Thursday, December 23, 2021


“We’re at the tipping point, we haven’t got time to wait 30 years and argue about a few billion dollars. Burying your head in the sand another instant about global warming and the destruction of the planet is suicide for all of us.”

– William Shatner aka Captain Kirk
Collective action in the face of an overwhelming existential threat is a pretty common sci-fi trope. From asteroids to viruses, the people come together, often at the last possible moment, to save us all from annihilation. Sadly, it would seem we aren’t quite as evolved as the cardboard cutouts that populate many a Hollywood alien invasion/disaster blockbuster. We are busy fighting among ourselves while the zombies eat us.

Watching mainstream media (MSM) cover the pandemic, exposition masquerading as dialogue in genre films doesn’t seem nearly as far-fetched as it once did. Even with the recent surge of the Omicron variant, MSM seems to be missing the obvious earlier foreshadowing in our particular film. Feel free to yell “VACCINE APARTHEID” at the screen, but it’s not going to stop those teens from going in the basement.

We had a moment there, at the beginning of the pandemic, when the endless wars were suddenly and starkly put into perspective. A truce perhaps? Just long enough to keep our species from going the way of the dinosaurs? But the overwhelming existential threat didn’t do the trick. What would we be without our individual conflicts? How would we define ourselves if not by our judgements of the other?

Alas, Covid, like Climate Change, will not ask who you are, or where you are from, when it comes for you, your kids, your grandchildren… But like we saw earlier with HIV/AIDS, there are always those that think they will not be affected, it’s not their problem; their privilege and power will protect them. For those folks, the suffering of others has long been just another coldly calculated opportunity for profit.

When Bezos sent William Shatner to “space” a couple months back, there was this odd blip of a media moment, where despite themselves, the MSM gave Bill some airtime to do a bit of Climate Crisis crazy talk, or at least that must have been how it sounded to them:

“What’s coming our way, we all know this, what’s coming our way is horrific. So it’s easier to, bury your head in the sand, say well I’m not gonna think about it. You have to think about it! And it”s terrible to think about! It’s terrible that they’re building twenty foot walls in Miami in front of people’s homes who spent millions of dollars for the view of the ocean, and they’re erecting a twenty foot wall because the seas are rising. Half of Florida is gonna be underwater. Do you realize half of Florida’s gonna be underwater in our children’s lifetime?!”

I followed @WilliamShatner on twitter, hoping to see the 90 year old Captain shutting shit down in the streets with Extinction Rebellion, or at the very least calling for direct action in light of his overview effect fueled environmental passion... C’mon Bill, make us proud.

Unlike most current sci-fi narratives, Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek de-emphasized conflict between individuals in order to present a vision of how collective action can function. Rodenberry’s Trek is the narrative antithesis of the obstructionism on display in our politics, economics, world affairs. It dares to move beyond the perennial “if only” austerity/scarcity models that have so thoroughly poisoned our ability to imagine, to even consider, alternative possibilities.

Will the United Federation of Planets be able to overcome the greatest challenge it has ever faced? Will life continue?! Of course it will. But how will they do that? The answer is almost always, together.

Can stories influence us? Successful mass movements don’t simply protest, they demonstrate what is possible. It can be challenging to have a conversation about the open sea and the sky above while trapped in the belly of the beast. Sometimes we need to see it before we can believe it. What does the world look like on the other side of the struggle?

Unapologetically allegorical, a dramatization of current events processed through sci-fi storytelling, the franchise continues to tackle issue after issue. Episodes (over 800 of them now between the many series) often play like a 45 minute debate, examining social issues from multiple angles, allowing the characters (and the viewers) to explore the gray area where absolute moral judgements are questioned.


The current season of Star Trek: Discovery is no exception. When I saw the teaser, I couldn’t help but notice that the “big bad” was not a person, but some unexplained anomaly. Something larger that affected everyone, everywhere – there’s that existential threat again. The allegorical mystery begins... will it be Covid? Is it Climate Change?

In last week’s episode “The Examples,” the crew determined that the planet eating anomaly is not a natural phenomenon, but created. Oh boy, are we down the rabbit whole of ultimate evil again? Is it arch-nemesis time? I hope the writers are smarter than that.

The crew is horrified by the notion that anyone would create such a destructive force, they cannot conceive of the motivation of those who would do such a thing! But perhaps that is the point? What if the big bad this season isn’t just another all powerful malicious entity with malevolent motivations – what if it’s us? What if we just didn’t take the science seriously? What if we were too busy counting our profits? What if we thought that our actions couldn’t actually influence the fabric of god’s perfect universe? What if we thought we would be smart enough to fix it later? Sound familiar?

There is a rather unassuming episode in the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, titled “Force of Nature;” a fairly obvious allegory for global warming. The episode does a good job of exploring how oblivious one can be to the detrimental effects of ones actions on others, especially when in pursuit of some lofty goal that disguises those potential dangers.

“I spent the better part of my life exploring space. I've charted new worlds, I've met dozens of new species, and I believe that these were all valuable ends in themselves. Now it seems that… all this while, I was… helping to damage the thing that I hold most dear.” 
– Captain Jean-Luc Picard

It occurred to me that the subspace rift (caused by warp drive) featured in “Force of Nature” doesn’t seem that far off from the anomaly they are facing on Discovery. Even if it’s not an evolution of the same catastrophic event, it may be an inspiration for the current story. Whatever the case, an allegorical exploration of Climate Change, of the Climate Crisis is long overdue…

Next Generation’s syndication made its stories available for years to come, accessible to a wide audience that might not otherwise get involved with the types of narratives it so skillfully presented. Its entertainment value offered an easy entry into an unexpected world of information and ideas.

Discovery is only available through a subscription streaming service (pay-per-view), which limits its audience to those who can afford it, those who are willing to pay for it, and those who are looking for it. There is little possibility of the show being randomly stumbled upon by those unfamiliar with the ideas being presented within. Discovery’s potential as a teaching tool has been effectively reduced to zero by this restricted access. For a franchise concerned with inclusiveness and representation for more than half a century now, this certainly seems like a step backward.

Even if this season turns out to be a brilliant allegorical opus on collective action in confronting the Climate Crisis, who will have access to that message?

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


NBC/MSNBC, CNN, FOX, NYT, WAPO, New York Post, etc. – I have always approached mainstream media (MSM) with a kind of critical curiosity. I never really expected a weapons manufacturer that owned a media company to come out against the wars. Or to run a climate crisis story calling for the elimination of fossil fuels, in defiance of the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world – the U.S. military. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

But surely it comes as no surprise when mainstream media’s messaging (“the news”) reflects the interests of the corporations that own them?

Advertising dollars (and ratings) are often cited as the ultimate determinant of which news stories will be aired; how, or even if, they will be covered at all. It’s a convenient compliment to the commonly cited influence of lobbyist money in politics. But both these arguments are intentional misdirection, presenting an illusion of separation where none actually exists.

Put plainly, corporate entities (former and future CEO’s, stock holders, etc.) are actually in the government, not simply influencing it. And those same corporations own the media (MSM).

The spotlight has been on social media companies of late, on the prevalence and pervasiveness of misinformation across facebook. While I am certainly in favor of reigning in that monster, lets be clear, facebook is but one media/tech monopoly among many. Moreover, we shouldn’t let facebook’s lack of accountability provide cover for the conflict narrative nonsense that the MSM is consistently pushing.

Really though, why should any of these media conglomerates be interested in telling the truth? It’s clearly antithetical to their bottom line, both economically and in terms of the power and influence of their messaging. The truth is just too damn inflexible, too inconvenient as it were. It doesn’t easily conform to market trends the way bullshit does. Still, it might prove useful, as tedious as it may be, to check in on the MSM from time to time. If only to keep up with which self-serving conflict narratives they are currently telling/selling.

As of yesterday there were four MSM stories in heavy rotation: COVID, Cuomo, the “bi-partisan” infrastructure bill, and the “Taliban in Afghanistan.”

MSM specializes in breaking everything down to duality, disappearing inconvenient context, pushing polarization perspectives. It’s the center of the three part story arc without the initial exposition or the final resolution. All drama, all the time.

“The Taliban is attacking cities,” no exposition, no resolution. No mention of mujahideen trained by the CIA in the 80’s to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union, no mention of how the CIA will likely take the lead (again) going forward now that US troops are coming home. Certainly never any mention of all those Afghan poppy fields in any of those MSM exposes about the opioid crisis…

Twenty+ years throwing molotov cocktails over the fence into your neighbor’s back yard. They’re probably pretty pissed at you, provided they’re still alive. If you decide to sell your house, do you expect your neighbor to make peace with the new owner? How do they know you’re not still hiding behind that fence? Or in the basement? Should they put down their weapons and bring over a housewarming gift?

But why do they hate us?

On and on about Delta variant and the percentage increase in cases since the last commercial break, blaming “the unvaccinated” (how dehumanizing) for not trusting the government to protect them from this plague. As if these folks have ever trusted the government? Paul Krugman throwing out some nonsense about the hypocrisy of free market private industry proponents having a hard time with businesses telling them what they can and can’t do? They’re libertarians Paul, not neoliberals.

Why doesn’t MSM put up the numbers for places where the majority of folks are vaccinated alongside those where the majority of folks are not? Might that be more helpful than sweeping generalizations about cases surging nationally? We’re all in this together.

Today the UN released a devastating report on the Climate Crisis. It was on the news. The newly minted head of FEMA fielding the question, how can we protect ourselves? How can we protect ourselves?! Yeah, that’s the question the fear based media is always asking. It really doesn’t matter if the issue can (and really should) be solved through collective action, we’re gonna go with protecting ourselves. Can’t save your town from the wildfire? Can’t bail yourself out of the flood? That’s ok – keep watching, keep reading, keep clicking. Updates on the hour.

In case you missed it last Friday (and every day before that) on NBC/MSNBC:


BREAKING: Extinction Rebellion women staged ‘Naked Truth’ action at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to demand NBC Universal report on the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis

New York, NY – On Friday, August 6 at 1.30pm a group of 10 women from Extinction Rebellion staged an action in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to the headquarters of NBC Universal with a banner reading ‘Tell the Naked Truth About the Climate Crisis’. The women were naked from the waist up to symbolise the vulnerability of all species—humans included—in the face of climate breakdown, and had the words ‘Violence,’ ‘War,’ ‘Displacement,’ ‘Famine’ and ‘Desertification’ written across their chests. Four women were arrested after an hour glued in place.

“We’re all vulnerable. We’re all naked in the face of this imminent and deadly threat. What do we stand to lose from inaction? Everything.” said Ana Paula Cordeiro, Extinction Rebellion activist.

Read more from the XR press release here.

Watch video of the action here.

Extinction Rebellion is calling on the public to take part in a mass rally in New York City on September 17 to highlight that 2021 is a critical year for climate action, especially in the run up to COP26 which is taking place in November in Glasgow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021


King of the hill and capture the flag. Dodgeball and team sports. When will these boys grow up? This isn’t a schoolyard brawl. Maybe you could get away with that nonsense in debate club, but you’re not in high school anymore. I should probably mention that I am writing this while listening to the last day of the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, former President of the United States. I am amazed at how this spectacle, intended as remedy to the constant chaos created (incited) by the former President, exists as a continuation of that very chaos. When will the distraction end?

