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Capitalism (2)

Edited from my 3/2 Facebook post

I was trained in econ, finance and business, and I lean towards economic conservatism. However: if there were no government regulation, we’d have to take every burglar to court for redress, every fraudulent business, every adulterated or dangerously mislabeled meds manufacturer, every cheat, crook and swindler … the courts would be swamped, but only with claimants able to pay for the mushrooming army of litigating attorneys.

The system we have now needs reform, but it’s still cheaper, more impartially administered, and accessible. Everybody supports the government, but few can afford redress through the courts every time we’re wronged or harmed. Think about that for a while.

I don’t understand how political “conservatives” rant and rail against “repressive government over-regulation” of corporations and businesses, as if you can’t just go and dig up the Grand Canyon looking for uranium and minerals, or manufacture a drug that kills people, — yet they press for more and more regulation controlling how you and I can pray, marry, make love, read a book, go to the movies, or vote.

Meanwhile, the 1% get richer, and the rest of us get poorer. I can certainly understand why the Swedes and Norwegians love their robust, healthy, happy “socialist” economies. I can understand how they’re happy with the economic, social and standard of health and living conditions for all. We can certainly understand how barbaric early laws sanctioned between business and worker gave rise to experiments with socialism. They became popular, and we’re starting to live in those  desperate times too..

I could successfully argue that the capitalist system of economics could work better, but we don’t have that now, and really never did. The notion that you and I need to live under one enforced system of common laws proscribing violations of the rights of others, but that businesses don’t, is truly insane.

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Modern Capitalism In a Nutshell

I don’t understand all the fuss about the new President-Elect who refuses to relinquish personal control over his corporate empire. Critics call it a “conflict of interest.” This shows a basic lack of understanding of the finer points of “evolved” modern capitalism.

  • You can’t make money off of other people’s money. They have to consent to give it to you.
  • If they won’t give it to you, con them out of it.
  • If they won’t be conned, pass laws so you can legally just take it from them.

There are corporate exceptions, of course. They stand out like shining beacons on a rocky, stormy shore.

What happened?

Modern “Capitalism” scarcely resembles that “laissez-faire” Capitalism originally envisioned by Adam Smith and early followers, who saw value as the product of labor, not money and influence. They saw economic prosperity as the result of free trade within the same fabric of existing laws and courts that we live under, not as an end-run around them. Most of those pioneer economists would undoubtedly have been horrified to see what we have done in their name.

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Convincing People They Were Duped By Fake News

Me, from a Facebook thread:

I’m not sure that’s possible. Like the flat-earthers, it’s not a question of fact, but what they want to believe. Look at the science deniers. It doesn’t matter what they hell we tell them or show them. It doesn’t even matter if sea levels are rising and their homes are being destroyed by freak hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal surges and earthquakes (fracking).

Speaking for myself, I’m about done with “convincing.” The time I’ve wasted on Facebook alone has demonstrated, once again, an old adage I hated when I was a kid: “Those convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still.” We are trying to communicate with other-world beings with the best logic, facts, reason and standard English available. It is like shouting at a stone.

Sarcasm and humor seem a little more effective sometimes. The stone rolls a little way down the hill until it hits a bigger obstacle and again comes to rest, but a few loose flakes of dead weight chip off in every dangerous brush with the law of gravity.

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Prime Minister Abe at Pearl Harbor

I listened to Abe’s entire speech tonight. It was a sincere moving tribute to the men who died in the attack while defending our country, to their bravery in defending Pearl, to the families left behind, and recognition and gratitude to a country big enough and morally strong enough to help the defeated build democracies from the ashes. There was nothing hollow, insincere or contrived about it. Neither nation has ever “apologized” inasmuch as “I’m sorry” or “We messed up” is a shallow, trite slap in the face to the many millions who died so horribly in that war. I have no use for people who carp “He didn’t apologize,” obviously having neither heard nor comprehended what Abe, and then President Obama, actually said. Words are inadequate. What counts is not what we said but what we did, and Japan and America have proved exactly that.

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The Hollow Crown: Richard III

Great Performances

The Hollow Crown: Richard III #4011
Sunday, December 25, 08:30 pm on 8.1 Duration: 2:26:46

Description: Richard plots and schemes his way to the throne. His brother, the king and the young princes each present an obstacle. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Phoebe Fox.[PBS]

Synopsis: Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England.[Wikipedia]

I caught this PBS special last night without realizing how long it was, nor how grippingly horrible the plot. I was in the game for the incomparable Judi Dench (“M” on the Bond 007 films, “Jean” on As Time Goes By) as a bitter old matriarch, and Benedict Cumberbatch (the incomparable new PBS Sherlock) as the insanely malevolent, plotting murderer King Richard III. I was not disappointed in the great acting.

