Archive for the rants Category

something in the water (UPDATE)

Posted in daily musings, rants on January 27, 2010 by wfon

Well score one for common sense! The Menifee Union School District decided to return Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to the 4th and 5th grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School (LA TIMES STORY HERE) after the principal there, responding to a complaint from a parent, removed the tome because an entry defined the term ‘oral sex.’ Had this not turned out the way it did this morning, the students in Menifee were surely to have been looking up ‘sodomy’ since that would have been what had just happened to them! It’s a Dictionary, people! – and fortunately the Menifee School District saw through the manufactured moral panic. If only more people would stand up to the bigots, racists, homophobes and knuckledraggers who always manage to get just enough air time to temper our forward progress as an upright and educated majority. The only caveat in this expedition to Absurdia is that parents will decide if they want their children to have access to the Merriam Webster Dictionary or, if viewed as too ‘mature’ for little Suzie and Tanner, will instead have to look up words in the ‘My Pet Goat’ version. Meanwhile, little Tanner just took little Suzie around the back of the portable to play ‘Mary and Joseph.’

You may ask why I’m so quick to jump on these sorts of stories with such vitriol and condemnation. It stems from my own childhood and experiences with religious zealots of all stripes: they would come up to you in the mall with government conspiracies (corporate branding, literally, and black op helicopters keeping you under control and away from God’s kingdom), or the Christian concert I attended where the singer of a rock band told us we needed to be saved OR ELSE!!!! Then there was the time when the Quakers came round to the Catholic school I was going to (don’t ask me who let them in!) to talk to us about ‘backwards masking’ on rock and roll records. Remember that, anyone? Thank God for CD’s – that was the end of that particular madness. Nonetheless, that night they pointed the crooked finger of judgement at virtually every band I liked: Queen (gay!), KISS (Kids in Satan’s Service), Styx (the river to hell), Ozzy (satanist with a taste for bats, birds and of course the song “Suicide Solution”), The Eagles (‘Hotel California’ and in particular the  line ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969’ which supposedly was a nod to Anton LeVay and the Church of Satan)… the list goes on and on… they didn’t actually spin any records backwards, instead played tape recordings of records being spun backwards – which is about as uncorruptible as a Republican with the hots for boys and/or Argentinians. So, with all that, along with my lifelong indifference to anything church-related, which is I think just a product of having always been a thinker, I find myself in the position of having something to rail against and when stories like this Dictionary banning, or the removal of “Speak” or Tony Alamo, Benny Hinn, the Mormons, Prop. 8… there’s a lot of, pardon the use of such incendiary language, bullshit out there that needs to be exposed and erradicated.

Is it an easy target? Sure. Bill Maher was criticized likewise for his film “Religulous” for going after the soft targets, the ones everyone would agree were kooky. I’m an equal opportunity attacker – the Catholic church (the Big One, the Only One, the one that if it didn’t exist we would never have heard about any of this) has a policy of child abuse dating back to its inception. That needs, like the holocaust (which the church also quietly supported), to never be forgotten. There’s not enough money in the world to buy off that much trouble, try as they might. TV evangelists, evil people like Pat Robertson… big targets, and not particularly soft since they enjoy such support.

At the end of the day, though, I live in a city of 9,000,000 people… there are at least 9,000,000 stories here… when I hear absurd tales of book bannings, church-sponsored protests against the staging of works like “Rent” (the cleaned-up for high school version), gay bashing (literally and figuratively), I know where to look: Encino? No. El Monte? No. Santa Monica? No. Beverly Hills?  No. West Hollywood? As if. Burbank? Surprisingly, no. Where then? Simi, Moorpark, Santa Clarita, Meniffe, Temecula, the High Desert, Orange County, San Diego county… all conservative… all predominantly Christian-identified (American-Christian, mind you… those are the folks who’ve been around about 150 years and who have replaced Jesus’ message of love and compassion with one of ‘take what you can, leave nothing behind’, morally questionable behavior and open hatred.)… mostly white… a world all to itself that, as long as it can rub shoulders with the modern one, can be a danger to it. There is no room here for the Dark Ages, any more than there is room in the world for radical Islam’s desire to turn back the clock and live in caves.

