Tuesday, April 23, 2013


















The U.S. Supreme Court, tax laws & insanity: What I learned at three rubber-chicken lunches recently

     The Berkeley-Albany Bar Association has been on a huge roll this year.  First we had a local expert on the U.S. Supreme Court speak at our January monthly luncheon, giving us the complete 411 regarding what the court had been up to this past year.  Not a pretty picture.  It's really hard to eat rubber chicken and contemplate Anton Scalia at the same time.  But I took lots of notes.  But then I lost them in the process of getting my apartment renovated.

     Then, two months ago, we had a tax-law expert tell us all about Congress's latest new IRS laws.  It was also totally informative and I also took a whole bunch of notes.  But then they got lost too.

     However, regarding taxes, it doesn't really matter what kinds of laws that Congress does or does not pass when it comes to you and me -- not while rich people are being allowed to hide approximately 32 trillion dollars in offshore tax loopholes; money that, unlike your and my money, will never ever be touched by the IRS.

     According to the Los Angeles Times, "
[32 trillion dollars is] roughly the size of the American and Japanese economies combined, according to the report from James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Co.  And the figure only includes financial wealth, not real estate, yachts or other assets held abroad." http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/23/business/la-fi-mo-tax-havens-20120723

     The rich really are different from the rest of us -- especially when it comes to cheating on taxes.  We go to jail.  They don't.

     In 1950, corporations paid 40% of America's taxes.  And now they pay almost zip.

     This month's speaker at the BABA luncheon was a psychiatrist and he spoke to us about how to prevent substance abuse and mental illness.  Fascinating.  "It's mostly genetic," he said.

     Apparently if one of your parents or grandparents was nutzo or addicted, there is a 25% chance that you will be too.

     "Most substance abuse and/or mental illness shows up in adolescence,"
the speaker continued.  Great.  Now all we gotta do is keep our teenagers from being teenagers.  Problem solved.

     If only I myself had been able to somehow jump over those crucial hazardous teenage years.

     Then the psychiatrist gave us six main signs to look for as flags for future mental illness.  I think I had at least five of them -- but then I already know that I'm crazy because I keep hopelessly believing that Mankind is basically good, that world peace is possible, that we will someday give up letting Wall Street and War Street be our gods, that the internal combustion engine causes climate change and that too much television is bad for you.

PS:  Here are the six main flags for mental illness.  Enjoy.  But once you realize that you too (and almost everyone else in America) are also officially crazy, then you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

1.  Feeling that "something's not quite right"
2.  Jumbled thoughts and confusion
3.  Being fearful for no good reason
4.  Hearing sounds/voices that are not there
5.  Declining interest in people, activities and self-care
6.  Trouble speaking clearly.

PPS:  I just scored an actual solar-powered Lucky Kitty over in San Francisco Chinatown the other day.  How crazy-good is that!


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Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!

 

******

 If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"




******

Need someone to help you throw out stuff? I'm really good at deciding what needs to be thrown out (starting with all those corporate-owned bums in Washington!)

****

Need an actor to play an older woman in your movie?
Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come!

****
Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
****


I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG
"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
















Living & dying on the streets: Being homeless is HARD WORK!

    
    While my apartment was busy being renovated, re-habbed and fixed up for most of last month and a good chunk of this one, I had been forced to find "alternative housing" -- staying with relatives, living in cheap motels, house-sitting for strangers, sleeping on various couches and futons, renting rooms-by-the-night in other peoples' homes, staying in hostels, whatever.  But yesterday I finally got to move back home!

      Sure, all my stuff was still in boxes when I got back and the heater didn't work and there was no hot water, but it's like Virginia Woolf used to say, "All one really needs is a bed and a computer of one's own."

     Everything else is just icing on the cake.

     This past month has been a grand adventure, obviously, and a whole lot of fun in many ways.  But the bottom line is that, for most of this time, I was disoriented and grouchy and unsure and unorganized and even afraid.  And for much of this time I was basically living out of the back seat of my car -- and in laundromats and diners and parks and libraries.  Even now, my head hurts just thinking about it

      And even though I myself was never in any real danger of being actually homeless during this time and didn't have to go without any meals and always found a roof to put over my head, nevertheless, I was constantly stressed out during this entire month.  Mucho stressed out.  Stressed out a lot!

