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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,818

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The Gift of Temporary Disability

Let me tell you about it, first.

To start with, you probably wouldn't notice it just looking at me. It'd take a pretty sharp observer to see the slightly different way my right arm hangs when at rest, the restricted swing to it (compared to the left one) as I walk. It looks normal, until I try to use it. Then you'll see the awkward way I swing my whole right side into a motion, because I can't lift the arm past a certain point. The strange angles of approach I take to everyday tasks like writing a note, combing my hair, putting on a jacket, etc., because of the severely restricted range of motion.

If you don't look away, you'll see the winces I try to control, as unexpected "radiating pain" hits various parts of my shoulder, back, neck, arm, wrist, hand, fingers, at various times and for no apparent reasons.

If you look very closely indeed, you'll see the traces of chronic pain in deepened lines on my face, and the shadows under my eyes from lack of sleep.

I'm trying very hard, though, to keep you from seeing the non-physical signs of my temporary disability: The irritability that goes with chronic pain and lack of sleep, the "mood trenches" that brim with pessimism and cynicism and self-pity and bitterness. The effort to keep that invisible means I don't chat much. I limit socializing.

And the one final, grinding "sign" of my temporary disability: The loss of energy that turns every day into an exercise in prioritization and calculation: What's most important, and once I've expended all the energy and resources that will take, what else, if anything, can I manage to get done? You won't see that. Or if you do, you're likely to interpret it as depression (which I also suffer from and can you say "heterodyne?" If not, Google it...) or inertia or even laziness.

Now, on to the "gift" part.

First, it's temporary. Prognosis says anywhere from nine months to three years. It's been five months already, which only feels like a millenium or so. But yes, it gets better. (It might come back, in the other shoulder, in this one, or even in both, but I try not to think about that.) So that's a gift. There's a horizon out there somewhere, beyond which I'll be able to sleep through a restful night, put on deodorant without whimpering, use the top closet shelf again, and a whole variety of other formerly-insufficiently-appreciated little things in life.

But there's more: I know what to appreciate:

  • The days when pain backs off, and I can be "almost normal" for a while, are positively exhilarating, making me giddy with enjoyment.
  • The ones who know about it, and pay attention, and adapt based on what they notice, without endlessly asking me how it is now, today, do I need anything, is there anything they can help with. Like my spouse who heard me wincing in the night, and got out of bed, and came around and picked up the body pillow that had fallen to the floor, and snugged it up against my front, and then leaned over to give me a kiss, and went back to the other side of the bed without a word, and turned over and went back to sleep.
  • The courage and determination of the others I see at physio, finding smiles and things to joke about (forget 'gallows humor,' there's nothing quite like 'weight bench humor') in spite of pain. So can I, then.
  • The "down times." Yes, even though I hate it that I have no energy many days, I'm learning to appreciate a slower, less ambitious pace. Just sitting and looking out the window with a cup of tea and no sense of pressure to get back to "The List."
  • Most of all, I'm appreciating my new understanding of what it is like to have a disability. It can't be described, really. It has to be experienced, I think. The dirty look from the woman behind me because I couldn't grab the door and hold it open for her after I went through it. The quizzical look from the stout youngster at the store I had to ask to reach a heavy can from a shelf for me. The kid who asked Mom why the funny lady put on her coat like that. And the disappointment, resentment, the careful patience, the artificially accommodating cheerfulness from people I have to say "no" to, because I just can't do the things I used to.

It's not a barrel of laughs to feel gratitude for these things, but I do feel it. I savor it-- not in a self-pitying way (mostly) but in a mindful way. Because these are important things to know and to experience, and I don't want to forget them even when I'm no longer disabled.

There is no single human quality more valuable to me (and, I firmly believe, to all of us, collectively-- because it allows us to evolve) than empathy. The ability to sense how others experience life and the feelings that come with those experiences.

And no matter how thoughtfully I tried to imagine what it must be like for a disabled person to experience the challenges of living in a world that assumes the absence of disability, I could never have reached this level of understanding without my own experience.

I wouldn't wish this on anyone else. Not the pain, not the sleeplessness, the anger, the lack of energy, the self-pity, the grinding effort. But if there were a "consciousness transfer ray" that would let you join me here in my body, in my brain, in my awareness, for just a little while, I'd welcome you.

I believe you'd hate the experience as much as I do, but then... you'd look in the rearview mirror, and see the difference between what you understood before, and what you understand now. And you'd say "thank you," too.


We Have Engineered the Rage of the Deluded

A lot of people are going to get a jizz of satisfied agreement from Chris Hedges' latest commentary.

Indeed, like many DUers, I felt a jolt of righteous anger myself. Because his core argument: That terrorism is a direct product of the catastrophic transformation of the world economy to oligarchy; I'm in total agreement with that.

Here's where we part ways, though.

Hedges believes that religion is the tool of the dispossessed, to lash out at the privileged.

I, on the other hand, believe that religion is the tool of the privileged, to put the dispossessed to work solidifying the oligarch's control by escalating fear and generating increased support for militarized policing and institutionalized repression of dissent.

