On Conversational Traps: A Formula for Responses

We had a very rewarding dialectic with our fellow traveler this morning, on a subject that was very painful for her, and centered around characters with whom she has a situation that she doesn’t feel is changeable. That is to say, she doesn’t feel she can work on the problem by making necessary demands of the other characters. We arrived at this topic because she reacted to something we said, and we were present enough to be generous and ask our way deep into her motivations, arriving at the situation suggested above. Our conversation led us indirectly to become aware of an extremely frequent mistake of conversation that results in the misinterpretation of a response, which we would like to reveal. We hope that some renowned language philosopher hasn’t done it yet, and will refrain from looking until after we’ve written it out.

People who use language to communicate don’t really ever understand each other, and it is a high attainment to understand each other’s language, which is as close as we can come to knowing the other’s spirit. A flexible but clear language between two or more people, founded on a few well-rehearsed moves that show not only motivation but agreement to work on certain terms, is a badge of a profound relationship.

We would like to make our argument in a simplified way, not making specific claims about prosody (tone of voice) or choice of words, such as using “why” when a simple “what” would keep the interlocutor going. The rapid exchange of dialectic results several times a minute in the following, which is responsible for language moving in the wrong direction, and therewith the topic, the speakers’ motivations, and ultimately the speakers’ emotions moving in completely unnecessary directions:

For assertion (A) there are, in an infinite set of responses, responses (B1) and (B2), in which

(B1) = Speaker is thinking out loud, organizing thoughts in response to (A), reflecting with words upon the impact of (A) upon his/her own thinking.

(B2) = Speaker is making a completed response (after the process described in (B1)) that contains a judgment of something contained in (A).

and in which speaker of (A) hears the response and mistakes one of the (B)s for another; the most disruptive response is to confuse (B1) for (B2). Arguably, in a sensitive and generous dialectic, the more frequent response would be (B1), which is a necessary thing for many people. This writer finds it next to impossible to think silently when engaged in a conversation. But our brains are obsessed with all responses being of the type of (B2). So we get “butt hurt” when we get a response that we consider to be an inappropriate judgment, and furthermore a premature one.

The ambiguity in the language used to make (B1) and (B2) can be cured through generous and clear use of language. A response (B1) can be uttered, qualified by including a statement such as “and that’s just my thinking, I’m not demanding anything of you by that.” In this way the speaker of (A) will understand that the speaker of (B) is not judging or pushing forward prematurely, as well as better understanding speaker of (B)’s intentions and perspective. It also takes away the ultimately destructive motivation by either speaker to tolerate something hurtful from the other. That tolerance is what we found at the core of our fellow traveler’s problem in the conversation that started our thinking about this.

Again, this doesn’t fix understanding of the other; it fixes a problem of one’s own understanding of what one is getting from the other. But the real truth in the formula is found in the fact that the fix depends on the generosity of the other speaker. The true culprit in this ambiguous situation is selfishness, and to get around the ambiguity we have to place our contributions a little bit into the interests of our interlocutor. This simple clarification is instinctual in the conversations of children, who are often occupied with seemingly lower-level tasks, like juggling the very meaning of the words in a conversation.

Let’s now think of our topic from this morning’s conversation: if the other speakers who are causing the hurt used generosity, she wouldn’t have to make the demands on their language use that she feels she can’t make, even though their language keeps her in a hurtful place.  To be aware of the confusion described above, and to use such a solution as the one we’ve proposed, should work to slow our reaction speed, check our emotions, and look for the common ground in conversation, like children and foreign language learners do.

Finally, we’d like to point out that the ambiguity we’ve examined bespeaks a real existential problem. It is mathematically possible that up to one hundred percent of our misery is caused by when we want something that isn’t there. We find this explanation to be sufficient because the thing’s non-existence can be caused by us individually or can be visited upon us by others, the latter of which most agree gives the right to be upset. When the speaker of (A) hears a response from an infinite set that includes (B1) and (B2), the fact that one mistakes (B1) for (B2) demonstrates that (B2) is not really there, within fairness assuming that the speaker of (B) is sympathetic. Anger arises out of nothing -the insult is not really there -and the conversation can begin to turn around an axis of anger/hurt for no good reason.

As a student of existentialism, which has aided our investigations of language immeasurably, this writer would like to encourage all readers to put these principles into action. The reader will find that the language we use to accomplish it is not so important; when our motivations are clear, the language will reflect that.

To go further from this article: search “prosodic phrase boundaries.” You will likely need access to an article database to view the results, sorry!


What it means: Toxic Waste is better than Green

Note: this piece is a continuation of “On the Psychosis of the Grocery Store,” to be read after the latter.

With the evidence presented in the piece above in mind, let’s now observe its currently popular workings, namely the so-called Green Revolution marketing campaign. The title of this piece is not a work of irony, but a conclusion based on the evidence of the introductory piece above and on the evidence to be presented below. Right now the entire US, on one level or another, is embroiled in the latest consumer fad of going “green.” It seems every major industry is encouraging us to go green by using their products -even SUVs have little perverse green leaf badges on their rear ends, right above the exhaust pipe.

This means, by a definition compiled from all the products and services that I’ve seen marked “green,” that the product or service is less harmful to the environment with regard to its ingredients, construction, business practices, und so weiter. We shall take the scare quotes away from “green” for the rest of the paper to avoid being annoying, and take pains to avoid describing anything below that is in fact colored green, except when describing packaging on materials that are supposed to be “green.” You get the idea.

