part of my job, maintaining housing for the profoundly autistic, I was painting a wall I had repaired, while one of the staff, a young father of about 27, watched CNN and Fox coverage of the death of Kayla Mueller. I asked him what he thought: "It sounds terrible," he said, "but my first thought was, I wonder if she really existed." I replied that it seemed like she did, that she was a kind, pretty, generous, thoughtful, loving, self-less young woman, who very much wanted to bring healing to the world, and that there would certainly be people in America who would not necessarily be sorry that she is dead.

Classic psy-ops/perception management. "Never waste a crisis." I don't think the leadership of America realizes to what extent it has trickled down into the consciousness of Americans, the concept of government and media manipulation, how everything about war and the economy is never quite as it seems. When did Kayla die? How? How was it that she was taken captive before ISIS became news; as hideously brutal as they have seemed, that she was treated with "the utmost kindness," even gaining weight, and yet there were no demands? She wasn't news until she was dead. She was kidnapped in August 2013!

Maybe she died in a Jordanian airstrike, maybe she died a long time ago. Maybe she died in a recent combat skirmish, ISIS vs ?, and "her captors couldn't keep her safe." Whatever, the next day Obama asks Congress for military authorization to go to war against ISIS, anywhere in the world.

Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, said recently that the US invasion of Iraq created ISIS. That is only part of the story. Destabilizing the Middle East has been American foreign policy, if unspoken, at least since the mid-Nineties. With recent revelations suggesting Saudi involvement in 9/11, it begins to look like ISIS as well as Al Qaeda, were cultivated in a joint venture by American neo-cons, and Saudi princes. ISIS is much a result of American meddling in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq (etc). Combined with Middle East over-population, high unemployment, and legions of disaffected young men educated only in the finer points of hard-core conservative Islam, it was a potent means of making war profiteering extremely lucrative, indefinitely.

It's no secret, a cabal of geo-political Neo-Cons, and economic Neo-Liberals, have aspired after an imperialist Pax-Americana based on debt and a monopoly on power, global hegemonic domination, since at least the Clinton era, and really since Ronald Reagan, and the rise of Chicago School supply-side, trickle-down economics. Full-spectrum dominance, according to the military. Groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, Project for a New American Century, have advocated openly for such a Pax-Americana, and any serious evaluation of American realpolitik reveals, continuity in the building of a total surveillance infrastructure, eternal war profiteering, and the empowering of multinational banks and corporations, is the ideological (if unspoken) foundation of both major political parties in America.

Indeed, it is as if we are on Imperial auto-pilot, like total war is as inevitable as the passing of the seasons. This is obvious to even the most casual observer, and yet a film like American Sniper, and the death of Kayla Mueller, reveals how easily so many in America can be swayed. The American people still perceive the measles virus a greater threat than an untouchable class of war profiteers seemingly destined to initiate Armageddon/Apocalypse/WWIII. Is a virus that has killed fewer people in America than the vaccine the last twenty years, a greater danger than banks and military contractors and their executives and shareholders guiding American foreign policy?

Then again, it bears to return to the question, who profits? Of course there are those making millions, tens and hundreds of millions, billions, profiting from war in the name of peace and freedom and democracy; at the same time, many corporations profiting from eternal war are traded publicly in the stock market. That means, hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, IRA's, 401k's, university endowment funds (unless there is some specific covenant restriction) profit directly from war. Which means something like 50% of Americans profit directly from war, and many of the rest profit indirectly, if only that the economy keeps humming along, the government keeps paying it's employees, handing out benefit checks, etc.

There are few things more morally repugnant than profiting off war. Especially now, when a global conflict, WWIII, would be universally damaging, would likely destroy much of global infrastructure, much of the capacity of humans to maintain a global economy. Especially as the rich and powerful of the world, more connected to those who are making the decisions about war, are more able to position themselves to profit in the aftermath, in the same way we have seen the exponential minting of billionaires, in the aftermath of the global economic crash of 2008.

What would Kayla say, about her life and death used as a means to benefit war profiteering? I think if she had known how much the conflict in Syria is a product of American imperialism, she might have found any number of places in the world where there is the opportunity to ease suffering, without running the risk of becoming a propaganda tool of warmongers. Which is a direct message to anyone inclined toward healing: if you want to bring healing to the world, start with yourself, by questioning everything you are told about America's wars. If you want to heal the world, heal America.


*Most of the "military expenditures as % of GDP" information to be found, is grossly inadequate, and make the US numbers seem small compared to much of the rest of the world. They do not take into account how much of the economy is ancillary to the military, the contractors involved, the suppliers etc. Nor do they take into account those agencies not specifically military in name - CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS etc - but very much about the State maintaining full spectrum dominance. And Washington and Wall Street and the Federal Reserve are become like a supra-national State unto themselves. 






Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Is There To Say?

I was ranting on Facebook recently. Earlier that day, I had driven 150 miles through the city and the suburbs, for my job maintaining houses for the profoundly autistic. The last few miles, through Minneapolis during rush hour, cursing urban planners, "if the plan is to get us to sit at the lights as long as possible..." When I arrived home, I thought I would take a nap. Three hours later I was still on Facebook, ranting. Later that night I posted a mea culpa.

It wasn't just Facebook, with my ranting. I was on other sites simultaneously, back and forth, reading this and that, commenting, back to Facebook with a plan to share what others had posted, back and forth, site to site. I wanted to post a dozen articles I read elsewhere - see, see what I have been saying! But I restrained myself. I don't mean to act like a mad man. ODD, what? LOL

Seriously though, if the country had any heart left, we would think about violence less, and more about how institutionalized the country has become, how dependent we have become upon institutions for our survival. By institution I mean any collective group ordered according to a strict hierarchy: Corporations, banks, health care, food production and delivery, water delivery, fuel, military, law enforcement, education (public and private), government in all it's myriad forms.