This stuff gets under my skin because I feel a duty to stand forever vigilant and protect our great, modern world, the one we’re building everyday: a world Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of. It’s here but it’s a young child and it needs our protection from the zealots and increasingly irrelevant minority that would have us return to a time in history that is only that – HISTORY. Don’t know the word? Look it up… but ask your parent’s permission first.

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Happy New Year!

Posted in daily musings, rants on January 2, 2010 by wfon

Ordinarily this time of year finds me in a frosty locale, bundled up against the elements, sipping the strongest whiskey possible just to keep warm, but also completely immersed in art and culture, in (as Markus likes to say) the Capitals of Europe. And travel, we have had our share, man (thank you Johnny Cash). These adventures started in 2000 in Aruba and have continued on to Paris, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, Munich, Berlin, St. Thomas, Venice, Madrid, Barcelona and Vienna. This year, however, warmer climes were calling. So, here I sit back in Kona, my second home for all intents and purposes, in a warm tradewind breeze looking out on the bluest ocean I have ever seen. Shorts and flip-flops are mandatory. So are the Mai Tais (see image above from the Kona Inn). Last evening, we rang in the New Year jetting between the Inn and Don the Beachcomber while kids from all over the island lined up along Alii Drive and set off their fireworks.

I’m not one for too much reflection and a person could write volumes about 2009 and then entire libraries about the first decade of the new millennium, good, bad and ugly… Truth is, it hardly feels like ten years since the trip to Aruba. I know, however, that if I sit and reflect it will certainly be a decade… and a hell of one. More importantly, though, seems to me the fact that in 2009 alone, we managed to encapsulate the entire decade in one twelve month period. All the misery and pain, triumph and joy, loss and reward that lies scattered across the ten years in between have reference points in 2009: personally, professionally, globally and historically. So, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and close with a little reflection on my part for the year that was:

2009 was a year – when America made it’s greatest leap toward equality for all with the inauguration of Barack Obama (the rest will come) – it was a year of personal and professional success entirely tempered by personal and professional failure – it was a year of new love for some and the jettisoning of dead weight for others – it was a year when pretenders showed their true colors and disappeared up their own asses 🙂 It was a year when some people decided to go back into hiding. It was a year of reunion and new endeavours: It was the year that sprouted the Plant-Based Dietitian and pushed World Full of Nothing out of the nest. It was a year of burden and stress with nowhere near enough exaltation. It was the end of many long suffering and tiresome relationships and traditions and, ultimately it was a year that made me think of a Bob Marley lyric:

“From the darkness there must come out the light…”

I hope this coming year brings the light. There is no way we could all have come through the abyss of the last eight years without really feeling the pain but this too will pass… and the result will be emancipation. Thus spoke the Great Broccolini…

Let’s get busy living, ya’ll!

Kona, Hawaii, January 1, 2010

Capitalism: A Love Story

Posted in daily musings, rants, things you should know on October 18, 2009 by wfon