For instance, my credit card is green because I can get a statement online rather than a paper envelope containing a paper account that must be delivered to me by airplane or truck. My household cleanser is green because it’s made of plant-derived chemicals found naturally in the earth, so it theoretically shouldn’t harm the ground that I empty the mop bucket on, nor contribute harmful chemicals to the sewer system. One of my Spanish 1 students retorted to my hemming and hawing about consumerism by showing me that the plastic cap on her plastic water bottle is green because it’s smaller than it used to be (indeed its label, which is usually red and white, was now green). I noticed right away when she showed me, because one’s hands memorize a bottle cap.

As we discussed in the introductory piece above, our symbols are undergoing modification to protect us from the concept of starvation or harm; they are symbols protecting symbols from other symbols. We now have this green symbol that protects us from the symbol of environmental disaster, which threatens our symbol of selfish satisfaction and prosperity. That’s not a blame on anyone; that’s a report on reality. However, as we suggested toward the end of the piece above, these products are still produced in the exact same way as the more harmful products, yea, even side by side with some. Similarly, the credit card is still a piece of plastic made in a factory and loaded with information enlivened and managed by coal, gas or nuclear powered computer systems, and the people who manage it still commute to work through the usual methods, und so weiter. The most dramatically stupid example of this scam may be cars, which are extremely destructive to produce, but recycled packaging for convenience food items is just as culpable.

We want to talk here about the productivity of our symbols. The fact is that the green revolution is a desperate shift in marketing and production that protects our most valuable anti-hunger symbol, that of the unshakable presence of consumption. Consumption protects us from hunger, and now environmental crisis threatens consumption. Green means that we can keep driving individualistic cars (to be discussed in our next psychosis essay, if we ever finish researching it), keep buying packaged food and goods, keep doing things exactly as we do, as long as it’s green. Greenness is ordering us to keep consuming, and most of us are eating it up like hungry dogs. But what about our behavior modification proposed above, that of reconnecting to all things through growing our own food, and so forth? If we grow our own food, as discussed above, we get the understanding of our seasonal lifecycle, and so forth. If we buy green, we’re still buying.

We’re experiencing a huge resistance to the green revolution by many consumers, even though this shift is barely different at the point of purchase -that is to say, they sit on the same shelf and we pick one -and certainly not an effective solution to our environmental crisis. This is because greenness is not effective enough a symbol for our above-demonstrated symbolic economy. Toxic waste is an excellent symbol, as even the lousiest of our high school history books tell us (see Loewen, “Lies my Teacher told Me, usw). No one likes toxic waste, no one wants to swim in a polluted body of water, no one wants to live next to a dump. Therefore, to ditch the green scam and go back to paying attention to toxic waste would be a much more effective symbol for driving behavior modification. But of course greenness is far more profitable for those selling the products; toxic waste is only ever a liability. As long as we’re in a consumerist mindset, any consumer-oriented brainwashing will be effective on us.

There is of course a graduation of actual effectiveness of these green products. As mentioned above, my household cleanser actually can be dumped in a cold compost pile without hurting the stuff living in the compost. The dust and crap I clean off my surfaces is probably more harmful. When the cleanser runs out every three years or so, I wash the plastic container out and either get it refilled with a new natural cleanser (I’m spoiled by living in northern California) or I throw it in the curbside recycling.

Furthermore, it could be argued validly that we need some things, like toilet paper and soap. Those of you who make your own natural toilet paper and soap are welcome and encouraged to knock this section down a peg. These products are nevertheless prime candidates for one hundred-percent recycledness. Of course we can make natural soap -we’ve been doing it for centuries. Of course we can make waste paper into toilet paper. It’s all paper, unless it’s one of the heavily treated kinds.

However there is an opposite and ridiculous side to this. In my district they’ve outlawed polystyrene packaging, and vegetable starch-based fast food packaging has become the mandatory rage. So I got breakfast a few sundays ago and took it to the beach, which I almost never do. When the food was gone, we were stuck with a biodegradable plasticine bag, a potato-starch paper carton, and potato-plastic forks -which could not be thrown in the recycling because they’re biodegradable. The alternative: throw them in the regular beach garbage can, which is lined with an old-fashioned plastic bag. So the biodegradable mass still won’t ever biodegrade, because it’s now stuck in a plastic bag in the garbage museum. In this way, the green revolution will cause more garbage and threaten the funding for recycling, which encourages us not to recycle, but rather to stay lazy and wasteful unless we have a compost bin at home for the packaging.

More important than arguing the validity of green products is recognizing how fast the introduction of greenness has set up a tyrannical rule over our perception of environmentally harmonious living. Ten years ago “organic” was still a relatively new idea for most people, and now there’s a “certified organic by whomever” sticker on almost everything in the store to help us use our new green symbol. Has anyone asked a Navajo in the desert or a Bavarian high in the mountains how they’ve managed for so long? Of course not. They don’t have the “organic” sticker, and we mean that literally. A piece of cave-aged cheese from France from a provincial farmer can’t be organic, because it’s natural, and hence doesn’t need to be graded by the organic police. I was talking to a Mexican man I know who works up here and then spends what time he can at his family’s ranch in the central Mexican mountains. At home he does everything “naturalmente,” a description I eagerly encouraged him to use. He at first said “organico,” but I assured him that I understood that he meant natural, and the conversation went on with a wonderful easiness of understanding.

In colonizing our consciousness, Green has made us as scared of naturalness as the processed food titans of the twentieth century did. A solution: begin to connect to all things by raising even the smallest bit of food for oneself. We must realize that we’re scared of tradition because we’re supposed to be doing this increasingly ridiculous “progress” thing. Organic and green are not a solution to the side effects of progress. Dwelling on toxic waste will just make us scared, but what action we take when confronting fear will have a much greater longterm effect than action taken from delusion. I’m not qualified to argue that point; one may look up the civil rights movement for a good dramatization.

