Monthly Archives: September 2010

Open for business

Those of sufficient years may remember the myth of the New Economy, a preposterously optimistic/disingenuous model founded on gumment and industry claims of the IT world’s potential. The pipe dream of the unlimited growth of digitalia led your leaders to institute a vast program of exporting industrial jobs to the other side of the planet aided by tax ploys supported by both parties. The claim went further, that drops in paychecks would be more than balanced by the lower cost of products.
This puppies and chocolate song and dance lead to a fundamental shift in the US economy from productive, manufacturing jobs to ones based on an endless succession of meals at chain restaurants celebrating big days at the mall. The primary results are visible in the bewildering selection of cheap, imported products that today fewer are in any financial shape to afford. In the aftermath of the officially “ended” Great Recession, the United States we see emerging seems rather more like a fundamental swap of economic fortunes visible in China’s ascension to Buick’s largest overseas market mirrored by the explosion of scooters on the streets of the US.
The plan to re-channel employment from the manufacturing to service sectors worked … until the dot.com bubble meltdown of 2001 combined with the inherent imbalances and contradictions came home to roost leaving Joe America in a mud hole from where there is no simple escape. Welcome to the globalized world, one based less on nations and more on a calculated, commercial bi-stratification of the world’s inhabitants, leaving fewer prime slices for the icy, rarified top and a life of diminished circumstances for the growing mass of the schleps who actually do the physical work.
Although no one heard, I predicted one result of the US joining the globalization game. US workers, that means you, are now being forced to compete on the global market with places like Vietnam whose workers in turn exert steady downward pressure on wage levels in other nations like China. All this serves to underscore the brutal fact that under the New World Order, to draw employers back to the US, Yewessians are simply going to be forced to adapt to being poorer. That prediction is no longer speculation, quite the contrary, it is now official policy.
Initiatives to deal with the bottomless pit of lost industrial jobs are beginning to trickle in but none more telling than in North Carolina. It is now NC policy to lay out a red carpet of sorts in the form of lower wages in a ploy to attract jobs, any jobs for the suffering, frightened workers of North Carolina, many of whom were retrained for the IT jobs that were to be the panacea for the loss of manufacturing jobs in textiles and furniture. By the same mechanism, those same IT jobs are now being shifted overseas by both industries and governments, local and federal, for the same purpose – enhanced bottom lines. Meanwhile 56% of federal discretionary income continues to be shoveled into the firebox of the defense engine to pay for a succession of ruinous, illegal wars, current and past, of the same sort that bankrupted every single empire in history.
The gone buy-buy economy has been skewered and roasted by a combination of factors, the incalculable mass-psychological effects of the prolonged downturn coupled with a declining number of families able to afford a new toob and Shrimp Nite at Golden Lobster. The results can be seen in the vaunted service sector shedding jobs via decreased demand and bankruptcies of firms such as Blockbuster and Best Buys. The diminished market for consumer products has combined with pressure to increase profits by exerting similar, opposite pressure on wages creating the situation we have now, fewer consumers with the resources to afford “whim” purchases at even desperately reduced prices. Simply put, fewer are able to afford the plethora of shoddy products — at whatever the price. The results are beginning to trickle in, a sort of cycle where as people become less able to buy stuff, more and more corporations are going belly-up, leaving more people out of jobs and so forth.
The overburdened irony department verges on rupture at the perfect balance of the “greed-heads” (thank you Alan Owen) having priced themselves out of the domestic market and likely caused permanent damage to the pre-conscious consumerist triggers so carefully embedded by the media. Any humor on the current situation has to be tempered by recognition of the risks the elites are willing to nurture, visible in the vicious partisanship the Man utilizes to further divide ordinary shmoes who have more in common with each other than with any of their privileged party leaders, most of whom never knew a tough day in their lives.
Well, y’know, part of neo-optimism dictate this may not all be bad. At the risk of sounding like a troglo-conservative, a way to reduce the influence of corporate governance is to reduce the size of the pile of fun-bucks. If “they” want to make the average taxpayer finance deficits and war, war, war while those who were largely responsible for it fly off to their vacations, one way to avoid the mess is to, well, opt out. While that statement might appeal to those of a certain political stripe, the PETRBLT method involves a more encompassing strategy based on:
1. Want reduction. Isolate your needs from your wants then reducing your wants to that which really provide joy rather than just bragging rights about how much stuff you have crammed into your garage.
2. Income enhancement. In the collapse of this commercial, mass consumerist economy, people’s needs will still be present. Current conditions have created opportunities for small-fry entrepreneurs to fulfill those needs coupled with an added lure for customers/consumers, that of lasting value. Find something you can do well and present it to the local scene, at markets, on line.
Like I said, not all of this is bad. What we are detecting is the restless spirit of people like Thomas Jefferson from the beyond. Gigantism doesn’t work. The evidence is amply displayed by the tumbling empires, from the Soviet Union to any number of corporations and banks. The inevitable collapse can be viewed as a negative or a positive. You are free and responsible for the creation of your own reality. If you don’t, any number of entities will gladly step right up and create one for you. The value of that sort of thinking can be seen in the mountainous piles of ruined lives and dead innocents.

