Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"How much inflation has there been? From the signing of the Constitution right up until landing a man on the moon the whole American experience, every house, car, television, freeway, airplane, war... everything, cost one trillion dollars. Then consider that the debt ceiling has been raised 2 1/2 trillion dollars just this last 12 months. Do you see the value in that? Of course not; that is because you didn't get it. The rich bankers and their Wall Street friends that you are now being told you have to bail out got the lot."

"It is just that simple. When the Secretary of the Treasury said it is too complicated and that time was critical and that no one needs to understand all this and that we just needed to give him the biggest blank check ever written in the history of the world and that he would be exempt from all prosecution and his use of these funds was final... I almost burst a blood vessel. The 700 billion dollar fund is just the start. How many times have you heard of a deal gone bad that asks for more money only to come back a while later and say they needed even more; and then more; and then more. Does anyone think it a bit odd that the very man asking for dictatorial power over the finances of these United States was the chairman of Goldman Sachs; one of the largest culprits that got us into this mess and that profited greatly in the process. We, as a country, are being asked to give a known arsonist the keys to the fire truck and then look the other way? We are being told that there is no other option but to give one of the very men who got us into this mess by unrestrained greed a blank check to spend with his cronies to fix the mess... with no oversight... and a get out of jail free card stapled to the check for good measure?"

"The scheme is actually pretty simple. Please forgive my primitive graphics abilities.
The fund will buy mortgages from the banks at market value, and then re-sell them back to the banks at a discount. The fund will then repurchase those mortgages from the banks, who will sell them back to the fund again. The same product (perhaps an ill-advised mortgage for a half-million dollars taken out on a house in the distant suburbs of Las Vegas) will be bought, then resold, then re-bought and re-resold in an endless spiral of profit-taking. The taxpayer will lose on every transaction, the banks robbing the treasury each time each mortgage, or package of mortgages is swapped.

It is amazing to observe the greatest transfer of wealth in history, from Main Street to Wall Street,from the many to the few. What is even more amazing is that nobody seems to be stopping it."

"I was sitting at the table on Saturday night trying to figure out which bills to pay. Times are tough. I owe $25 billion on my GM Visa card and they are bitching about payment. I've been paying the minimum and the bastards just raised my interest rate to 31%. My AIG Master Card is sitting at $85 billion and they want to lower my credit limit. Like where am I supposed to raise enough money to pay that down?

My FDIC Sears card is bumping the limit at $150 billion but I may be able to hold them off for another month. It would be nice to have some money for food this month.

Then my brother-in-law Bill comes over. He's a nice guy but he's a crack addict and hits the bottle and my sister a little hard. But a nice guy at heart.

He hits me up for a loan. How can I turn him down? As I said, he's a nice guy. He needs $700 billion. Or is it trillion? Those numbers are so high I can barely cope with them. He needs $700 billion and he needs it now so he can sort out his crack problem. I can understand that, a crack problem needs sorting out.

'Here,' I say, 'Take my American Express Platinum card and punch it for the $700 billion. They may give you a little bit of a hard time but they know I'm good for it. I pay my bills mostly on time. What's $700 billion between friends?'

I know it's foolish but he really does need help with his crack problem and I want to do everything I can. My friends at American Express are sure to understand."

"We won the battle. Please remember this is a war."
--Mike Shedlock

And just a side note about caring from above:
"The Bush administration has abruptly halted a program that tests levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and other crops, arguing that the $8 million dollar a year program is too expensive."

[October 4]

"Less than two weeks after Uncle Sam gave American International Group (AIG) an $85 billion loan - staving off financial collapse - execs from one of its insurance subsidiaries, AIG American General, gathered for a conference at the uber-swank St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, billed as “California’s only Mobil Travel Guide Five-Star Resort,” where ocean-view rooms start at $565 a night and “world class luxury” is the rule."

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Out first thing this morning to start sectioning some firewood but first I had to dump some kitchen garbage on the compost pile but first I had to do what I'd been promising myself I'd do one of these days, decided this was the day: turn the compost pile with the rake.