    So just imagine if someone was forced to do this uber-stressful homelessness gig 24/7; for months and even years at a time -- with no resources, no backup and no future hope that someday soon they would be going back home again.  I can't even imagine doing all that and still keeping sane.

     In just the past month, my complete respect for the homeless has grown by leaps and bounds.  It's a wonder to me that they can handle all this stress day after day and still remain sane.  It's even a wonder to me that they can even still stay alive.

     According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, "
[T]he number of homeless people on a single night in January 2012 was 633,782." http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/20/us-usa-economy-hunger-idUSBRE8BJ14I20121220  And I bet there were a lot more than that. 

     Here's to you, homeless Americans everywhere.  Having been almost one of you for only one month, I salute you with all of my heart.

PS:  My all-time favorite bumper sticker reads, "Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World Peace in one generation!"  And I sincerely believed this was true until I met a young woman from China recently -- and now have to re-think that idea completely.

     "What are they like -- those adults in China who have grown up under its single-child system, the fortunately-nurtured ones whose needs have all been met?  Are they happy, secure, hopeful, compassionate?"

     "No, hardly!  They're egocentric, self-centered and spoiled. They think only of themselves and their own wants and needs.  Having been raised without siblings and with so many doting parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all they can pretty much do now as adults is to whine a lot when they don't get their own way -- and expect to be waited on."

     And this same sort of thing seems to be true here at my housing co-op as well.  When we all moved in here back in 1979, a lot of us had some pretty grim stories to tell -- having endured poverty, homelessness, spousal abuse, single-parent loneliness, unemployment, overcrowding, victimization, addiction, etc; before finding these wonderful homes.  I myself had previously been living in an attic without running water and then in a small apartment with no privacy.


     And then our sweet little housing co-op offered all of us bruised members of society an idealistic new chance to be wanted, nurtured, protected and loved.  My co-op's motto became "Caring and Sharing".

      And so what happened next?  How did these new residents handle this wonderful new chance?  Humph.  Instead of creating "neighborhood peace in one generation" like we had hoped, they soon became a re-creation of the worst of today's modern American society, almost exactly.  We soon developed an almost Darwinian example of survival of the fittest. 

     Within ten years, my sweet little housing co-op had already developed its very own Boss Tweeds and its very own 1%.

     However, something good did come of all this.  Timid little me actually began to develop the necessary cajones to go up against this new 1% all by myself.  And even after surviving attempts to beat me up, illegally raise my rent, stage frequent sudden illegal "inspections" of my apartment, actually try to pass an ordinance that I was not allowed to knit in board meetings, hold five (5) kangaroo courts to try to convict me of wrong-doing, attempt to evict me illegally and even to throw me in jail, I did finally win the battle to get my housing co-op not only financially stable for the first time in years but actually renovated and restored to its original pristine condition. 

     And then, even more important, when George W. Bush stole the 2000 election, I realized that if I could single-handedly defeat the greedy Boss Tweeds who ran my housing co-op, then taking on GWB should be a walk in the park!  And that's how I became a blogger.  So, actually, I do owe those former powers-that-be in my co-op a huge debt of gratitude after all.

     They proved to me that if someone, even the weakest and meekest of us all, can work long enough and hard enough to achieve justice, then it can be obtained.

    And so Wall Street and War Street had better watch out!  I am still coming after them.  And I'm now locked and loaded -- with a computer and a bed!

PPS:  A well-known local psychiatrist recently gave a speech to members of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association, and he said that children raised in child-centered households were far LESS likely to become substance abusers than children raised in adult-centered households.   


     This probably means that the egotistic children of China at least won't be at risk for getting all addicted to alcohol and drugs -- plus it certainly explains why GWB was a drunk and coke addict for so many years.

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Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!

 

******

 If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"



******

Need someone to help you throw out stuff? I'm really good at deciding what needs to be thrown out (starting with all those corporate-owned bums in Washington!)