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Consciousness expansion

The old saw, “things come in threes” came calling last week. Upon rising on the 4th the first signal of something afoot was the now-familiar, post-seizure soreness and that characteristic jangled short-circuited sense persisting behind the veil of consciousness. The day before had been punctuated by “aura” including visions aka “hallucinations” of the sort that centuries past could get the unlucky or imprudent reporter drowned or burned at the stake. Nothing like a whiff of smoke to assure spiritual/religious compliance. What ever one can say about seizure, fun wouldn’t be in the list. That said, the condition does extend the value of altered vision. Think of a Carowinds ride, One of the positives of our post-theocracy is that accidental visionaries like me have less to worry from religious fascists.
This “this” I felt in the days following was akin to that which occurred on April 20th that I wrote about under the title, The Big Shift. Whatever “it” is presented itself more definitively and forcefully, a sense of a great change in the human-collective vision triggered perhaps by some titanic, external force. There was in fact a Mass Coronal Ejections, a solar storm, around the same time. Whatever the cause, the feeling Sunday morning was of peace and acceptance reinforced with fresh images behind closed eyes of what’s to come. At one level I felt as though I wasn’t coming “back”, a not particularly frightening prospect although the task of being forced to adapt to such a different world was, um, disquieting.
There seemed to have been a subtle, fundamental shift in the ordering of the physical world. The visions from April featuring serif typefaces and patterning akin to Edwardian decorative antique ironwork shifted to visions of a highly technological near-future. I have seen an elevated train station floating over Peace Street, all glistening polished metal, cast concrete and LED lighting like something from a movie set. Then I had to concede that the visions were bleeding into the present physical world, visible in newer products, cars especially, whose styling seemed to be from the same future. The message? The future is here. The question? What we do with it?
As I walked the next day, my head strained under the force of the conflicting energy gnawing at the confines, some fundamental shift the likes of which I am beginning to be familiar. The light that blinked on revealed the transcendent beauty and imagination of nature while at the same time the combined ingenuity of humans and their trite, artificial, manufactured world retreated to the background. The world became divided strongly into the natural and the artificial, the human artifacts strongly infused with the lusts and hubris of the makers (and users) while the natural world radiated a quiet graceful solemnity. The expertise and creativity displayed by modern manufacturing paled next to the displays of the myriad, ingenious methods of seed distribution; the sinuous parabolas of the structure of plants created by water, wood and gravity; the quiet grandeur of monumental, weathered rocks. Were there a sub-theme to the ongoing “roll-off” it would be that the material possessions which enticed so when new will soon enough be beat to shit, dented and rusted — and that is an eternal rule.
The second signal was admittedly of a sort of lightweight guy-land type that touched on the end of my automotive career a decade ago. Following Lucifer’s Flower Car, my 66 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible, being led out to pasture, literally, in Morrisville, I segued into a new mode that has less to do with kicks and convenience and more about the future of the rest of the planet. The dichotomy of thoughts as well as a test of my resolve was strengthened by the appearance of an old friend in possession of a freshly surplussed NC HP Hemi Charger bought at auction, just the proper sort of brawny American Peetee doted on my wild years. From the position of a former ardent materialist i.e. a auto mechanic cum industrial designer/ex Plymouth guy, this thing was everything the old ones were, plus. This Dodge’s refined, chiseled tough-guy exterior and precision fit and finish of the interior bits were paradoxically alien yet somehow as familiar as the darkly malevolent rumble that emerged from down there when I unleashed the monster. The fates could not have chosen a better vehicle to test my resolve than this refined beast, more like the product of another dimension or a dream sequence. I emerged with my faith broadened with an expanded view of the benefits of manufacturing. The industrialism I had rejected years ago coincided with the launch of my personal one man mission to save as many of the orphans of the publics’ buy/discard cycle as I could stuff into my life. This new emerging view of reality was forced to concede the value of industrial output although with a caveat of sorts, an insistence on the return of the scorned value of durability and quality, something in short supply in the aisles of your Walmart. We are going to need good equipment to excavate ourselves out of the morass we have mired ourselves in. The survival of humanity may in fact hinge partially on appropriate, responsible technology. I know, yeah, its just a car, but compared to the crude, dangerous models of yore this Dodge conformed somehow to the new synthesis of views. Like I said: just a sign.