So I put down the kitchen garbage bag and went and got the rake out of the toolshed but first I had to put some lime over the top of the compost heap but first I had to pull up the weeds so the coast would be clear for the lime scattering (gardening procedural discovery often runs backward) so I began pulling up all the weeds, a lot of them actually vegetables that had sprouted too late from seed in the garbage, and when that was done I went to the lime box and opened it to get the lime but first I had to go and get a trowel to scatter the lime with so I went and got it, then scattered the lime - my plan was advancing at last - then I dumped the garbage over one side of the compost plot then got the rake and began raking one half up over the other and with about the fourth rakeful I uncovered what looks every time like a panicking horse's eyeball staring up out of the earth, shining white and smooth with a dark tinge, like an alien thing suddenly there in the deep soil, it was a kabutomushi larva, head downward in the ground, smooth, round, darkish tail up, as always, about as big as a hen's egg when they get full size, shocking every time, living secretly there in the subsoil...

I dug it out with my fingers and set it aside so I wouldn't step on it or hurt it with the rake, then went on raking more gently and uncovered another one, set that aside too, then another, and another - ultimately five in all - large, heavy, pearly, slow-moving, oddly vulnerable, truly alien-looking things; was about to put them back, cover them over in darkness again and wrap it all up before sharpening the chain saw, but first ran into the house to get the camera and took a picture of the the first four larvae in my gloved hand, then the biggest one alone... (click on that picture for more detail than you might like)

At the end on the left here are those insanely popular kabutomushi larvae made out of chocolate...

Smaller than the real thing, I suspect...
The actual-size creatures would cost a fortune in fine chocolate...
The resulting beetles can be quite expensive too...

Saturday, September 27, 2008


"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."
--Abraham Lincoln

"If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down."


Friday, September 26, 2008


Do you find yourself among the growing number of perceptive individuals suffering the onslaughts of modern life who don't want to cause dangerously slippery carpets, sidewalks and stairwells, yet are experiencing a steadily intensifying need to barf your guts out right on the spot, several times a day?

Well here's the solution to that nagging problem: new Handi-Barf, a compact, portable place to toss your cookies pretty close to spontaneously, anywhere irrepressible nausea is generated.

Handi-Barf is just what the intelligent and tasteful modern-day individual needs to keep in social trim without losing any throwup time from the metaphysical rollercoaster of modern living. Carried in purse, slipped into a pocket, hooked onto your tie, placed on your desk or suspended from the person in front of you on the subway, Handi-Barf affords civilized relief in a flash-- with no muss, no fuss and no apologies.

Bring Handi-Barf with you to bureaucracies, financial houses, art openings, fashion shows, political gatherings–- anywhere that old metaphoric finger can slip down your throat. And while you're reading the latest best-seller, just clip your Handi-Barf to the bottom of the book, so you can upchuck as you read; could anything be more convenient?

And if you have to watch the tube, simply suspend your Handi-Barf from the patented Handi-Barf headgear as you experience an evening of typical programming, and you won't have to stop watching, even during commercials, to ralph your tv dinner.

Or should you be unavoidably exposed to the fundamentally righteous, simply whip out your Handi-Barf and let your soul experience the truth and light afforded only by the joy that surpasseth the surrender of understanding.

No more waiting, hand over mouth! No more scrambling for a door handle, racing for a toilet bowl, groping for a wastebasket, searching for an open window, hassling with a coat pocket or wrestling with a handbag! No more panic at the surging of all those existential cookies that so urgently need tossing in these times of potentially non-stop nausea!

Handi-Barf, Inc.: pioneers in metaphysical hardware.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Hard to focus these days on the beauty of the autumn... I'll go out into it and take a deep breath, do some physical work right in the midst of all that actual magnificence, as soon as I post this...

Never thought I'd live to see what's going down in the US of late, particularly under what was ostensibly labeled a conservative administration; but then again, since when have political labels actually meant anything... China, the last major bastion of socialism, now looks to be a model of financial wisdom and capitalist probity compared to the US. Karl Popper once said that he knew socialism would fail because its success hinged upon the innate goodness of man. It appears that the same is true of capitalism.

The US taxpayers are now, without their consent or prior notice, the collectively puzzled owners of several (and soon to be more) failed financial services (or is it the other way around), with their neonotional debt limit not a freshly printed and inflationary 700 billion dollars (the figure being bandied about by those who don't want the public to know what's going on just yet beyond the smoke and mirrors), but hundreds (thousands?) of trillions of dollars. Money borrowed by the US government taxpayer from the private banking consortium known as the Federal Reserve, the taxpayers' new hedge fund.

I've always wondered why, if the Federal Reserve is a private corporation, it gets to use the .gov domain; just a little thing that bugged me; a small point, really-- never been so small before, though...