We can conclude by reflecting on how easy it’s been, for those of us who have gone green, to go green. Anyone who thinks that they’re going to save the environment (“save” being the egotistical active word) through consumption is gullible. Hitler used simple semantics and rhetoric to convince drunk laborers in the beer halls that, given we=poor and jews=in germany, then of course jews/(#jobs – #us) is a function f(x) when x=the regression into poverty of us. This was one of his simplest ones, but you get the idea. Similarly, Jackson argued that, since there was so much gold in Georgia Territory and so many Indians in that territory blocking the white man from getting at that gold because it was under their homes, then the Indians were guilty of keeping the white man in poverty. The above examples are identical to the present argument that toxicness and wastefulness are keeping us from feeling good about our rampant consumption. So, like Hitler and his mentor Jackson, we march toxicness and wastefulness off on the trail of tears with our mighty weapon greenness. Like the Indians and the Jews, toxicness and wastefulness are nevertheless still here, and we’re not addressing the issues around them realistically.

On the Psychosis of the Grocery Store

On the Psychosis of the Grocery Store

As we’ll state many times, in discussions of this nature, the communities of the rich world are moving toward an existence more and more dependent on symbols, which is precipitating a massive individual, isolated decoding effort that’s replacing actual communication between people.

It could be argued that language and money are currently the most important symbolic systems in the world: neither actually produce or describe anything, but rather reflect our desires about things. The cultivation of language, for instance, is beautiful to the one who can do it. Nevertheless it is ultimately an economy of diminishing returns, as with the cultivation of money, because a person’s fluency in a language is far more a result of his or her ability to understand his or herself than the product of plying the tools of language to a certain craft.

As a brief example, a man may tell his significant other that he loves her more today than he did yesterday. When we get to the reality of things, this declaration isn’t the complement that we all surely assumed it was upon first mention, for the individual is, in all likelihood, professing the miraculous ability to allow himself to feel more love for her than he allowed himself to yesterday. Many of us will never get to this point, and our symbols for love must labor under our anemia. Of itself, the expression is beautiful to us, for we all would have it reflect our desire for love, and we all want it to be a complement. But it is actually a reflection and not a complement to be conferred on another as a result of exposure to the other’s desirable traits.

Money, as a symbol, works in much the same way, and with equally as disastrous consequences. Money is the symbol of our ability to achieve the objects of our desires, or, to put it in its full perversity, a symbol for catching symbols. Of course the ability to get what we want is far more important to us from day to day than actually getting what we want (just ask doctor Faust), so money becomes more important than the actual product it buys. Again, we gain a symbolic victory by using symbols to catch symbols, and this burns up enough of our energy to render us useless when it comes time to go outside and let our bodies have some fun.

This economy of symbols has now reached our food. It did decades ago, more or less after the second world war, when the military learned how to turn weapons into fertilizer, literally feeding us the stuff of war. Yet only now do some, like Schlosser, Pollan, et al., begin to discuss the implications of our divorce from the material economy of our most basic needs in favor of a symbolic replacement for it. The irony here is, though we are (for now) adopting a very materialist analysis of this condition, the problem is that the material is being largely ignored by individuals, and that technology has prevented the divorce within us to starve us to death.

Now we come to our argument. As Pollan so lucidly points out, the wealthy country’s grocery store has no seasons. Somewhere in our longitude there’s a warmer latitude this time of year, or a greenhouse, whence someone will provide us with out-of-season food through the shortest possible distance between us. If the food threatens to go its natural way before it arrives at our arm’s length, we can preserve it any number of ways. We then grow so accustomed to the safety of preservation (though bacterial outbreaks continue to remind us of its fallibility) that we regard anything that hasn’t undergone the rite of preservation and been served to us clinically dead with extreme suspicion. Has anyone ever tried to offer homemade sauerkraut or kombucha (this writer is from California –ignore the latter if you don’t know what it is) to the grocery store-brain and had the guest, learning that it’s five weeks old and raw, decline to try out the masterpiece?

The net effect here is that the model of the wealthy country’s grocery store, with its rows of processed and colored sameness and its practically immortal produce, becomes the only acceptable model for getting food. The method of acquiring food through this ritual conveniently requires the use of our money, symbol of our ability to master the objects of our desire. We’ll keep the even weirder fast food model out of the scope of this discussion for at least two reasons: it’s more weirdness, and we want to impress upon the reader that the grocery store is just as weird, quality differences be damned, and creates just as unhealthy a relationship with the material world and with what we’d like to think of as all things.

The fact that we have grocery stores, like so many other things we now have, somehow generates a symbol in our minds that convinces us that we need grocery stores. We actually don’t, strictly speaking; grocery stores are a technological extravagance  that we’d like to consider beautiful, just like language and money, and all are now governed by the out-of-control symbolic systems we’re using.

That delusional need for a certain model of existence, that psychosis of the grocery store, is what we would like in this discussion to begin healing from, that we may heal our connections to all things.

We mustn’t let our egos run off, however, and blame people for being like this. For a start, that would not be the reflection of our inner relations that we are so proud of exhibiting. On a more practical level, how is a person brought up from childhood going only to the grocery store to be blamed for keeping such as his or her only model for getting fed? To confront this we must confront the false safety engendered in us by the store.

