Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

My friend Michael Grondin introduced me to Brain Pickings a few years ago. It is a website which has enriched my life. Recently, they reviewed a book on Pablo Neruda which caught my interest:


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A friend and systems colleague, David Ing, recently posted a piece on simulating a sustainable scenario in lieu of the decline of the Mayan civilization on the Yucatan Peninsula.

It’s an interesting exercise, but may best be understood in the context of a “A Short History of Progress.”

Hopefully, these system scientists who posited their simulation findings in The Solutions Journal will investigate other failed civilizations along the lines of A Short History of Progress and perhaps present a systemic solution for our current condition.




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The End of History?

The short, strange era of human civilization would appear to be drawing to a close.

By Noam Chomsky

September 13, 2014 “ICH” – It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.

The era opened almost 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, through Phoenicia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley, and from there to Greece and beyond. What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.

The land of the Tigris and Euphrates has been the scene of unspeakable horrors in recent years. The George W. Bush-Tony Blair aggression in 2003, which many Iraqis compared to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, was yet another lethal blow. It destroyed much of what survived the Bill Clinton-driven U.N. sanctions on Iraq, condemned as “genocidal” by the distinguished diplomats Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who administered them before resigning in protest. Halliday and von Sponeck’s devastating reports received the usual treatment accorded to unwanted facts.

One dreadful consequence of the U.S.-U.K. invasion is depicted in a New York Times “visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria”: the radical change of Baghdad from mixed neighborhoods in 2003 to today’s sectarian enclaves trapped in bitter hatred. The conflicts ignited by the invasion have spread beyond and are now tearing the entire region to shreds.

Much of the Tigris-Euphrates area is in the hands of ISIS and its self-proclaimed Islamic State, a grim caricature of the extremist form of radical Islam that has its home in Saudi Arabia. Patrick Cockburn, a Middle East correspondent for The Independent and one of the best-informed analysts of ISIS, describes it as “a very horrible, in many ways fascist organization, very sectarian, kills anybody who doesn’t believe in their particular rigorous brand of Islam.”

Cockburn also points out the contradiction in the Western reaction to the emergence of ISIS: efforts to stem its advance in Iraq along with others to undermine the group’s major opponent in Syria, the brutal Bashar Assad regime. Meanwhile a major barrier to the spread of the ISIS plague to Lebanon is Hezbollah, a hated enemy of the U.S. and its Israeli ally. And to complicate the situation further, the U.S. and Iran now share a justified concern about the rise of the Islamic State, as do others in this highly conflicted region.

Egypt has plunged into some of its darkest days under a military dictatorship that continues to receive U.S. support. Egypt’s fate was not written in the stars. For centuries, alternative paths have been quite feasible, and not infrequently, a heavy imperial hand has barred the way.

After the renewed horrors of the past few weeks it should be unnecessary to comment on what emanates from Jerusalem, in remote history considered a moral center.

Eighty years ago, Martin Heidegger extolled Nazi Germany as providing the best hope for rescuing the glorious civilization of the Greeks from the barbarians of the East and West. Today, German bankers are crushing Greece under an economic regime designed to maintain their wealth and power.

The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.

The report concludes that increasing greenhouse gas emissions risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems” over the coming decades. The world is nearing the temperature when loss of the vast ice sheet over Greenland will be unstoppable. Along with melting Antarctic ice, that could raise sea levels to inundate major cities as well as coastal plains.

The era of civilization coincides closely with the geological epoch of the Holocene, beginning over 11,000 years ago. The previous Pleistocene epoch lasted 2.5 million years. Scientists now suggest that a new epoch began about 250 years ago, the Anthropocene, the period when human activity has had a dramatic impact on the physical world. The rate of change of geological epochs is hard to ignore.

One index of human impact is the extinction of species, now estimated to be at about the same rate as it was 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the Earth. That is the presumed cause for the ending of the age of the dinosaurs, which opened the way for small mammals to proliferate, and ultimately modern humans. Today, it is humans who are the asteroid, condemning much of life to extinction.

The IPCC report reaffirms that the “vast majority” of known fuel reserves must be left in the ground to avert intolerable risks to future generations. Meanwhile the major energy corporations make no secret of their goal of exploiting these reserves and discovering new ones.

A day before its summary of the IPCC conclusions, The New York Times reported that huge Midwestern grain stocks are rotting so that the products of the North Dakota oil boom can be shipped by rail to Asia and Europe.

One of the most feared consequences of anthropogenic global warming is the thawing of permafrost regions. A study in Science magazine warns that “even slightly warmer temperatures [less than anticipated in coming years] could start melting permafrost, which in turn threatens to trigger the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped in ice,” with possible “fatal consequences” for the global climate.

