Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Rave, don’t you ever get fed up with reading political commentary?

“I get fed up with politicians and their self-serving stupidity and greed.”

That wasn’t what I was referring to.

Raven disdainfully spoons instant coffee into his cup.

“I am fed up with having to recur to Nestle, too. It’s globalized garbage. Wonder what they do with the perfectly good coffee they buy from the Third World?”

Pervert it into bat guano, apparently.

“Anything to make a buck. I don’t know about bat shit, but bird shit gave a big shot in the arm to some South American country’s economy at some point. Chile’s, I think.”

Yeah, but the birds couldn’t keep up with the demand, and somebody invented a chemical fertilizer that put them out of business.

“Sigh. Back to politics—or maybe we never left it—but I don’t like to think of birds being forced to shit their brains out to forge an economy. I just read a good piece in this week’s PROCESO—in English, Beyond Tlahuac. The author, Enrique Maza, is trying to fit the lynching of the policemen into a global context.”

As in the globalization of violence?

“As in the prevalence of violence everywhere in the globe, at least. He starts by saying that Judaism, Islam and Christianity are 3 religions which promote love and peace, but they’ve sowed violence in the world. He mentions that Hitler also justified the mass murder of Jews in the name of God.”

Another slick parallel with George W. Bush.

“The piece is really about the dangers of mass thinking and action. He quotes from Gustave Le Bon’s Psychology of the Masses: ‘The mass barely distinguishes between subjective and objective. He who can offer illusions is converted in its leader; but whoever tries to destroy those illusions is always its enemy.’”

Good point. And a perfect description of the mass thinking—or mass hysteria—that created those “red states” in the last US election.

“Those red states, demographically speaking, tend toward lower educational and income levels. In this article he talks about the results of a German study which concluded that personality type and economic position distort people’s thinking, that an economic status of poverty implies a lower threshold for anger (but not for cruelty) and is related to activities charged with prejudice. He says: ‘Obviously, the marginal population has less access to education, a healthy diet, and satisfactory levels of information and culture. And this deterioration makes it more susceptible to group thinking and internal group pressures, as well as less inclined to the verification of moral judgments.”

More support for why the red states were created.

Rave dumps his coffee in the sink.

“It’s all about creating an enemy—and making that enemy appear as odious as possible.”

Like Bush did with Saddam Hussein.

“Precisely. And then in most countries—here in Mexico, for instance—there is hate directed downward. From the ‘owners’ of the country to the lower classes. Maza talks about an exchange of letters between Einstein and Freud. Einstein wrote:

The dominant sector’s need for power in all countries resists limitations to its sovereign rights. Said need for power is frequently fed by greed for
economic power. A minority of the dominant class has control of all the
schools, the press, the media and almost always the religious organizations. The question is: Is it possible to resist the psychosis of hate and destruction?”

And what did Freud write as an answer to that?

“Freud said:

The laws will be made by the dominant class and it will concede few rights to the lower classes. If the rules of power are displaced in the community, the dominant class will refuse to recognize that transformation and will initiate a rebellion that suspends law and order and proceeds to violence.”

Freud sure hit that nail square on, Rave. That’s a description of exactly what happened in Venezuela when Hugo Chavez became president. The dominant class simply refused to accept that the rules of the game were changing. So they called for strikes, promoted the April 2002 coup that suspended the Constitution and abolished the institutions, then the lock-out with its 10 billion dollars of damage to the national economy. And then their refusal to accept the results of the August 15 referendum—when Chavez won with 60% of the vote—and immediately responded by calling at the top of their lungs for his assassination. Chavez is right to describe it as a mass psychosis. I felt it so intensely in Caracas last January and February that it made me physically ill.

“Not to mention the car bomb that blew up the prosecutor that was handling the 2002 coup cases.”

It’s like being in Beirut. Only instead of religious hatred, it’s class and racial hatred.

“You know, we could look at this phenomenon from the perspective of spurious species hierarchy—or perhaps calling it, more realistically, the food chain totem pole. Your species wants to run the rest of us off the planet—even if it means blowing up the planet to do that. Just this humble bird’s opinion.”

It’s a very humbling opinion, Rave.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Raven has been busy translating an article for me from yesterday's (Sunday) paper:

From La Jornada, December 5, 2004 (www.jornada.unam.mx)


Caracas. “Some day Mexico will return to Latin America”, said the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, during the event “In Defense of Humanity”, and added: “Any government that represents its people’s interests is going to be strongly pressured.” The head of state declared himself villista and Zapatista, and exclaimed “Viva Mexico!”

Responding to questions from Mexican participant Gerardo Fernandez Casanova, the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution indicated that Mexico is very important in the construction of a Latin American community, and that Mexico has looked more toward the north and must look, sooner or later, toward the Southern Cone because of its culture and history.