The grocery store’s existence motivates us to regard it as the symbolic satiation of our hunger (ever since the time we invented it to do just that). No matter what happens, no matter how low our chances get of taking advantage of it, the grocery store is always there. If an earthquake or a hurricane knock it down, it can be reproduced exactly as it was. Knowing that it’s there eases our hunger. We should like at this point to verify that this is not strictly a materialist analysis. For one, the physical reality of hunger is greatly amplified by the spiritual events inside us, and, for another, should we confine ourselves to materialism, the ghost of Weber will rap our knuckles.

The fear of losing the food security promised by the grocery store is one of the strongest contributors to the psychosis of the grocery store. To measure how decadent, delusional and de-natured a community is, one must simply count the number of things that its members feel they stand to lose. The sum is proportionate to the delusion; how many things do unwesternized, indigenous people, prisoners and slaves feel that they have to lose compared to the commuting suburban couch potato? Not a hell of a lot.

As with many things, we must confront the fear of loss in order to come clear with the grocery store. Ironically, the strength of fear in this situation is swiftly destabilized when one begins to heal one’s connection to the growing world by learning to grow our own food. In fact, this writer conceived this essay a few years ago, just a few weeks after first spending no money on lunch by eating potatoes and collard greens grown in a square meter of rehabilitated apartment dirt using only water, sunlight and eager attention.

Furthermore, it’s not that we completely lack a connection to all things, but that we know that we can grow our own food with a tiny amount of soil for at least a few seasons of any climates year as we have for millennia, yet we don’t. We lose belief that it’s possible. The lack of balance between the frequency of luxurious trips to the grocery store and the real physical and spiritual toil of trying not to screw up the carrots has the following result: our clever brains simply make a hard turn away from the less-frequently visited vibration. If we add this to many people’s current lack of knowledge of cultivation and the lack of belief that it’s possible, we get a terror of instability. That instability is in turn a symbol for the terror of starvation, no matter how unconscious, or of not achieving the objects of our desire, if that’s better, and the vessel of that terror will prostitute itself to any force that promises to protect it. Hence we’ve got a deluding set of tools developing: a symbol that catches symbols, and a symbol that protects symbols.

We’d now like to raise the problems in our discussion to the level at which they encounter the out-of-control symbolic systems suggested above. We shall review our argument once more, but this time we’ll look at it in terms of symbols and of the psychosis, the unhealthy delusion, that they cultivate inside us.

We have a fear of hunger. The grocery store has the potential to cure our hunger, but its important role as a symbol is to reflect our desire never to be hungry. This is precisely because of the reality of growing our own food. However, just as we can spend money and make what we want magically appear in front of us without having to actually produce the thing, we can go to the grocery store and feel the relief that we’ll soon not be hungry, as we mentioned above. When naturally cultivating food, that guarantee is not constantly present.

Without discussing it, we in the store’s vicinity agree that the store will be a symbol of our security. As a proving action, we all go to it for food, and this normalizes its presence, gives it a symbolic identity that shields any other possible identities from our perception. Should one of us claim not to go, our brains become so overcome with terror at the thought of insecurity that we first assume that he or she must go to a different one. Maybe a cheaper one or a more expensive one, or one that takes checks.

The symbol of the grocery store, in any case, is as portable as the design of the store, and as language and money even, so it spreads, and the process begins again in another neighborhood. In our rush to make our symbols agree, that is, to make them like real communication (which they’re not), we rush to all accept that the grocery store is the model for security against hunger. We use a symbol (language) to rapidly reproduce symbols that protect us from other symbols. Then we wonder why no one understands each other, even when we’re being honest, even though we harp on the same strings for centuries. A more ambitious scholar will take Victor Borge’s and this writer’s cue from here and demonstrate to us the “obesity of language.”

If we add to the above the wicked, delusional and stupid symbology of the advertising necessary to support industrial food production, before we know it we can only prepare food at home that comes from our symbol store lest the specter of insecurity bleed through our thatch of symbols. For the most obvious example of this, see what happens to people who visit the frozen aisle often. Without digressing too much, we should also like to suggest the health implications of what happens when one acquires the habit of budgeting food money exclusively according to the store’s prices. In any case, we cannot blame people for not knowing what to do with a kitchen full of garden-fresh produce, unfrozen, unbalanced, unsoaked, unsalted.

We need to begin using the simple solution of growing our own food, of making ourselves vulnerable to the seasons and the whole uncertain astrology of natural reality. Action is great for reducing fear, if only because it makes us too busy to be afraid. We don’t have to be land owners or independently wealthy or unemployed to do it; one needs only to start, to meet someone who’s done it and let him or her banish doubt with stories and instructions.

We need a body and spirit that know store-food from home-food, and that can see its own fingerprint in its food, if that’s what’s necessary. Of course this applies mainly to vegetables, but that still has a quantitative value, and with ingenuity one can also cultivate eggs. With a healthy, realistic relationship to both foods we can make decisions about them. One cannot change who doesn’t think they have the choice (another useful measurement of decadence), and one cannot liberate a thing from its symbol until one can make good decisions enough to trust oneself with building new meanings for the symbols through communication with other people. We can’t yet resolve the issue of our talking mostly to ourselves, so we must overcome our psychoses and use our symbols freely as the simple, governable tools they are supposed to be. We can use them toward growth and healing, until perhaps the symbols aren’t as important to us as communication about a thing. Then a grocery store can be a grocery store, an opinion can be an opinion, people can be healthier and more respectful of the earth, and a wall of delusion can fall to reveal our connection to all things.

If we don’t do this, a destructive consumption cycle will continue to grow. To pick up from the digression above, we must consider that, since we agree to rely on the food in the store to fill our very model of what food is, and support our symbols of survival, there has been constructed a very powerful capitalist machine to provide that to us. We speak namely of companies like Monsanto, Cargill and ConAgra (these are the heads of many, many smaller and friendlier companies), who own so much of the means of producing our food that no one wants to think about it lest they have an Orwellian panic attack.

