Happy Solstice

The Winter Solstice has long been my favorite seasonal celebration. It’s that ancestrally magical moment when the Earth pauses in its seasonal round, contemplates its equator for a moment, and moves in a new direction.

After months of steadily decreasing sunshine, even here at 37 degrees North latitude, the prospect of the return of the sun, increased warmth and budding Spring helps to wipe away the winter doldrums.

It’s a very real event, grounded in the Earth, the solar system and the Universe, a time of renewal and dedication to a new annual round.

Happy Solstice, one and all!

Big Cyber, Censorship and Freedom

serveimage.jpgRecently I’ve witnessed the increasing senseless sacrifice of innocent electrons as social media posts abound decrying the activities of Big Cyber (Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., etc.) as they respond to popular outcries of “Fake News!”, Russian influence on elections and other dastardly doings in cyberspace.

Let’s set a few things straight.

First of all cyberspace is not real. It’s an invention of human beings that only exists on computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. It only lives when we turn on those devices and choose to partake of the content thus delivered.

Secondly, The Internet, and all that therein lies, is available to everyone, not just liberals, Progressives, intellectuals, environmentalists, anarchists, terrorists, academics and Tea Party-ists. Everyone. Rich people, businesses and business people, governments, NGOs, non-profits, smart people and dumb people.

It’s kinda like a box of chocolates…

When we choose to partake of the Internet and its contents, we choose to expose ourselves to all that it contains, some of it to our liking and some of it not.

Thirdly, The Internet is global, beyond national borders, beyond cultural and societal boundaries, beyond language, beyond space, beyond time. What one may consider right and proper in one’s own cultural milieu, may turn out to be improper, abhorrent or even illegal in someone else’s.

All of these realities impose a certain onus on the part of Internet travelers to exercise a modicum of self-responsibility when interacting in Cyberspace. One cannot expect The Internet to respond to one’s expectations, cultural norms and personal sense of morality.

It’s a Zen thing. I am. The Internet is. I am not the Internet. The Internet is not me.

I go to Facebook occasionally, mostly to keep track of my younger relatives who display much of their life on this social medium. I don’t put my personal information on Facebook, so there’s nothing there for Facebookers to sell to others. I’ve turned off all of the features beloved of many Facebook acolytes, blocked advertisements, turned off apps, eschewed connections, isolated Facebook following in my browser, and generally put Facebook in a sealed box that only I can add to or take from. Same same for Google and Apple.

I use Firefox and Thunderbird for browser and email client, open source programs with plentiful security features. I use ad blocker and anti-tracker extensions so my surfing and download history is unrecorded and stays in my own control.

I don’t look to Facebook for news nor to choose which web sites I see and interact with. Same same for Google and Apple. I don’t store data in The Cloud, nor do I depend on Cloud based apps. I back up locally and keep my files to myself.

In other words, I take responsibility for my own cyber security and anonymity. I’m not concerned that Facebook and Google have deleted some accounts that don’t meet their specifications. They are corporations after all, not government entities. And there are a myriad of opportunities to access the exact same content in other Cyber-venues.

I am far more concerned with increasing trends in local, state and federal government entities toward secrecy and lack of transparency, and the influence of growth and development interests in fomenting public policies. Privacy is the right of individuals, not governments. More on this later.

The actions of private corporations do not pose a threat to democracy and personal liberty. We all have the power to choose whether we interact with corporations or not. Human beings in corporations have the power to choose whether or not to accept employment in corporations, or to continue when corporate activities offend their sense of propriety. No one forces us to bend to corporate bidding.

Freedom consists of freedom of choice and the intelligence to choose wisely for one’s own benefit. When we give others the power to choose for us, we abrogate our responsibilities to self-determination, self government and freedom.

A New Direction

The previous title of this blog, Words Arranged, was adopted from my writer’s web site of the same name. It hasn’t set well with me as the title for this blog, as it doesn’t say anything about the contents deposited herein.

Mourning the Broken Balance is from a poem by Robinson Jeffers that aptly reflects my feelings about the Homo sapiens experiment, and its ultimate failure. I’m neither pessimistic nor morbid, mind you. I’m quite optimistic about the future of life on this beleaguered planet. As Jean often reminds me, a thousand years from now, everything will be OK. I look forward to that eventuality.