****

Need an actor to play an older woman in your movie?
Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come!

****
Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
****


I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG
"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

Saturday, April 06, 2013














 









America: Always searching for new and better ways to kill people

     It's not at all hard to believe that our most popular national priority right now is to see how many more new and effective weapons of death we can supply our troops with, supply foreign dictators with, supply our cities' paramilitary police with, supply every rabid gun-nut and gangsta in the country with and/or also supply ourselves?  Geez Louise!

     And can you also believe that we just spent over 300 billion dollars on developing a F-35 bomber which, despite its
crappy design, construction and performance, is still an ultra-deadly weapon of mass destruction on a post-Godzillian scale?  http://www.warisboring.com/2010/11/01/kill-the-f-35/

     What ever happened to knives, shivs, nunchuks, baseball bats or even fists?  If you really want to kill someone that badly, shouldn't you be required to do it with just your bare hands?

     Over in this pile on my left we have all kinds of stuff we could be spending our money on that would make us healthy, happy and safe.  And over in that pile to my right we have all kinds of stuff to kill people with.  If you were to compare these two piles right now, one pile would about the size of a wedding cake -- maybe.  And the other pile would easily dwarf the Empire State Building or even the Twin Towers -- the one that all the gazillion weapons we own couldn't save.  How misguided (or even sick) is that!

     We Americans need to get a hold of ourselves.  We need to put our blood-lust in check.

     On the one side we have drones, robo-cops, tasers, lasers, assault weapons, white phosphorus, torture chambers, chemical weapons, biological weapons, gun shows, Blackhawks, Bradleys, hummers and atomic bombs.

     And on the other side we have ballet.  The symphony.  Arts and crafts and music in the schools.  Yawn.  To most Americans, this side is a joke.  "All that sissy stuff won't protect us from The Enemy," you cry.  But guess what?  With almost all our wealth and experience and knowledge and intentions going toward developing even newer and better ways of killing people, the enemy is already within our own walls.  We ourselves are the ones who are slowly but surely destroying America -- physically, financially and morally. 

     And we ourselves have now become all those scary nightmares in the closet, angels of death, schoolyard bullies, serial killers, relentless attackers and masters of our own doom that we fear so much.

     That's beyond sad.  That's psychotic.

     Imagine if we had spent seven or eight trillion dollars on stuff like healthcare, jobs, schools, food and parks -- instead of on constantly inventing new and better ways to turn human beings into fetid and rotting corpses and cadavers?  Sure, we might all have been murdered in our sleep by the Bad Guys.  But at least we would all die happy.  And there wouldn't have been all that many bad guys to begin with either.  Or we could have just bought them all off.

     Not only that, but having all these nasty cold-blooded weapons instead of having adequate healthcare, decent housing, infrastructure improvement, etc. is already killing us on a gargantuan scale.  More Americans die of hunger, homelessness, untreated diseases, unregulated firearms, domestic violence, child abuse, corporate greed, agribusiness pesticides and GMO epidemics, Wall Street shadiness, prescription drug "side effects," over-the-top industrial pollution, improper nuclear waste disposal, prison-industry callousness, heartless pension cuts, bankster housing scams, etc. than have ever died as a result of any "enemy" action.


      And according to journalist Mark Karlin, the NRA is currently trying to sponsor legislation that supports selling guns to terrorists on our watch list, violent abusers of women, and the legally blind!  How many Americans would that kill in a year?  Osama bin Ladin woulda been so proud. http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/17893-gun-guys-support-selling-guns-to-terrorists-on-watch-list-violent-abusers-of-women-and-the-legally-blind-carrying-handguns

    Despite all our good intentions, bravery, wisdom and even common sense, America's largest and most popular industry right now is still designing, manufacturing and selling weapons that kill men, women and children.

    America today is not a country I can be proud of.

PS:  I am currently reading Peter Barus's new book, "Matters of Life and Death" -- all about Japanese sword-fighting and the honorable philosophy and art of "engagement" with an opponent http://www.amazon.com/Matters-Life-Death-Essays-Budo/dp/1481204432.  But guess what?  No one is ever "engaged" by a nuclear weapon.  No one is ever "engaged" by a drone.  There are no heroics involved in wholesale murder and slaughter.  Just ask the surviving victims of Hiroshima and Auschwitz.