These companies are pursuing the money symbol, and their psychosis works in perfect harmony with that of us consumers, as we have demonstrated above with the interdependence of spending money and visiting the grocery store. They know that we use symbols to protect our symbols from harm, and they’ve mastered how to become one of our symbols while hoarding plenty of their own favorite symbol. They will drain, starve, and destroy as much land as they can to have more capital, and are suing, robbing and shutting down as many farmers as they can in order continue. This obviously isn’t something an entity does when it lives by a connection to all things. If we train our bodies to make decisions about whether to eat store-food or home-food, we take away a large share of Agribusiness’ power.

We shall conclude by reminding the reader of the goal of these essays, which is to demonstrate that these “psychoses,” and we as their vessels, are currently stuck in a negative feedback loop with the conditions that gave rise to them, and with our efforts to maintain them, though they’re no longer valid or useful. The psychosis of the grocery store is in large part caused by unsustainable economic novelties invented to keep an expanding America fed, of which the model of the grocery store is comprised, and by our repeatedly renewed response to it, detailed above.

These discussions all point toward the problem of self-preservation, and our symbolic structure should now make it clear that the decadent industrial world has gone so far beyond a meaningful, natural sense of self-preservation (to whose formulation we invite the reader), that we now feel the need to preserve our symbols for survival as much as the means of survival themselves. Unless we let go, all of these precious white liberal progressive ideas and movements for change will amount to nothing but running in circles. We cannot, for example, ever hope to cure global warming by driving hybrid cars and consuming at the level that we believe to be necessary. We’re to save the world with a car that is constructed, advertised and delivered to us using the same polluting methods as to for a “utility” truck? Whoever’s fooled by that deserves to have his or her house eaten by rising seas.

It is true that our quantity and habit of consumption is unsustainable, “organic” or otherwise, and is very close to wrecking our communities. However, rather than proposing a hysterical, millenarian apocalypse, as is the fashion, we suggest that the end of our communities as we know them is but a point in time, on either sides of which life shall go on. We have proposed furthermore that we look at our place in the circle of history and simply use new habits to shift our direction. The platitude that habits are some of the most difficult to change is itself born of habit, and we must work on many levels of our consciousness in order to render habits more pliable. This is proven to be possible through traumatic experiences, such as surviving cancer, seeing a gruesome film, hearing a tear-jerking story, and so forth. The simple plans for healing from the psychosis of the grocery store are indeed also plans to heal from our consumption habits, and there we have a tool that we can use for good: an action that disciplines and constrains symbols.

Natives Petition Obama to Honor Treaties

First of all, read this:


This was the very first piece I dug up through a blog when I searched Google for current work on honoring the treaties. Now that you’ve all read my arguments in favor of doing that, you must get involved with your little typing fingers and sign their petition. If you already did while reading the piece, gold star for you. Should the above link not work for any reason in the future, the petition itself is to be found at:

At 2 PM on saturday 27 February, there are 314 including mine. Give them a damned hand! I want those of you who read this to comment me, at the end of two weeks, how many people you told and how many people did it. Keep records! It may become of some use for me to report this to the American Indian Genocide Museum.

Bloggers: copy the links and keep it going.





Frost People

For a long time the people lived in the frost beneath the ground, where they’d made their homeland since ice had covered much of the northern world. Slowly they’d been forced from the surface of the earth by hunger, weariness and predation by other peoples, until they all rested in the permanent frost, no longer walking people, but still very much alive. There they became part of the stone, the soil and the fungus and learned to live off it. They learned every underground river that coursed through the world, and how to know the weather and the movements of the earth better from below than they ever had from looking at the sky. They knew that they had neighbors, or at least that they must, because they had when they were still walking, but the other peoples, who’d met similar ends above ground as they had, never made contact. Humans buried their dead in the ground, but, though separated only by the boundaries of bones and cloth, the human dead seemed only to know how to die out entirely and never try to join the people. Perhaps the others were stuck in their ways like how the people were encased in their frost. It was a long, quiet peace.

Nevertheless, the world began to get warmer and warmer, the humans’ method of living began to show itself for how destructive it was of the earth, and their lack of sensitivity to what else may be living in the world, let alone under the ground, grew to be dangerous negligence. The frost was able to last for millennia, and here and there it came and went, but it only took one forest fire or any kind of disturbance to drive the frost away. After one moment in which the frost left, it could take centuries for it grow back, should the ground be fit for it. The winters were falling lighter and lighter into the ground, and the cold couldn’t be saved. The people were losing their home almost too fast to respond.

Knowing that they would die in homelessness much surer than they would suffer in displacement, the people decided that they must find a new place to try and live. The world above ground was full of irony: though the humans had chased and killed the people off, as they had done and were doing to so many other living things, they also seemed to be one of the most stable life forms in the world. Surely the people knew that the humans were frightened and cruel, and that it could be disastrous to mix with them again. But everything in the world eventually gives in to forgiveness, hopefully long before, but latest upon, its dying breath, and the people had long since forgiven themselves of their need to hate the humans, and so were able to forgive the humans as well.

Now their forgiveness would be tested. They were now aware that, if the humans could destroy the frost and wreck their home, then they must be capable of destroying just about anything else. The people resolved to reenter the world of the sun and sky through the humans, and to send a message to them that they needed to help the frost return. It made practical sense, since after all they and the people had been so alike.