Institutionalized. It seems to me, consumer, whatever the case for the great achievements of the modern age, institutions are increasingly efficient at de-humanizing people. The corporation as a person? If to dehumanize is to be sociopathic, the three most sociopathic persons I ever worked for were two S & P 500 corporations and one of the biggest banks. Government? Does government make you feel like the sovereign citizen of a Republic? Like an equal voice in a Democracy? Government is better at sustaining itself than it is at checking the will to power in corporations or banks or individuals. The will to power rules. Who rules what? Whom?

What is Washington DC? Republicans decry the dictatorial powers Obama assumes with Executive Orders, and then prostrate themselves with delight, handing him the divine right of kings, with TPP and TAFTA trade pacts, or drone bombing whatever "terrorist" or "violent extremist" the President decides has to die. What is a beltway Democrat? A neo-liberal, neo-con true believer in the power of the State to hand over the reign of power to corporations and banks, warmongering her way to prosperity? Obama asks Congress for another war in the Middle East, he taunts Russia, and the primary message out of the levers of power is summed up in gladiatorial drama to distract the masses from their economic troubles, American Sniper to draw on American Christian mythology of Armageddon to feed the military machine and globalist demands for world domination, and oh how we love the middle class. 

An "investor" told me recently he has claimed 12% annual gains the last six years, in bonds and stocks. That's QE, international banker money, building asset bubbles for investors. Trickle Down? When? Who among the non-investing (because they don't have any money to invest) middle class, the working poor, have seen even 1% gains, all of the last six years combined, the last 40 years? How many have seen their wage decline?

I don't blame that investor. He's just a "middle class guy" who was a good local business man, who grew up poor with a working class single-mom, born during WWII, a true believer in the American dream. What he achieved, most people want for their family. He just doesn't see how fewer people have access to that dream every day.   

Meanwhile, the American Dream is become like the dream of every one who has ever desired to rule the world. Radar exists to see into any building, where the people are, what they are doing; we are building the infrastructure to track license plates, to keep a record of everyone's travel; they can track you with your phone or new car; we have the drone technology to track any movement; every digital communication can be recorded and saved; we have the ability to access anyone's digital life - there is no firewall that cannot be breached.

That doesn't bode well for freedom, for anyone.   

What is there to say, when even the keystrokes of this computer can be watched, monitored, recorded by government or gov contractors (corporations), anyone with the skill and the tech?

Whatever it is, speak up :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What was this blog supposed to be about? A friend messaged me on Facebook recently, saying I sounded angry and cynical, and that he was worried about me. He admitted he might be projecting, feeling his own sense of being overwhelmed about the state of the world. I assured him that if I merely sound angry and cynical, I need to take a look at that; because that is not what this blog, or any of my online activity, was supposed to be about.

A woman I love told me, if she had met me through my writing she would have thought I was an asshole; she added that my writing sometimes made her feel stupid. I told her that a lot of people do that, they encounter an unfamiliar or uncomfortable idea and they shut down, and then criticize themselves for not being smart enough. But how do people change when they need to, or learn about what they don't understand, if they don't ask questions?

I've since re-read some of the writing in this blog, and have cringed. I think a lot of the time, I sound exasperated, like I can't figure out why people don't get it. I think some of the time I sound ignorant. I think some of the time I sound crazy. A lot of it is not attractive or constructive. Bad form. Not worthy.

I didn't post much in 2014. I was distracted by love; and overwhelmed like a lot of people, with economic concerns, with the volume of information, with the tragedy of so much of the news. I needed a re-set.

I started this blog, because I was squatting in this house without utilities or money, and no job. I had blown up my middle class life, returned destitute, with a dream to take the house off the grid, to make a model of it, for a time when people need it.

I'm still on that path. It's not easy. But there is the shell infrastructure of a greenhouse installed, plans for a rocket mass heater and solar heating. A bio-gas burner. Fish tanks. More brewing. More singing and dancing. LOL

I'll keep posting. Thanks for reading.











Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On the 2015 State of the Union


Jodi Ernst is white bread tone deaf. John Boehner looked like a greedy mean spirited prick; that and how fitting the elitist he has become, he only presented the President to Congress. Joe Biden looked like there's a reason he creeps out a lot of people. The President?

The President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, undermined everything he said, when he asked Congress to pass [fast track] trade authority for the Atlantic and the Pacific, to enact as law, before the American people are able to read it; which, if the rumors are true and it would cede judicial precedence to a foreign, supra-national court, that would be the constitutional nullification of America as a sovereign nation-state. Unconstitutional at best. Treason at worst.

He asked Congress to authorize another war in the Middle East.

He juxtaposed and conflated “terrorism” and “violent extremism”, which is a direct message, a declaration, that any violent challenge to the continued centralization of power, particularly manifest in the military and total surveillance, corporations, banks and government, will be treated with the same logic doled out currently to “terrorists."

In other words, in the event of these trade pacts "fast tracked," allowing corporations, financed by banks, to go anywhere, in any signatory country, monopolize, mine, log, plow, pollute, ruin, take public and private land more or less as their legal system decrees necessary to the health of the economy: there would be nothing legally that could be done to prevent it; fight with weapons, to protect your health or the health of your family and community, the air, water, and land, they will drone bomb you and everything in between. Get that, “9/11 generation”?

He lied about one thing for sure. He would totally run for president of the world. (Note to world: he used the words "terror" and "vicious" in the first paragraph.) 