Arundhati Roy suggests that the “most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times” is the Siachen Glacier, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have killed each other on the highest battlefield in the world. The glacier is now melting and revealing “thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate” in meaningless conflict. And as the glaciers melt, India and Pakistan face indescribable disaster.

Sad species. Poor Owl.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy. He writes a monthly column for The New York Times News Service/Syndicate.

This post first appeared at In These Times.


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On the Brink of Chaos… Your Brain

Your Brain Is On the Brink of Chaos

Neurological evidence for chaos in the nervous system is growing.

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I consider myself to be an artist. The world sees me as a “builder.” So building publications send me their marketing/advertising e-zines to my email address. Mostly, I just toss them but today, I’ve decided to shred Builder in public.

Building used to be a sacred art, but now it’s all about the money. And money sees RED, as in Republican values, and what it means to be patriotic. Republican views are extremely conflicted but then if you think with your ass and you’re constipated, well all that comes out is gonna be shit.

Builder is always promoting big fat red values. Face it, dumb stupid Republicans like to squander the earth’s resources and build HUGE houses for themselves in the name of vanity, ego, pride… all those qualities that the Bible and Christ called the faithful to avoid- and now part of promoting a “Christian America.” Huh? Since when did a country built on religious freedom become “Christian?” Oh, I guess maybe 6 to 10,000 years ago when God made the earth and then told Christians to set up border patrols, and police states and make money money by killing people all over the world and calling THEM terrorists…

But I digress. No we’re supposed to be talking trash about cracker neighborhoods. Yep. Take your big diesel truck or SUV and move your ass into one of these cities.

And make sure all your friends on Face Book live in the patriotic states.

So patriotism is now synonymous with Republicanism, with money, with greed, with being Christian, and fat- fat heads, fat houses, fat bank accounts… and stupidity… because let me tell you something about Arizona. Movato considers Arizona a Red state but aside from Maricopa County where everyone has Republican DNA infused into their blood as descendants of Joseph Smith, the rest of the state is far different. First off, we have the indigenous people who find the whole “illegal immigration” rant of Republicans an ironic joke, as do Hispanics who were here for hundreds of years before the Cavalry and white Mormon settlers showed up. But I’ll save that post for a later day. Time to prepare a Vegan Feast and celebrate peace and love.



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Who Was the Tank Man?

Twenty Five years ago, a lonely man stood defiantly in front of a tank, risking his life for an idea.

This man’s identity and his fate remain a mystery, but his act of defiance defines activism all over the planet. An inspiration to us all.

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Killing Kids and why the New Yorker can’t think.

There is no question that the recent killings in Santa Barbara was a tragedy. And for a parent to lash out and blame others for the loss of their child is understandable.

But frankly, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, has his head up his ass.

Richard Martinez blamed politicians and the NRA for the death of his son and Adam Gopnik wrote an article in the New Yorker extolling the logic of the father’s words. But it seems to me, the New Yorker is just being Conde Nast narcissistic.

Richard Martinez and Adam Gopnik feel they are entitled to live in the most violent culture on the planet… without ever experiencing violence.

Richard Martinez and Adam Gopnik say nothing of Drone attacks killing innocent sons all over the planet, or Israel killing innocent Palestinian sons, or Palestine killing innocent Israeli sons, or whites killing blacks, or Indians, Asians, or all of the countless wars allegedly fought for lofty principles, in reality, fought for profit of bankers.

Then there is the matter of flawed logic. Politicians? NRA? How did politicians or the NRA cause a kid to kill others because he was rejected by good looking girls? How did the NRA have anything to do with this kid stabbing his roommates with a knife? No. New Yorker logic is emotional tripe. It has no basis in reason.

We live in a representational democracy where each citizen is supposed to have an equal voice in shaping our governance. In reality, we have animal farm where the Pigs are more equal than all the other animals. Money shapes our governance. There is no money to be made in helping a troubled kid avoid doing something horrific. There is money to be made in recruiting these kind of troubled kids into the armed forces and then hiring them to work in law enforcement after they have tasted blood. In the 60’s, war was considered evil. We ended the atrocities in Southeast Asia through our protest and soon thereafter, the think tanks and military strategists went to work on a public relations campaign to remake the image of a soldier.

But think again.

And though some readers may be offended by a socialist / communist blog… the facts are the facts. We are a nation born in violence. We are nation that has committed the greatest genocide on the planet.

We continue to kill innocent kids all over the world and call it “collateral damage.” Every once and a while, our psychosis rears up and bites us. Santa Barbara is supposed to be post card perfect. Gentle ocean breezes…affluence…education…trendy restaurants and now a killing spree. If the New Yorker knew how to think, they’d realize that this is not about guns. It’s about greed. It’s madness, a madness to the core. And until we atone for our sins and stop killing all over the planet, blood sacrifices on our home turf will continue.





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