A few closing notes for snake oil salesman, his legal team and the Senators supporting/condoning his nonsense: are you aware how pathetic you look demanding a fair hearing in a legal system that is stacked against everyone but you? Such an impressive display of righteous indignation, raising your voice and pointing fingers in a chamber where civility and speech is quite literally protected under law; the sergeant-in-arms opening each session with a command for others in the chamber to keep silent under pain of imprisonment. Please tell us again how your speech rights are being violated? Maybe we could hear you better if you took off your CENSORED mask. Deference and respect are not owed to you simply because you’ve never been punished for being a bully.

But bullying really is all you got, isn’t it? Attacking the “other side” for their critique of your client’s actions, doesn’t qualify as a defense of your client’s actions. Your old boys network may conflate critique of its minority viewpoints with the suppression of actual minority viewpoints, but simply espousing a position most Americans disagree with doesn’t make you a victim of oppression.

Your hierarchy, your patriarchy, is minority rule by design; stop acting like your anti-democratic crusade is some sort of noble calling. You lost the election not because you are suddenly in the minority, but because the majority finally stopped believing your bullshit 50/50 polarization narrative. Pack it in, time for you to go home.

And once and for all, for the love of god, stop deflecting the United States is a democracy by saying that we are a republic. Like China? The entire world knows that we are a democracy, the beacon of democracy. Watching the war hawks suddenly pretend (admit?) that we have always been on the side of bullies, strong men, tin-pot-dictators? That is some serious doublethink.

If we can’t get clear on what the basic ideological underpinning of our society (our government) actually is, then what does support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic actually mean? Stoking chaos while claiming the mantle of law-and-order may seem like good strategy, until your own supporters slip the noose around your neck.

Inciter-In-Chief’s lackey lawyers played a nine minute video of Democrats saying that they will, that we must, fight-fight-FIGHT! I must admit my own amusement at this boy who cried wolf strategy. If anything, the video just demonstrates how meaningless that word has become in political discourse. But this entire line of defense is a sucker punch. Purveyors of violence will always want to solve disputes with violence. They are counting on your outrage, your justifiable anger, to sucker you into a conflict that they have planned in advance. A few points to remember before stepping into their ring.

There is money to be made, and lots of it. The weapons industry profits directly from chaos and fear and our continued devotion to the violent resolution of those conditions. Violence breeds violence, cha-ching. Their solution to guns is, not surprisingly, more guns! More tanks, more planes, more nukes… As long as we keep dropping more than half our government’s discretionary spending (your tax dollars) into the military machine, these government gun runners will keep telling us there’s no money for anything else we need. And that brings me to the second point.

An absence of actual policy has Republicans defaulting to ever more totalitarian means of control. Their escalating attacks on progressive policy and politicians provide cover for a complete lack of action. Continued submission to snake oil salesman’s spectacle is their only option, lest their complacency and ineptitude be laid bare. And this brings me to my final point.

The 50/50 polarization narrative has allowed Democrats to run campaigns based on little more than reactionary response to Republican attacks. So called free market champions have launched campaign after campaign for decades now, crowdtesting our tolerance for anti-democratic power grabs at all levels of government. Time and again the DNC has shown they would rather sit out the fight than side with people’s movements that could potentially usurp their authority. Centrist triangulation in the face of these brazen power grabs isn’t so much complacency as it is complicity. Put simply, popular movements have the power to overcome Republican obstruction, but Democrats need someone to run against.

Listen up DNC: that time is over. It is no longer enough to tacitly oppose a Republican party bereft of ideas. They have weaponized their desperation, turning it into justification for further acts of violence. If the DNC wants to remain relevant, it will need to actually support people’s movements to overcome Republican obstruction once and for all.

Here’s the thing, the “fight-fight-FIGHT!” narrative needs to be retired. Republicans own that narrative, and it should be abundantly clear that they are no longer using those words rhetorically. Democrats must develop new narratives that appeal to common aspiration, rather than adversarial conflict. This will require the centrist Democratic leadership to unilaterally stop obstructing progressive policy for the sake of private political gain. Four years of “resistance” – let’s give representation a try. Stop focusing on what we don’t want – start moving toward what we do.

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.” – David Graeber