The people didn’t take many things into account, however. They had gone from the fields and mountains before the humans had acquired language, and couldn’t begin to understand how the humans relied upon it for everything, even though –obviously enough to the people –there was an infinity of perfectly effective alternatives for communication. It seemed to the first explorers that the humans would die without their verbal language. It was also difficult to measure, for now their verbal symbols were beginning to rely on other symbols impressed on the world for their meaning. The people found this altogether absurd, since the symbols weren’t straightforward, like the hand prints and other drawings of the world that the people had left in their old dwellings.

In any case, the first babies born to the people soon proved to be less than ideal vehicles. The humans looked upon them with terror and anger, as if they’d given birth to a monster, even before trying to make the most preliminary contact. They were blinded by what they had been expecting. And that was only a response to the babies’ behavior. When the babies predictably didn’t acquire any language, for the people’s brains weren’t built for it, their parents locked them away from the world and engaged them in a ridiculous game of painfully slow instruction in meaningless concepts. The agents of that game made no pretense to really trying to connect to the people, and their consolation was distant and empty. It was a frustrating obstacle. It’d been easy enough to place themselves into the humans from the ground, for all that they had ever been was lying ready in the ground, but the people could not gain entry into the humans’ minds enough to simply tell them the message. Their language was like a terrible stormy mountain range, whose other end exists only in the realm of faith, and whose crossing would last more generations than the memory of why one undertook to cross it.

Then, one day an old spirit from the people made a much better match. It entered into an old man, whose family responded to his new ways with fear. They treated him as if he had died, since his habit for language and other human customs was summarily tossed aside. But they let him be, for the most part, and the old spirit took advantage of his age and knowledge to gain some ground in the human mind. He looked out through the old man’s eyes and his heart felt warm and full as he gazed at the mountains whose youth he had shared, and felt fondness for the sight of the deep grooves cut into them by the ice that had only revealed the mountains beneath in his old age. It certainly wouldn’t be bad to be a human, if the people could simply help them with their habits.

Slowly the old man began to acquire an understanding of language. It was still a trial on his patience, for each human seemed to have one of his or her own, and they used their language to deflect each other’s attempts at contact. They bore the relatively small differences in their utterances like wounds and used them to erect walls and build nations in order to feel master of the distances that the world couldn’t help setting between their tribes. Not even the ever-present underground water could make their symbols flow together in one direction.

Nevertheless the old man persisted. He knew that for now, and there was only now, the humans were his people’s only hope for finding a new home. The birds and other animals, even the wind, to an extent, treated him differently now that he was a human. They all advised him of the absurdity of his ways, and when he responded that he knew it, they were consistently shocked to find that he wasn’t deaf. It made for great comic relief.

Another thing that the people hadn’t considered was that, though the humans had by now lasted in their present form quite a bit longer than the people ever had in theirs, they still had quite a problem with forgiveness. One day as the old man was being fussed over by his incomprehensible family while tending his plants, which the humans had ingeniously learned to manipulate, perchance he learned about reason. The humans seemed to use it like his people used forgiveness, but it didn’t create togetherness like forgiveness did. It was overused, like language, and it seemed not to produce anything but arguments for the need of more reason. Evidently his family couldn’t get it to work on him. As we can guess by now, this was too much for the old man, and he let it go lest it drive him up the wall.

As the old man gained the ability to speak, his family brought all kinds of ideas to him that they were expecting him to understand, as if he were coming back to unfinished business, but he had to let that go too. He felt sorry for the humans; they were unable to know that he hadn’t taken their old man away from them, and at the same time he couldn’t speak for the old man.

One day, as he saw his people dying out of their human vessels and returning to the shrinking frost, the old man stood up before many people, for they were willing to listen to him for reasons owing to his body’s other life. He told them his people’s story, where they came from, how they and the humans had once been neighbors, and how they were guests now in the human world. He begged them to stop craving things that couldn’t be had without hurting the world, to stop stealing the ground from each other. He begged them to understand that they weren’t the only things that were in danger, and to forgive themselves of the need to keep settling scores and opening wounds so that they could end their circle dance of reason and destruction.

But the humans didn’t understand the old man. Some reasoned that he must be trying to do him harm, or else he wouldn’t be asking them to change. Some listened to what he had to say, understood it, and then used what they had understood to reason and argue for their own desires. The great volume of the humans who had listened was far worse than the silence of those who hadn’t. It broke the old man’s fragile human heart, and he died, returning empty-handed to the frost.

The people saw what had happened; they didn’t need an explanation, and they couldn’t have one in any case. It was clear to them now that their habits had led them as astray as the humans’ had them. When the old man thought of what he had told the humans, he realized that it wasn’t just the humans that were clinging to what they lived on.

One can never return to the same place that one has left. The people let go of their need to live in the frost and rose through the ground, now living in the old frost and soil, and also the stone, the grass, the trees and the air. In these places they found their neighbors, many of which had already learned to let go and simply be. The people no longer needed to know the weather or the seasons, for they now were all moved by the same force. As long as there was a world, the people would get by in it.

A few days after his leaving the human body, the old man decided to go back to the humans and tell them of his people’s success. When his living body returned, those who had known him were frightened, overjoyed and confused that he had somehow risen from death. The old man explained to them that his people had let go, and that was why he could visit again. On the subject of his fleeing death, the old man advised the humans that one can never return from the same place that one has left, and he told them that they could move on from what they thought was life and death as well, if they could just let go, learn forgiveness, and leave off the activities that had caused his problems in the first place.

Then the old man returned to his people, leaving with a whisper that now could float freely on the wind forever and cross the entire world; in this way the old man and his people would never have to undertake a migration again. The whispered words were a simple request to listen.

