It’s encouraging to see that the Occupy Wall Street movement so derided by the corporate media and “Masters of the Universe”-types is picking up steam. Must have something to do with the images of cops Macing young women in security pens, hundreds of airline pilots joining the protest and the outrageous video of young oligarchs (or kleptocrats, if you prefer) yukking it up and sipping drinks while looking down on the “rabble” from a balcony in New York City. Help keep the momentum going by donating food, money, supplies or your own services here.


OK, so more US citizens are in poverty that ever in the past 50 years. Home values are still dropping. Interest on savings accounts will add pennies a month to your investment, while the stock market’s a crazy roller-coaster ride only for gamblers who can afford to lose. The economy’s not yet adding net new jobs, much less adding them fast enough to keep up with population growth. And this past weekend I saw an ad in the local Craigslist from someone desperate to find a cheap, used RV or trailer because he has a wife, two kids and is “soon to be homeless.” But 20 percent of Americans think they’ll be millionaires by 2020?


If the constant assault on the middle class, fairness and reality-based thinking is getting you down, this video from the United Steelworkers will have you pushing yourself up from the canvas again. It’s like a mini-“Rocky.”

This find of the day is “Who Rules America?” by Bill Domhoff, a research professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The website (and book with the same name) provides some fascinating insights into “how power and politics operate in the United States.” Among its recent posts is “An Investment Manager’s View on the Top 1%,” a guest article that explores the differences — and they’re huge — between being merely in the top 1% of the nation’s wealthiest and being in the top 0.1%.

“Unfavorable tree symptoms.” Hats off to DuPont for crafting this fine PR expression to describe the many dead tree left in the wake of its now-banned weed-killer Imprelis.

Hooray … the powers-that-be have found a solution to the growing number of natural disasters most likely related to climate change: ignore them.

Catastrophic flooding that’s displaced three-quarters of a million people in Pakistan? That’s last year’s news, isn’t it? Must be, considering that media coverage — and international response — has been so hard to find.

But apparently torrential and deadly monsoon rains have been flooding many of the same districts of Pakistan as they did in 2011. And it’s been going on for the past three months. We’re just not hearing about it so much anymore.

If you ignore it, “they” (ie, climate disasters, poor people, inconvenient truths, social injustices, etc.) will go away, it seems.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

It’s revealing that the first thing God creates, according to the Biblical book of Genesis, is light … or, in other words, energy. Whoever first conceived of that description and wrote it down had at least one thing right: light — our primary source of energy — is fundamental to everything else. Without it, to borrow two other words from Genesis, all of us here on Earth would quickly be cast into the darkness and the void.

Oil, the resource that’s enabled two-plus centuries of industrial and social advancement, is light energy embodied — the pressure-cooked energy concentrated by photosynthesizing organisms that captured the Sun’s power millions of years ago. So too are coal and natural gas. Even the newer sources of energy we’ve tapped into all owe their existence to the Sun. Wind energy wouldn’t exist without it (it’s solar heating of the atmosphere, coupled with the Earth’s rotation, that gives rise to air currents). Solar energy? Duh. Not even nuclear power would exist without a stellar ancestor in its past: any elements heavier than hydrogen were produced in the fusion engine of some star somewhere in the universe.

Some might want to make the case that wave and tidal energy owe more allegiance to the Moon than to the Sun. But think about it for a moment. Sun with no Moon = all the other forms of energy are still available to us. Moon with no Sun = the Earth is frozen solid, leaving waves and tides out of the picture.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the energy we rely on today, though, is the fact that we’ve likely reached an inflection point, a moment (not literally, but not in geological time terms either) in which our understanding of and access to energy is undergoing a dramatic change. Global oil production might have peaked several years ago, according to some estimates. Even if it hasn’t yet, worldwide demand is going up while production at the rates we’ve come to depend on grows more and more difficult and costly. New sources — solar, wind, tidal, biofuel — are expanding their footprints, though they’re still a small proportion of our overall energy mix. Can we grow them fast enough to keep up as fossil fuels keep rising in price, contributing to sociopolitical havoc and becoming ever-harder to bring to market?

Depending on the answer, we could soon discover first-hand how truly fundamental — and hard to replace — our energy resources are to life as we know it.

Why are plutocrats like the Koch brothers and organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce able to buy the government that benefits them while consigning the rest of us to a morally bankrupt energy policy, an out-of-control global climate and rapidly diminishing economic opportunities?

Sadly, it’s because we let them.

Yes, we — ordinary, hard-working, middle-class people — bought what they sold us, hook, line and sinker. We helped enable their behavior, and we’re reaping what we’ve helped to sow.

Oh, we didn’t do it all by ourselves, of course. And they were more than happy to string us along for the ride. But they’ve come to the point where they’ve stopped pretending, stopped making it look like they’re trying to be environmentally responsible, interested in a liveable planet for everyone, willing to work with the “little people.” We’ve served our purpose and it’s time for them to move on.

And what about us? Now that we’ve been relegated to the trash heap, are we left with no recourse, no way to help make things better again?

Fortunately, no.

This beast might be partly of our own making, but we can help to “un-make” it. Recent events in places from Cairo to Madison show that we the people still have something to say, and that we can make sure those at the top hear it.

While doing that, we can also help to starve the beast. It’s our dollars that have been feeding it for so long, after all, and it’s our dollars that can be withheld to starve it. For the world’s powerful business groups and bloated multinationals, money talks. And when the money stops flowing, they start listening … fast.

Take Koch Industries, for example. Yes, a lot of its revenues come from oil, and we know how hard it is personally to cut down on the stuff (though it can be done). But did you know that Koch interests also include Dacron fiberfill and Stainmaster carpets? Lycra fabrics and PET plastics (yet another reason to stop buying bottled water)? For the past six years, Koch’s holdings also include Georgia-Pacific, maker of — among other brands — Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Mardi Gras napkins and Dixie paper cups?

There’s another reason, if you needed one, to use, and reuse, cloth napkins and towels. Better for the environment. Better for fighting plutocracy.

Believe it or not, but the fruit fly beats the cockroach hands down (or is it six legs down?) when it comes to surviving a nuclear disaster.

While cockroaches have long enjoyed the reputation of being able to survive anything, even an atomic bomb explosion, they’re not as tough and radiation-resistant as the common fruit fly. In fact, studies have found that fruit flies can probably survive 10 times as much radiation as cockroaches.

When you write for a living, you take the proper use of language seriously …  too seriously, sometimes. For me, for example, there’s a whole class of songs that I really like, but don’t like as much as I could because there’s something seriously wrong with the language usage.

I know there must be other people out there who suffer from the same malady, who sing a little too loudly at the end of The Doors’ “Touch Me,” ” … till the stars fall from the sky for YOU AND ME!” (not “I,” darnit) or who cringe when listening to the wonderful Rosemary Clooney singing, “I Only Have Eyes for You.” (No, no, no … it SHOULD be, “I Have Eyes for Only You.”