Sunday, June 25, 2006

Always Dollars, Never Sense!

Congress has made it very clear that they support the war machine, it's sponsors, and it's powerful defense contractors! What does this mean to the people whose tax dollars are tied up in this unaccountable machine? A machine which leaves in it's wake, a trail of death and destruction. It means the corporate interests win again, although not a landslide, but "majority(money) rules" doesn't it? The crime of fraud, according to wikipedia:
In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another in order to damage them — usually, to obtain property or services from him or her unjustly. [1]. Fraud can be accomplished through the aid of forged objects. In the criminal law of common law jurisdictions it may be called "theft by deception," "larceny by trick," "larceny by fraud and deception" or something similar.

So once again the congressmen have decided to allow the people to be controlled by corporate interests. "Okay, next verse of the song please!" The lyrics are getting very repetitious! But you know, they say most refrains within songs come at the end. So maybe there is hope and we are finally reaching the end of this song and we can begin listening to some new "virt-u-real" rock-n-roll!

But, maybe I'm being a dreamer and there is no real possibility of the human race building a better place for the people! I have always favored optimism over pessimism, although it's a constant battle it seems! But there is a difference between the wave of my past and the one I am currently witnessing. The birth of this knowledge wave, (which we are riding) is undeniable, and hopefully I can somehow support the existence of our growing communities and their self-governed virt-u-real world. It is our turn isn't it, and the watch is ours isn't it?

Everyone else seems to have had their opportunity to create a humane world built on a market system of corporate ideologues. In case anyone hasn't noticed, corporatism just isn't working! Well, that's not quite true, there are a "few" benefitting really well with the corporate ideology and it continues to be about Dollars, Not Sense.

I see the swell of this "knowledge tsunami" building as it grows and challenges the basic interests and ideas concerning the prospects of a sustainable civilization. I consider myself fortunate to be witness to and active within this new wave as I could only be carried along by the previous wave. In my youth, I didn't realize I was riding a wave and I breathed my first breath after the wave had crested and was crashing ashore. And before I knew it, the wave was already dispersing into the sands of time.

As long as value of life places importance on reaching the "top of the hierarchial order", the refrains within this corporate song will continue and the corporations such as Halliburton will continue to govern the people.

Perhaps we should introduce a bill in congress to re-name our nation? "United" just somehow doesn't seem congruous with our current model of democracy!

First appeared on uncharted.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The People's Disconnection

Are those of us fortunate enough to find their way into good universities, unwittingly allowing themselves to readily participate in a social control which aids in the disconnections of the people. Do the hallowed halls and ivy walls of greater education actually help keep the people segregated into their own little boxes of support? If this is true, could our structured educational system, in which we place so much trust & capital, actually retard the spread of information which is so imperative for our world. Could/should our communities take the responsibility for reforming/morphing education into a much more inclusive, open and connected form of learning?

In my point of view, knowledge must be free! Not a commodity to place on a high shelf where only a few can reach! But what the hell do I know? The majority of my knowledge has been aquired via the open communications of the people willing to share, rather than the brick school house. We probably are aware how important that sheepskin is within our market system don't we? If you have broadband, there is an interesting video available at Google which touchs on connections, communities, creative commons, and possibly even a glimpse into our future. It's entitled Connexions - Building Communities and Sharing Knowledge and it stars Google and Rice University.

ABSTRACT A grassroots movement is on the verge of sweeping through the academic world. The "open access movement" is based on a set of intuitions that are shared by a remarkably wide range of academics: that knowledge should be free and open to use and re-use; that collaboration should be easier, not harder; that people should receive credit and kudos for contributing to education and research; and that concepts and ideas are linked in unusual and surprising ways and not the simple linear forms that textbooks present.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Madness by Complicity

As I'm nearing my semi-retirement (pending language in the proposed pension reform bill), I have come to the realization that what I had worked and planned for could be taken away with just a little bit of political legislation. This realization comes from the recognition of how rapidly corporate management destroys the social fabric of the people...Shit, how long do we have to remain detained within these walls of corporate mis-management. Now I'm sure some people would say that my ancestry and being born "southern" could possibly play a large role in forming my attitudes concerning social justice or rather injustice. But I think this social awakening goes way beyond heritage and national borders. Lately I see meaningful interaction between more and more people throughout the globe regardless of which border they happen to be living within. These people happen to have some of the same attitudes in regard to social justice, equality, and ethical thoughts and actions. Borders are being dissolved in our virtual world through these interactions and the shared respect the real people have for truth. Perhaps there is hope for a world gone mad, or as Paul Levy calls it, "Collective Psychosis".