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reflections on the Morning After

Many are calling the American midterm 2014 elections a Republican rout, a repudiation of Obama and the Democratic agenda. More like, Democrats have no agenda, nothing to say of any consequence, and a little Republican something is better than Democrat nothing. Never mind, that Republican something is tax cuts for rich people, gutting of environmental protections, dismantling of programs for the poor, MORE WAR and shows of force domestically, the dismantling of the Republic in favor of multinational corporations and banks. But then, that is what Americans have got from their government Left or Right, for 40 years, so what kind of rout is this really?

What will the Republicans do with their "rout"? 2015 will see bill after bill, from massive tax cuts for rich people, the gutting of the EPA, outlawing abortion, opening the Keystone XL pipeline, dismantling Obamacare, probably every bill structured in such a way that Obama will not sign it. Consequently, nothing will be done, and 2016 will be all about new elections and Billary vs the Bushes, aristocratic cock fighting, two years of worse gridlock than we've seen. About the only thing we can be certain of, coming from this government, is MORE WAR.

Americans generally seem to have taken a hard right turn, what with them voting Republican at the states level too, even in Dem-leaning states. Which is more a symptom of the poor and Dem working-class not showing up to vote, in the absence of a Liberal standard bearer (to chant mindlessly for.) What will Billary's slogan be? Hope? Change you can believe in? Americans have seen their wages collapse, faced with rising debt and high fuel costs (which the Fed doesn't consider in their CPI/inflation hoodooo); in all the time since electing Mr Hope, we have heard little but economic misinformation from Washington, recovery this and recovery that, which has felt like stagnation or worse to anyone not tapped into QE free $Trillions$ from the Federal Reserve. That, and what incompetence! The CDC is like the poster child of the disfunctional government agency, all-official in appearance only, more about managing perceptions, than viruses and bacteria. That and ISIS, that hideous step-child of American foreign policy; what evil genius, the Republican establishment, to double-down on all the policies that exacerbate violent, radical Islam, in the name of fighting existential evil. Americans are duped; more war will only serve to destroy America as empire. By voting Republican, it is like Americans have said YES to the geopolitical show of force, YES to war.

Here in Minnesota, "energy independence" was on the lips of everyone running for office on the Right. That suggests too, many Americans believe we are at the verge of a new golden age of fossil fuels, the only thing standing between America pumping TWICE what we pump now, is Democrats captured by radical environmentalism. LOL. Never mind we are drilling like mad pretty much everywhere we can, and we are still 8 million barrels a day short, and the economics at $80/brl or less don't work - that is how misinformed Americans are, that we can be told it is the fault of Democrats that oil isn't $30/brl and we aren't drilling TWICE what we are, and we believe it. At least Minnesotans didn't fall for it, keeping their do nothing/say nothing Dem Gov and US Senator.

Indicative: neither party here in Minnesota, nor the media, ever mentioned the fact that mining for copper/nickel in northern Minnesota, will lead to 200-500 years of sulphuric acid in the waters - for 20 years of mining (though that is a fact admitted by the Canadian company that wants to do the mining, PolyMet.) All I heard from every candidate on either side, was that the mine should happen, as long as we do it "responsibly" of course. Which speaks to the national mood, and the Republican "rout". Americans want a "healthier" economy. We don't care how. If war will do it, fine. If mining will do it, fine. If drilling wherever will do it, fine. If letting the banks and corporations do whatever they want, fine. Consequences don't matter, future generations don't matter; we want a better economy NOW!

Nothing will improve the economy, however, until something is done about the Federal Reserve; fiat, fractional reserve currency; and the banks. Debt costs are drowning the real economy. That and increasing corporate, multi-national monopoly. That and strained resources globally, and technological elimination of jobs. But these are issues most Americans heard NOTHING about this election. Nor will they hear about it next election. When Billary runs, poor and Dem-leaning working class turn out in hordes, and the Dems ROUT!

Back and forth we go, where it stops nobody knows.

The simple fact is, America as empire is dying; a gutting of the empire is taking place. What will be left of America, when the empire is gone? Democrats or Republicans, the collapse of America as empire will proceed apace.





























Sunday, June 15, 2014

Monarch Caterpillar

I wrote a blog post about the Monarch butterfly recently. I ordered 4000 seeds, I kept them in the fridge for thirty days in ground quartz and water, planted 2500, in four different gardens. Not a one sprouted. But the other 1500 in the fridge started sprouting when I took the container out.



So I weeded after a day of good rain, and a new friend and I are going set the seed. Other milkweed seed sprouted, from previous summers. This afternoon, weeding, I found a monarch caterpillar. I've never seen one here. I dare not touch it, these fingers are not so soft. It has been eating this young, flattened common milkweed. There is a budding forest behind it, behind my clementine. I've only seen maybe three monarch butterfly here this season.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Divide and Conquer



Nothing is more astonishing to me about the culture I inhabit, than the divide between the left and the right. I feel it even in my body, imbalance, as if the two sides are not fully in synch. In the macrocosm, indeed, the Left and Right in America seem ready to go to war against each other. Everywhere it seems, the destruction, the disintegration of families. Community? Long ago impaled on the lance of eternal warfare. Men/Women? Hyper-individualised, we are cast out into the abyss - go forth and hustle for the dollar, for ideology. Left and Right opposed, as if a Republic could exist one without the other. Republic? NSA say what? Bill of Rights? LOL.

What fertile grounds for the plunder of the treasury! Hardly anyone even trusts their mother anymore.

Will you hang me if I express sympathy with Bowe Bergdahl and his father? The State supports what now? Yes, it supports the autistic guys I work for. It also supports drone bombings, indefinite detention, total police-state/surveillance. We seem to want to make the world safe for banks and corporations, and their henchmen. And we condemn the Bergdahls for what, not being commercial enough? Not being profligate? Not supporting empire America? Do you suppose Bowe sympathized with those Islamists? A thoughtful man might even begin to sympathize with bankers, if he was captive in their presence long enough. Except, in my captivity, bankers are as physically distant from me as gods. Which, Bankers or Islamists, which is more eager/sly to enslave you? One does it with debt, the other with dogma. Banker have dogma too, dog.