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
---Alexis deTocqueville

Saturday, September 20, 2008


This late September afternoon and evening I'm out running around with one arm plus, sectioning, sorting and stacking a mountain of firewood we got from some landscaper guys who were scaping the grounds of a house for sale down the mountain, we asked if they could bring the firewoody results to our house (they're glad to, rather than drive several loads of wood all the way to a landfill or incinerator), so they dumped logs and long branches of ironwood, oak, beech, locust and black pine in front of the deck on Thursday night, and twice more today.

It always surprises me how heavy ironwood is, just a 30 cm diameter yard-long chunk makes you take an extra breath and then lift again for real-- I'm being careful with the one arm plus, though one could get carried away at the sight of so much free heat to put in the bank, but I have my limits and I listen for them, the arm whispers to me in the edgy lingo of early pain, then I stop.

But I got a lot done today nevertheless, also started another of my patented Brady Cedar-tree firewood holders - have those tall, green sophisticated presences do something more than look beautiful, put those strong slim bodies to work, get some muscle on those grainy bones, thereby freeing up our metal firewood holder for winter use on the deck, which was part of the plan -

In the midst of all these hitherings amidst the rough bark and grain, through the grays and browns and fading greens and crisping leaves, with the right-on-time blossoms of higanbana rising straight up, standing around like squads of cardinals watching a priest do all the work, I couldn't help but notice the extreme oddness of a big beautiful delicate yellow summer flower coming up from the nowhere of tall unkempt grass that's always by the garden faucet, no place for such a flower, out of time too, for when I looked closer with an armful of ironwood I saw that it was a melon flower, a golden mist of a blossom grown from a seed dropped some time during the summer when I was washing the kitchen sink garbage strainer (after dumping the contents on the compost pile over by the cherry tree).

And so an opportune packet of life took advantage of the household situation to show the immediate world what a melon seed can do on its own amidst hard labor and punctilious bloomings, and what a beauty it was, all the more precious for being so out of place and time: a summer melon blossoming in Autumn, a flowery martyrdom up here on the mountain, quiet little facet of the mystery, offering its bright life on the fading day...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


"The bailout of AIG has exposed more than just the collapse of Casino Capitalism. It exposes the governmental system to be as much a sham as our economy has been! How is it that $85 billion can just materialize to bail out this one insurance company (insuring for the most part, opaque, enormously complicated and risky investments) without so much as a session of Congress? Where is the appropriations committee in this matter? Where were they when the Bear, Stearns/JP Morgan deal went down on a Sunday?

What has been exposed here is the complete absence of the United States Government as it is supposed to work. In its place are Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke making decisions about spending sums of money equal to the budgets of many small nations – money that will have to be paid back by the taxpayers, who have seen none of the gilded rewards. You have had no say – nor have your impotent representatives."


And as to Lehman's collapse the day before:
"The quoted amount of OTC derivatives on Lehman's books are not notional value, but some silly mark to no market. The real number is trillions. When either party to an OTC derivative fails the value of that derivative instantaneously become the size of what was previously called notional value. With one quadrillion, one thousand one hundred and forty four trillion (BIS) in notional value, there is NO means to stop this financial cataclysm." --Jim Sinclair



"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." [emphases mine. RB]

What part of 'Democracy' don't they understand?


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I can't believe I'm driving home with hundreds of carrot seeds in my workshirt pocket, I just bought them, and have already planted potatoes, spinach, chard, garlic and plan to plant onions-- onions! in a couple of weeks, can you believe it? No, I'm not crazy, nor am I starting a monkey charity - get the hairy marauders on a path by which they can improve their lives? Not! It's no use trying to redeem those onion pirates, those carrot cadgers, no matter how fundamental you are - no, I have a more realistic kind of faith: faith in fences.

It's that new high antimonkey (and deer and wild pig) fence that's gonna go up around my garden as soon as my shoulder heals, it's changed my view of world fertility, my attitude toward seeds, my hopes for a more amenable and vegetable future - a fresh lettuce, tomato and onion sandwich of the spirit, with potato chips and cucumber pickle on the side and strawberries for dessert - and as the day draws closer I feel like a kid again, I can do anything I want, I'm a superman of seed, I can plant just about anything, I can plant watermelons this summer if I want to, and then I can actually have the watermelons!