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This entry should probably go on the ‘movies’ page, but there are few important things to discuss with regards to this film, information that needs to be proliferated. I know that if you’re still reading this blog after seeing the title and the image herein, then you’re on the side of liking Michael Moore’s work and probably not in the other dug-out wishing he would get crushed under Rush Limbaugh’s even larger ass. The thing is, Michael Moore is an everyman, or at least that’s the role he plays in his ‘documentaries’ which are always incredibly well-researched and edited and just as often created. It’s a trick employed in most documentaries (see; ‘re-enactment’) but Moore takes it further, by putting himself into the mix and acting as his audience’s surrogate. Truth be told, his films work better for me in the sequences he’s not in or isn’t physically pushing the action forward.  Capitalism: A Love Story is a very strong indictment of America’s turn away from democracy, as outlined by the founding fathers, and toward a wealth-based plutocracy: a nation where the richest 1% control everything. Interestingly enough, Moore makes the case for the remaining 95%’s culpability in their own victimization at the hands of those who would exploit every opportunity to increase their wealth upon the backs of the unsuspecting masses, who have been lulled into thinking that they have a chance at ‘the American Dream’ as propogated post-World War Two and spoon-fed time and again during the Reagan and Bush years. Folks, the same people who tell you you’re entitled to great wealth are the same folks who are behind the political rhetoric that wants to take your entitlements away. And you continue to go shopping, line up outside the Best Buy Thanksgiving night, sign on the dotted line without reading the fine print and then put your hands out when the bottom falls through. There are some among us who think the left leaning efforts of Roosevelt was the beginning of the end, but the truth is found in a much more recent history starting in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan. Where FDR put programs in place to get people to work after the Depression and before the war, the Reagan era worked to undermine the American workforce, get people on never-ending lines of credit and eventually marginalize them to the point where their only options are food stamps and welfare. Why? you ask… it’s a good question. Why would someone do this? The only answer is ‘corruption’… the corruption of greed has blinded this 1% to the fact that when things get bad enough, not all the standing armies and private security contractors will be able to stop the coming revolution. It’s a movement of grassroots protests now, but for how much longer? And when the arms are brought up, who will be fighting who and why? Even God won’t be able to help quell the angry hoards… ’cause, of course, He’s just a figurehead these days for a religion that is all about power and money. Chances are God checked out of this one a long time ago.

This film also introduces us to something that has been bouncing around in my head since I saw it last night with Markus at the WGA. Companies (WalMart, McDonnel/Douglas, Hershey, Nestle, Bank of America and CitiGroup among them) have a practice of taking out “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies on their own employees. When an employee dies, the company collects on the policy. The employee is unaware that he means more to the company dead than alive, and his family never shares in the payout. Two examples of this are made in the film. Companies use their “Dead Peasant” projections to bolster their bottom line. In other words, they count on a certain number of employee deaths to bring in a certain amount of capital. This is an absolute disgrace!

Or is it? Walking away from the film I was struck by the thought… I work too hard. I slave over people’s movies, providing sound editorial, hiring vendors and renting huge mix stages. I spend tons of money on my own film projects hoping that the investment will make a return. Americans and American companies used to work hard, too, until during the Reagan years a program was started to reduce the amount of jobs and increase profits, which eventually led companies to move the work to other, cheaper countries and rid Americans of the jobs they’d been doing for forty years. Those who have continued to strike it rich in the last two decades have done so by doing nothing. They push paper around. They bet on risk, other people’s misfortunes, natural disasters (please read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”) and when their own bets come up snake eyes… they put their hands out. You go from privatized profit to socialized loss.

It’s a love story alright… a co-dependent, dysfunctional mess… I had one of those for five years, won’t be doing that again. If only people could see the situation from the persepective of a mirror in their faces, then they might be able to avoid the trap that this system has laid for them time and again.  Until then… it’s the sucker who keeps going back to the abusive spouse. We’ll read about you in the paper when it goes too far.

Thanks a lot!

Posted in rants on September 14, 2009 by wfon

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So, last night at the MTV Video Music Awards (I know what you’re thinking, MTV still has something to do with videos?) Kanye West jumped up on stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, grabbed her microphone and attempted to make the case that Beyonce should have won, instead of Swift. Taylor stood there (as you can see) and took it. Beyonce later won another award and the two women took the stage together in a show of solidarity. I’m no fan of Kanye West and I’ve never understood why music critics and fans alike think he’s the greatest thing to hit the music biz since CDs… and I’m also not particularly fond of Taylor Swift (strange for me, I know, since you can usually put a teen singer in front of me and watch me swoon) although that Romeo and Juliet song is pretty catchy. Beyonce also doesn’t do much for me, but every now and then I do get an infinite loop of “all the single ladies, all the single ladies, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, ’cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it” stuck in my head. I digress…