Which America's wars are about what, now? Bowe Bergdahl is a divide and conquer strategy by the elite, too, what with Americans slashing at each other's throats, and not hearing each other talk about the historic bonds newly created between China and Russia. Why? I'm remembering 9/11; it seems the American people can only ever come together to agree on anything, when it involves going to war under false pretences; soon it will be righteous for me to kill Islamists, Chinese and Russians, in service to dollar hegemony and multinational Banks and Corporations – except the banks and corporations and dollar hegemony can't be mentioned – because it's about freedom. For sure.

Freedom to shop, apparently. For trash that turns quickly into garbage, mostly. I forget that the American people agree, left and right, that there is no limit to conspicuous consumption. We love the banks and corporations, for the largess they provide; but it is being taken away and we are being marshaled like in the trance of a death cult, raging, left against the right, right against left, while the architects relax, in leisure, content. Divide and conquer.

What better do I have to offer, though, than the bankers and corporations, Government? How do I unite the left and the right, in service to what? In the microcosm, first. Which integration, unification, balance, alignment, empowering, is precisely what the divide and conquer strategist abhors most. The last thing the great centralizers want is a unified, empowered people, except in service to war, and debt. In service to the earth? To community? Where are the warriors for the earth, air and the waters, the warriors of fire? The stuff of the body of the earth; divide and conquer, divide the people from the earth, from the body of the earth, and despoil both: rule. Without question.

Question. Or rather, a riddle: what is the solution to resource constraints, if you own the currency, but hardly anybody knows who you are?

Feel free to offer up an answer in the comments. Do you feel free?






Monday, June 2, 2014

Thomson Falls (For Kerrick)

Play the first vid, listen to it while you watch the others, adjust the sound.




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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Waterbearers (Sketch)


Persephone spent the weekend re-evaluating every last detail about her life. Friday, after that momentous trigger event, which she alone knew about, but for the one who had sent her the video - she exaggerated the symptoms of her illness; Gerald her boyfriend hastily assuring her, he had meetings to attend all weekend, that he wouldn't be around. She smoked illicit cannabis all weekend, alone in her apartment, to try to cut to the core of how to deal with her predicament, or to forget.

Saturday morning she received another email, with another video attachment. She saved it but didn't open it. In the evening she received another, which she did not save, which was gone when she opened her email again – then to watch, as it appeared on her screen. Someone was following her, observing her, manipulating the Net. It was another video, to make three. She still hadn't looked at the second video, for the horror of the first. Sunday morning there was a fourth email, and she thought she would lose her mind.

Sunday night she watched all four videos: cases she had worked on, with a similar result. She was sleeping with a liar, and working for murderers. It didn't matter the dead were sicklies, that they might be diseased, zombies. They had been killed, ruthlessly, without mercy, and she had led the killers to them. She wanted to die. She wanted to be raised from the dead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hello”, the man said, as he sat next to Persephone at the bar.

She was spending a lot of time in bars. She was not performing well at work. Gerald was suspicious. She endured, but it was horrible. Even the plants in her office seemed to sag, as if they knew. She didn't want to die, but she wanted out, yet there was no 'out'; there was no life anymore beyond the city, the world was a wasteland, a ruined, toxic menagerie of hidden poisons, lurking disease, and crazed survivors. Here in the city she had been somebody, a black kid raised by her grandmother in the fringe, who had ascended the hierarchy to a comfortable level, inside the Institution. She had felt as free as she thought anybody could be in this world. Now she felt like she was in a prison, gilded hell, a coffin. In her rawest moments, she thought acidly, if she had the clearance to climb to the top of any of the Institutional buildings, she might have jumped. At the same time she wanted to burn the Institution to the ground, tear it down piece by piece, make a rubble of it to spit on. Every time she thought about it though, she heard her grandmother, talking about the beauty of her garden, about the beauty of life. There had to be a way out.

“You look like you had a tough day,” the man said, smiling, friendly. Persephone said nothing, offering nothing.

He added, “The sky is sometimes white, sometimes gray and always blue, and always many colored,” casually, as if anyone talked like that, as he sipped his beer and looked at Persephone's reflection in the bar back. He was dressed like the mid-level techie, plain, conservative, but he acted more like management, as if his clearance were greater than hers. Which was strange, because he was darker-skinned, like her. He reminded her of her Grandmother. She observed this, and then cast it aside as a symptom of her increasing madness. But she couldn't. For a brief moment, she felt suddenly, inexplicably, at ease, as if she had never been more herself. Before the fears and anxieties rushed back in and the feeling dissipated, like a dream.

“The sky was darker today, and every day the last week, than it ever has been,” she said to her drink, and then she turned to him and held his gaze.

“Perhaps if you danced the sky might open for you,” he said, holding her gaze.

“I don't dance for strangers.”

“And I am not the sky.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Some hours later, in a booth, laughing for the first time in more than a week, she said to him, teasing, “nice tie, by the way.”

“It pleases Party leadership.”

“What leadership,” she scowled, a little drunk.

“The one that isn't exiled, yet.”

She looked at him, sober, the way he said that.

“Exile sounds like death,” she said.

“Shall we talk about rebirth then?”

It was like a warm breeze blew through her. She felt light, almost weightless. Like the cells of her body were suddenly filled with effervescent light.

“Rebirth?” she said.

“An offer.”

“What kind of offer?”

“A new life.”

“Don't lie to me.” She thought she should be afraid of him, but she wasn't.