We read a number of Shakespeare plays in school, though I don’t think this was one of them, and I was, at best, never a Shakespeare enthusiast. My beef with Shakespearean English is that no student alive today can give a credible recitation that sounds like what might be normally spoken English of any era. The entire PBS cast gave authenticity of dialect a light touch, preserving Shakespeare’s lines while making them sound credible to a modern listener. Cumberbatch was stunning.

As a senior adult in the TV audience, I found the script performance strangely compelling, as the moth to the flame, or as the psychiatrist hearing out a patient who is stark raving mad but who makes perfect sense if you can suspend judgment of his horridly perverted sense of morality.

And I was horrified! I can tell you that it was a riveting two and a half hour performance, and I can recommend you try to catch it if you are into history and feeling up to a test of your psychological endurance.

The laundry list of murders is absolutely appalling, including most of the members of Richard’s own family and entourage. The most despicable was his murder of his two very young nephews, Edward V aged about eight, and The Duke of York, aged about seven. He had them killed in the Tower of London with the utterance “I want the bastards dead. And I want it done right away.” Richard III had previously dispatched their father, Clarence.

The only death actually depicted in the performance is of the villainous Richard III himself, ending a short and horrible reign in a very tumultuous period of English history. I cheered!

As I said, I recommend the performance with my stated reservations. Be prepared to be horrified and mesmerized at the same time, as if staring into the cold red eyes of the striking cobra. I don’t think you will ever forget this fine performance.

I warn you, don’t watch it just before turning into bed for the night.

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Christmas Eve Sunrise with ‘Blind Joe Death’

I can stream music into my living room home entertainment system now. First thing this morning, I restarted an iTunes playlist with popular sixties tunes, and went to make the coffee.

The first songs of the morning were some old songs by John Fahey (1939-2001), an American guitarist of the period with a steel guitar technique that borrowed from bluegrass and folk. He had a distinctive and unique style that anyone who knows the genre can instantly identify. He had a serious drinking problem ending in three divorces, poverty and complications for other health problems.

He was tagged with the nickname “Blind Joe Death” by friends, perhaps because of the cryptic and gloomy themes he often explored. It took me a long time to learn and like Fahey.

When I emerged from the isolation of Army life in 1964, my youngest brother was experimenting with Acid at UC Berkeley and raving about some local musician named Fahey. I formed an instant and very distasteful opinion of this Fahey person. That state of affairs lasted over forty years, until I discovered his music a few years after his death of complications from heart surgery.

While making the coffee this morning, I sensed there was something different about the song currently playing, a somewhat joyful medley of what I had always taken to be trad folk tunes. It’d only taken me one and a half decades to catch on.

It was “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in Fahey’s own inimitable style. It was a delightful surprise!

And a most happy holiday to you all!

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Conservatism to Totalitarianism

From Moyers: “Ultraconservative powwow –> “The leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party has signed what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and recently met with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the designated national security adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump of the United States,” Alison Smale reports for The New York Times.”

Interesting how the new “conservatives” are increasingly sidling up to the totalitarian regimes, yes?

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” ~~ “Animal Farm.” George Orwell (1945)

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Season’s Greetings

All the best to you for the holiday season, and to all of us for 2017 and beyond. It still seems as if my July 8 move to Phoenix happened just yesterday. No, I’m not going to make it on my guess that I would have all the moving cartons unpacked in the garage. All the cartons in the house proper have been unpacked and put away. What with merging two sets of accumulated household belongings, there was bound to be some outright duplication and surplus. In fact, Big Brothers and Sisters is ecstatic over my twenty cartons of donations to date. In the garage, we’re down to about 15 cartons now, and I’m reduced to fishing through those remaining to look for a favorite skillet.

There was plenty else on my to-do list. The house has become a home. I have my living room back. Rooms and furniture have been swapped around. I’m streaming music into the living room stereo from iTunes in the “computer room.” I drained the pool for its tri-annual cleaning and refilling, and it looks like new. I’ve added new storage shelves in the kitchen, master bedroom and washer-dryer utility room. The “junk drawer” has been sorted out into new parts storage bins, and the tools and toolboxes are all where I can find things again. I’ve done minor carpentry and electrical upgrades.