All I see here is a form of disrespectful behavior that is the new normal in America. And we can thank Republicans and conservatives for the downward spiral. Their immature, inarticulate rants and threats in town hall meetings across the country this summer, finally culminating in South Carolina’s finest, Joe Wilson’s, outburst during the President of the United States’ speech to Congress has ruined civility, roundly flattened compassion and set America back, in terms of setting an example for democracy, once again. You would think that after eight years of the worst president this country has ever seen, we would have enjoyed a few months in the light of eloquence, intelligence and progress. But, no… thanks to the brain trust on the right, we have sunk further into the muck of a Jerry Springer society. From now on, if you’ve got a beef, the best way to deal with it is to jump in front of the pretty teenager getting her MTV award or the school teacher, healthcare professional, police officer, fireman, mailman, flight attendant and shout them down.

Kanye West may be a jerk, maybe he was drunk, but he was only following a trend, an ugly trend that we have the lunatics on the Right to thank for. What a great group they are.

That wasn’t too hard was it?

Posted in rants on September 13, 2009 by wfon

I received a comment regarding my “Proof of Concept” blog the other day criticizing my remarks about the current Republican agenda. I wrote: “I don’t doubt that once upon a time the GOP stood for conservative values, including lower taxes, free markets and good old American ingenuity but ever since the party was hijacked by the Moral Majority and an extremist religious ideology (see also Christless Christianity), those values were pushed aside for more lightning-rod issues (in particular: intolerance, racial prejudice, corporate intercourse and deification of the Almighty Dollar) as part of a play to keep White Power, God-Fearing men in power forever.” I was told that I needed to “back that up with quotes from Republican leaders or statements of prejudice in the Republican Party platform.”

So, okay… here we go:

Easy one first – Rush Limbaugh – “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.” – “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed.” – “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.” – “They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?”

Next up – Greg Aydt (Republican, elected Harris Country Precinct Manager) – “Why are we sending one thin dime to a backwater, Third World hell-hole like New Orleans?”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) told a town hall meeting  that the GOP still had to find a “great white hope.” – “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope,” said Jenkins. (note: she later apologized for her words.)

Pat Buchanan (put your feet up and kick back, there’s plenty here) – In a memo to President Nixon, Buchanan suggested that “integration of blacks and whites — but even more so, poor and well-to-do — is less likely to result in accommodation than it is in perpetual friction, as the incapable are placed consciously by government side by side with the capable.” (Washington Post, 1/5/92)… In another memo from Buchanan to Nixon: “There is a legitimate grievance in my view of white working-class people that every time, on every issue, that the black militants loud-mouth it, we come up with more money…. If we can give 50 Phantoms [jet fighters] to the Jews, and a multi-billion dollar welfare program for the blacks…why not help the Catholics save their collapsing school system.” (Boston Globe, 1/4/92)… “If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?” (“This Week With David Brinkley,” 1/8/91)… Buchanan referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.” (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/20/90)… In a 1977 column, Buchanan said that despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic and genocidal tendencies, he was “an individual of great courage…. Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.” (Guardian, 1/14/92)… In a 1972 memo to Richard Nixon, Buchanan referred to one of George McGovern’s leading financial contributors as a “screaming fairy.” (Newsday, 2/8/89) Buchanan has repeatedly used the term “sodomites,” and has referred to gays as “the pederast proletariat.” (Washington Post, 2/9/92)… “Rail as they will about ‘discrimination,’ women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism.” (syndicated column, 11/22/83).

David Duke – former Republican Louisiana State Representative and Grand Wizard of the KKK – “Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race and separation of the white and black races. This goal must include freeing of the American media and government from subservient Jewish interests.” – “the Jews are trying to destroy all other cultures – as a survival mechanism – the only Nazi country in the world is Israel.” – And my favorite, considering my film’s subject matter – “These Jews who run things, who are producing this mental illness – teenage suicide… all these Jewish sicknesses. That’s nothing new. The Talmud’s full of things like sex with boys and girls.”

