Tuesday, January 28, 2014

















Global (and judicial) warming and cooling: Why we get both

     It seems to me that the reason we get global warming in some places and global cooling in others should be as plain as the nose on your face -- at least to those of us who live in Berkeley.

     Whenever it gets hot in Walnut Creek, over the hill from Berkeley, we always get a strong wind here as our own cooler air rushes over to balance out Walnut Creek's hotspots.

      So global warming and cooling should clearly work in the same way -- except on a planetary scale.  As Florida really heats up, for instance, cold air from the Arctic should rush in to balance temperatures out.  And hurricanes and tornadoes appear to be getting bigger and nastier here to compensate for temperature changes somewhere else.  All over the planet, increased warm areas are being balanced out by increased cold areas -- and vice-versa.  That's my new climate-change theory and I'm sticking to it.

     And Justice works the same way as well.  We gotta have liberty and justice for all -- and not just for Poobahs and cartels.  Because if we don't, it's all going to even out in the end eventually -- one way or another.

     Everyone everywhere keeps track of these things.

     And when justice only goes to the wealthy and not to the poor, things definitely get hotter in one spot and cooler in another. 

     When big banks act unjustly and screw small homeowners, they are creating a financial "Polar Vortex" http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-biggest-financial-scandal-yet-20130425.  When corporations get billions in welfare while people who actually need government services -- and pay taxes for them too -- are told they are moochers, then areas of highs and lows are created and wretched imbalances are struck. 

     When Justin Bieber doesn't get deported for being drunk and disorderly yet other hard-working non-citizens who are helping to make America stronger get thrown in jail just for being on this side of a border, fair weather could become cloudy with a chance of injustice (although Bieber has just set a legal precedent that immigration attorneys all over America can now use to defend their clients.  Way to go, Beebs!)

     According to Noel Castellanos, "Justice is doing more than saving the drowning people, it’s changing the ones who are pushing them into the lake."  And in all too many countries all over the Global South, where social justice and economic democracy are in short supply, both economic disasters and violent (and non-violent) revolutions are common.  "Why should I respect the rule of law when it doesn't respect me?" seems to be the gist of thinking in the Global South.

     And as social, economic and legal injustices become more and more common in America now too, and more and more of America's "justice for all" has become only "justice for corporations," economic democracy is now becoming a museum piece here too, a thing of the past along with crank telephones and kerosene lamps -- leaving us open for violent (and non-violent) revolutions to start flowing into the low areas here too.

    Handing out fake justice to some but denying it to others is a really good formula for making peace impossible all over the world and in America too -- and, to paraphrase that old TV commercial, "Peace is our most important product".

      And apparently both the weather system and the justice system in America right now are refusing to tolerate extreme highs and lows. 

     Don't say you haven't been warned.


PS:  Speaking of justice, at this month's Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheon (curried chicken and caesar salad at the Berkeley City Club), a prominent trial attorney gave us his annual talk on what the U.S. Supreme Court had been up to this past year.  And here are some things that he said.  If I got any of it wrong, it's my fault -- not his.  So don't judge him.  Judge me -- for taking bad notes.

    "The first thing you should know about the current Supreme Court is that it has a 44% approval rating with the American public."

     And regarding individual judges, the speaker told us that, "Thomas is silent on the bench at all times.  He never asks any questions.  Scalia is very influential, but I can't see why.  He also never looks at any foreign laws and is totally not interested in what other countries think.  His originalism comes at a very bad time, however.  Imagine if Thomas Jefferson had been like that.  Kagan used to be a dean -- and deans are all about authority.  Alito is a pleasant person but has always worked for the government and has never worked with individuals who were being oppressed.  Ginsberg used to work for the ACLU.  Sotomayor is one of the most impressive on the court."

      "Five of these judges have committed our country to terrible things that they never revealed to the Senate during their confirmation hearings."

     "According to Dworkin, the job of a judge is philosophical and broad -- and when doing it in a democracy, you also need to understand the basics of a democracy as well."

     "This year it is still the five vs. the four, and the four's teeth are worn down to a terrible point because four is not enough."

     "Scalia came out against actual innocence this year.  Most of us think that if you are proven innocent after sentencing, you should be able to turn in your orange jump suit and go home.  One man, after 17 years in jail, was proven not to have committed the crime.  Scalia disagreed that he should be released."

     "Criminal law has become an incredibly regulated event with regard to sentencing.  Judges no longer have the flexibility in this area that they once had."

       "The Court struck down the identity-card voting law in Arizona.  Thomas and Alito dissented."

     "Regarding ex post facto sentencing, Sotomayor wrote the opinion.  Guidelines that were not in effect at the time of sentencing can't change the sentencing later."

     "Regarding one DNA verdict, Scalia, Kagan Sotomayor and Ginsberg got together on this one -- slowing that it was not just the usual straight five-to-four mix last year."