I can plant zucchini! And cucumbers and tomatoes too! And pumpkins and squashes, eggplant, green peppers, spring onions, purple onions, green beans, snow peas and and and: I dance in my mind through the garden with my hands in the air, seeds falling from my fingers! No longer will I have to censor my garden menu as I look wistfully at the seed rack filled with a rainbow of seed packets at the farm store while monkeyless urbanoids blithely select any vegetable they want; I am vegetably free, I realize as I drive home with the sun on my cheeks and the wind in my hair, singing "Call Any Vegetable," visions of roots and leaves and fruits in my eyes, my pockets full of seeds that I'm going to put in the ground all over the landscape, everywhere is a garden, just call me Bobby Carrotseed!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Standing on the rush-hour train platform today heading home from the big city, for the ten minutes or so before my train came I looked individually at the folks crowding the opposite platform waiting for their train (each of us thinks of the train as our own: I was standing on my platform, waiting for my train), mostly working men and women, with some travelers and their luggage, some elders, a few kids, many teenagers, on their ways here and there, all standing neatly in their lines for their doors to their trains, some reading, some chatting, some laughing or staring at cell phones, some far away in thought, some sad looking, some depressed, many tired or simply zoned, some worried--

And then as if I were looking at a work of superfine art in a metamuseum the picture suddenly opened up to me and I saw what the artist had in mind: that each of these people and faces and lives had a long and unbroken history back through their forebears all the way to the beginning of time, that was slipping by unremarked and unrecorded at this and every moment and always had been, and always would be, as long as human life lived on, and that if you left out what was common to them all-- the quotidia, the rote repetitions of daily life-- what astonishing tales would remain!

What a story and stories were there in all those current minds and endless pasts, concealed and unspoken!! Each of these lives and all its moments was richer in beauty, tragedy and comedy than the greatest plays and stories ever written, and what we call history is but a wisp of a vapor of this vastness-- a biased, uneven, selective record of all that has in fact been lived and felt and known-- and what then is fact? History-- our guide and justification-- is as thick as the print on a page, as fixed as the image on a movie screen.

Then came the thought that this epic, of all these people and all their lives (so few of the all that are!), all their moments, countless moments in their length and depth and feeling (how do you count a moment?) were passing unseen even as we stood there, waiting for our train.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Ever since my corporeal ballistics demonstration a couple weeks ago, my sleep has been sketchy at best, I can maybe reach 60% depth for up to 4 hours at a time, at least in bed. Which is ok, I can function well on 5 hours sleep a night. Besides, I like the hallucinogenic quality a bit of sleeplessness gives to the day, the sharper, more psychoangular perspectives, the colors and scents, tastes and textures, though I don't like what it does to the noises, which are rife in Japan, where sonic violation is a way of life, especially around and on trains, with events announced in a kind of desperation using big bells, buzzers and other air-rippers, followed by endless fuzzy details shouted via loudspeakers as though for folks who forgot their hearing aids and nobody seems to notice the general passive quivering of commuter flesh but me, which makes this little ramble all the odder...

For me, sleep has always been a gradual thing: droopy eyelids, blurry words, nodding head, book impacting nose, all sorts of early warnings. But as this sleep deprivation has been accumulating, there's been a kind of cryptonarcoleptic buildup that my conscious mind was initially unaware of, because for the first several postinjury workdays when I boarded the train to head back home, sat down in the seat and began reading as usual, the next thing I knew I was in Takatsuki, halfway back to Kyoto. Subjective duration: less than 1 millisecond.

I've never fallen so asleep so fast. Each time it is such a shock that I can't believe it when I return to the world; I'm so surprised, that I can't fall asleep again. Each evening I board the train now, I'm determined to watch myself reach instant zero, but each time I sit there reading normally, enjoying my book, the train pulls out and the next thing I know I'm in Takatsuki. Every train-home evening. When I'm at home on other days I don't fall asleep like that, at that or any other time of day or night. I want to know how I do it.

Through these thrice-weekly attempts I hope to find out how to hit the zero zone at will, like maybe when I'm in bed and want to fall asleep, or when I'm sitting upright in my chair at my desk in the office after lunch, with my head firmly propped up by my hands and busy blue eyes painted on my eyelids. I deeply appreciate the potential of such a skill not only for myself, but for all the world; how much more peaceful would life be if everyone, especially world leaders, could spend more time at absolute zero?

If all goes well, I should be fully healed in another week or two, and no longer deprived of normal sleep, so on behalf of humanity I've got to move fast.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


More precisely, that title should read How to Get Out of Bed if You Can't Use Your Left Torsal Muscles (as for example following the impact of one's left side upon just about any highway), but that somehow lacks the titular snap I'm looking for.