I sincerely believe we are all related/connected and I see huge increases in people who are willing to share their experiences, stories, and personal views. Our communities are growing and we are all discovering the importance of information. Freely sharing information within a community builds relationships, links, and some even become larger communities/colonies/organizations. We live in a honeycomb world with each cell becoming connected to it's immediate cells etc., etc. We seemingly instinctively want to form new ties in our virtual world because we are concerned enough to recognize corruption and it's allies. We all are basically in search of truth. This is our common ground I believe. Although truth can be veiled in so many illusions and we humans do tend to create our very own personal illusion of our life...and then there are the social design specialists who seem to constantly want to control dissent by the 'ol nip-it-in-the-bud philosophy.

We must constantly wade through the very apparent spin as well as the not-so-apparent spins. So much information with so many viewpoints makes discerning fact from fiction a daunting task! But a necessary one in my opinion. And anyone who tells you that the internet is powerless to change the world is out of their frickin mind! Pay these designers no attention, or on second thought, perhaps it's better that you do pay particular attention to the man behind the curtain! What is he spinning and just who may stand to profit off the spin being spun! Smile

And I think we all surely recognize that our web neighbors within our communities have just as much personality, (if not more), as do our immediate neighbors within our individual locale. This sharing of truth allows common people the opportunity to learn and share differing information/views concerning very important social issues which affect all our lives. This is how we will emerge out of the dark ages of what Levy calls a collective psychosis. We are awakening, very slowly, but we are waking up!

But a word of caution about being awake!: The seriousness of reality is very ugly and once the veils are lifted, that seemingly perfect dream world we were once happy in, can no longer be found. Once you break the barriers and find your way out of the structured boxes, you can no longer find your way back into that perfect dream world! You could and most probably will find yourself in a situation similar to Joe Bageant's: "This is the sort of strange national disconnect that has so many folks like myself silently screaming inside our heads."

It's probably not screams in Joe's head he keeps hearing, but the screech of the machine's wheels as fewer and fewer people are willing to give their lives to grease these wheels. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy to get off the illusionary ride. And I say it definitely isn't! But I would never want to go back and I'm quite happy here watching the wheels thank you!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Guantanamo Suicides in Focus

The Department of Defence Records released to the ACLU by the government through the Freedom of Information Act are very enlightening, and due to over 100,000 documents being released detailing the alleged torture and abuse of detainees, the ACLU has created a search page for the documents. And Secretary Rumsfeld along with three other defendants continue to argue they are immune from a lawsuit, filed by the ACLU and Human Rights First, that holds them accountable for policies which resulted in the abuse. An amicus curiae has been filed by concerned retired military officers and military law and history scholars as well as the plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss. IMHO, accountability is key in forcing the truth from their lips. It's difficult to hide in a glass house!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Community Edge-ucation

Yes, we are the Power Source and we're setting new social standards that are not prescribed by the corporate propaganda machine. We are tearing down the dictatorial rules which have kept us within the biz-borders and biz-fences. The oligarchical walls which allow power to pool within the corporations are becoming weakened by our communities and their never-ending search for the truth. It's our watch people! Let's show the corporate abusers of our world how it should be done!

Warning: The truth has been determined to be very powerful and highly addictive!

Ever wonder what the mainstream media really owns? Ever wonder who really governs major media? The boards of directors of the ten big media giants are comprised of just over one hundred people. These one hundred plus people who sit on the BOD of the top ten media giants also sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations.

In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other. NBC and the Washington Post both have board members who sit on Coca Cola and J. P. Morgan, while the Tribune Company, The New York Times and Gannett all have members who share a seat on Pepsi. It is kind of like one big happy family of interlocks and shared interests.