Here's how I came to this conclusion:

Who dies in terror attacks? Whose property is destroyed? Who is vulnerable?

One thing is crystal clear: It's not the oligarchs or even the wealthy helots who serve them. It's the vast bourgeoisie, the bards, the satirists, institutions of learning, places where the remaining middle classes gather to enjoy what few privileges remain to them, and, of course, the dispossessed's own neighbors.

Riots never start at the gates of gated communities.

Martyrs never seem willing to die blowing up the limousines pulling up at the exclusive club galas.

When was the last time an offshore bank or a stock exchange was the target of a major terrorist attack?

No, religion is never used to gin up rage at the real authors of the world's misery.

It is used, as it always has been, as a tool to divide, control, oppress, and divert attention from the rapacious greed and thievery of our Beloved Oligarchs.

Sorry, Chris.

Making nice about these pathetic tools' "honor" or "righteous anger" or whatever isn't going to bring any enlightenment to this discussion.

Trying to respect the "religious sensibilities" of these shock troops will avail the rest of us no relief.

Pandering to the "sincere beliefs" of those whose misery and rage has blinded them to the extent of becoming proxies for the very forces oppressing them isn't going to bring about the fundamental changes needed to reverse the tide of inequality.

Religion is a potent, potent lever that the powerful have always used to disempower threats and keep the masses under control. When the "jam tomorrow, reward in the afterlife, divine purpose" bullshit loses its effectiveness, they turn seamlessly to the "holy war/victims of oppression" play. It's in the very same playbook.

And until the rage is focused exactly where it belongs, nothing will change.


Who LOVES Jihad, Holy War, Religious Terrorism, and Other Killing in the Name of God?

Well, this guy:

And these sweetie-pies:

Also this lovely bit of beefcake:

And this prince:

This guy you've probably never heard of:

What do they all have in common?

They all love having the media, governments, pundits, earnest analysts, statespersons, human rights advocates, bloggers, and random noisemakers focusing on big, splashy, bloody atrocities that kill half a dozen here, a couple of hundred there, a few more somewhere else, all in the luridly evil and indefensible cause of "God."

It's far better than those same folks focusing on the slow, wholesale confiscation, exploitation, and destruction of everything that everyone in the world (except them,) needs to stay alive.


Steve Scalise (R - Nazi Whisperer) had ONE job....

(with thanks to DUer MohRokTah for what we can only hope will become a Major Meme)]

So what does the job of "Majority Whip" involve?

Simple, really.

You're the one who assures the Majority Leader that the votes are there to pass whatever piece of legislation your party caucus is bringing to the floor.

And the GOP, as we all know, have a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So today, when they moved a GOP-supported bill to ease those bothersome Dodd-Frank restrictions on the high-level thievery of Wall Street to the floor for a vote, it should have sailed, right?


Republicans Fail to Quickly Pass House Bill Easing Dodd-Frank

You had ONE job, Steve.


WTG, dude. I'm sure your Vaterland is proud.


P.S. Why yes, yes I DID want "Steve Scalise (R - Nazi Whisperer)" in a thread title for SEO reasons. However did you guess?

A Pome: "Officer Friendly Killed My Brother"

My sister died because the medicine cost eighty-four thousand dollars
I can't breathe

My father was turned away at the voting place
I can't breathe

They took my aunt's house
I can't breathe

"A fund has been started to help the family pay medical expenses"
I can't breathe

My grandmother is still working--they privatised her pension
I can't breathe

My cousins got turned away from the public swimming pool
I can't breathe

My brother was beaten for holding hands with his husband
I can't breathe

My sister was killed for "looking like a ho"
I can't breathe

They put my neighbors in jail instead of treating their illness
I can't breathe

The sky is dark with soot and the land is slick and oily
I can't breathe

Officer Friendly killed my brother
I can't breathe

My voice is unheard
I can't breathe

Listen Up, You Oligarchs and Your Helots: It's a Stark Choice

It's also very simple.

We are reaching a tipping point. Enough "unimportant people" are finally pissed off to be demanding change in no uncertain terms. We believe:

  • Black lives matter
  • Our grandchildren should have a planet that supports human life
  • There really ARE alternatives to fossil fuels and they CAN make our lives better
  • Wall Street does nothing connected with us except steal from us
  • The terrorists who are hurting us most are already here in America-- and they wear suits
  • Who marries whom is a private affair between the parties concerned
  • Health insurance should not be another cover for stealing from us
  • Health care should focus on making us well, not keeping us sick for your profit
  • The outcome of our elections should be determined by our votes, not your money

We don't all believe all of these things with the same fervor or passion, but enough of us believe some or all of them with enough passion to demand change.

You have two options:

1. Stop the smash-and-grab raids, prepare to give up some of your ill-gotten gains, consolidate the rest and begin paying a share of the infrastructure and community expenses proportional to the gains you've wrested from it; or

2. Keep smashing and grabbing, clench tighter around control and try to keep change from happening.

Choose "1" and you'll get to keep some things you value, you'll still be more or less at the top of the food chain, and you'll live to steal again a couple of generations down the road.