Just a sampling here, folks. These are all verifiable by simply looking up the people above along with the word racist on Google. Let me just close by saying I’m sick and tired of the continued absurdist commentary about a Liberal media. Please. You’re telling me Fox, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter don’t represent a Right-wing-nut media? Who continues to fawn all over their incredible ratings? Talk radio is dominated by Right-wing hate speech and obstruction. Fox News wins in many demographics and regions against CNN with it’s similar faux-news approach. I know people get riled up when the word racism is bandied about, but there’s too much “Proof of Concept” here once again.

I will close with a quote from Bill Maher: “Not all Republicans are racist, but if you are a racist, you’re probably a Republican.”

I think I have backed-up my claims sufficiently, I stand by them. Now if we can get some medical attention for those sensitive types who can’t stand the ‘f-word’ and try to ween them off the overuse of the words lie, liar and lying. Good God, people… is this the second grade?: “he took my pencil”, “no I didn’t”, “he’s a LIAR…. he’s LYING!!”

Proof of Concept

Posted in daily musings, rants on September 10, 2009 by wfon

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I could blog about this useless turd today… or this one:

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Both are this week’s current GOP Allstars! Yay, team! The fellow on top is Congressman Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) who shouted “You lie” at president Obama in front of Congress during last night’s speech on healthcare. I’m sure a few knuckledraggers on the right applaud this brave man. The next gentleman on the list is Mike Duvall (R-Yorba Linda) who until yesterday was a California State Representative from Orange County. That is until he slipped up and told a colleague about his sexual exploits with a lobbyist all while his microphone was live in the state Assembly room.

The thing about these two losers is that they represent the enormous rift that has occured in the Republican Party, the rift that has reduced them to a bunch of grade school mudslingers and name callers without a single idea for their country except to, apparently, close their eyes and wish it would all just go away: immigration, black folk, poor people, economic woes, etc. And in doing so, they’re giving proof to my overall concept.

I don’t doubt that once upon a time the GOP stood for conservative values, including lower taxes, free markets and good old American ingenuity but ever since the party was hijacked by the Moral Majority and an extremist religious ideology (see also Christless Christianity), those values were pushed aside for more lightning-rod issues (in particular: intolerance, racial prejudice, corporate intercourse and deification of the Almighty Dollar) as part of a play to keep White Power, God-Fearing men in power forever. Over time, those who still hold fast to their conservative principals have been marginalized, forced out of the two party political system and been put in the unfortunate position of having to cozy up to the lunatic fringe. That’s right, folks, they’re Libertarians. Or even worse, they’ve had to play both sides of the line, going along with the dissolution of the GOP simply because they can’t go all-in with the Libertarians and lose their own chance to participate in the process.

Libertarians are a many splintered group themselves, they have a far left faction, a far right faction, a Ruby Ridge-type faction… but at their core they share these beliefs: limited government, low to no taxation, strong national defense and the end of the welfare state (as they see it). These are conservative beliefs. They are not held by the GOP at this point in time. The GOP is just as guilty of government largesse and sucking up to special interests as anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle… Folks, the GOP pushed TARP through, not Obama. He inherited it.

So I’m not surprised that conservatives are pissed off, but they really need to get their own house in order before trying to burn down the white one the black man and his family currently live in. They can do this with three easy steps: turn away from the Evangelical Christian right, quit voting for Republicans just because they don’t have a choice and put their money where their own mouths are. Quit crying “Liar!” and obstructing the work the man who has been elected by the people of the United States is trying to do. If you oppose his ideas, get a platform of your own and make your points. In other word, grow the fuck up. Put all your chips on the Libertarian table, forge a new, third party. It’s going to take generations but remember you are Constitutionalists. You know the GOP, for eight years of Bush, chipped away at your rights in the first ten amendments (the only one untouched by the Patriot Act was the one that said you would have to provide quarter to a British soldier – you still don’t have to do that!) Your own party infringed on your rights. It’s not your party anymore. America is a country where the government is of the people, by the people, for the people. You guys are going to these town halls, and having your little protest rallies and tea parties as if you’ve forgotten something, this is your country. No one took anything away from you. You have sat too long on the sidelines and watched your American dream get corrupted by opportunists from all sides, but especially within the party you are so afraid of standing up to. Get on with it, people… quit sulking, Monday Morning Quarterback-style, and and be the change you want to see. It’s your only choice or you will continue your self-imposed exile in that political wilderness, right alongside Sarah Palin.

My concept is proven in the form of Joe Wilson and Mike Duvall. Wilson is a Libertarian: four sons in the military, he believes in strong national defense, lowering taxes, ending welfare and limited government. But he’s also a man who was booed by other members of his own party, along with Democrats, for his childish outburst and why? Because, on Capitol Hill, Joe Wilson is a fringe Republican. Perhaps he stands for something but he isn’t playing well with the other kids. Now, on the other side of the country, we have Mike Duvall, a Family Values, gay-hating, liberal-baiting, adulterer who runs an insurance company and likes to spank lobbyists. Well, here again, he was not supported by the people who should have rallied around him, his Republican constituents and why? Because he’s not a conservative… he’s drunk on power and doesn’t represent anything but his own political interests. One of these guys is on your side but finds himself at odds with the GOP, the other is a shining example of 21st Century Republicanism and you don’t like him. It’s time for change you can believe in. Start a third party. We’ll see you back here in about sixty years.

Thank you, GOP!

Posted in daily musings, rants on August 25, 2009 by wfon

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While listening to some Bob Marley this morning, I was struck by a lyric: “Only the fittest of the fittest will survive.” Now, unless I’m totally out of my mind that sounds a lot like Darwinism, the notion that over time (i.e. evolution) species adapt and change in order to further survive and multiply. Without too much of a reach, it seemed possible to apply this language to the current left/right battle over health care and all things concerning America’s further growth and maturation into a great nation that will continue to survive rather than one that, by way of its own inability to look beyond ideologies, is precariously close to extinction. I may be overstating but…

Propaganda is best used when the recipient of such an attack finds themselves being beaten by their own rhetoric. This is not the case at the moment. Shouting down an elected official with bleats of “Liar! Liar! You’re a LIIIIAAAARRRR!” sounds a lot like grade school bullshit. When the “leaders” of your movement are people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Glen Beck you have a case of the Wizard of Oz: little, tiny men with loudspeakers, hiding behind a curtain and pushing levers. Conservatives must fall to their knees each night praying for the return of Karl Rove who, devilish as he was, was a master of the game. The current crop are a bunch of bully pulpit blowhards playing to the simplest, inarticulate fears of their base: whites as a minority, Socialism, “I want my country back!”. Please.

However, an amazing opportunity is upon those of us who think progressively and aren’t afraid of our shadows or people who resemble them (… think about it…). By fighting universal health care and going to bat for corporate insurance interests, for-profit healthcare and the continued chipping away at America’s Constitutional standards, Republicans, Libertarians and their ilk are making a case for Darwinism which flies right in the face of their Evangelical, “the world is only 6000 years old” hogwash. See, if they get their way, the insurance companies will continue to withhold care for pre-existing conditions, continue to decide if a patient should have a life-saving procedure and continue to void policies for people who get sick and will need further care in the future. Thus only the “fittest of the fittest” will survive: those who manage to avoid getting sick, who have healthy diets and don’t live under great stress… in other words, Europeans! I know a few conservatives: McDonald’s is on speed dial in their homes; they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and growing unnaturally old in the process; they’re angry at their own, self-imposed, imprisonment in a Void of Ideas. Unfortunately, if they continue to live and believe as they do, they won’t survive and they will have gone a long way to proving the Theory of Evolution. So, thanks for that, but we will miss you… well, some of you.