He held out a chocolate chip cookie in each hand. Chocolate was harder to find than gold. “The cookie on the right has mushrooms in it. The cookie on the left has cannabis. Your boyfriend Gerald is going to come through that door, in about twenty minutes,” gesturing to the front door. There were only two other patrons, in separate places at the bar, contemplating their drinks. “Of course you do not have to eat either cookie. Whatever way, you can come with me, or not. If you come with me you can never go back to this life. If you stay, you might not ever see me again.”

Persephone looked at him for awhile without saying anything. She reached out, taking both cookies, wrapping them in a cloth she pulled from a pocket of her coat, and put the package in that pocket, as she rose to put the jacket on.

“Where are we going?” she said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In a studio loft, safe house above a garage in the Seward neighborhood, they made love on a rocket stove bed, and then in the sauna, and then again in the solar shower.

“We are still in the city,” she observed.

“We leave the city tonight, in the early morning before the sun. There are more cookies if you want them.”

“I'll stay sober, thanks.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Do we really have to be buckled in?” It was darker than a womb.

“Do you want to hit the wall of this box truck if we have to stop suddenly?”

“No,” she said, stressed but not harsh. “I'm just restless. I don't like enclosed spaces, particularly ones so dark that I can't see my hand in front of my face...and the outside, outside the city is a toxic, diseased wasteland. I've never left the city.”

“There are toxic, diseased places, and there are others that are vigorous, abundant and beautiful, as you will see.” Persephone wanted to believe him. Then she couldn't.

“I tracked those people they killed,” she said, nothing left to lose, here in the dark.

“I know. I came to kill you.”

“I don't want to die.”

“It is better if you are not afraid to.”

“Are you going to kill me.” She shuddered in the total darkness, the void.

“I already did.”

“I am not afraid.”

“Which is why you will live.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Persephone awoke in a plush bed, the sheets somewhat damp. Her dreams were as cloudy as the memory of how she came here. She remembered kissing a luminous being, in total darkness; everything after, a blur.

The room was plaster, tan walls like dry grass, embedded tile mandalas; live plants abundant and streaming sunlight. She could hear birds calling through the open window, the leisure of leaves in a light wind. She thought she had never been in a more comforting bedroom. Through the second story window, she saw extensive gardens, abundant flowers, a greenhouse, a pond and a creek, distant woods, a valley, a ridge, cattle grazing in lush grass. Water seemed to flow from under the house, and she wondered for a brief moment if she were on a boat. But the house was above ground, it felt firm, immovable, almost eternal, like it was always here and always would be. Likewise, she felt the insecurity of her place in it, the Institutional killer in paradise. Wherever she was. She couldn't tell where she was, in relation to the city, in what direction; when she closed her eyes she felt like it was in the north/west. She opened her eyes suddenly, when the large, handcrafted door opened; A red-headed woman in a light gown entering, with a plate of food and carafe of water. Eggs fried, hashbrowns, Kale and peppers, sliced mushrooms, cranberry spread on toast, a braised, blackened cut of fish. An apple. Apples were above her pay grade. She had eaten one she had stolen as a child.

“We thought you might be hungry,” the woman said, with a bright smile like the room. “My name is Deme.

Persephone was startled by the food. Rarely had she seen such in the city. Food outside the city was presumed to be practically non-existent. Outside the city was supposed to be a toxic wasteland. The discontinuity of the gardens and greenhouses, the fresh air, the clear waters, rushed in, and she swooned, blood rushing to her head.

Deme poured some of the water from the carafe, onto a clean cloth napkin. “May I sit next to you?” she asked. Persephone nodded. Deme sat down and rubbed Persephone's forehead. “Your hair is wet. Bad dreams last night?”

“I don't remember,” Persephone's gold curls, darkened, clinging to her scalp, laying flat. Deme put her firm fingers into Persephone's hair and fluffed it out, airing it out. “I will draw a bath for you. Did you sleep well, otherwise?”

“Yes,” Persephone said, absently. “Where am I.”

“You are in the longhouse of the Sun Waterstead, a farm. About 200 miles from the city.”

“200 miles!”Persephone gaped, stunned. Deme looked at her, inquiringly, without responding. “I've never been outside the city. It's not at all like I was told it was. We were always told it was a toxic...” She paused, as she let this sink in. “Where is the man who brought me here, David.”

“I am House Mother,” Deme said. “This farm is run almost entirely by women, many of whom are disabled. As far as the Institution is concerned, we are a home for disabled women. 'David' is working on one of the fish tanks, I believe.”

“Who is he?”

Deme looked Persephone in the eyes. “He is the Rain King.”

“The Rain King?”

“Of the Waterbearers.”

“The Rain King of the Waterbearers?”

“He was raised by bears,” Deme said, as she laughed, mirth in her auburn eyes.

Persephone didn't ask more, but for the bath and a change of clothes. She hadn't been able to bring any of her things with her, but what she wore and had with her, in the bar, which clothes were hardly appropriate for a farm. That and the androgynous, industrial pants and shirt she had changed into, in the safehouse in Seward. She wore a thin sleeping gown, naked underneath, the gown clinging to her uncomfortably. Deme helped her out of bed and walked with her down a balcony hallway, a plush greenhouse garden on the floor below them, past a hand wrought, wood-limb railing. They walked over hand-woven, hemp rugs, over hardwood flooring, to a central, round, open room, and washrooms beyond that, in the back of the second floor.

Deme plugged the drain of a large, hand-tiled bath, and opened the faucet. Steaming water rushed out, heated by the sun. The wash room was considerably cooler than the bedroom, which was welcome. She climbed into the tub. Deme brought her a change of clothes: a light shirt and drawstring hemp pants, sandals. She left Persephone alone. Persephone lingered a long time in the waters, until they were cool.