It’s official – country to change name to Insurance-Industan

What it actually means:

You thought it would never happen, especially not after our pal Obama was elected! Beside no candy falling from the sky, we also now have, under the language of the healthcare bill expected to pass in the senate, created a consumer dictatorship in which the health insurance companies have first priority to our money. According to several news sources, the “encouraging” bill, which the president has called a victory for the country, mandates that everyone has to have private health insurance or pay a fine, with no option to get it from the government like seniors can. According to te New York Times on 19 Dec, the senate version carries the following penalty:

$95 a year per person in 2014; $350 in 2015; $750 or 2 percent of a household’s income, whichever is greater, in 2016 and beyond. No penalty if the cost of cheapest available plan exceeds 8 percent of household income.

Think of it as King Insurance Industry the Cruel, and the federal and state governments are now the sheriff of Nottingham, running around strangling taxes out of working people.

The same article as above indicates that your all’s friends the democrats in the House would have the poor -who’ll need to get subsidized as in (2) below -barred from abortion coverage under the pretense that the feds won’t subsidize elective abortion. This assures the middle that there’ll be plenty of poor and ignorant in the future to do the lifting.

I predicted this years ago. Soon we’ll have a situation in which you’ll be fined or jailed or beaten for not buying Starbucks and Budweiser every day or not having a receipt for it. We’re already spiritually forcing ourselves into a consumerist state of being, now all we need is the material obligation to buy -buying at gunpoint, imagine. In this report I won’t even get into how individual senators are about to get away with money to put in their pockets and reportedly into their states for lending their vote to the bill, but will stick to the physics of health insurance coverage.

They’re already doing this coverage-or-fine system in Massachusetts, and guess what? Lots of people are paying the fine, because it’s cheaper than insurance. Duh! And it’s not just individuals, but small business owners as well. Now imagine how much money the government will be able to make by fining the fifty million people who don’t do the insurance thing now $100 a year to remain barred from getting affordable health care, money which they’ll use to escalate invasions of other countries. Hell, screw fixing the budget deficit, this windfall could be the dealmaker on invading Venezuela by 2014.

Anyhow, here’s the core of this report, a set of simple flow charts, with the arrow being your money, describing our options under the new bill.

1. You get health insurance:

You—-> Insurance company

2. You can’t afford to get health insurance, so you apply for financial help from the man under this new bill:

You—> Government (taxes)—–> You (aid)—–> Insurance company

3. You don’t get health insurance, and the proposed eye in the sky finds out and fines you:

You—> Government —-> Insurance companies (see help for people in 2.)

According to analysts on KUSP yesterday, the bill as it stands now was definitely written by lobbyists. All this won’t even come into effect, excepting the taxation that has to happen to pay for it, for approximately four years, so the next president will take the flak for what Obama did while you were all sleeping, just like usual, just like before you all elected Obama in your fit of religious elation. Too bad you didn’t have the foresight to elect non-asshole representatives.

But all is not lost. For one, we don’t know how the government will find out whether or not you’re insured. We do still have this thing called the fourth amendment. Perhaps insurance companies will offer a McDonald’s-scale plan with all the new business.

For another, the bill evidently makes it illegal to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Now they have no choice but to charge you thousands a month to cover your diabetes so they don’t lose any money, and you now have no choice but to bend over and pay it and be thankful, damn you, that now it’s illegal for them not to extend you the privilege.

What we can rely on, however, is that the poor will be blackmailed with this new law, since the poor have to show more paperwork than the rest of us. The government, under precedents existent today, can:

1. Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting food aid

2.Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting a driver’s license (hi kids!)

3. Make proof of insurance a necessity in getting a passport (hi tourists and students!)

4. Make proof of insurance a necessity in applying for financial aid or even to post-secondary schools

5. Make proof of application for insurance a necessity in getting a work visa (should take care of the immigration problem)

Anyone who can think of something even nastier gets a prize.

But what do you care? You’re sitting in front of a computer reading a blog and trying to find a decent recipe for capuccino, you’re not poor. But you may become deeper in middle-class consumer debt if you can’t get a job because the health insurance costs are killing all the nice little local businesses that constitute your community.

Now, as you all know from my other posts, I may talk nasty, but all of this is the straight truth and I’m putting it out here to help you. We have to plan how to undermine this law, and otherwise how to be able to work it into our expenses until it can be fixed. Don’t take my word for all this, look it up:



Can I raise some questions? Does it matter to anyone that this started as an attempt to get health care for all in an organized, public fashion? And do we really need the president’s top-priority domestic policy to be a show of business’ dominance? I though we already knew that business was in charge. And how does the bill handle  homelessness? The last time I looked at the bill at any length it was the really long earlier house version, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has more details than I do who can sharpen the picture.

Happy holidays, schmucks!


Happy “Thanksgiving” -now honor the treaties.

Cartoon by Ron Cobb

Well, those of us fortunate enough to be able to sit around and read blogs will likely also be glutting ourselves on some form of food or another this week in a permutation of the Thanksgiving tradition, which has been proclaimed in individual years since 1789 and has been a national holiday since 1863.

We celebrate thanksgiving because our northern European ancestors, who had no idea what living in the wilderness or potatoes or tomatoes or chocolate was, and who weren’t in steady contact or truce with the Spanish in the south, were incompetent at survival on the eastern seaboard of Turtle Island, a land of some twenty million people in 1600 now referred to as the United States of America. Our intrepid settler ancestors (not mine, I’m a child of broke Germans who probably came to the US in the 1880s to avoid war or starvation) were bailed out from a quick extinction by the locals.

