China and The Reign of Error

We should look to China as a harsh and toxic example of what can happen in a society where industrialization is left unchecked. “Man must conquer nature” was a popular slogan of Chairman Mao and the carryover of such an attitude and the consequences of such values are quite evident today. The air in the country is so polluted that in many cities it is unwise to go outside without some form of respirator on to clean the air you breathe. Recent photographs of China are tinted in a strange yellowish haze attesting to the huge amounts of particulate matter that is in the atmosphere there as a direct result of coal fired generators powering their factories. Eventually the dust of all the extensive heavy industry settles and now much of the rice in China is tainted with very dangerous amounts of heavy metals. One metal in particular, cadmium, is quite toxic to the liver and kidneys as well as being a carcinogen that is also proven to weaken bones. The government, as is typical in China, is of course denying there is any problem but the public result has been for consumers to switch to rice grown in Thailand when available.

Quality control in China suffers as well as is evident in the proliferation of failing solar panels. Today the New York Times reported on such defective panels that are failing after only two years of operation when their reported durability is twenty five years. It was several years ago that they flooded the market with cheap panels and drove many of their competitors, particularly those based in the United States out of business. One can only conjecture if those panels had a higher trade tariff imposed and perhaps were not subsidized by the Chinese government that a better quality, made in the U.S.A. product would have emerged as a longer lasting reliable product! This is what happens when corners are cut and deregulation runs rampant. It is also a clear illustration of ways that government can impose safety regulations and minimum production standards in a manner that is beneficial to the environment and the consumer as well. Cheaper is almost never better in the long run!

Now a Chinese company,  Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. has made a bid on a United States company for the acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc. for 4.7 billion dollars. This deal, the largest purchase to date of a U.S. company would take the worlds largest pork producer private. Let’s hope that the food contamination issues as well as the incredible lack of quality control issues that are mentioned above don’t carry over to taint the food supply in the United States. At this point in the purchase it is up to the regulators to examine this deal and make sure that the food supply remains safe. As consumers we should look at this deal with a skeptical eye. We have seen what happens when regulations are overlooked and business is allowed to run rampant. Suddenly that ham on rye doesn’t sound so appetizing!

“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.” — Ronald Reagan

“Ronald Reagan really said that. No wonder he is the figure head of the Republican Party. Remarks like that are quite frightening and damn ignorant in their lack of scientific fact.” — Jake Shween

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Have You Hugged Your Corporation Today?

This past week we were entirely shocked and literally gobsmacked to learn that huge corporations have been receiving huge tax breaks by hiding out in Ireland where they can avoid paying what they owe in United States taxes. This arrangement is perfectly legal and why shouldn’t it be? Corporations have feelings too. We wouldn’t want to hurt the “job creators” now would we? Imagine how sad and lifeless our great country would be without such loving corporate entities as Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Citigroup, Google and Facebook? We need to care for and nurture these conglomerates before they turn on us and fire us for biting their hand. How could we fornicate without Pfizer providing blue pills to keep Limbaugh’s dick hard whilst he wrestles his favorite prostitutes? What lube would we use without Johnson & Johnson? How would we know where to put it without Googling it? Thankfully too, we can record it on our I-Phone and post it to Facebook  and finance the entire operation through Citigroup!

Dear friends take care of these dear corporations that have been so good to us! Clearly there would be much less “Job Creation” without these paladins of corporate benevolence. How desperately we need to fawn over them when they appear in our civilized senate to testify as to their innocence and life sustaining benefits. What better way to bring the senate and house together than in a bipartisan round of corporate fellatio! It’s all good boys. It’s all legal! Corporate Democrats welcome to the party, come and share with the Grand Old Party! Let’s circle around and jerk to the beat! Never mind that the poor guy who cashes in his 401K early gets his ass shot off in taxes when he is trying to pay the rent! He never pays the greens fees at the club! He is just a nobody!

These are the glory days of corporate irresponsibility. We now have a government that seems to be nothing more than an arranged puppet show of bureaucracy. The strings are being pulled by a shadowy oligarchy couched in some sick dark corner of the District of Columbia. The good of the people has been replaced by the good of the corporation. The legislative branch is deep in it, just watch they way they drooled at the Apple CEO Mr. Cook. The judicial branch decided months ago that corporations are indeed entitled to rights, the same rights as an individual. Now the executive branch has sided with Monsanto and signed H.R. 933 which included the “Monsanto Protection Act” which means that food that has been genetically altered and may actually be quite dangerous and carcinogenic does not even have to be labeled to show this fact! Wow these are sad days indeed for the democracy imagined by our country’s founders! The illusion of profit being the ultimate goal must be replaced by real sustainability. Otherwise the outcome is bleak  and perhaps non-existent for future generations.