Attaining reliable news and hearing the truth has become practically impossible due to the interlocked self-interests within corporatized media. As more and more people are exposed to the truth that corporate media serves it's own self-interests instead of the people, more and more people are demanding and searching for alternative and independent news and information sources. Therefore we should no longer call these corporate blocks "mainstream media", but rather we should refer to them as exactly what they are, "corporate media"!

In 2004, Ben Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations, who cooperate in a seemingly cartel like fashion, now control most of the media industry in the U.S. With General Electric's NBC running a close sixth. These five gigantic media corporations are Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS). These media corporations have become manufacturers of politics and social behavior and they no longer operate in the publics interest but in the interest of the interlinked cartel of power.

This excerpt from Bagdikian's book shows how the corporate media has changed in just the last twenty years.

In 1983, the men and women who headed the 50 mass media corporations that dominated American audiences could have fit comfortably in a modest hotel ballroom. The people heading the 20 dominant newspaper chains probably would form one conversational cluster to complain about newsprint prices; 20 magazine moguls in a different circle denounce postal rates; the broadcast network people in another corner, not being in the newspaper or magazine business, exchange indignation about government radio and television regulations; the book people compete in outrage over greed of writers' agents; and movie people gossip about sexual achievements of their stars.

By 2003, five men controlled all these old media once run by the 50 corporations of 20 years earlier. These five, owners of additional digital corporations, could fit in a generous phone booth. Granted, it would be a tight fit and it would be filled with some tensions.

A soviet correspondent who was based in the U.S. for a short period back when the U.S.S.R. was the U.S.S.R., was quoted as saying, "I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world -- in the field of advertising -- and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency ... Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious ... I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours ... and we tend to disbelieve ours."

And with that said, I believe we should again rename corporate media and call it exactly what it is, "propaganda"! According to wikipedia, propaganda is described as: "A specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information." So our problem is how the U.S. propaganda corporations are owned, it's profit motivation, and it's reliance upon advertising. The propaganda media is a highly noncompetitive industry which is a direct result of explicit government subsidies and policies. The 1996 Telecommunications Act for example, which was supposedly intended to foster competition, actually set an unprecedented wave of corporate mergers and actually increased the power of monopolizers. All of this took place without any public input whatsoever! Just remember, the corporate lobbyists have the "trough syndrome" and they will push, bite, and muscle their way to the public trough!

Is it possible to reform the media? There have been steps mentioned by numerous people and organizations that must be done to accomplish media reform. Steps such as these listed on Third World Traveler. The power is so concentrated within the corporate propaganda media, that I see any attempt of reform to seem overwhelming for most individuals. Perhaps not entirely impossible, but a very intense uphill struggle for sure and requires the building of and strengthening of communities. At this moment in time I see the advocation and supporting of alternative information sources to be the best first step for bringing about any change. We have to develop "people power" first and foremost, and the reformation of injustice will begin to develop naturally in my opinion. Liken the people movement to a virus...slowly spreading from one person to another...infection increasing exponentially as it jumps borders and evades the mental fences the corporate world has built...until we have a pandemic of free thinking, justice seeking, humanitarians who know the truth and aren't afraid to use it! There is a page located on website which is dedicated to overthrowing corporate rule. It is entitled How to Overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not-so-easy Steps. But if fighting huge corporations and reforming their hold on public institutions seems just too insurmountable, then there is also a mini-guide for personal things that we as individuals can do to develop a more sustainable lifestyle.

Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States, put it this way more than two hundred years ago:
"The press must prevent officials from covering with the veil of secrecy the common routine of business, for the liberties of the people never were, or never will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." What can we do to counter this control of information the corporate propaganda system has over our lives? Well, first off, building supportive communities that are willing to share the truth is paramount. Giving the people the opportunity to voice their concerns and the facts they have uncovered about the injustices they have encountered is so very important. The common people's future lies within our communities and our willingness to expose and openly discuss these injustices within society and then chart our course in correcting the same.

Our communities will bring about a paradigm shift. We will begin to shift from being media consumers into media generators. We will change the very idea of teaching and learning. There will no longer be any need for the separation between teachers and learners. Teacher/Learner will be one in the same. Our communities will fight corporate media by becoming the new media! Some of us have began touching on the importance of virtual conferencing in the LaborNotes Conference thread. The idea of utilizing virtual communities in conjunction with the conventional face to face meetings is an example of converting from media consumers into media generators. This is inevitable and our communities must make these sort of necessary strides of connectedness in order to improve and empower the common people's lives. In Claudia L'Amoreaux's book, Creating Learning Communities, she refers to this innovative type of media generative paradigm as edge-ucation. The word edge-ucation she says...

