Category Archives: empire

Empire State Building, a poem

Manhattan Office Vacancy Rate Drops In Second Quarter

Empire State Building

Twenty years ago we finally went to see the sights,
riding the train through flashing dim green suburb,
glassy sharp-edged slum, the skin stretched
pale and tight over your fine cheekbones —

you didn’t really know how to be afraid of death,
simply of heights and under-grounds:
you wanted always to be on the surface of the earth.
Your demise was still an abstraction,

discussed in the evening while sucking cool mints —
the natural order of things. I dragged you
all the way to the city under the water from Hoboken,
then marched you up to the roof of what was the tallest

building in the whole world when you were young.
I haven’t been here since it was built, you said,
and though the blood sank to your innards in panic,
you kept walking; I kept pushing and pulling you

forward, propelling your solid weight like a cart
loaded with spring lambs. Your hand, soft
wrinkled palm, roughened fingers speckled white
around the knuckles, gripped mine, but I showed

no mercy; I was forcing you to confront the bitter
end ahead of schedule. I was being cruel
to make you go look at the thin sparkling air
of the heavens and you knew it. But later,

my love, as you lay sweating, heavy and motionless
in your bed as though carved of wood, deprived
for weeks of even the common decency of words,
weren’t you glad you went with me once more to the top?

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TRUMP is an informative guide on Donald Trump presented in a comics format by Ted Rall, published by Seven Stories Press. It is not a satire, nor is it a bombastic attack on Mr. Trump. In fact, if you were only to read a brief passage here or there, you might even warm up a […]

via Review: TRUMP by Ted Rall — Comics Grinder

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DJI is letting people override its software that prevents its drones flying in restricted areas — Quartz

DJI, the largest consumer drone manufacturer in the world, announced July 5 that it was releasing a new version of the software that controls its drones, which will allow operators to fly in areas that the company’s software previously did not. DJI said in a release that this could aid those who want to use…

via DJI is letting people override its software that prevents its drones flying in restricted areas — Quartz

I think this is probably a TERRIBLE IDEA.

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How Art Thou Received? (a prayer for refugees)

How Art Thou Received? (a prayer for refugees)

Imagine: suddenly, without warning (because that is how war arrives) you are a war refugee! Simply running away from being murdered. And how are you received when you can finally stop running, when you are out of range of the guns, the bombs, the blood? No countries to take you. No one to feed you. You are a skeletal pawn in a skeletal game.

Embalmed corpses declare war on the living and fight for their “territory” against other embalmed corpses using armies of young people; embalmed corpses feeding on fresh, young blood.

I know something is very wrong, somewhere. It must be addressed, and addressed properly. Our prayer, our incantation, our spell to heal, must be more powerfully crafted, more distilled, more essential, than was the horrid spell we are trying to break: a tradition of might over right, strong but wrong, a spell of ignorance which has caused so much harm, and is trying to do more… powered by the love of power, the love of control over people.

The scarred parts of the heart can be replenished; the broken parts, glued; the weak parts, strengthened; the fear assuaged, the pain relieved. But the desire to change, to truly alchemize oneself, spin that straw into gold… the gold of the sun… the silver of the stars… the red planet… the North Star… primal navigation by looking not at the ground, but by looking up, to the sky… that kind of desire doesn’t visit often.

If you want to know where you are going, be sure your map is accurate, or at least doesn’t kill you. Migrating birds know this. Power & Liberation. Slave & free. Joy & Suffering. High & low.

Craving slaves, some are trying to roll us back to serfdom, only they can use our own science & technology to rape us! Serfdom: tied by birth to land. You are a pawn, a source of income; in thrall to your Lord and Master. Freeing serfs is always a struggle. Brute force arm-wrestles the human race, and brute force often pins people to the mat, but… you cannot keep people down for long. The oppressed will continue to spring up and defend their inalienable human rights. All people are created equal: including our ancestors, who existed long before the self-anointed first “private property” owners. Human beings are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, yes? The earth cannot belong to any one of us. Period. We own this planet. All of us.