     "What if a defendant stops talking after he is arrested?  Can his silence be commented on or held against him as evidence of guilt?"  Not sure how that case turned out.

     "Right to a lawyer -- a competent lawyer, providing standards for attorneys not only the standards provided by the state bar.   Trevino v. Thaler was habeas corpus case regarding ineffective assistance of counsel."  The court ruled that Texas didn't consider that Trevino had ineffective counsel before sending him to Death Row.

     "Daimler v. Bauman.  Dealt with Argentina's Dirty War and jurisdiction.  No, you can't hold to account foreigners involved in torture overseas.  This one was recently decided."

     "The race factor:  Not appropriate for U-Texas Austin to use it for admissions without an airtight justification and the application of direct scrutiny.  Only Ginsberg dissented."

     "Adequacy of drug warnings are preempted by federal law."

      "U.Texas medical center v. Nassar:  Employment discrimination must be proved by lots of evidence.  Ginsberg dissented."  The Supreme Court made it harder for employees who were charging discrimination and retaliation to win their cases."  http://verdict.justia.com/2013/07/09/revenge-the-supreme-court-narrows-protection-against-workplace-retaliation-in-university-of-texas-southwestern-medical-center-v-nassar

        "Class actions:  The Supreme court has been limiting them in the past.  However, in Angen v. Connecticut Retirement Plans, materiality did not need to be proved in order to establish a case as a class action.  Alito, Thomas and Scalia dissented."  I just bet they did.

 "Patents:  DNA cannot be patented.  Unanimous decision.  Things that are open and obvious don't deserve a patent.  But no one on the Supreme Court knows much about patents.  They are all generalists in an age of specialization -- but, in their position, must take a broad range of cases anyway."

PPS:  Am leaving for Haiti on February 12.  According to Dr. Paul Farmer, Haiti has undergone centuries of  injustice on a frightening scale.   According to Farmer, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world.”  http://www.pih.org/blog/paul-farmer-haiti-after-the-earthquake.  And Haiti is now also the victim of climate change as well.

     Haiti is a perfect example of what I have been talking about here.  And apparently Haitians are totally ready to support both "justice for all" and climate stability -- and also Jean-Bertrand Aristide as well.  Go them.

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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!"
And am leaving for Haiti on Valentines Day -- so stay tuned for that report too.



******
 
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! Here's my new 2014 reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uad0XDU_cXg&feature=youtube_gdata

****
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 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


 





















Paranoia strikes deep: Why wisdom & kindness trumps greed, paranoia & fear

     I used to really really hate housework but don't hate it so much any more -- ever since I developed my fabulous new housecleaning system wherein I just do 15 minutes of housework a day, but do it each day consistently, using a timer so as not to cheat.

     You'd be surprised how much you can get done in just 15 minutes, but you gotta do it daily, no matter what -- even if some newbee student dentist has just finished scraping all those extra bone fragments out of the socket of your recently-pulled (phantom) tooth and then practiced her rusty stitching techniques on your poor bleeding gums. 

     And here's another added bonus to my housecleaning system:  After having spent approximately 5,475 minutes a year for the past six years on trying to keep this damn place clean, I have actually sort of started to bond with my home.

      So.  A few days ago I was cleaning stuff out of an old filing cabinet, and came across a whole bunch of articles that I had written way back in the day -- back before we had all kinds of self-publishing apps available online; and even back before there was FaceBook or blogs or Kindle or Twitter or even Instagram and YouTube.

      And, way back in those old paleo days, writers such as myself had actually been forced to photocopy our articles, write up a cover letter and then send them all off to magazine editors with self-addressed stamped envelopes enclosed.  Totally old school.  Can you even imagine doing that now?

     And there at the very bottom of one of those file drawers, I found over two hundred rejection letters from various editors and publishers.  Amazing.

     Dontcha just love publishing over the internet instead?  (And thank goodness for net neutrality too -- which is currently being threatened.  Shouldn't we start boycotting Verizon, AT&T and Comcast over this?  C'mon, all you independent bloggers, Tweeters and self-publishers, let's get off our butts and fight for less intervention and more high-speed!)  http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-net-neutrality-20140114,0,522106.story

      And speaking of the internet, those huge and powerful corporations which now own our government are still using it to spy on all of us -- and not just us writers.   Now why would corporations want to do that?  Because they are paranoid.  And greedy.  And afraid.

     I used to be paranoid and greedy and afraid too -- but am now here to tell you that, in the long run, paranoia and greed and fear are just too damn much hard work.  Wisdom and kindness are better.  And easier too.  Just ask Jesus.  And Gandhi.  And Martin Luther King Jr.

     "But Jane," you might say, "that kind of slacker attitude could get you killed."  True.  It certainly got King and Gandhi and Jesus killed.  But at least I would die while feeling all proud of myself as I cross over -- not huddled up in some miserable isolated Midas-like earthly fortress while watching the rest of the world end before my very eyes and with only my black, ice-cold-hearted evil soul (that nobody else would ever want to spend time with, ev-ah) to keep me company.  Yuck.

