Friday, October 09, 2015

Book Review: The Sea Gypsy Philosopher
The Sea Gypsy Philosopher: Uncommon Essays from a Thoughtful Wanderer
By Ray Jason
164 pp. Club Orlov Press – May 2015. $12.00.

The author of this singularly beguiling book has been so many things and visited so many places. Growing up in the Philadelphia area in the 1940s and '50s, he developed an avid interest in philosophy, English-language haiku and political science, eventually earning a bachelor's degree in this latter subject. He went on to serve in Vietnam, after which he pioneered the street performance scene in '70s San Francisco, as that city’s first professional street juggler. The `90s saw Jason take up life on a sailboat wandering the seas, a life he continues to ardently pursue to this day. Though he’s sailed nearly enough miles to have circled the Earth one and a half times, he’s discovered a favorite spot in the Caribbean that he calls the “Archipelago of Bliss.” Among the activities that fill his days there are writing, juggling, foraging, getting to know his neighbors (human and animal) and encouraging his many followers to join him on his unconventional path.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The World's Silliest Empire

I couldn't help but notice that over the past few weeks the Empire has become extremely silly—so silly that I believe it deserves the title of the World's Silliest Empire. One could claim that it has been silly before, but recent developments seem to signal a quantum leap in its silliness level.

The first bit of extreme silliness surfaced when Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the United States Central Command, told a Senate panel that only a very small number of Syrian fighters trained by the United States remained in the fight—perhaps as few as five. The tab for training and equipping them was $500 million. That's $100 million per fighter, but that's OK, because it's all good as long as the military contractors are getting paid. Things got even sillier when it later turned out that even these few fighters got car-jacked by ISIS/al Qaeda in Syria (whatever they are currently calling themselves) and got their vehicles and weapons taken away from them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

American “allies” in Syria: their shameful performance is perfectly explainable

[En français]

[The recent American failure to train and equip anti-Assad forces in Syria is not an isolated incident. It is a symptom of a systemic problem. This article, which recently appeared in the Russian press, explains why.]

Yevgeny Krutikov, Vzglyad

The scandal around the “30th Divison,” which was prepared by American trainers for war against Assad, and which immediately surrendered to the Islamist An-Nusra Front as soon as it crossed the border from Turkey, is now resounding around the entire planet. There will be many such scandals. They have been predetermined by the methodology of American training of “allies”—in Syria, in Georgia and in the Ukraine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

America's Latest Foreign Policy Fiascos, Part I

[En français]

Some 15 months ago I published a piece on American Foreign Policy Fiascos, in which I summarized the significant negative progress that has been achieved through American involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia, among others, and then went on to boldly predict that the Ukraine is likewise going to turn out to be another American foreign policy fiasco. Since then it certainly has turned into one.

US meddling in the Ukraine has produced none of the results it was intended to produce:

• It didn't isolate Russia internationally
• It didn't destroy Russia's economy
• It didn't pull Russia into a futile, unpopular, bloody conflict
• It didn't produce regime change within Russia

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Trump for Prezz

Steve Cutts
[En français]

Go ahead, elect, appoint, anoint—whatever it is you do with Prezzidents. It won't matter. Because it didn't matter who was President, and will matter even less who plays “The Prezz” on reality TV for the next four years.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Design Improvements

Over the past month I have spent some 150 hours sailing—moving south for the winter. This has given me plenty of time to rethink some elements of the QUIDNON design, and to introduce a few improvements. While some are purely products of reflection, others resulted from direct experience with a sailboat design which I found to be inadequate. Here, I will explain the changes in prose. I will come up with updated drawings as time allows.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Financial-Industrial Revolution's Origin and Destiny

Mark Bryan
[En français]

The industrial revolution made the modern world. Before it took off in the late eighteenth century, most people in Europe and elsewhere lived sustainably on renewable resources in traditional societies. Such limited energy as was available came from wind (sailboats, windmills), hydropower (waterwheels), wood (heating and cooking fireplaces and stoves), and muscle power (human and animal labor). There was no electricity, little or no heavy machinery, no modern medicine, virtually no appliances or other labor saving devices, and no telecommunication. Travel was laborious and slow. Almost everything had to be made by hand with simple technology. Death and birth rates were high, mostly because of infant mortality.

Imagine a world without fossil fuels or electricity and you begin to come close to what it was like. Life was simpler, to be sure, more natural, anchored in traditional wisdom and reliant on herbal remedies—since widely disparaged—and certainly without the stresses associated with modern life. Ritual and community were strong; most people were embedded in an intense network of social relations.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Eventual Consequences

Mark Bryan
[En français] [Em português]

The US empire has murdered some 40 million people since World War II (according to John Stockwell), has suppressed popular social change in dozens of countries, has overthrown and assassinated their leaders and has organized and trained right-wing death squads that murdered and tortured their citizens. Both Al Qaeda and ISIS are largely US inventions. Meanwhile, the US enjoyed nearly the highest per capita income in the world, peace, harmony, and consumerism for decades—until recently—while sowing chaos abroad. But there have been no negative consequences for the US—until its recent economic decline.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Howling Wilderness of the Mind

[En français]

I grew up in a tiny town of less than 1500 people in western Montana. It is a land of breathtaking natural beauty, and for 18 years I lived in the same house in a form of bucolic perfection. We prided ourselves on living 100 miles from the nearest stoplight. I smile to imagine that many young villagers from all over the planet share a form of kinship enforced by the laws of small communities and big mountains.

It was my home and they were my people, but after traveling, education and 13 years of living elsewhere, I can see what a strange accident of history small town America actually is, a residue left by a frontier that has moved on and twisted inward. This is a report from a correspondent embedded for 18 years and a hundred miles behind the front lines of the American frontier.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Production of Evil


[Sometimes a peеk behind the Iron Curtain erected by western media can be most instructive. However, this can be rather difficult to do for those who can only read in English or other western European languages. And so, to show you what people are thinking out in the big world where most people live, here is a translation of an opinion piece that appeared recently in the Russian press. If any of this is a surprise to you, you need to do more research. Enjoy!]

The word “ISIS” was laid out in the same font as the word “Hollywood.”

ISIS fighters executed the director of the architectural complex at Palmira, The 82-year-old Khalid Al Asaad was beheaded, and his body was hung on an antique column in the main town square.

ISIS has created a name for itself not just because of their exceptional cruelty. Lots of people can be cruel. But usually countries, organizations and people hide their cruelty. They hide it even if they aren't ashamed of it, but ISIS is demonstratively cruel, for the sake of the show.