“True terror is to wake up one morning and realize that your high school class is running the country.” — Kurt Vonnegut

“I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.” — Jim Morrison

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

The author expresses great sadness at the loss of Ray Manzarek. He was an invaluable member/founder of the Classic Rock Group The Doors. It was his music and genius that brought the mad and beautiful poetry of Jim Morrison to life. Ray we hope to see you when we “break on through to the other side”.

District of Crazy; Why the Two Parties Deserve Each Other!

Another week, another scandal, what else is new while the sequester festers? Waiter I’d like to order a burnt mash of stale Benghazi with a salad of tossed Internal Revenue Service and a little Associated Press sauce on the side, hold the justice please. Press please make sure you run with these scandals and beat them into the dirt whilst other, larger shenanigans continue unchecked. Who cares if good programs to help people in need are cut if we can stir up the muck? Meals on wheels, no way! We want arguing and investigation, we are lawyers dammit not cooks! What do you think this is a breadline?

International news? Banking scandals continuing? Elections looming in Iran? Who cares! We’ve got meat head Democrats against dick weed Republicans in a cage match here! So very sorry if you registered to be a stand off snob Independent and choose not to participate in blatant bipartisan stupidity. You can’t be helped in the District of Crazy! We need reasons to do nothing and then have a Congressional investigation as to why nothing was done! Let’s spend the taxpayers money dammit! Make them forget all about the plan we have to obscure the real pertinent issues that actually affect everyone’s quality of life while we slowly pilfer every nook and cranny until there is nothing left for the sad, so called, commoner!

Go to it you fools! Please don’t let any rational thought stop you from your chosen path of hostility and obfuscation. This kind of news feed makes the Fox news team orgasmic! It is their finest hour! The culmination of their meticulous research, their fastidious fact finding and magnificent truth telling. Truly we should be thankful that there indeed are a wonderful few left who proudly make it their task to provide us with reasons to survive in this declining civilization where the coming zombie apocalypse is imminent and threatening us every day! The smart money is on the party that can tell the biggest whopper.

Let no banker be convicted! Let the hedge funds rape and pillage! We need profitability above all! Sustainability? Yes we will sustain our supply of stupidity until the planet is on the very brink. Green? Watch us put the Keystone Pipeline through while you fools are caught in a rapture of scandal. You are green and naive already so what are you possibly worried about? You idealists and environmentalists should give up now. Accountability? Dream on you dimwits! The District of Crazy has assumed control!

“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.” — Joseph Conrad

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” — Jospeh Conrad

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween


Keep Your Identity; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a sad way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential good are the very same  ones that can bring about a devastating evil.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices becomes necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked and recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.


“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Screw Healthcare; Buy a Gun!

If more people owned guns the great citizens of the United States could do away with the need for healthcare altogether. After all when a horse becomes lame it is usually shot to death. Certainly the cost of a bullet is much cheaper than a statin drug, an aspirin, chemotherapy or any of the drugs prescribed for depression. Heck a bullet cost less than a stalk of broccoli. Just think of the billions of dollars that could be saved if we simply shoot people who are ill or depressed.

Perhaps the Supreme Court should enact a law that to be a citizen of the United States one must own a gun. (After all they pick Presidents don’t they?)  There could be classes in schools where we could teach our progeny to shoot first and ask questions later. If there were any unfortunate accidents in this process we could simply say that we were “decreasing the surplus population” just like the famous character of Ebenezer Scrooge did in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Now there was a man ahead of his time!

Imagine what a better place this country would be. The waiting lines everywhere would become so much shorter. No more listening to drug ads ad infinitum on your favorite television shows. Instead we could listen to the testimony of a husband who cured his wife’s depression with a single shot from his brand new .357 magnum:

“She started complaining again that she felt like the walls were closing all in around her. I just went to my gun case and whipped out my shiny pistol and gave it to her right between the eyes! The silence was golden! I think grandpa is next, his Alzheimer disease is rubbing me the wrong way! God Bless America!”

So listen up and stay ahead of the curve. If you have any spare funds invest them immediately in arms manufacturers. Take to the streets and extoll the virtues of guns and live ammo. The world could be such a better place without all the sickos walking around! The new slogan is “Bullets not Broccoli!”

“If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.” —- Mr. Bumble in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

“You can make people buy broccoli!” —- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween