Saturday, May 28, 2016

Amazon, Chicago, our future & the amazing book revolution

     Do you like to read books?  Kindle?  FaceBook?  Any kind of reading material at all?  Do you hang out at your local library and frequently check stuff out?  And do you also dream of writing and publishing your very own book someday as well -- with your name on the front cover and your photo on the back and your actual words on the pages inside said book?  Hey, why not. 

     These days this dream can easily come true -- because right before our eyes (literally) there has been a huge publishing revolution going on in the past few years.  Now anybody can write and publish a book.  Anybody.  Here's how you do it:

     1.  Write the book.  Start on the first day of January and write just one page a day.  By December 31, you will have written 365 pages.  Booyah.

     2.  Go to Amazon's CreateSpace venue and pop your text into their format.  They do the rest.  And they actually publish your book and list it on Amazon as well -- at no cost to you.  How do they do that?

     3.  Order yourself a copy and then actually hold your very own book in your hands.

    Back in the Middle Ages, books were rare and wondrous things, selling for thousands of dollars.  Not just anybody could write or even read or own a book.  Times have changed since then.  A lot.

     When I went to BookExpo America in Chicago in early May, there were all kinds of people selling all kinds of books.  And I was also happily hawking my latest book there too.  Here was me, standing outside the McCormick Place exhibit hall, holding 200 bookmarks containing blurbs about my book, and trying to work up the nerve to force them onto people standing in line to get into the Expo.  "Pleeeeeze take my bookmark?"  Oh, okay.

      And now I'm trying to be brave enough to hawk my book to you as well. "Pleeeeeze buy my book?"  It's called Visions of a Lost and Future World and is the story of a small clan of pre-Columbian American Indians who somehow become immortal and then spend the next grim millennium witnessing the horror and brutality of man's incessant inhumanity to man.

       And, unfortunately, after "war" ravishes our world and also pollutes it beyond redemption, this little clan is forced to witness the end of the human race as well.  Sucks to be us. 

     So.  Now you know how to get out there and become an author yourself.  And if I can do it, then anyone can.  And also buy my book.  Please?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lost in Chicago with a Palestinian holocaust survivor

    One would think that getting around Chicago by riding its elevated train system would be like a piece of cake.  All you gotta do is pay your fare and then get from Point A to Point B.  But one would not be counting on my highly-elevated ability to get lost.  Anywhere.  From Antarctica to Alaska, from the Melbourne to Mecca, from Walgreens to Walmart (except I never go to Walmart because they rip off the working class), I can still manage to get lost -- and so Chicago's "L" system proved to be no different from anyplace else.

     But when I found out that Mariam Fathallahan, an 86-year-old survivor of the 1948 Palestinian holocaust, was speaking in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, I decided to take a risk.  This was a rare opportunity to hear her speak, so I jumped on the Green Line of the "L".  And jumped off again -- onto the Red Line.  "You need the Blue Line to get out to Park Ridge," someone finally told me, "but not the Pink, Orange or Brown."  They got a pink line in Chicago?  How cool is that!

     So I got off that train and onto another train and then onto another train again.  And ended up at O'Hare airport.  But finally found the right station and then street-hiked east for a mile.  So far so good.  Only got lost three times.  And when I got to the event, there was lots of free food!  Hummus and falafels.  Well worth the trip. 

      Over baklava, I got to talk with this refugee from the 1948 Palestine "Catastrophe" -- and she was delightful.  Jews don't have a lock on delightful older holocaust refugees who have lived through Hell and survived, moving on to become wise people who are anti-war right down to the tips of their toes.  Many Native American holocaust survivors are like that as well.  And also survivors of Reagan's 1980s ethnic cleansing of the Maya in Guatemala.  But I digress.

     As the evening wore on, it started raining cats and dogs outside and had gotten really really dark so I had to leave early so I could find my way back.  But I heard later that the rest of the presentation went well.

     Amena Ashkar, Fathallah's translator and also a refugee who was born in the camps in Lebanon, had really interesting stuff to say.  "When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, their main purpose was to get rid of Palestinian refugees," and thus continue the Israeli neo-colonialist brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  Having survived one holocaust already, Palestinians were then subject to yet another holocaust in Lebanon.

      "Does Israel have a right to exist, you might ask me?" said Ashkar, "and my answer is this:  Do I also have a right to exist as well?"  Someone else added that it is definitely not cool to ask a rape victim if she recognizes the rights of her rapist.

     So in the dark of night and pouring rain, I stumbled around the suburbs of Park Ridge, totally and hopelessly lost -- until I finally saw a faint light in the distance.  It was a Walgreens!  "You walk a mile south then cross a bridge over the freeway and then walk a mile more," said the friendly and helpful clerk.  Great, just great.  And then I also found out that parts of suburban Chicago have no sidewalks.

     And somehow I finally made it back to the South Loop Hotel and took a hot bath.

    But how many Palestinian holocaust refugees today even have that option -- to take a hot bath?

PS:  One of the main reasons that I truly dislike the Clinton-Trump presidential ticket is because they both seem to be taking great glee at the thought of killing even more women and children in the Middle East than have already been maimed, slaughtered or made homeless by American-made bombs.  Don't all those millions of victims of the Bush-Obama-Clinton-Trump doctrine in the Middle East hate us enough already?

PPS:  I'm not the only one that gets lost easily.  America too has lost its way.  Instead of heading toward the bright boulevards of Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Golden Rule, my country has completely lost its way inside a labyrinth of dark alleys that go nowhere -- and have scary names like "Regime Change" and Genocide" and "Homelessness" and "Outsourcing".

PPPS:  News just in from my Syrian friend that yet another massive suicide bombing by ISIS/al Qaeda just took place in Syria.  And the American neo-con RepubliDems are now jumping with joy.  "Soon Syria will be another Libya!" they whisper behind their hands.  And at the rate that Wall Street and War Street are supporting al Qaeda and ISIS, America will soon become another Libya too.

      "It's really bad over there today," writes my friend.  "And the West's pro-zombi media is celebrating their 'victory' on the 'infidels'!  But the pattern is so simple though:  Whenever the Syrian Arab Army and their allies win against the ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists and armed gangs, then the terrorists target the civilians, not the army!  They are blackmailing the Syrian government and army by targeting the people.  

     "I can imagine the Saudis, Turks, Qataris and whoever else is behind them [American and Israeli neo-colonialists!] saying to the Syrian officials in the negotiations:  'If you won against our militias or if you are not going to surrender, we gonna order them to slaughter more civilians -- and the Western media won't even mention Syria's dead (or our crimes).'

       "I wish that these criminals would not be allowed to get away with their crimes.  And I also wish to witness their judgement day for the horrors they have inflicted on Syria."  Me too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The 2016 BookExpo: Reading & eating pizza in Chicago

    Ever been to Chicago?  Why would you even want to go there?  For the pizza!  And the books.  The 2016 BookExpo America was just held in Chicago.  You walk into the huge McCormick Place exhibition hall and right before your very eyes there are hundreds of booksellers, all wanting you to look at their stuff -- or to meet their authors.  Or, better yet, wanting to give you a free book!

     But by now I'm wise to the tricky ways of book conventions.  When I first started attending them, I used to bring home all kinds of free books.  Now I only bring home the ones that I know I will read -- such as my advance-review autographed copy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's "Writings on the Wall".  I can hardly wait to dive into that one.  Plus I actually got to meet him.

    Then I met the authors of "The Heart of the Fight," a book that tells us that having marital battles can actually help a relationship instead of hurting it, but only if you know how to fight correctly.  Gotta read that.  Not that I'm married or nothing -- but I know lots of people who are.

     Also, after reading this book, I realized that the rules of fighting fair and square (and with effective results) can also be applied to fights between nations -- or between neo-colonial invaders and the countries they invade.  To judge them by this book, American neo-colonialists blow things up and murder people and destroy the planet because they aren't getting what they need in their lives and can't "break free from their limiting beliefs and behaviors," ones that involve taking the entire human race down with them.

    I also stayed at the South Loop Hotel, located in an area formerly known as Chicago's South Side.  All those housing projects are gone now.  Gone.  Leaving nothing but new yuppie condos and vacant lots.  And DeMichael's Market, where I subsisted on its corned beef sandwiches and Traders Point yogurt (when I wasn't out actively searching for pizza).

     I also met authors Terry McMillan, Sebastian Junger, Colson Whitehead, Jennifer Chiaverini, Faith Salie and I forget who all else.  And man whose wife wrote a children's book gave me a ride to the convention center and a copy of "Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure".  Your kid will love it.

     But now let's talk about pizza.  Connie's Pizza was just so freaking good!  And I even found a restaurant that served gluten-free pizza.  I ate the whole thing.  I shoulda ate more pizza in Chicago.  I shoulda read more books.  But I got distracted by a wild party in Bronzeville and just barely missed getting arrested.  But if I had gotten arrested, then I could have reported back on whether they served good pizza in jail. 

PS:  On my way up to see Navy Pier, the #29 bus drove right past Trump Tower.  Which got me to thinking about what it would be like to have "The Donald" as president.  He's bad -- but "The Hillary" would be far, far worse.  Trump talks the talk about being down on Muslims, but Clinton actually goes out and kills them.  Can America afford another Libya?  No, no, no and no.  Vote for Bernie.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Aleppo hospital bombing: Lies, lies & more lies from US/al Qaeda
     Just how many god-damned lies can the American public listen to before they finally start screaming "Enough!"  Apparently a lot.  Apparently Americans possess a bottomless capacity to both absorb lies and be lied to.  Apparently the American public has no trouble at all believing all kinds of clearly-phony propaganda touts and "pants on fire" types of lies -- they're even better at believing propaganda than the "Good Germans" were before World War II.  Disgusting.

      What would Jesus do if He were alive today and being lied to like this?  He'd move to Canada!  Trust me, I am just waiting for global warming to heat Canada up a few more degrees and then I'll be moving there too!  Or else to Vermont.  They don't seem to be quite as gullible in Canada and Vermont.

     So.  Exactly which lies set me off this time?  The ones about Syria.  There are currently even more lies than usual about Syria on America's mainstream media right now.  "But what is the real truth?" you might ask.  Let's find out.  

     Between all the eye-witness accounts now available on the internet and FaceBook and Twitter, there is absolutely no excuse for the American public to be misinformed.  For instance, here is the true 411 from a Syrian friend of mine about a hospital in Aleppo that just got french-fried by al Qaeda missiles -- a vicious bombing that is currently being blamed by the mainstream media on Syrians, President Assad and the Russians.  Huh?

     I thought that Americans were spozed to not like al Qaeda.  Why is the MSM now taking their side?

     Journalist Vanessa Beeley recently asked a doctor in West Aleppo to confirm that a hospital there, that the MSM is accusing Assad of bombing, does actually exist.  And, if it actually does exist, was it bombed by al Qaeda and then blamed on Assad by the MSM?  The doctor's response?  "This hospital [Al Quds] did not exist before the war started.  It must have been installed in a building [by al Qaeda] after the war began."  Further, the doctor didn't know anyone who could confirm that the hospital being blown up in a MSM news video was even this mysterious Al Quds.  The video really looks photo-shopped to me.

      But then my Syrian friend clarified the situation even further.  Here are some of his quotes:

     "I know this doctor personally because I am his patient.  He's a very good physician and I trust him.  And I too think that what he said is correct.  This 'hospital' could be just a normal building that had been turned into a clinic to cure the 'moderate rebel' terrorists since 2012.   No one knows of it or heard of it before."  Figures.

      "My brother said that this particular building had been hit by a US missile, as a false flag to blame the Syrian Arab Army for doing so."  And that's the exact same type of lie we've been told here in America since "Remember the Maine" in 1898 and "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in 2003 were forced down our throats.

       "On the other hand," says my friend, "The MSM hasn't shown anything about the other hospitals that were hit by America's beloved al Qaeda terrorists within the last week.  They didn't show the hundreds of injured people, the dozens who have been killed daily, the 500-year-old mosque and Christian orthodox church that had been shelled by terrorist mortars while people were praying Friday prayers in the first, and celebrating the Good Friday in the next one.  It had been hit on Sunday while celebrating Easter." 

    Of course Americans are never told anything about this.

     "Many residential buildings in Aleppo have been destroyed by new types of mortars and rockets that are much more powerful than the old ones."  Yeah and where exactly did al Qaeda even get all these new mortars and rockets?  Manufactured them in their tents out in the desert, did they?  Not.  

     "Buildings in Aleppo have been collapsed on the heads of their inhabitants.  One kid lost all of his family members.  There are plenty of stories, really, of al Qaeda bombings.  But the American MSM is lying, blaming all this carnage on Assad and the SAA." 

      And now the MSM is even showing videos of children who are supposed to be the kids of so-called freedom fighters.  "They are supposed to be terrorists' own kids, in order to gain our sympathy for these zombie terrorist 'rebels' -- allegedly now 'freedom fighters' who are only protecting their families and not the real al Qaeda terrorists that they are.  One of the little girls shown was named 'Helen'.  What kind of Syrian name is that!

      "It would be like showing one of Osama bin Ladin's sweet little girls and then claiming that bin Ladin is a freedom fighter based solely on his having fathered this child.  All this lying is just about going to give me a stroke or a heart attack!"  

      Me too!

      "Pregnant women and newborn babies had been killed in the obstetric hospital of Dabbeet in Aleppo, after been hit by terrorist mortars.  Ar-Razi hospital had been hit with terrorist mortars and it caught on fire in some of its sections, and this is one of the few free hospitals left in Aleppo.  Another private hospital had been hit in the New Aleppo sector of the city.  But do Americans ever see them on TV?"  Not that I've noticed.

     According to my Syrian friend, these hospitals have all been hit by al Qaeda "moderate rebels" -- with mortars supplied to al Qaeda by the House of Saud, America, Turkey and Israel.  Are we proud of our country yet?  "O say does that star-spangled banner" now wave...over al Qaeda?  It sure does. 

     I thought we Americans were spozed to hate al Qaeda.  Apparently not.

     "In the Midan neighborhood, it originally had Armenian residents but because of the crisis and refugees and immigrating, today it's a mixed place for mostly poor people.  It too has been hit so badly in the last week by al Qaeda."  Moderate rebels indeed.  Anybody with any sense will know that it's still all about oil, same as it was in Iraq and Libya.

     In his must-read book "Overthrow," Steven Kinzer states that America had armed and trained ten thousand (10,000) fundamentalist al Qaeda terrorists in the run-up to 9-11.  And apparently a lot of them are still around.  But I digress.

      "I don't know what to say," continues my Syrian friend.  "My wishful thinking is telling me that Russia, the SAA, Hezbollah and others will not let Aleppo to fall into the hands of these barbarians and whoever is supporting them.  Syria's defenders were doing so well before the ceasefire.  The ceasefire agreement gave the al Qaeda terrorists better weapons and a rest to catch up and attack the way we are witnessing today."  Clearly, al Qaeda's supporters have got their lies in a row.

       "Al Qaeda is shelling civilians, sometimes randomly and sometimes deliberately -- as when they targeted hospitals just today with new heavy and big rockets, and they also now have snipers with special exploding bullets, the kind which are used by the Israelis against Palestinians.  Once these bullets enter a human body, they explode into many tiny shrapnel pieces in order to make as much damage as possible.  These snipers have a very long range as well."  Sucks to be a Syrian these days. 

     "The media is not showing any of that, but instead are twisting all the realities and showing them the other way around, or else they might show only when the SAA is shooting back against deliberate provocation -- as if the SAA was violating the ceasefire, not al Qaeda."  Why does the MSM do this?  It must be threatened, bribed or bought out.

     "But what is the difference between al Qaeda, al Nusra and ISIS?" I asked.

      "They are all the same.  It's  a full package of war on all levels:  Fierce conflict on the ground; MSM polishing the terrorists' image and showing them as 'Freedom fighters'; lack of water and good supplies; expensive prices of everything for the poor people; more people to suffer, injured, killed, losing their homes, becoming refugees...etc."

     And this ugly truth is simply not getting out to Americans via the MSM, with their millions of viewers who now actually believe that al Qaeda is a good guy.  But try telling that to the families of 9-11 victims and see what they say.

     How can I deal with the knowledge that my own government willingly bombs hospitals -- and then lies about it?  I can't.

PS:  Yahoo News just posted a completely mendacious article stating that President Assad is using sarin gas (again).  It was a lie the first time -- and it's a lie now.