Shameless self-promo warning: Sam Smith's bitchin' new Facebook poetry page

In addition to being a blogger and a marketing whore, I’m a poet. Actually, that’s what I enjoy the most and what I’m best at. Sadly, poetry doesn’t pay the way I’d like. Still, I do it because it matters a great deal to me. Lately I’ve been writing more and thinking more about how I can better promote my work and be more effective at publishing.

To this end, I’ve launched a new Facebook page: Samuel Smith Poetry, and if you appreciate the magnificent ways in which words can be twisted to do our bidding, you’re invited to stop by. Here’s what you’ll find: Continue reading

Mad Men no longer stride the Earth

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Mad Men is quite hot right now. I haven’t watched it yet, although I plan on renting season one in the near future because everybody I know tells me it’s the greatest thing since the invention of vacuum tubes.

For those who don’t know anything about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the agency world, I imagine the show is fascinating on a lot of levels, as it depicts one of America’s grand industries in its prime. These days, though, admen are the hunted, not the hunters. Continue reading

Canceling end-timers' nuclear ticket to Armageddon

As with many religions, elements of Christianity look forward to an apocalypse and their subsequent ascension to heaven. In a surprising article at USA Today titled “What if the end isn’t near?” Tom Krattenmaker writes, “As signaled by the runaway success of the Left Behind books, end-time expectations hold undeniable sway in evangelical America.” Furthermore, “According to this reading of the bible’s Book of Revelation, what awaits those on the wrong side of the ecclesiastical line is not so wondrous: seven years of unimaginable suffering, war and destruction that ends with the Second Coming of Jesus.” Continue reading

Who are you? A simple way to know.

by Terry Hargrove

Who are you? You are who your friends are. I don’t know who invented that saying, but I know it’s true because I know Disaster Dave.

Dave’s mom died in 1957, so he lived with his dad in affluent Hickory Heights, and spent his summer vacation with his grandparents one block north of us. He was very friendly, didn’t say much, and he grinned all the time. But everybody has something that makes him special, which is just another way of saying everybody is a freak, and Dave was no different. He was born with four toes on his left foot. When he told us, we didn’t believe him, so he pulled off his Red Ball Jets to prove it. Wow. Four toes. I guess that little piggie really did run all the way home, because it wasn’t there anymore. It didn’t take much to impress us in 1966, and four toes made Dave an instant celebrity.

But it also made him clumsy. He was always falling over things and strolling into the paths of bicycles. He was useless in sports, because he couldn’t run a straight line. At first, we thought this was kind of funny. After a loop single, he’d run to first base, but end up getting tagged out on the pitcher’s mound. Continue reading

Bring Back the Draft–the All-Volunteer Military Should be Retired

The United States gave up universal conscription in 1973. The Draft, as we all knew it, had been in effect since 1948, when President Truman and Congress re-introduced it. It was the main source of troops during the Vietnam conflict, which also ended up killing it. But I’ve always believed the main problem with the draft was the Vietnam War itself, not the principle. And this is true even though I was drafted as potential fodder for that colossal waste of people and resources. And I believe it’s time to bring the draft back—and it’s not just for reasons of giving young men and women something to do in economic hard times, although that’s a side benefit. The US military should not be a social engineering project, although it becomes one occasionally as a by-product of more direct concerns. In any event, there are more compelling arguments for bringing back the draft, arguments that I think go to the heart of whether America will survive as one nation, or will continue to fracture along the seismic fault lines that are becoming all too evident. We need to get rid of the all-volunteer army.
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Facebook sues Teachbook for trademark infringement

File this one under WTF?!

According to a CNNMoney article, Facebook is suing Teachbook for “a slew of crimes including federal trademark dilution, trademark infringement and unfair competition.” And this isn’t the first time that Facebook, presently the second most visited website in the world according to Alexa, has sued a startup for trademark infringement over the use of “book.” According to the article, travel site TripTrace used to be called “PlaceBook” until Facebook threatened them with a lawsuit.

This has been done before, with Apple recently losing a lawsuit in Australia that the DOPi (iPod spelled backward) laptop bag didn’t infringe on Apple’s iPod trademark. And if you ever needed evidence that Apple has made overreaching a habit, The Onion claimed in 2006 that Apple had planned to trademark the pronoun “I” – and it still sounds plausible. Facebook seems to have copied Apple’s playbook.

Maybe the woman’s magazine Redbook should sue Facebook for trademark infringement. Continue reading

The shameless cynicism of zeroing in on the Ground Zero Islamic center

At AlterNet, Joshua Holland deftly turns the expression “Ground Zero” on its head.

When the horror of nuclear warfare was unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the term “Ground Zero” entered our lexicon. The expression has come to mean the epicenter of a catastrophic event. . . . the point from which damage spreads. [While] it’s not an apt analog for the physical destruction that resulted from the attacks on the World Trade Center. . . . it is an appropriate metaphor for the . . . bigotry against Muslim Americans that has radiated out from Ground Zero and spread across the United States.