The event seemed to have altered the brain and body, evidenced by a great thirst and a palpable sense of a lot of crunching of information required by the alteration of core perception. My disquiet/fear of this new sense faded as I, with no option, was obliged to simply accept the new range of visions and emotions. The planet continued to call, at one point beckoning me into the woods off the Rocky Branch Greenway. Amid an abandoned rock quarry on the NCSU campus I felt moved to commune with whatever spirits were in the immediate vicinity, at one point touching my buzzing head to the rock itself. The biggest mystery remaining was whether the stuff was welling from inside or had it been triggered from some outside force?
For reference, I felt moved to call a friend who has labored long in the strengthening Pagan/Magick Community. Charlene’s markers coincided with mine, one being that the very air smelled sweeter somehow, almost as if scented. The big news from her world was that a Pagan leader had been tapped for inclusion on a national ecumenical council, a position generally reserved for, you know, the same “accepted” religions who periodically beat the shit of of each other in the name of identical “higher” ideals. That a student of the predominately non-abstract, i.e. earth-based Magick received this honorary position was yet one more piece of evidence of a trend of unity growing as the days fluttered by. Amid the eclipse of those for whom differences justify murder and blood lust it feels as though humanity could be on a breaking edge, a new epoch for those who accept and honor the various interpretations of that certain “something” outside the physical realm, that they are simply different interpretations of the same power.
At 10 am on the 11th I was clasping hands with my Muslim tea merchant as we murmured “peace” to one another. The world seemed to have collectively held its breath while the spiritual awakening continued to bless the planet’s inhabitants, specifically in the case of the swamp preacher in FL who invoked “God” in his decision to cancel his idiotic, provocative side show. As I toted a weeks worth of groceries down Hillsborough, past Pullen Memorial, a bell-like voice voice brightening the golden day got me off my bicycle and inside a Christian church for the first time in decades. I sat entranced by this child reading from the Qu’ran until a gush of gathering emotions induced me to take my leave. As I rose, I received the third message, Pastor Petty saying what I had yearned for decades to hear from the leadership of a mainstream pulpit: “We are all one.” That brought it all home.
Here is the point: Religion, all religions, from medieval Catholicism to modern American Scientific Materialism (which fits the definition of a religion) are flawed, human attempts to give an address to the ineffable. Their collective failure stems from exclusivity, the presumption that only one view of creation can be tolerated, a parochial view as limiting and subjective as corporate branding. A fuller view of the cosmos and humanity requires that we accept and admit the value of other people and views. To see blue gives us a better view of green. A new role for religion(s) could be perhaps to begin forging bonds with the other faith if only to iron out the differences that are nothing more than distilled differences of individual’s perceptions. While humanity remains mired on the various messengers, the “God” prophets and followers cite exists outside of the conflicts, paradoxically rendering form (so it is said) to the various combatants who zealously consult that same creator to justify wreaking destruction on what the same creator brought into existence. Those of the various beliefs can and should attempt to found a new sort of faith based less on their prophets and more on that “something” beyond comprehension residing at the heart of all of their faiths, that which we call “God”, at the same time recognizing the term simply as one of convenience, a semantic constant. We have all evolved with the same mysterious organs in our brain which are inextricably, predictably and reliably linked to spiritual experiences of all sorts. Further, there are sub-cellular molecules organelles which although they make us us are paradoxically shared by every living thing. Where are the boundaries? God is God, vast beyond comprehension, rendering order beyond category, inscrutable.
This is the yielding of borders, the collapse of the tyranny of abstract orders. We are in the soup now. What we do with it will be the real test. Hmmmm. Freedom. That’ll be the real test, freedom in one corner, in the other, human-control systems. The path ahead is rocky and long but we are crossing the chasm now. The greatest hurdles are the ones we make, for instance the arbitrary and abstract categories of religion and politics, at best a predictable currency, at worst, a point of view we squeeze into for convenience often at the expense of what we truly believe.
Along with their gods, humanity must begin including people and the earth as worthy of the reverence and protection afforded by the fold reserved for the deities. To do less would seem to be a slur upon one’s God or Gods. Love the earth. She is our best hope for a reasonable future. To keep her healthy should be goal for the emerging age we seem to be shifting into, that which I am calling the Age of Magic or the Scented Age or Perfumed Age. The best advice might be to seize one’s faith and make it one’s own, obeying the best and rejecting the polluted, debased versions trotted out by megalomaniacs of all stripes. The average Abdul living in a tin hut in Afghanistan had as little to do with whatever happened on 9/11 as Joe Schmoe yomping a hot dog on a street corner in Benson. Seek similar hearts and begin to coalesce and strengthen the nascent, submerged strength of those kindred spirits who have either bided their time or are now becoming aware of what resides silently within … and without. Whatever is occurring is really big, the cusp of a Golden Dawn.

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Dix Hill Redux

Growing up in Raleigh, the only consistent intel on Dix was to steer clear, trepidation not so much over the inmates but from staff mistaking you for an escaped “loony” and stuffing you into a rubber room. I’d never really got to know it until my head injury 5 years ago. Early mornings I began climbing to find a still place to quiet the ringing in my head. One exploration nearly cost me a bicycle tire from a 4 point Eastern White Tail deer antler as overhead ducks honked overhead in the classic “vee” formation. I discovered a federalist era house I didn’t know existed: Spring Hill raised by Theopholis Hunter in 1815. Instead of the Yankees who took up residence after the Waw, the NCSU Japan Center now occupies the fine, aged house.
“Dorothea Dix stayed lived here,” I was told by Francis Moyer, director of the Japan Center. Outside, kids screamed and played across the street.
Since then I have a better grasp of a place I thought I knew about, this namesake of an empathetic visionary from Maine who made herself a pain in the ass to legislators around the young nation with her simple plea, nay, demand: render compassion and aid to innocent sufferers of medical conditions instead of the usual punishment by imprisonment. Five years has seen the hospital begin to wind down preparatory to the big move to Butner. Nowadays, the acres and somber institutional buildings have taken on a decidedly post-bomb feel, darkened, vacant windows gazing out on weedy parking lots. The kids are gone. The state claimed 30 million to bring Dix up to code versus 108 for the new hospital. Considering the disruptions to patients and their families lives and incidental costs of moving, does that sound like a good deal to you? No argument that Cuckoo’s Nest thinking had it’s problems but now, with the closure and removal of the hospital, this state’s capital and Wake county will have no local service for serious mental cases other than Central Prison’s spanking new psych ward, precisely what Dix dedicated her life to changing.
The world is upside down. Accompanying the growth of the Prison Industrial complex the work of this courageous warrior is being undone via this nation’s legacy of financial opportunity. Across the nation “Lunatic asylums” are being converted to condos and townhouses. One example is Danvers Lunatic Asylum in Massachusetts where Avalon Bay Communities created a “campus-like environment” with swimming pools, WiFi cafe and fitness center. Rents start around $1,400 for a one-bedroom, about a half-a-million dollars for a condo.
Two of the players at Avalon Bay and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) moved 5 years ago to Raleigh to be near a niece in Wake Forest, they claimed, stressing no interest in Dix. Compare this with a local legislator saying research on Dix led to ULI, the same organization who with J.W. Willie York launched in 1948 the suburbia mess that is Raleigh, 2010, this in light of the fact that Willie’s son Smedes attended Dix meetings as an “interested Citizen,” he then freshly returned from New Orleans as head of a ULI commission. And what about the Dix Commission backing down from removing references to “commerce” and “housing’ from a draft statement?
This upcoming Dix decision has more loose ends than a bucket of worms. Is the same fate as Danvers, Dammasch in Oregon and Northern Michigan Asylum, development, awaiting Dix? That is up to you, citizens and voters. The only way you can have any steerage over this is to hold your elected officials to their word. So much negotiation goes unnoticed and unrecorded that, sadly, the peoples’ sole bargaining chip is intimidation. We will have to make the commercial quislings that infest governmental bodies understand that their political careers could well hinge on the outcome of the Dix issue. That said, remain mindful of how little the publics’ wisdom mean in light of the Convention Center, opposed by 67 percent of your fellow citizens and now way over budget. Oh, democracy.
The only thing the ordinary people of Raleigh and North Carolina can do is to combine forces and attempt to retain some bit of what Dorothea Dix lived for, a place of quiet respite for the harried city dweller, i.e. yourself, increasingly buffeted by the psychological ravages of the toxic elements of this culture.
If we do not engage the forces making plans out of sight, your commons, that which should belong to everyone will be stolen from you. Bet on it.

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