 

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The Elephant In The Room, an essay

illustration the elephant in the room

The Elephant In The Room, an essay

The American “Tea Party” is a radical, far-right organization which stands for nothing less than  rolling the evolution of contemporary civilization back by one, or two, or even three or four hundred years – back to a time when only rich, white, men governed society, and, preferably, rich, white, men governing that society in as “selective” a group as possible.  Monarchy – in extreme cases, even Feudalism — is, to Tea Partiers, the “good old days,” which they would like to see “restored.”  A potent ingredient to the Tea Party hallucination is “private enterprise,” a Holy Grail represented by entities like General Electric.  The United States of America is home to 13 of the 20 largest “transnational” corporations on the globe.  Multinational corporations are far more powerful than any prior tyrannical force in history.

Thus, the Tea Party explains, poor people are poor because they are stupid and/or lazy, and therefore “deserve” to be poor.  Rich people are rich because they are smart and/or hardworking, and therefore “deserve” to be rich.  The passage of inherited wealth from the elite class to its offspring must be protected because it is “deserved” by the offspring of such smart and/or hardworking people.  There is, of course, the mythology that every so often, one of the poor will find their way into the ranks of the rich, and one of the rich will find themselves thrown down into the ranks of the poor.

The history of the present multinational corporation is — much like the history of King George III of Great Britain (as observed by Thomas Jefferson) — “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having, in direct object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny[.]”  This is precisely the moment the United States of America has reached; will we, as a people, do the work of rebuilding our troubled, restless, suffering nation?  Will we stop our own decades-long moral, structural, and economic demolition at the hands of a regressive, elitist, antidemocratic, power elite?   Will we abdicate our own social responsibility and continue to allow “too big to fail” multinational corporations to do irrevocable harm to us and the rest of the human beings on this planet?  Will we become, in reality, merely the Corporate States of Amerka?

Mass cultural hypnosis and mass public disinformation is essential to root out the harmful weeds of “equality,” “democracy,” “fairness,” and “justice.”  Dumbing down the population by a few decades of underfunding public schools is a prerequisite to the suitability of hypnosis and disinformation; as is a very carefully planned, gradual, economic destruction of the unpredictable, possibly dangerous, middle classes (who often demand treatment inconvenient to the ruling elite, and unlike the lower “wage slave” classes, actually have some power with which to back up their demands).  It is important to deprive the middle classes of adequate education and economic security with such a gradual, gentle, patient hand that the tightening of that “hangman’s noose” goes unnoticed until it is secure and inescapable.

Most important, however, is the control of the one branch of American government which is practically impervious to democratic principles or controls:  the federal judiciary.  Since federal jurists are appointed for life, popular opinion and social movements have little to no effect on the judicial branch, unlike the executive and legislative branches, where at least the fiction of “responsibility to the electorate” must be maintained in order to perpetuate the critically important elements of mass cultural hypnosis and disinformation.

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Heads of Caracalla, a poem

illustration 1 heads of Caracalla

illustration 2 heads of caracalla

MC 0464

Heads of Caracalla, a poem

There are three of the ancient busts on display
in the Louvre.  Poor soul:  he only controlled
his great empire for six years.  I’ve been married
for seven, and though it isn’t like ruling Rome,

it’s hard enough.  Thus, I can’t imagine how
he managed, even if he could imprison or execute
at will.  Maybe stress did him in at twenty-nine.
True enough, during the heated third century

after Christ, the common man was too often dead
by thirty, teeth rotted away to stumps,
complexion scarred and worn, creased deep
like pegged and scraped hides drying in the sun.

Surely Caracalla’s own hands were soft,
languorous and pudgy, with those meticulous
shiny nails?  Perhaps he was afflicted
with diabetes, or simply poisoned by his lovely

but illiterate wife.  Will anyone wonder
what carried me off after a thousand years —
or even ten?  During three decades on earth,
sculptors recorded all his secrets:  first the pretty

baby, innocent and round-cheeked as any three-year-old,
blunt-cut curls springing away from his tender forehead
like the petals of an iris.  Around the time
of his ascension, he had become sullen, his eyes

impenetrable, glassy, his torso clumsy, thick-necked,
his full, full lips bowed with palpable cruelty.
I must admit, by the year of his death, he’d grown
into his flesh — he looks wise, even kind,

and his drilled marble eyes are lively, holding
a gleam of curiosity for something outside his own
imperial body.  I place my finger against the hard marble
cheek, hearing my own frail life tapping its brisk heels.

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