We’re No (April) Fools

We're No Fools

In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!

The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.

The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which . . . → Read More: We’re No (April) Fools

Poem: The Logic of Success

Fiji truth

Find someone else to do the actual work for you

While you sit in a chair

Pay this person less than their labor is worth

Add value to their labor by doing clever things

Such as advertising and storytelling

Conjure fantastical tales of how beneficial and sexy it would be to drink

South Pacific water shipped across the ocean

Arriving like salvation

Making the drinker’s life altogether better and certainly more sophisticated than

The average tap-slurping worker type

Who made the plastic bottle and put the liquid inside and carried it to a truck

Unloading it and loading it and unloading it until

Something that started out being free

Now magically costs several dollars

Because you have to pay for quality


A Los Angeles Worthy of Candide

hollywood's c-list

Everything’s working perfectly. The Los Angeles City Council has allowed several major real estate developments, including residential towers, to begin construction in Hollywood on or near major earthquake fault lines. Geologic surveys were never ordered, but the developers, major political donors all, assured everyone that there was no problem, so it was therefore decided that building on the most dangerous land in Los Angeles was no problem.

The chief of the Department of Public Works has resigned for “personal reasons,” just as Sherriff Lee Baca resigned for his personal reasons, an impending FBI probe of his rotten department among them. Ron Nichols, the DWP king, stepped down as questions swirled around him regarding the mysterious use of $40 million in ratepayer money that was funneled into non-profits aimed at improving labor relations.

Los Angeles also earned the (dis)honor of having the largest percentage of residents living in . . . → Read More: A Los Angeles Worthy of Candide

Dirty Thoughts

An Indian ragpicker searches for re-cycl

We’ve learned from experience, from having a surfeit of dirty thoughts. Voluntarily removing more than 3,000 pieces of litter from Hollywood’s Runyon Canyon (and the streets around it), has taught us several abiding lessons that the City of Los Angeles should consider in the ongoing battle against trash blight. + Getting folks not to litter in the first place — and to pick up any litter they see — is a tough ask when our entire lifestyle is based on “acceptable” fouling of our environment. We accept poisoned water in exchange for newly fracked fuel sources. We accept polluted air (acknowledged by the WHO as a carcinogen) in exchange for the convenience of one-person commutes. We accept an entire economy based on consume-and-dispose. Accepting a litter-speckled “nature area” isn’t hard to do when many of us arrive at the park in an SUV . . . → Read More: Dirty Thoughts

Very Special Yoga People

Upside down crescent flexibility

Yoga People come from all walks of life, with a million different back stories and life journeys. Nonetheless, Yoga People generally share certain admirable and desirable traits: physical flexibility, mental mindfulness, and a spirit of focused discipline. They tend to possess a figurative openness of heart that mirrors the literal openness of their limbs spread wide in an asana.

They look good, too!

Yoga People, the conventional thinking goes, are slightly more conscious of the universe than the average person, more awake to reality and possibility, thanks to the power of inward-looking meditation.

This may be true in many cases, maybe even most cases. But practical visual evidence, the kind with measurable parameters, suggests that for all their advanced inquiry into the nature of being, Yoga People are actually pretty much like non-Yoga People.

To be oblivious to the world around us and . . . → Read More: Very Special Yoga People

Litter in Runyon Canyon: An Update

Runyon Canyon Trail

One year ago we began picking up litter in Runyon Canyon and the Hollywood streets near it. For three-days-a-week, for more than 52 weeks, we’ve collected anything we see (and can reach) that doesn’t belong on the ground — or in a tree or on a bush. SINCE PUBLISHING THE ORIGINAL ESSAY, WE’VE COLLECTED NEARLY 3,000 PIECES OF LITTER IN RUNYON CANYON. We’ve also found car keys, cellphones, and about $7 in paper money.

Horrifying amounts of garbage accumulate on the sidewalks beside the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard — which has exactly one trash bin on the blocks near Runyon. Councilman Tom LaBonge is aware of the situation but doesn’t seem to be able to do anything about it. So we’re stepping up to the civic plate until he or his hand-picked successor does.

Our neighborhood’s spectacular nature area is dramatically cleaner than it was last August. Yet, . . . → Read More: Litter in Runyon Canyon: An Update

Bottled Water is Amazing!

Bottled Water is good for the economy

Were you aware that bottled water is “bad for the environment,” “bad for public water sources,” and “bad for your wallet”?

Neither were we! It’s pretty funny to think of something so obviously good – so amazing, when you think about it – as inherently evil, or something. Bottled water is, like, one of the greatest innovations of the last thirty years. Before bottled water was introduced in the marketplace, people had to drink out of taps, or “water fountains.” (This water was more or less free, but, hey, you get what you pay for.) Instead of having a conveniently disposable plastic bottle, people used to have to drink out of cups and thermoses and such, which, you can imagine, was very inconvenient.

Bottled water = convenient. And if that’s not a good enough reason to embrace a life-improving product, we can’t think of a better one.

. . . → Read More: Bottled Water is Amazing!

Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved

Japan's Policies are UnAmerican

We’ll never win a popularity contest, that’s for certain. We’re OK with that. To us, it’s more important to do what’s right than to be liked and admired and affirmed. That’s why we feel comfortable sticking up for society’s downtrodden, the friendless, powerless folks who bear the daily aspersions and derision of those who think them inferior. We love all our brothers and sisters. Even the ones no one else does.

Let us hereby celebrate smokers and litterbugs, two groups of people that consistently suffer unfair, unkind, and unhelpful criticisms.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran an editorial declaring that employers looking for job applicants who don’t smoke are making a big mistake. The paper thinks that avoiding smokers is a lamentable and unwarranted intrusion into an applicant’s private life. We agree! Employers with an eye on the bottom line – and is there another kind? – . . . → Read More: Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved

Climate Change, Clean Coal, and Dirty Propaganda

Coal Cares for your asthmatic child

In the days preceding the storm of the century, two candidates running for President of the United States strenuously assured voters that they would pump more crude, frack more natural gas, and burn more coal than the other guy. Whether or not an energy policy built on a fossil-fuel paradigm could or could not be sustained wasn’t discussed, at least by Messrs. Obama and Romney, who proudly reiterated their fealty to the oil and mining companies that sign the checks. Virtually every other candidate for President –the ones who weren’t members of the Democratic or Republican crime syndicates, such as Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party — characterized our looming environmental disaster as the biggest threat facing America, not terrorism or the national debt, as the Military-Industrial complex would like us to believe.

To . . . → Read More: Climate Change, Clean Coal, and Dirty Propaganda

In Praise of Barry Commoner

Barry Commoner for President!

He had a name that you might call Dickensian, except Barry Commoner, who died this week at 95, was anything but his nomenclature. A man of the people, yes. Common, no.

Barry Commoner was uncommon.

Today, millions of Earth’s inhabitants believe that overpopulation, increased affluence, and advanced technology are the root causes of environmental degradation. Back in 1971, when Commoner published his catalytic book, “The Closing Circle: Man, Nature, and Technology,” his ideas were considered radical, annoying, and revolutionary. Gasoline at the time cost 36-cents per gallon. Automobiles cost around $2,500. The phrases “peak oil” and “Middle Eastern jihadi” had not entered the lexicon. Many conservatives – those who liked things just the way they were – couldn’t understand why anyone would want to disrupt a fossil fuel energy model that seemed to provide human beings with a “better” . . . → Read More: In Praise of Barry Commoner