Sept. 18, 2012

Check out which stocks your friends have invested in. Are they making money off the backs of the poor?


From today’s Los Angeles Times:
1.)     Striking South African platinum miners: 34 killed by police in August. “The people confronting repression are poor, they’re black and they have the temerity to organize outside of the ruling party structures. (Richard Pithouse, Rhodes University academic)

2.)     In the Opinion section, Sarah Chayes writes: “…U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk.” This is about the radical Muslim response to the anti-Islam film (recently all over the news). Chaynes reference is a decision from the 1969 case of Brandenburg vs. Ohio. She has lived in Afghanistan for most of the last ten years.

3.)     Chaynes says about the Afghanis: “…frustrations at an abusive government and at the apparent role of international forces in propping it up have been growing for years. But those frustrations are often vented in religious, not political, terms because religion is a more socially acceptable, and safer, rational for public outcry.”

From The Economist, July 28-Aug. 3, 2012:

1.)     Hungary has reintroduced the works of Nazi-admirer, Jozsef Nyiro, into the school curriculum, while ignoring anti-fascist writers and poets.

(In 1984, while two of my kids and I were living with my dad for six months in Massachusetts, one of his neo-Nazi friends from his German club threatened me and my son – both in person and on the phone. I called The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation (Nazi hunters) and reported my dad as a possible Nazi. I had always seriously thought he was one (I still do), but I believe that most Germans were Nazi-sympathizers during WW II. They said to not worry about it; it was so long after the war. I have dealt with fascists, and they aren’t the most fun people. I hate all they stand for.)

2.)     A big age-gap between the rulers and the ruled can be a source of instability. “A clear divide exists between the rich world, with its young leaders, and the emerging one, with its legions of greybeards.

3.)     Svetlana Solodovnik, who studies the Russian Orthodox church, “says that religious leaders work ‘to nurture a paternalistic mood’ among the population and ‘to teach people to rely on the state and to be grateful for its care’.” This article, “Punk Prayer, ” is about the Pussy Riot trial and the Orthodox church’s complicity (“in a symbiotic embrace”) with Putin. Recently,as Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, “has faced unprecedented opposition from the more modern and Westernised of Russia’s citizens, he has set out to marginalise that constituency while building up the forces of conservatism and xenophobia.” he want to root out the “outside forces that seek to defile Russia and its traditions.”


I have been reading funny-man, Doug Fine’s books on, first, his attempt to become a self-sufficient farmer and, second, on his efforts to become an Alaskan wild man. Next, I’ll tackle Fine’s new book, Too High To Fail. I think he takes on growing medical marijuana.

Fine is part of a tradition I have also been pursuing for over 35 years: experimenting with various life-styles that interest and challenge us. My key experiments have been in these areas:

Living in SROs (single-room occupancy) or “transient” hotels (both with and without a child)

Living in vans and trucks, and RVs (with one child)

Being a squatter (with one child)

Dating men from “the street”


Mental illness (1975) — this experiment was forced on me! Ha ha.

Hitchhiking (2008, 7,000 miles around the U.S., age 62)

Long-term camping (I am 2 months into a 3-month stint)

I have called most of these experiences “experiments” only in hindsight. It gives them a nicer bouquet, I think, than to say that I accidentally fell into these adventures (another word that took some hindsight) while bumbling around in the new world I had discovered/created post-divorce.


It is suddenly so cold at night! I froze last night (and, to a lesser degree, the precious night). Well, not really. You can’t freeze at 55 F. or whatever the temp was for the past two nights. I couldn’t sleep; tossed and turned; imagined stalkers (I literally didn’t move for an hour because I was certain a person or animal was close by early in the night); had sore hips (I don’t use a sleeping pad); and woke up in a bad mood, having slept very little. I was in a new spot (just ten feet from my old spot), and the oak leaves were noisy and crunchy; in a week I’ll have them all crunched out.

An animal approached me early this morning: it sounded like it was 4-legged. A coyote? Do packs of coyotes (which are all around me all night, screaming with delight and killing things) attack humans? One coyote I’m not afraid of; a pack of coyotes, well, that’s a whole different matter.

A person is 4 times more likely to be murdered in the U.S. than in Britain, 6 times more likely than in Germany, and 16 times more likely than in Japan.

I got a space blanket ($5) today to help me deal with the cold tonight. I’m down to $34 until Oct. 1. This is OK ; it happens every month. This strapped budget helps me lose weight by eating less and eating better. I usually just eat raw fruit and veggies when I’m this poor; lately, I’ve been continuing with the am coffee and day-old pastry. Bad! But that (and the gym) are where I do my newspaper and magazine reading.

The camping dangers here, besides humans, are rattlesnakes (snakes can’t hear; they feel the vibrations of the ground when a person walks by), bears, mountain lions, black widow spiders, and, well, skunks. Roving packs of raccoons and coyotes do interest me (as possible sources of danger), but not seriously.

I saw a glossy little wood rat near my bed at dusk yesterday. It’s the second one I’ve seen. I will be reading more about them. So far, I know (from Introduction to California Chaparral) that their home-lives are very interesting. They construct them in fascinating ways and even allow other critters to stay in their houses (which are within piles of dead sticks and branches).

At dusk the doves call their final songs of the evening. I may hear some quail; an owl may begin to hoot, signaling evening’s beginning. Then, it is so very, very quiet. No electricity humming, no water running in pipes, no sounds close to me; in the distance I can hear people, cars, planes. Up close, just peace and total quiet. I love that. Later in the night, of course, it’s even quieter.

About ten or fifteen years ago, a guy stayed for over a year in the dense growth of Horn Canyon here in Ojai. When I hitched through a small town in New Mexico in 2008, someone told me, for a year, a man had camped out on the grassy, center divider of the highway going through there.


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