Stepping out of the tub, after it had drained, she lingered a long time in her towel, observing the washroom. It was illuminated by two electric lights, a few candles, and light refracted from mirrors in the greenhouse, over an opening between the wall and the ceiling. The ceiling sloped down, away from the wall. The entire room, floor to ceiling, was elaborately tiled, light reflecting off a raised pool in the middle of the room, reflecting off the walls like opalescence. There was something underwater-like about it, like being able to breath under water in a dream.

She dressed, and lingered a long time again, in the round, open room outside the washroom, round and open to the glass of the south wall, fringed by the hand-wrought railing, and tall potted trees. Most of the floor here was an elaborate, tiled mandala. The walls were colored glass and tile murals, as if by the hand of many artists, some narrative immortalized over time. The whole was such a stark contrast to the severe lines and controlled monotony of Institutional architecture, or the dingy make-shift of the city fringe, she had nothing like a reference. It seemed to open up channels in her mind she hadn't known existed, or were even possible.

She walked down a hand-carved spiral stair, to similar tile work on the main floor, more trees in big pots, a wall on her right open to the kitchen, where several women worked. They looked up at her, and then down again at whatever they were doing, without acknowledging her. Deme walked out of the kitchen, with a warm smile, her fringed and embroidered apron covered with vegetable stains. “How was the bath?”

“Glorious. But I think I spent about as much time in the water as I did, just looking at the washroom, and then that open circle room above us. This house is amazing,” she said, with genuine enthusiasm.

“It is one of a kind. And not so different from many like it.”

“There are more places like this?”

“Hundreds,” Deme said, to Persephone's astonishment. “Though this is perhaps the oldest, that we know of, ten generations old.

“Feel free to look around. I'd give you a tour, but we are a little behind schedule in food preservation, and we need all the hands available. When you've satisfied your curiosity about the farm, come to the kitchen and help out. There will be someone working there, all day into the night.”

“Where is...David?”

Deme smiled. “Look for him in the first greenhouse you come to, on the way to the creek. If he's not there, they will tell you where he is.” She walked back to the kitchen.

Persephone walked toward the glass, the sun high so that it could not be seen, shining only on a thin band of floor near the glass. There were citrus and avocado trees, kiwi vines, plants she had read about in books but never seen nor tasted or smelled, all close to the glass. There were scattered tables, as elaborately crafted as anything she had seen elsewhere in the house. A pool of water with fish, floating and hanging plants; and then doors to the outside, big wooden doors, a foyer, and all the doors open, a breeze flowing in.

Out into the courtyard, gardens like a fractal pattern, looping out this way and that, a kind of perfect symmetry. There were flowers and pollinators in abundance. Women scattered, tending to the plants, who like the others in the kitchen, looked at her without acknowledging her. Some appeared to limp, some were observably misshapen; all seemed capable, dressed in hand crafted clothing as differentiated and elaborate as any of the architecture she had seen. Their coolness, compared to the warmness of Deme, was unnerving, and she didn't linger long, heading for the greenhouse, past grazing chickens, rambling ducks.

He wasn't in the green house. The women there told Persephone to look to the sacred pool - follow the creek. Persephone wanted to linger, to learn about the fish tanks, but the women's treatment of her was rote, cold like the techies in the city and their verbal commands to their computers. The women didn't seem like cold people, just cold to her. She thought they knew more about her than she wanted them to know. It was a harsh feeling, in the midst of such extraordinary beauty. She thanked them graciously, and walked to the creek.

The creek was four feet wide, maybe a foot deep, winding through a wildflower meadow on it's way to a river cutting through the valley, bluffs on either side a half mile. About halfway down the meadow, there was a grove of trees, giving the appearance of a circle. The meadow was a cacophony of bird sounds, and insects buzzing. A light, warm breeze flowed down from the ridge above, little winds cutting through the wildflowers, making them sway gently, not even disturbing the pollinators, drunken pollinators covered with pollen. As she neared the grove, her heart fluttered like a bird, her feathers standing on end. Goosebumps rising on her cocoa skin. She felt the presence of her grandmother. She paused, before she entered the grove.

He was seated on a stone patio circle, in the east of a stone ring around the pond, which pond seemed to have no bottom. The air here seemed ten degrees cooler, and she shivered. He stood when he saw her, walking to her.

“You look well,” he said.

“Thank you. I feel good. The farm is amazing.” She was watching the pond, the bottomlessness of it.

“It is amazing. A great gift. How were you treated?”

Persephone looked at him, not sure what she could say to him. This...”Rain King”.

“Deme was very kind. I had the best breakfast I've ever had, and a nice long bath in the most gorgeous bathroom I've ever seen.” She hesitated. “Everyone else was cold to me. What do they know?”

“They know I brought you from the city. They know what you did for the Institutionalists.” Persephone tensed, crossing her arms over her bosom, dropping her head.

“So they think I'm a killer?” Water gathered in her eyes, the intensity of her circumstances weighing heavily; she wished for a moment she had stayed in the city, never saw the farm. She held close to her fear, then lost control. “So they wonder why their “King” would bring home an Institutionalist killer, and fuck her!” she sneered. She wanted to run, anywhere away.

He reached out his hand. She looked at him, breathing hard, wondering, then took his hand, and let him lead her to a wooden bench. They sat down facing the pool.

“They are confused. They wonder how their “king” could choose an Institutionalist.”

Choose? Persephone went quiet, looking at him. He was dressed not very differently than she was, a simple shirt, drawstring hemp pants; though he wore some ornament, which seemed more like tokens, like the “amulets” her grandmother used to make, from her garden. He seemed perfectly at ease, compared to the sea of emotions crashing against the shores of her self. The waters of the pool rippled, swirled, a whirlwind dropping down into the circle of trees. She felt like she could see it, imagining it pulling her fear and confusion away like a ghost.

“You chose me? I don't understand.”