     Anyway, back at the filing cabinet, I began reading through some of my old articles again -- and some of them were really actually quite good.  The one about my struggles to get my aging father into an assisted-care home was particularly poignant -- and how my mean sister had dragged me through probate court after he died, just when I was grieving the most.  I later published it on the internet, entitled "Probating the Family Feud" -- and a lot of people actually read it there too.  http://veracityvoice.com/?p=1158

      And I also found something I had written back in 2005 -- back when Fallujah was a horrible war-crime-induced hot mess; about all my efforts to embed with the Army there.  And how I finally did embed with the Marines in Heet and Haditha two years later http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html

     But apparently Fallujah is still a war-torn hot mess even today; the only difference being that Iraqis, not Americans, are now doing most of the killing in Al Anbar province.  So does that make all this current senseless slaughter of civilians less of a war crime -- because civilians are now being senselessly slaughtered by local hordes instead of by American hordes?   http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-third-battle-of-fallujah/5364369

     Ten years later, I still want to go to Fallujah.

     Or as one friend in Iraq calls it, "Fallujahpaloooza".  Laughter through tears.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt5qaMHQDfw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DDt5qaMHQDfw&app=desktop

     And then I discovered, hidden back at the very bottom of my filing cabinet, a rough draft of my first novel.  I loved that novel so much!  But NOBODY would publish it.  Nobody.  That novel had everything -- love, death, war, peace, history, philosophy, drama, even intergalactic travel -- and even one fast-moving chapter on how wisdom and kindness always trumps greed, paranoia and fear.  "Pictures of a Future World" was the title.  I may get around to publishing it yet -- but this time I'll try Kindle. 

PS:  Here's an excerpt from my old unpublished novel, "Pictures of a Future World":

     All eyes turn to the Shaman, who continues to speak from his deep trance.

   The atmosphere in the sandstone kiva comes alive.  The Shaman moves his mind to a new point of consciousness.  Another one of his emanations begins to speak, this time in an intensely penetrating tone.  "There is a tree on the mesa top," the deep voice slowly intones.  "It has watched the raider warriors kill our people one by one.  It has seen us begin to build our houses here in the dark shadows of the canyon walls instead of up on the sunny mesa tops where they belong...so that we might be safe...from the raider warriors.

     "They are killers.

     "We are prey.

      "So has it always been.  So shall it always be.

      "There is no place that we can go on the face of this earth that is safe from them...either now or in the far distant future... when even our mesa-top trees are dead.

      "Raiders will always hunt peaceful men.

      "They will find us, and they will kill our bodies just as the coyote kills the hare." 

   Absolute silence falls like a black shroud inside the kiva. 

   Everyone waits for the Shaman to speak again.  Even the Shaman himself waits.  Is this all that he is going to say?  By now the ceremonial kiva is as bright as day, the elders rigid with attention. 

   "Of these things we must never be afraid, ever," the Shaman continues.  "The raiders may search us out, the barbarians may chase us down and trap us and corner us like rats...from now until the end of time.
 
      "The needy ones, the greedy ones will hunt us in order to make our wisdom and our abundance their own.  They will act out of evil caused by envy, jealousy or need.  Whatever their reasons -- that is the way of it.  No place is safe.  We must be prepared to give up our bodies at any time, willingly and without fear or regret. 

   "Because our bodies are not us." 

   The Shaman breathes slowly now, and the clan members sense that he is struggling within himself, trying to clarify what he alone is seeing, forcing himself to go on.  A moment passes.  The mask presses heavily upon him.  Finally he continues:  "We of the pueblo all know this.  We are all made brave because of this knowledge.  This we know:  That always men of peace will die bravely.  That always barbarians will try to kill us and to take our spirits.

      "All of us know that the spirit of a man of peace can never belong to a barbarian and can never be harmed.  Ever.  It is this knowledge that gives us the courage to continue to live without fear in a world exploding with enemies, enemies gone mad with their own anger and need and violence and lust for our blood." 

   The air inside the womb-like kiva begins to take on a life of its own; humid, dense, and pulsing. 

   Inside the ponderous deer-head mask, the Shaman tries to refocus his energy.  He watches his body and his mind divide into a series of complex grids.  Each one of these grids contains an image of himself.  A part of him wonders which grid is his real self.  A part of him knows that his real self is all of them -- or none. 

    More chanting fills the air.  The Shaman forgets about the raider warriors.  They are a part of life.  They will always be there...like the trees.  Like the mesa.

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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!"
And am leaving for Haiti on Valentines Day -- so stay tuned for that report too.


******
 
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! Here's my new 2014 reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uad0XDU_cXg&feature=youtube_gdata

****
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