From: The Broken Balance

by Robinson Jeffers

V

Mourning the broken balance, the hopeless prostration of the earth
Under men’s hands and their minds,
The beautiful places killed like rabbits to make a city,
The spreading fungus, the slime-threads
And spores; my own coast’s obscene future: I remember the farther
Future, and the last man dying
Without succession under the confident eyes of the stars.
It was only a moment’s accident,
The race that plagued us; the world resumes the old lonely immortal
Splendor; from here I can even
Perceive that that snuffed candle had something . . . a fantastic virtue,
A faint and unshapely pathos . . .
So death will flatter them at last: what, even the bald ape’s by-shot
Was moderately admirable?

Click HERE for the rest of the poem.

Are Both Trump and Sanders Falling for a Dirty Trick from Clinton? Washington’s Blog

Trump-protest

Source: Are Both Trump and Sanders Falling for a Dirty Trick from Clinton? Washington’s Blog

I must admit the whole Trump phenomenon is a puzzlement.

I’ve come to think of bizarre political activity as the norm in these days of changing times, but this year is beyond the pale. I’m appalled that such an elitist blowhard such as Donald Trump would attract such a following, and now the piling on of violent protests and anti-protesters at Trump rallies adds even more inexplicability to the continuing political circus.

I’ve been reading through the series of books produced by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward about the Watergate break-in and subsequent revelations of political dirty tricks in the Nixon re-election campaign and others. Yes, I was aware of the events leading up to Nixon’s resignation, as they happened, but reading the sordid details has been quite a revelation. It also gives me a perspective on the political scene today.

It was interesting to learn in this Washington’s Blog post that Roger Stone, a principal in Nixon’s dirty tricks machine, was instrumental in Trump’s campaign, at least until August of 2015, at which time he left the Trump organization for parts unknown.

Or did he?

One of the characteristics of political dirty tricks, or “rat-fucking” as Donald Segretti called it, is things are never what they seem. It may be true that Roger Stone “resigned” from Trump’s campaign, but that does not mean that he is no longer active in manipulating it. For Trump, Hillary or Bernie. Stone has demonstrated that he has no loyalties or compunctions when it comes to political machination. All is grist for the political mill. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It’s not the player, it’s the results that count.

So what is the result? Hillary is a size 12 shoe-in. Bernie is out in the cold. Trump is left to contemplate a spoiler role.

Cui bono?

Is Donald Trump Running a False Flag Campaign to Help Hillary Clinton?

“Donald Trump, the 69-year-old New York real estate mogul and unrepentant bigot, continues to dominate the Republican presidential primary polls. Trump’s sudden ascendance, accelerated by his willingness to insult virtually any ostensible ally within the conservative movement, has left GOP leaders dumbfounded. Within this vacuum of understanding, an almost-believable conspiracy theory has obtained currency: Donald Trump is in fact a false flag candidate whose actual mission is electing Hillary Clinton as President.

Source: Is Donald Trump Running a False Flag Campaign to Help Hillary Clinton?

Well, who can tell? Politics is a baffling circus at the best of times. It’s hard to understand what motivates much of the activity we optimistically call democracy.

In this case, it’s a matter of appearances and outcome. What would a Trump campaign look like if it really were a false flag aimed at scaring Democrats into supporting Hillary over Bernie Sanders? How would it be different? How would the outcome be different?

“In politics nothing happens ‘by chance.’ If something happens, then you can bet that it was planned that way.”
-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Ed Abbey sunset

Today is the 89th anniversary of the natal day of Edward Paul Abbey, author, curmudgeon, social critic, lover of women and other wild living things.

He bared his soul in Black Sun, Fire on the Mountain, Desert Solitaire, and Fool’s Progress, set many of us on the path to defense of natural habitat and wilderness, confrontations with overbearing authorities, monkey wrenching, tree-spiking, survey stake pulling and other forms of socially and environmentally responsible activities.

If Ed were alive now, he’d be glad he died while there was still something left of the wild.

Soar high, Ed!

“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.”
Edward Abbey