In any case, this is just a brief reflection upon one of the infinite pathways there are in life, and how willing (or driven) the body is, in whatever situation, to seek and find such pathways as in the present instance, in which I offer the necessary instructions (as determined by painstaking independent research) on how under such circumstances to get out of bed with the least pain, and I thought that this little procedural recipe for achieving verticality at the start of a day, and so many times later, without the use of pulleys and levers or prestidigitation of any kind, might be of use to others with cracked ribs, or any combination of injuries from whatever cause that requires them to get out of bed without using the muscles on the left side of their torsos. For those with right-handed injuries, simply mirror the procedure.

First, while lying flat on your back and steeling yourself (by now your natural position and attitude), hook your right leg under the bedframe and, after locking your right hand behind your right knee for maximum leg/forearm comboflexpower, dig your right elbow straight down into the mattress for purchase. When ready, straighten your left leg and swing it outward into the air at a 45 degree angle from the side of the bed; this begins to lift you up, hinging you on your right elbow. You add to the impetus by tweaking the angles of height and extension of the left leg while pullpushing yourself upward with your right arm as you swing your left leg further out toward 90 degrees, your body tilting further upright, push-hinging still on the right elbow, until you achieve that formerly familiar state of verticality, all with a minimum of left torsal effort, and just a gnash and gasp or two.

Now comes the remainder of the day, and all the blessed morrows.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


For a few days now I’ve been working at last on planting the garden, carefully avoiding the girls' ceremonial arrangements, scattered here and there at key spiritual locations on the new soil. The task had been at the top of my list for while now, indeed it was in back there somewhere, high on tomorrow’s schedule, when I hit the pole (anyway it torrented rain for the next three days) but because of the accident there was no way I could wield a shovel, hoe, rake etc., without rolling on the ground every few seconds, so I forbore. I’ve been typing with the same arms but not so successfully. If th re re ny l tters missing, bl me my l ft h nd, it misses now nd gain. I left that last exemplary sentence uncorrected by my right hand, just to show you what one-armed gardening must be like.

Anyway, one can only hold off for so long, gardens have a kind of gravity of their own that has quite a pull, especially new gardens, even moreso at planting times, like now, for onions and potatoes. (Forget about onions though, till I get the poles and monkey netting.) So I started on Wednesday, ignoring my manual deficiency, grimacing in the garden with a fully operative right arm and a left arm like a toddler following along wanting to help; I managed, with twice as much effort and time, to get half the work done, but at least it was something. Also more satisfying than sitting around saying Ow. Indeed, my left arm seemed to benefit from its moderate agony, because yesterday I had an arm and a third, and today an arm and a half; soon my left arm will return to the world and can be taken out in formal company without the gnashing of teeth.

I realized as I was working today - while carefully avoiding the girls' ceremonial arrangements, scattered here and there along key spiritual meridians in the garden - that what they had been doing that evening could just as easily be seen as a garden-dedication ceremony, what with the virgin soil and the magic gate and the creation of things, the reaching into the ground for life etc., so that’s the way I’ve come to see it as I plant, that the girls had been generalizing in a spiritual way, as they must, new beings that they are, but that as an older, more experienced and commensurately (one hopes) wiser member of the family, I could see that the trio were reaching for deeper stuff in the depths of their brand new lives, to dedicate this new soil to fertility, and that is why I was so moved to get out there a few days ago even as a one-armed man, planting potatoes and garlic under netting.

Then yesterday with my renewing left arm I prepared another bed and today planted more potatoes therein, plus good patches of spinach and rainbow chard, and it feels so good to garden in a garden that has been dug and prepared as a garden, soft soil a long way down, with the rocks taken away and the bamboo rooted out, all filled with grace and made sacred by three little goddesses only a few weeks ago…

I’ll bet what comes up tastes like heaven.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


And only a heartbeat away...

Yeah-- too right on to be true, this image is photoshopped
(apart from the backyard swimming pool in Alaska problem),
but it captures so well the sophomoric sniping
("No solutions. No real content. No anything.")
that has now entered US politics, I figure I'll keep it up there
as a political cartoon... For those who are interested,
the actual source photo can be found at snopes.com, w/thanks to Jim...


And now you can hear her not parroting a script,
but speaking her own thoughts
straight from her own mind,
that one day may be
the mind of the US president,

finger hovering over the red button...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


How can they tell?