PPS:  And speaking of Auschwitz, my very favorite holocaust museum ever is located in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Founded by Eva Kor, a survivor of the Mengele twins project, this museum is based on Kor's heart-felt philosophy, "Forgive your worst enemy.  It will heal your soul and set you free".  

     We have seen again and again in places like Bosnia, Congo, Kosovo, Israel, Afghanistan and Rwanda, how victims of brutality then turn around and become victimizers themselves -- how quickly prey learns to become predator.  So let's try something new and end this vicious cycle.  "Let there be," as Kor herself says, "no more wars, no more experiments without informed consent, no more gas chambers, no more bombs, no more hatred, no more killing, no more Auschwitzes." http://www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org/index.php?sid=44

     Someday I hope to visit this inspiring museum myself.
PPPS:  I'm still taking my month-long involuntary tour of cheap places to stay in Berkeley while my apartment is still getting re-habbed -- although a friend of mine just commented that I should say "renovated" instead because re-hab sounds too much like someone has just sent me off to the drunk tank.

     But the house-sitting/dog-walking gig ended yesterday and now I'm renting a SRO up on Parker Street for three nights.  Hopefully I'll be moving back home on Monday, although who knows?  They just discovered black mold in the apartment above me and that might take some more time because they gotta call out the haz-mat guys in white suits.  But that's okay.  I'm sort of actually starting to enjoy being pseudo-homeless and constantly "On the Road" -- just like that other Berkeley resident, Jack Kerouac.


*********************************************************
*********************************************************


Advertizements for myself: In these hard times of brutal (and illegal) corporatist ball-busting socialism-for-the-rich-only, I am doing whatever I can to make a spare dollar. Here are some of my current alternate-economy schemes that never seem to work -- but I keep hoping!

******

 If anyone ever wants to hire me on as a travel writer (or war correspondent), "Have laptop, will travel!"



******

Need someone to help you throw out stuff? I'm really good at deciding what needs to be thrown out (starting with all those corporate-owned bums in Washington!)

****

Need an actor to play an older woman in your movie?
Then I'm your man! I can portray all kinds of older women -- from judges, business execs and other insane zombies to bag ladies, cancer patients, kindly grandmothers and dying patients in rest homes. I've played them all. So send me a script and let's do this. Hollywood, here we come!

****
Are you a plaintiffs' attorney who is tired of writing those pesky personal injury settlement briefs all the time? No problem! I can write them for you. Years of experience. And pay me only if you win the case.
****


I recently got my Notary Public commission!

Need a Notary Public? Have seal, will travel. E-mail me at jpstillwater@yahoo.com and I'll stamp your document, make it official and only charge $10. Of course if you live outside of Berkeley, I may have to charge travel expenses -- but am well worth it!

****
Want something good to read? Buy my book! "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East," available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Own-Flak-Jacket/dp/0978615719/ref=cm_pdp_rev_itm_title_1. It's like if Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and/or Janet Evanovich went to war.

I also wrote a book about going on Hajj (also included as a chapter in "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket," but this book is cheaper -- but it's worth buying them both!) My book on the Hajj is so outstanding that I bet even Christian fundamentalists will love it! Please buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mecca-Hajj-Lessons-Islamic-School/dp/0978615700/ref=cm_rdp_product

****

"Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World peace in one generation!"
You can now buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for parents and teachers. To purchase, just click here:http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uqSuzOjM4vU/TafAFKcYz0I/AAAAAAAAFJc/Duv2LYJyUTs/s1600/IMG_0045.JPGhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dlHRO-CPqf0/Tae6tLspmQI/AAAAAAAAFI0/iUKwYDK1f3A/s1600/IMG_0041.JPG
"Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds."
You can also buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, truckers' caps, baby gear and/or teddy bears with this logo printed on them. They make great gifts, especially for those of us who are still idealists in these troubled times. To purchase, just click here: http://www.cafepress.com/StillTWaters