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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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Who Goes There - Friend or Faux?

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Not counting the things that looked like mushed M&M's or maybe some cushion-dried salsa chunks, the best I've ever done is a couple of hard-shell taco divots, a remote control for an oscillating fan, enough unpopped popcorn kernels for a hamster's tea break, a ripped bus transfer, half a poker chip, a pizza crust that could double as a drywall hammer, two wallet-pocket buttons, the keeper-part of ticket stub for a 1993 charity auction, and a dollar-seventeen in change.

Talk about being outclassed.  Three roommates in northern New York state found $40,000 in their couch.  The one they bought.  Second-hand.  For twenty bucks.

It was a major oops.  The daughter sold it, when her mom was in the hospital for a surgery.   But, it all got straightened out.  The roommates tracked down the original owner somehow, maybe through the charity shop that had sold them the couch, and then, the original owner and the original cash were all restored to original condition.  And they all lived originally, and happily, ever after.

Yes:  Good works were done, a smidge of confidence was restored to the bucket of human nature, and the roommates received a thousand bucks for their effort -- a profit of $980, one could say, providing one wanted to focus on the upsides here.

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Letter From Summersville Hospital

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by BOB KINCAID, co-founder of The Head On Radio Network (HORN)\

My Dear Fellow Americans

Sitting here in a hospital room in Summersville, West Virginia waiting to find out if a combination of genetic Calvinism, environmental toxins and my own mistakes have finally caught up with me, I heard playing on my roommate’s television an advertisement for some politician whom the announcer told me would “go to Washington and fight against Obamacare.” I am furious at a time when I probably shouldn’t be, but I may as well make the best of it.

Seldom do I pause to answer in writing the mad, hateful ravings of a right-wing, self-absorbed, Republican candidate for elected office; for if I did, I would never be able to get to the microphone to do it via radio every night. But since the question of healthcare is a matter of importance to Americans of good will across this once-great nation, and since I’m sitting in a hospital bed instead of behind the mic anyway, I feel compelled.

I think I should explain why I am here in Summersville, since so many Republicans, Tea Partiers, Birchers, and Libertarians have wasted so much time, energy, good will and MONEY to keep me from being here.

I am here because it has been made possible for me to be here. Men and women across this country have marched, pled, bled and died for me to be here. Forty thousand uninsured Americans died every year before enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Politicians have paid with their careers, thrown out of office by infuriated, unintelligent, frenzied citizens played like a whorehouse piano by the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, the Republican National Committee and right-wing talk radio goons like the Junkie Rush Limbaugh.

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KISSS: Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling

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Time to add another "S" to that old acronym, about Keeping It Simple, Stupid:  The updated version is Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling.

It's advice that the Brazilian police are handing around to European and American tourists who are in town for the World Cup.  The actual tip is closer to "do not react, scream, or argue," and is meant to help newbies to the country avoid a popular kind of robbery in which being murdered is the farewell thank-you gift from muggers.

The police are being realistic.  Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, so says the United Nations, at more than 25 per 100,000.  (This number, obviously, does not include the hectares of rain forest in Brazil routinely strangled, bulldozed, and cremated, nor does it include the amount of oxygen-producing capacity murdered daily.)

Police are concerned tourists from abroad do not usually experience the joys of robbery, and so, need to be counseled on their manners, in order to avoid latrocinios -- the aforementioned keepsake memento of death following one's souvenir stick-up.

* * * * *

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I've Always Liked Chris Hedges

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Yeah -- except for that time back in 2008 when he said atheists were as dangerous as Christian fundamentalists. Remember?

http://www.salon.com/2008/03/13/chris_hedges/

But what the hell  --  Everybody blows their wheels every now and again. I mean he earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School so we know he spent a lot of time, and allocated a lot of head space, to the study of gibberish. It was only natural some of that lunacy leaked out. But after The Big Blowout I guess he called the mental health department of Triple A and got back on the road again.

His latest essay, We're Losing the Last Shreds of Legal Rights to Protect Ourselves from Oligarchy,

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/were-post-constitutional-era

is another example of great Chris Hedges writing. But he consistently has a problem with using the correct tenses of verbs. He insists on using the present or future tense when he should be using the past tense.

We’re not losing … we’ve lost.

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Forcing Cheese, and Us, Through Holes

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What we see depends on us, on what we want to see.  It depends on our everyday mindsets and moods, and how nature and nurture have shaped us, past and present.  In early times, gathering information about our world, people used plain old human vision, and went toe-to-toe with the world, even if they didn't always see eye-to-eye with it.

Somewhere in there, we made the world more complex, and started using windows and doors and portholes and telescopes and other viewing intermediaries.  Newspapers, radio, and television wandered along eventually, helping us see farther away and further ahead.

Rose-colored glasses were sometimes worn by deluded or contented observers of life, whether by a neighbor halfway down the block or a reporter halfway around the planet.  Sometimes, people saw red -- pinkos and reds, to be exact -- directed as their vision was by the low-horsepower, straight-ahead, horse blinders of that era.  For the most part, though, the view of the world was pretty clear, and most people's desires to see, and their means of doing so, were reliable, neutral, and intact.  They were ready to make up their minds, after consulting the facts. This was the norm.  The world and its details were not only knowable, people were busy knowing them.

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Like the Map at the Mall Says … You Are Here

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In 2012, Bonnie Herzog, leading tobacco analyst for Wells Fargo, predicted electronic cigarettes will overtake tobacco cigarettes within ten years. In 2013 she confirmed that projection and said Big Tobacco will take over most of the market.

A competitive free market was not going to determine the winners or losers in the e-cig industry. With this kind of money at stake it was going to take the participation of one of the United States federal executive departments, the FDA, to guarantee the takeover.

On April 24th the FDA’s long awaited deeming regulations regarding electronic cigarettes were released. If these regulations go into effect as written, the number of legal e-cig manufacturers will go from about a thousand … to about five. The twenty thousand legal e-cig products will be cut to … around six. It will cost an e-cig manufacturer close to ten million dollars to file an application with the FDA for each e-cig product. Only Big Tobacco, who has already entered the e-cig market, can afford to jump through those hoops. There will always be e-cigs. Just not the ones I use. Just not the ones I buy from the vendors I like.

In short, the FDA’s 241 pages of provisions give the e-cigarette industry to Big Tobacco.

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Opposites, Fence-Sitting, and Trekking

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Opposites attract, it is said.  These days, I suspect opposites attract all right, and bunched up around their opposite poles, are two groups:  the totally apathetic and the absolutely certain.

The majority of us are less extreme, lumped in the middle somewhere, fence-sitters, undecided, waiting for more information to drift in and for the clouds of our doubt to clear -- waiting for something like clarity and confidence to bloom somewhere close to our decision-making abilities, our opinions, our beliefs.

Ignorance and apathy make mischievous, self-chasing twins that raise only dust clouds and smokescreens, when they can be persuaded to move at all.  Their opposite forces, ego and conviction, sweat buckets to ensure knowledge and action both corner the market and are locked all the way down.

Me, I usually buzz and flit around the whole length and area of those poles of attraction with an armload of bald facts and bare opinions.  Sometimes, I sport splashy, energetic layer cakes of logic, interest, fascination.  Other times, frankly, I'd be hard pressed to come up with an eighteenth of a half-baked hoot about anything.  Sometimes, bereft of answers and beaten down,  I refuse to play at all, completely rejecting the Catch-22, damned if you do, damned if you don't, concept of play -- my own Kobayashi Maru.

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