“I first saw you when you were nine, the first day I ever saw the city, only a year after I was brought from the north woods to this farm. I was 15. Your dark skin so much like mine; your copper curls, your golden eyes. Who couldn't notice you? You were in the market, with your grandmother, who was an extraordinary sight too. You were very observant. You looked right at me, holding my gaze, and then you looked away and forgot me. I've been following you ever since.”

This was too much. The whole of the last two weeks swept into her consciousness and overwhelmed her. She choked, trying to stay above water.

He put his hand on her shoulder, and a kind of light seemed to fill her body, bright light like air filling up the flesh, releasing tension. She breathed more evenly, deeper. Tears streaming down her face.

“Why didn't you take me from the city before I...” she cried harder, like a stream from her eyes to the bottomless pool.

He took his hand away. “Would you have come? You became like a true believer. Like most people in the city, you believed the Institutional story because it seemed the most secure, based on circumstances as you understood them. I nearly gave up on you. For awhile,” he said, cold as a glacier, “I thought I had seen you as a kid in that market with your grandmother, so I would know I would have to kill you.”

She tensed, turned and looked at him, wary as a cat. He said, “I think now you are the Rain Queen, and you will help me take back the city.”

Her feet seemed to suddenly cling to the earth like roots. Her back went straight like a tree trunk, her arms like limbs, her head the crown. It was like the whole of her life had led her to this moment.

“You want to take back the city from the Institutionalists?”

“I am the seventh Rain King. The first Rain King built this farm, the house, and many more like it in the region. The third Rain King used these farms as a base, to take control of the city. The fruit and nut orchards, and gardens you knew there, only available to Institutional elite, were first planted by him. He reigned there for 40 years. When he died, the city was lost to reconstituted, Institutional control. Every Rain King since has lived in exile.

I am the last Rain King. It is now the time of the Waterbearers; they will soon need no King. But it is my task, while I am here, to take back the city. To restore what the third Rain King started.”

“What, another eternal tyranny?”

“To restore the Bill of Rights, of the old American Constitution, Habeas Corpus, the rule of law. To facilitate a care and concern for the health of the earth. To heal the waters.”

“And what about the Institutionalists? What are you going to do to them?”

He paused. “The same thing I did, that caused the Waterbearers to declare me king. Capture and rehabilitate them, like your General Hustlebury.”

“What!” She was credulous. “General Hustlebury was like everybody's grandpa. They said he was captured by the northern tribes, tortured and eaten alive!”

“He was a murderer and a rapist. And he is very much alive. A very gentle soul. Samuel: he chops wood, carries water,” laughing.

Persephone laughed at him, not believing him. “So were you really raised by bears? That is what Deme said.”

He laughed, sadly. “That is Deme, reminding me I am human.” He smiled as if pained. “My entire tribe was murdered. I alone survived. I was 5. That first night, I climbed into a cave, and slept with a momma bear, between her two cubs. That one night. I lived alone in the forest, that next night until I was 14.”

“Your tribe was killed, like the tribes I tracked?” Persephone asked, quivering.

“All of them, my mother, father, brother, sisters, friends; everyone but me.” He looked away at the pool and the abyss.

Persephone quaked. She pondered him. He was a man like any other, but otherworldly some how. “So how can I help you take back the city?”

“You were their most gifted techie, the whole of your time at the Institution.”

“They treated me like my work wasn't worth a promotion!”

“That is because they were never sure about you. It was your grandmother's influence. They suspected if you knew what was really going on, they would have to kill you.”

It all made sense, somehow. She felt relieved, even if she didn't fully understand. “So what is going on?”

“The Institutionalist's are feeling their weakness, and they are lashing out. The northern tribes are very effective at disabling northern mining operations. The Insitutionalists, when they find a tribe, they wipe them out. They track them and then they kill them. The woodlanders are hard to find, though,” and he gave her a sly, if sad smile.

“And now you want me to turn my tracking skills against my former employers?”

“I want you to use your skills to pursue the path you believe true to yourself, in relation to the world as you understand it. Like all waterbearers are taught from birth.”

“And what is a 'Waterbearer'?”

“It is the Aeon of Aquarius, the Time of the Waterbearers. All living things are waterbearers. To be a human Waterbearer is to be conscious of the water that flows through all things. According to the precession of the equinox, the last 2200 years, has been the Aeon of Pisces, the Fish. The fish ignorant of the polluted waters it swam in, but not immune. The Institutionalists are remnants of the Aeon of fish.”

Persephone smiled at the idea, looking at the pool. “Speaking of fish and waterbearers, is this pool for swimming?”

He smiled. “It is a pool of water. Rather chilly. The river is better for swimming.”

“So how am I going to use my skills against the Institutionalists, on a farm,” she asked, changing the subject but getting to the point.

“What makes you assume our technology is less than that of the Institutionalists?”

Persephone looked at him, and she thought she understood him. Pondering, “Isn't a “Rain Queen” in need of a consecration?” She took off her clothes and dived in. He followed; they made shivering love in the waters of a seemingly bottomless pool.

The baby of another man stirring inside her.










Sunday, March 16, 2014

Monarch Butterfly


One day when I was about eight years old, my father, standing in the front door, said to me, "Son, come take a look at this." I stepped out onto the sidewalk, looked up, and saw that our basswood tree (which was really five genetically identical, mature basswoods, from one original,) had turned orange. It took me a moment to understand what I was looking at. There were 30,000 monarch butterfly, resting on that tree, fluttering their wings; as a chorus.



As marvellous as that was, I think I thought, that is what happens to people: tens of thousands of monarch butterflies stop and rest on a tree in their yard. I looked for them every year after that, but they never came back. Not like that.