Choose "2" and blood will flow. Some of it will be yours. No one will be able to predict the outcome, who will end up on top, who the new oppressors will be, how things will shake out. It's a risk.

That's the choice.

There is no option 3.

The time is growing short, and if you don't choose the choice will be made for you. Another risk.


FatalEncounters.org: Info Law Enforcement Doesn't Want You to Have

Journalists, protesters, activists and even historians attempting to summarize factual information on the number of people killed by law enforcement officers in the course of their duties have all encountered it: The brick wall of "No Information."

No one in America-- Not the FBI, not the Justice Department, not even (so far as we know) the NSA, the ultimate Agency that Sees All and Knows All, collects this data and/or is willing to share it.

When we ask "how bad is the problem?" we must accept the answer "we don't know."

Knowledge is of course power. And no law enforcement agency in America apparently wants the citizens it works for to have that power.

So we have to do it on our own.

And we ARE doing it on our own, via crowdsourcing, with FatalEncounters.org, a website created by D. Brian Burghart to compile this information from citizen sources.

Go look, it's worth seeing. Fifty-seven in New Mexico so far, the oldest going back to 2000.

It's even more worth donating.

Because who actually HAS this information? We do. We whose family members, neighbors, fellow-citizens have been killed, who read the newspapers, listen to the radio, monitor what's happening in our communities. We HAVE the information.

Let's put it together, so we can USE the information.

Thanks, Mr. Burghart. I WILL be donating.


Preventing Fergusons: A Modest Proposal

Dearly Beloved Oligarchs,

While I know you're not overly concerned about the rising tide of protest against police violence and racism (because, after all, you've made sure the heat have the very best military-grade hardware to deal with such obstreperous impertinence,) I imagine it's a bit annoying, and possibly even a setback to the Invisible Total Fascism (ITF) agenda. In order to continue pretending that they're doing their jobs, the media can't completely ignore what's going on, nor are their efforts to re-write the actual events and issues entirely successful.

It's definitely a setback.

Which is why I'm offering you this Modest Proposal, with the intent of avoiding future "Ferguson" powderkeg incidents. I figure you'll be able to implement it with a minimum of trouble, since your purchase of both houses of Congress has been completed. The solution is very simple:

Just bring back the death penalty for misdemeanors, and ensure it's applied to minors!

It's worked before... Heck, in 19th-Century Britain it took decades of coverage by the newly-established and inadequately controlled mass media to even gin up any outrage against it!

Now that you own the media, it should be a doddle.

Cops will no longer have to gun youngsters of "dark complexion" down in the streets where mobile phone cameras can capture images and use social media to provoke hysterical overreaction by unreasonable serfs who still believe in that silly "due process" fiction. They can just pop the little criminals into a Black Maria, hale them off to a star chamber, and shift them quickly to the gallows in a nice, private prison yard where no disruptive influences can witness "the drop."

Problem solved!

You're welcome, and I'm hoping you'll remember this favor when it comes time for dishing out the gruel. Seconds would be appreciated!


(P.S. For anyone who still can't figure it out: )

"War": I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Oxford posts one main and three subordinate definitions for the noun:

1. A state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state:
Japan declared war on Germany

1.1 A particular armed conflict:
after the war, they immigrated to America

1.2 A state of competition, conflict, or hostility between different people or groups:
she was at war with her parents

1.3 A sustained effort to deal with or end a particular unpleasant or undesirable situation or condition:
the authorities are waging war against all forms of smuggling

I would like to propose a more accurate definition set:

1. An indefinite state of lavish subsidy for favored industries, businesses, and government contractors:
war produces excellent quarterly earnings

1.1 A particular contract or boondoggle:
the war allowed us to develop a new corporate division

1.2 A state of indefinite suspension of oversight:
the war budget continued to expand

1.3 An effort to sustain profitable conditions based on a public perception of an undesirable situation:
the war on drugs creates a higher yield than the war on povery


Aux Barricades?

Let's start with this: Michael Brown's Mom Laid Flowers Where He Was Shot—and Police Crushed Them

Which is, quite simply, disgusting.

And while I was reading it, I began to hear music.

The music I was hearing?

And I began to see a vision: People blockading the ends of that block of Canfield Drive with homemade barricades, to keep the police away from the memorial created by the people for one of their own.

This would probably not end well, so I don't really hope they do it.

But it could happen.

And if it did, what would be my response? Your response?

Would we be contacting our elected "public servants" to say PAY ATTENTION TO THIS AND BE ON OUR SIDE, because it's finally becoming clear where the sides are: The people of Ferguson are my side, the 99%, the ones who get robbed and suckered and exploited by our corporate overlords. And the police of Ferguson are NOT my side-- the are demonstrating, over and over and over again, that they are the ones perpetuating that robbing and suckering and exploitation.

Now, should this be so? Should law enforcement not be on the side of all of us?

Indeed, it should not be so. Law enforcement, theoretically, works for the people.

But until my elected "public servant" and every other elected public servant in this alleged democratic republic walks in fear of losing their goddamn jobs, it will continue.

It's a bigger fight. It always has been.

I hope it doesn't take barricades to bring that home.

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