Since then the United States government has made and broken 371 treaties with Indian tribes -all of them, in fact, except for a rumored intact agreement between people in Texas and the high plains Germans who still live way out there. The thing is, honoring these treaties would have been so simple, but the white people have all gone money-simple, and it has always ended up with the natives first being killed and then the survivors being moved so that the white people can go after resources. Native peoples’ downfall is that they’re too kind because for millennia they haven’t had to deal with this kind of aggression. In the film Paha Sapa, an elder explains how the Sioux people allowed the Europeans to pass through their holy lands with open arms, “as long as you don’t stop.” Those whose families had been destroyed by white violence themselves became violent and Indians certainly have murdered Europeans, but I must emphasize the idea that, as found by our best archeologists of today, for ten thousand years there was not a single major war on the north American continent. You American Christians and Muslims, as you step daintily between the grocery store and the policeman, hating each other over disagreements in dogma and the aggregate heat of circular revenge, imagine ten thousand years with no war. You can’t, can you? Who among any of us can?

Below are some of the more recent examples of the violence mentioned above.

The trail of tears: goldrush in Georgie Territory

Little Bighorn, basically every tragedy in the midwest in the 1800s: railroad land rights, hunting, cattle roads

Texas: oil

Dakotas: gold and ore mining in the Black Hills, the Jerusalem of the northern plains peoples

Arizona: mining and energy production to light up Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas

California: California. There’s an Indian head on the back of an 1860s penny because you could get up to $5 for each Indian you killed in Northern California and all you had to do was turn in a scalp. Could have been a Mexican’s scalp for all anyone would know. That goes for in Yosemite too.

Monterey, California (near where I live): Fort Ord was to be given back to the Salinans, et al., after the war was over, under the same broken statute about disused federal and state land that gave rise to the occupation of Alcatraz 1969-1971. Not! Now there’s a college on the land, CSUMB, but that doesn’t excuse anything.

It’s not too late. The native peoples are not extinct; they’re all over the place, in your city and town, and in the armed services. It’s hard for most people to imagine what it would look like if we had to actually admit that something is wrong and start to make amends. Most people my parents’ age say “It happened a long time ago.”

For one, it didn’t happen a long time ago. It’s happening right now. For another, the time since contact, in which cultures ten thousand years old have had to adjust to a very sudden and violent disintegration of their lives, does not excuse anyone of anything.

The Germans had to recognize their holocaust, which was quick and fierce and done with ovens; they now have laws to prevent such a thing from happening again. The United States have never had to recognize our holocaust; it’s done slowly with laws and tax rights and religion and silence now, no longer with guns and knives and bombs. For now there’s no Europe or America from across the ocean forcing us to admit that we let this happen, as was the case with the Germans.

Like I said, honoring the treaties would be simple. You probably won’t have to move out of your state or your town or your house. Simon Ortiz said,

“Like a soul, the land was open to them, like a child’s heart.

There was no paradise,

but it would have gently and willingly

and longingly given them food and air

and substance for every comfort.

If they had only acknowledged

even their smallest conceit.” –From Sand Creek 79

Ortiz isn’t just talking about the “we were here first” argument that most Europeans pin on Indians. It’s also about the conceit of being dependent on the land, which the Pilgrims or whatever on the first Thanksgiving knew well by their first November. It’s about the conceit of being dependent on each other as humans; we can destroy Indians and Muslims and Communists but eventually, if we keep up that attitude, there’ll be the one tiny tribe with the formerly greatest might left, starving and alone. If that’s okay with you, then don’t do anything about any of this.

Otherwise, here’s what you can do. Don’t take my word for all this, look it up.

Use the internet. It’s packed with resources about treaties and tribal history. Here’s some:




That’s just the ones from the top of the Google list. Educate yourselves about why they broke the treaties. If any of their justifications are still running rampant in your heads, chase them out. Then start telling your friends, writing your congressman, and so forth.

If you live in San Francisco, show up at the observation of the Alcatraz occupation on Wednesday the 26th. See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/22/18629963.php for info.

Read native American literature. Indian people have been writing for a solid hundred years or so in English, and their writing about what’s happened since contact -and what happened before -is simple, compassionate and beautiful. As we talk about what needs to be done for the Indians, we must not trip on the usual white trap of trying to explain it in terms of and for the benefit of Europeans. We must use the Indians’ terms, voices and stories or it won’t make any sense, or worse.

Just a few writers:

Ella Cara Deloria

N. Scott Momaday

Linda Hogan

Vine Deloria Jr

Daryl Babe Wilson

Darcy McNickle

Simon Ortiz

Stan Rushworth

Leslie Marmon Silko

Do you like metal? I know I sure do. Check out native metal bands like Native Blood and Black Circle on youtube. Because, really, you’re too old for Dimmu Borgir and Metallica -barf.

Look back a year from now, as you dutifully trudge off to your family or neighborhood engagements, and reflect on how much you’ve grown in the past year toward demanding that the treaties be honored.

Don’t you get tired of hearing wealthy people on the radio and on TV complaining about the price of gas and new appliances? There must be room in our over-optimistic plans for fixing this country for honoring the treaties we have with our native neighbors. As I’ve written before, some of us need to be prioritizing our own visions while the people who’re stuck in the right now work to solve the problems they started, like the finance crisis and all the wars we’re in. Not all of us can have a major role in that process, so we need to find our own gigs. The recognition of the legal reality of these treaties with the Indians must grow exponentially among common people and in all strata in the next five years if we’re going to ever get this thing started. The FBI and CONTELPRO came down on people in AIM like John Trudell and Leonard Peltier really hard, and all they did was talk. So those of us who aren’t in direct danger, us comfortable Europeans, have to lend our voices.

Thanks folks!