For the first time in a decade, I bought a little Christmas Tree, and by “little” I mean, ten inch:

I didn’t meet my goal of keeping up with this blog. I did find time to upgrade a couple of Perl programs. I’ll resume working on my book when the move-in is complete. I get together with my Phoenix friends for lunches or dinners, and visited Northern California once in September. I have a new Phoenix-based HMO, with all the paperwork, forms and records transfers involved – and my first appointment in January. All in all, I’ve accomplished more than I anticipated. But there’s a special feeling involved in being able to call Terra South “Home.” My very best regards to you all!

Alex

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Liar’s Poker

Barack Obama got us out of the Great Recession. He increased jobs, got the economy on track, defended civil rights for all Americans, and reportedly became the most admired President in US history.

Republicans didn’t like that; they wanted change. They voted in a candidate who ran on a platform of equal-opportunity hate for the full laundry list of target groups, promising to un-do all the achievements of the Obama administration.

That man won, and the world sees him now installing officials who are fiercely dedicated to do even more than the president-elect promised.

Most Republicans say they didn’t and still don’t believe he would actually do that, while Democrats took him at his word and treated his candidacy and platform accordingly.

So now we have the result that those who voted for the president-elect are the ones who believed he was a liar, and those “thin-skinned” others who voted against him are the ones who believed him.

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Election Hindsight 2016

from my Facebook post …

Hindsight is always a cheap currency, but I think I should have seen this coming. It came to me while packing boxes of surplus household goods for donation to charity; go figure.

The new American “REDS” – populism, authoritarianism, threats to the established Constitution, promises of arrests and purges, and pogroms against minorities – what’s not to like here? Republicans will rush to assure us that nothing of the kind is going to happen, and let’s hope they’re right. But it’s a resurgent American phenomenon, which we have not seen since the McCarthy era. It bears watching, with sharp hawk eyes, by those of us on the left and right who still care what happens. Give us strength to get through this.

u-s-flag-color

 

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Trump One Last Time

Let’s talk about Donald Trump one last time.

Maybe you’re undecided. Maybe you don’t care for the Trump demeanor and attitude, or some of what he says about others. Perhaps the programs he’s come up with aren’t quite your cup of tea. Perhaps you read the 2016 Republican Party Platform and found it too draconian for your taste. You told yourself, “He won’t be able to do that; it’s just words.”

Perhaps you “hate Hillary.” Perhaps you say “I never voted Republican in my life and I don’t plan to start now.” Never mind that this is no longer the Grand Old Party or “The Big Tent.” You thought you were supporting Republican ideals all these last twenty or so years, but you weren’t. They no longer exist.

You might say with some honesty that you don’t hate women, you don’t hate people because of their skin color or religion, you don’t hate gays or immigrants per se … because you’re not a hater.

You might say that just because the KKK supports Trump, A Trump vote doesn’t necessarily support racism. Wrong. If you voted for racism, you support it. Racists are never innocents. There’s just no way around that fact.

A vote for Trump IS support for racism and all the other “-isms” he promises America.

Anyone who votes for Trump is deliberately supporting a radical change in our national attitudes toward democracy, freedom and equality, no matter what they say, no matter what alibis and rationalizations they offer.

If you should still be thinking of voting for Trump, I beg you to consider this:

Our parents taught us to never bring shame upon the family name. If you vote for Trump, friends and family who knew better may have a hard time forgiving you. If at some future turn of events in a Trump presidency, you regret your decision, it’s too late.

It’d only be fair to ask: if you did it once, how do we know you wouldn’t ever do it again?

~~ If you liked this article, please feel free copy and paste it into email or social media with credit and page URL.

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“Around the corner” in the Mideast?

We had a Facebook discussion yesterday on the mistakes of 9/11, who “started it,” and whether it’s going to go on forever. Here was my prognosis:

I think, in some very unpredictable future, the Mideastern people themselves will get sick and tired of being pushed around, raped, murdered, incinerated and told what to do on pain of death by every warlord in the region (and by some foreign powers). At that time, they will, somehow, have to forge a better way that works for everyone instead of dividing and fighting. I call that “democracy” but they can call it anything they want. Democracy cannot be imposed, forced, rushed, or peddled like snake oil. It has to be chosen freely, and that is one thing no foreign power can do for a people. They have to do it themselves.

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“The Media”

[Gallup.com] “WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four in 10 Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. This ties the historical lows on this measure set in 2014 and 2012. Prior to 2004, slight majorities of Americans said they trusted the mass media, such as newspapers, TV and radio.”

Trusted the mass media is an oxymoron:

“The media” is a catch-all term which includes an unholy gamut from NYT, WaPo and WSJ all the way down into the subterranean morass of People magazine, rightwingnews.com and National Enquirer. This means nothing, however, to people who think “vetting” is a recreational activity for cats and dogs, never fact-check, and believe everything they read.

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Phoenix or Bust

I gave up my Bay Area apartment and now live full-time in my home in Phoenix. The house is full of Bekins Boxes. I’ve been on the go 24/7 since June 3. This is the only post for July 2016, unavoidably a record low.

First, a note to my phone caller who left a message on my machine while I was out of town. You were interested in asking the owner of summitlake.com a question, but forgot to say what it was. (The domain is not for sale.) You forgot to leave your name. You asked me to please return your call, but for some reason the call terminated without leaving the number. Your message was polite and courteous. I probably would have called you back, out of curiosity, as you sounded like you are about the same age as me.  You evidently did not find the Write Us links on this site, so you resourcefully found a phone from a lookup service. I have updated the contact instructions in the WELCOME header on this HOME page. Sorry, there is no way to contact summitlake.com without using the security forms.

It is hotter than billy in Phoenix. The pool requires a lot of maintenance in the summer. There are a thousand and one other things to do – the joys of home ownership! Out of a piece count of 131 Bekins cartons, I have about a hundred to go, and I’m not going to kill myself deciding where things go, or by setting a deadline, All I ask is a carton a day.

As we swing into August, I have several new photos from Swan and other friends waiting to be published, and one or two of my own. Regular readers, if there are any, will have noticed I do not do “political” posts as much as I used to, and most of those are here on the HOME page (rather than in a Department). We are either preaching to the choir these days, or pleading to deaf ears.

Enjoy the summer heat. We will have to suck it up and get used to increasingly wild temperature swings. I am looking forward to October here; October and May are the two months where the weather in Phoenix is generally the equal of any paradise in the world.

Adios until the next time, Amigos.

 

 

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GMO Foods

Facebook today, on the rebuttal proposition that we do not have a right to know what’s in our food and how it’s produced.

Bernie on GMO

Correct, no scientifically vetted evidence has been produced that GMO foods are harmful, or will prove to be over a long period of time, but as an argument against GMO labeling this is a red herring.

Some of the arguments below [other comment posts] could have come straight from ConAgra or Monsanto. The comment below that “every natural food we eat is genetically engineered through millennia of selective breeding” fails to acknowledge how many results of natural cross-breeding, cross-pollination and radiation-induced genetic modification don’t make the evolutionary cut. Most of nature’s experiments went the way of the Ford Pinto than survived.

Consumers have a right to expect to be informed where their food comes from, how it is grown and fertilized, and if it is GMO should that be a concern to them. The industry rebuttal is that it is none of our business, that “we know what’s best for you,” and “we’ll decide what you need to know because printing a label is SO expensive and competitively disadvantageous.”

I don’t particularly spend time reading labels at the market because the huge issue for me – at this time – is the industry’s astoundingly resolute stance that where our food comes from and under what conditions it is produced is “proprietary.” I support food labeling laws but IMHO the only thing these folks listen to is profits. Buy the brands and foods that you trust and boycott the rest, as individuals, if not in some more organized fashion.

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On Guns and Hydrogen bombs

More hot topics: my challenge to Facebook readers

Some months ago I offered a challenge on these hallowed pages: we have a right to own a rifle or a pistol. So why doesn’t the Second also afford us the right to own a rotary cannon or a hydrogen bomb? How do you draw the line? What is the principle?

No one responded. Anyone’s first response would be, “Alex, that’s just common sense. No individual should own a hydrogen bomb.” But that doesn’t tell us how we can KNOW that, how we can draw the line. Is an M-1 semi-auto rifle OK? A Ruger? An H&K? Everyone says the AR-15 is suitable for “self defense.”. What about 50 caliber machine guns? What about fully functional M-61 tanks? What is the line between personal self-defense and battlefield atomic warhead mortars? What is the principle? If we don’t like where this seems to be leading, i.e. that there IS a line, all the more reason we should think about it.

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