...came from my own peak learning experiences, when I always found myself standing at an edge that offered an entirely new vista--I could see things I'd never seen before and I could make extraordinary new connections. These were breakthroughs in my learning how to learn.

L'Amoreaux drew on her study of Christopher Alexander's work on Pattern Language and expanded the thoughts into the co-creating language for building practically everything, including sustainable communities. The underlying patterns represented by Alexander to be most important for sustainability, or what he called "timeless qualities" are freedom, wholeness, completeness, comfort, harmony, habitability, durability, openness, resilience, variability, and adaptability. This quote from the The Orion Society touches on how the actual building of a community can be just as important and fulfilling as the hoped for results of the community.

"We discovered that the process, the actual coming together, is as important as the original intent. Often, the thing hoped for is what brings the people together, but the coming together in a deep and passionate way is what makes the hoped-for thing happen, whether it happens on the first try or the eighty-first. The two are mutually reinforcing, and, for some, the community building aspect is fulfilling in itself."

Overcoming the traditional ways of thinking and creating new powerful communities and merging them into a strong viable force which is powered by the people is how we will overcome the control which the corporate media has over the people. The contributors of Members for Democracy have renamed the people the Power Source. The name took the place of the term rank and file and was originally used in regard to the struggles between union members and their unjust biz-union officialdom. But through the growth of the MfD community and it's metamorphosis into the new community uncharted, the definition of the Power Source has grown into a more encompassing term which is no longer anchored in it's original definition, but is a term which has come to be relevant to all the people of the world who have realized that the Great Turning from Empire into an Earth Community is real and is happening as we speak!

Similarly, we've stopped calling ourselves the "rank and file" as those terms imply militaristic obedience, conformity and deference to authority and that's just not what we're about. We're the Power Source.

This turning and evolving into media generators rather than consumers is changing the web and it's functionality. We are now entering the era of what has been coined as Web 2.0, which will allow people and communities to more readily collaborate and share information online. As we continue to generate our own media, there is a need for new and innovative applications which will allow microcontent to be aggregated and distributed over dozens of domains. We are moving away from a few static consumer information sites into the next paradigm of the web which contains large numbers of individual information generating sites. This is a paramount leap for building communities for the people in my opinion. And social information will mushroom due to the changes brought about by the internet morphing into a web of data rather than a web of documents. This shift will change how our communities interact socially, culturally, and even politically. We are entering an exciting new world!

Our liberation will not come with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. But rather the liberation from the mass media will be
more like seemingly insignificant candles which when combined will light the path for the others searching for the truth. The path is uncharted but the trail is becoming more clear as the communal self-education continues and more and more of our people find their voice and begin contributing their views, ideas, and concerns. Getting off the wall of fear and helping others as well as ourselves in the fight for the Freedom of Our People is key for our very survival.

Those of us who are on the wall are in a quandary - on the one hand we know that things must change, that they are changing
and that change (for better or worse) is inevitable, unstoppable. That's not a bad thing. We realize that much of what we have believed in and held dear is just a lot of smoke and mirrors. It's good to be done with it. On the other hand, going forward is scary. You don't know what it's going to be like out there. Nobody knows because it hasn't happened yet. We know that if we go forward we can help create it and it could be a wonderful era, something we've been dreaming of for several millennia. But we hesitate because going forward means - potentially - giving up so much of what is known. We've been taught to look before we leap. Better the devil you know than the one you don't know.
That's a big piece of the conventional wisdom of the current reality.

Yes, we are the Power Source and we're setting new social standards that are not prescribed by the corporate propaganda machine. We are tearing down the dictatorial rules which have kept us within the biz-borders and biz-fences. The oligarchical walls which allow power to pool within the corporations are becoming weakened by our communities and their never-ending search for the truth. It's our watch people! Let's show the corporate abusers of our world how it should be done!

This article originally appeared on uncharted.

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