As an adult, I have planted butterfly-friendly flowers wherever I could. My garden has 200 species of plants, many of which are butterfly friendly, especially liatris, blazingstar. Three summers ago, one of my liatris had peaked, standing almost six feet tall, six stems fully flowered; from sunrise until sunset, 40 monarch butterfly feasting, at any given time, for most of the month of August. (People stopped by to film it, I heard; I wish I had; no money no camera.)




I have scattered common milkweed seed in this garden, by the bedroom, because it smells great; which common milkweed, monarch butterfly lay their eggs on, the leaves of which are the only thing the caterpillar will eat (common milkweed makes the monarch caterpillar and butterfly toxic to predators.)

 


For some reason, swamp milkweed thrives in my garden, which is attractive to the mature monarch butterfly, but not so much to the larvae; the common milkweed didn't take, at least not where I scattered it. It popped up in a place I didn't scatter the seed; unfortunately, where it doesn't get enough sun to bloom, shaded as it is by the neighbor's looming, aged silver maple dooming my house, and the elderberry in the corner, by the garage and the fence (keeping watch).

Last summer, 2013, I saw a monarch butterfly most days, into September. Usually only one at a time though. I rejoiced the few days I saw two at a time. One time, two summers ago, I saw a pair mating, which they did while the female was flying, the male hanging upside down, under her, like a rudder (of a ship on the sea.) They fluttered back and fourth through the garden at least six times (nowhere else in the neighborhood so friendly.) Last year, their numbers were down Continent-wide, throughout the season. This winter, 33 million over-wintered in their forest resting places, in central Mexico. Historically, there are more than a billion.

homero aridjis

I only saw as many as I did in 2013, as my garden is surrounded almost entirely by wasteland, which makes my garden an oasis. Yes, I am in the midst of a 3-million person metro; from a butterfly perspective, it is a wasteland.

Not as much the wasteland America's "breadbasket" has become. Wherever corn is grown, and corn is grown intensively from central Mexico to South-central Canada, is hostile territory to monarch butterfly. That's a long way to have to travel, everywhere toxic pesticides/herbicides, roads like an automated river of air full of deadly projectiles, nothing to eat. Add to that, last year, severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma, northern Mexico. (Severe drought this year in California.)


Monarch, leaving their heavily logged over-wintering rest, in the mountains of central Mexico, are not the monarch that return to Mexico. It's the fourth generation that returns to Mexico; the first breeds in northern Mexico, Texas lower breadbasket, bayou, dies; second generation flies to the upper Midwest, central valleys, rust belt, Atlantic coast, breeds, dies; third generation hangs around, as far as southern Canada, heads south, breeds again wherever they are, die; fourth generation catches the high winds and heads for central Mexico (aggressively-logged) highlands.

If any of these stages are interrupted, their numbers drop. Which hasn't been too much of a problem, the last 10,000 years at least (since the end of the last ice age); until humans got it into their heads that it doesn't matter what we do to the earth, 7+ billion of us now, 320 million here in America in the most turbo-charged of all nation states...

Drought in northern Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma has alleviated, somewhat. The central breadbasket is worse every year, for toxicity and loss of butterfly/wild habitat; they are forced to follow rivers, from city to city, where they can still find a few edible flowers. There has been some planting along roads, but then, they get hit by vehicles. Most people plant flowers that are great for GDP, super showy, for ego - of little use to butterflies. And city people esp in the suburbs, love their pesticides. Add in vehicle exhaust, coal burning; they have to breathe the same air we do. If you know health care is 20% of GDP, you might imagine monarch butterfly are a bit more sensitive.





Then of course you have international finance in control of most of the breadbasket/growing places; all that free QE money (same way they are trying to take the Ukrainian breadbasket; that and debt; you control the food, you control the people.) George W. Bush returned millions of acres of fallow, semi-wild CRP land (Conservation Reserve Program), to big ag, GMO corn, and broad spectrum poisons, esp Monsanto Roundup glyphosate. Obama acts more like a monarch than a butterfly. EPA?; see aforementioned International finance, bank, corporation, Monsanto etc.

In other words, the monarch butterfly is on the verge of extinction.

More horrific than that - the monarch butterfly going extinct - who cares (if the 23 people making 35 comments to this article is any indication?) Stupid bugs. Congratulations Science, Church, Commerce, you have successfully separated people, psychologically, from the natural systems all life depends upon.

Monarch butterfly extinction, would break a lot of hearts. Including mine. And, canary-in-the-coal-mine extraordinaire, THE bellweather: it would be clear at that point, esp if people are mostly indifferent, this megalith we call civilization, will collapse before it will question BAU, Leviathan, Great Beast, even unto all species extinction, even unto our own...(as if Fukushima isn't canary enough.)

I hope that doesn't happen, either the extinction of the monarch butterfly, or the extinction of people. So, in good faith, plant flowers that monarch butterfly need, if you are in their path; any flowers with nectar; there are all kinds of butterflies, moths, bugs that need flowers, people too; the best way to fight bad bugs is with good bugs, lots of flowers/habitat. LOL. Plant flowers wherever you can, anybody. If the monarch butterfly survives, it won't be because of big banks, big corporations, or big government. It will be people, casting seed, tending flowers, even housing the caterpillar or the chrysalis, to keep it safe.

Which is where I have failed the monarch butterfly, insofar as I didn't save any milkweed seed last fall, when I could have. Floating about, with it's parachute-like filigree, in the fall (I know two places close by.) Hard to find in the spring, the seeds scattered.

 

I'm planting several gardens this spring. Here, @ Off The Grid in Minneapolis; the second, surrounded by corn; the third, urban like this, but wilder and younger. Fruit trees and big gardens, grape vines, berry canes; even citrus.

If you have any common milkweed seed, let me know. (Maybe besides good monarch butterfly habitat we need to create good people habitat too...)