Ironically, not long after 9/11, you could walk the streets of Manhattan and still see Islams praying in a storefront mosque with a vendor outside selling Islamic ware, as well as Middle-Eastern food vendors playing tapes or CDs of muezzins. No inhibitions; no harassment. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Walt Kelly

Walt Kelly would have been 97 years old today, if he were still alive. Sadly he’s not, and we need him more than ever. I grew up reading Pogo, and it informed my political consciousness as much as anything else that was going on in the 1960s. Kelly was actually just as important in the 1950s, though, when he was one of the first to go after Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy–he risked a lot, which makes him a hero. As it turned out, he risked a lot during the 1960s and early 1970s as well, especially when Nixon was around. He did a particularly good job with Spiro Agnew.

And boy, could we have used him the past ten years. What would he have made of the group of liars, charlatans, bullies, crooks and halfwits currently in charge of the Republican Party (and formerly of the country), whose venality and mendacity is perhaps unique in American history? Continue reading

Sarah Palin: Tweeting to the top in a $12 million year

Dr. Laura: don’t retreat…reload! Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence ‘isn’t American, not fair.

This is a political communication from a woman whom her supporters wish to be the leader of the free world. That’s the title generally accorded to the president of the United States.

The quote, a tweet from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and self-proclaimed chief Mama Grizzly, offers advice to conservative talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger who quit her job after using the word nigger 11 times in a call from an African-American listener, prompting numerous protests.

Palin’s advice consists of six letters — “reload.” Her explanation of the advice — consisting of a treatise on the First Amendment, the conditions under which that amendment does not appy, the existence of activists politically opposed to Schlessinger’s conservative ideology, the means of silencing a political opponent, the definition of “American,” and whether the contretemps between Schlessinger and activists is “fair” — consists of 91 characters, not counting spaces.

Palin has mastered the art of remotely operated and ideologically congealed political dialogue that includes inventing words.
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Shooting an arrow into the beating heart of nuclear weapons

In a recent post, we posed a fundamental question: Who stands at the front lines of disarmament? Is it the makers of the new movie Countdown to Zero? Disarmament groups like the Ploughshares Fund and the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Commission? Weapons-system-trashing activists a la the Berrigan brothers? Using the last as a reference point, we concluded that “even the perimeter fences of a submarine base aren’t the front lines of disarmament. The honor goes to those groups that act as watchdogs on behalf of the public for U.S. national laboratories such as Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore.”

Greg Mello is the head of the primary watchdog for the former, the Los Alamos Study Group (LASG). As I wrote in my previous post, he explained that “$3.4 billion of the proposed $16 billion in new warhead spending [in the federal budget] is to be allotted to the construction of a Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility for the construction of nuclear pits. In a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists piece, he writes that, at 270,000-square-feet, the new facility ‘would add only 22,500-square-feet of additional plutonium processing and lab space to [Los Alamos’s] existing 59,600-square-feet of comparable space.’ [That] works out to $151,000 per square foot, or $1,049 per square inch.’ Holy (watch your tax dollars go up in) smoke!” Continue reading

Review: I Am the Word by Paul Selig

I Am the Word might be better called I Am the Challenge.

From the get-go, Paul Selig’s channeled text challenges readers on multiple levels, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: mankind is on the verge of a great awakening—an evolution to the next level of understanding—and readers can tune into that and help make it happen if they open themselves up to a sense of possibility. In doing so, say Selig’s spirit guides, readers will achieve self-actualization and fulfillment.

That’s a tall order, but the book bills itself as “a guide to the consciousness of man’s self in a transitioning time.” It’s a how-to book for the spirit and the self.

Because self-actualization is, obviously, a highly personal experience, I can only speak to the book’s effect on me. Different readers will experience different results, particularly because they’ll approach the book with different expectations and different levels of open-mindedness.

And that is the book’s first challenge: readers have to approach it with an open mind. Continue reading

Channeling the word and opening to wonder

If I’d not heard him channel before, I might’ve been a little weirded out when he started mumbling under his breath at super-speed. Then he would stop, rewind, then repeat in his normal voice what he’d just speed-whispered. Then the fast-forward mumbling would interject, and onward he’d speed, and then again he’d stop, rewind, and repeat in his normal voice. On and off. On and off. On and off.

“It’s very natural,” he tells me later in the conversation.

As staccato as it might seem, it is very natural. I’ve known Paul Selig for a decade, so I know from first-hand observation and experience that his channeling is smooth and comfortable for him. Its fast-and-slow rhythm takes some getting used to for a listener, but it’s also fascinating to behold. There is a bit of wonder in it.

And wonder is important to Selig and to his Guides. It’s a key ingredient in their new book, I Am the Word, released this summer by Tarcher/Penguin. The book guides readers through a process of psychological, spiritual, and existential self-actualization by offering insights and exercises that help them realign their energies.

In other words, the book wants readers to open themselves to the possibility of being all they can be. Continue reading

Redefining "pragmatism"

Ole Robert Gibbs sure let the cat out of the bag, didn’t he? Take that hippies, and by hippies i mean everyone to the left of and including Richard Milhous Nixon. Not sure that perpetual war for no discernible reason is a good way to spend our children’s tax burden? You must want to raze the Pentagon…or maybe levitate it with good vibes. Not sure that the administration did everything in its power to get every American access to quality, affordable health care? You must be a Socialist, no, worse…you wish you were Canadian. The Kucinich line was a throwaway, we all know who’s holding the leash. What all you radical, pinko, dope smoking lefties don’t understand is this: pragmatism.

You probably think that pragmatism means looking for ways to remedy situations within realistic constraints.
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