--The Empire Strikes Back—

The most serious threat to humanity and the well-being of the world today is the immense power of the United States to destroy the planet with the huge quantity of nuclear arms it has accumulated, affirmed Ramsey Clark, US attorney general during the governments of Kennedy and Johnson. Clark added that the problem is a military power superior to that of the rest of the nations put together.

The second speaker designated to present in the workshop of the “Gathering of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity”, the lawyer spoke “from the belly of the beast”, assuring the participants that the world would be much better if the people of the US had better criteria at the moment of choosing their leaders.

Remembering Martin Luther King, he indicated that the principal purveyors of violence in the world is “my country·, and added that the man with a dream never imagined how violence was going to increase in his country in the years after his death.

The former cabinet member recounted a long list of aggressions by the Bush administration against other nations as well as against US citizens. Other nations, he said, have the right to be free of the threat of invasion by the US.

Clark indicated in detail how the decisions of the UN are not respected by the US government and how they wanted to avoid the creation of the International Criminal Court, but because they couldn’t they refused to accept its jurisdiction.

He spoke very dramatically about the situation in which prisoners are living in Guantanamo. According to him, the message which the superpower is sending to the world is unequivocal: “He who dares to challenge us, just see what we are doing in the military base.”

He denounced that the bellicose offensive of Bush has provoked crimes against humanity, both by the use of “intelligent” bombs and the use of depleted uranium. It has also caused the celebration of torture.

Clark referred to the invasion and devastation of Iraq, and the terrible and emblematic destruction of the city of Fallujah, converted into a tragic symbol of this moment in history.

Presenting himself as “a lawyer who is not distanced from crime and delinquency”, he profoundly lamented the invasion in Haiti, just after the country had celebrated 200 years since the abolition of slavery, and the replacement of an elected government by a puppet regime. “The Haitian people”, he remarked, “are those who have suffered the most.”

From his point of view, the difference between what happened in Haiti in 2004 and what happened in Venezuela in 2002—year of the coup against Hugo Chavez—“is that in 2002 what the US wanted to happen didn’t work.”

Finally, he described the president of Venezuela as a good man, an effective leader very difficult to find in other governments and who is able to give his people well-being, health and education.

--The Chicken and the Cook—

The goal of the workshop was to establish a dialog the participants in the event and the President of Venezuela. It was kicked off by the writer Luis Brito Garcia, holder of the National Award for Literature, who gave a detailed account of the tasks necessary to defend humanity today: stop the horror of financial capitalism, recognize the right of countries to decide their destiny, resist the imposition of one form of thinking, stimulate a liberating economy, insure knowledge for everyone, vindicate the principle of people’s sovereignty, avoid that the monopoly of information be converted into the monopoly of political power and defend memory. He concluded his presentation by reminding the participants that the nightmare lasts only as long as they want it to.

Brito Garcia also read a letter that Eduardo Galeano sent to the meeting, in which the Uruguayan writer wrote: “the culture of dignity is the answer to the culture of fear dominant in the world today.”

Galeano was also remembered by Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Nobel Peace Prize recipient), another of the speakers in the workshop. As an example of the situation in which humanity is living, the Argentinian defender of human rights recounted a story to the author of The Open Veins of Latin America during a trip to Italy: “a cook called a chicken, some ducks and some piglets to a meeting in the kitchen. The Cook told them:

“I have called you together to ask you a question—with which sauce do you want to be cooked?”

The poor animals were stupefied. Finally, the chicken responded:

“I don’t want to be cooked.”

“No, no”, the cook replied. “That’s out of the question. The only thing you can choose is the sauce in which you want to be cooked.”

What can prevent all of us being cooked, added Perez Esquivel, is resistance in order to construct another possible world, the building of a project of life instead of death and the construction of new spaces for freedom.

Faithful to the narrative style he chose for his presentation, the Nobel remembered the recommendation of a council of elders of an African nation: If you don’t know where you’re going, go back to try to find where you came from. He concluded by asking the participants, “Do we know where we’re going? What are our roots?”

The last person to speak before Hugo Chavez Argentinian journalist and congressperson Miguel Bonaso made some practical proposals to follow up the event.

He suggested globalizing the resistance in defense of humanity, creating a networking group under the host’s responsibility, creating a foundation to produce informative and pedagogical materials, publishing a weekly newsletter, naming an advisory committee and encouraging the formation of national capitals for the network.

He repeated an issue that was discussed in various roundtables during the event: breaking the information hold of CNN in the region, confronting the media monopolies and creating a Latin American television network.

--The Truncated Insurgency—

To reiterate his call for mounting an offensive in defense of humanity, President Chavez gave a recount of some recent actions of his government. He proudly told the participants about a scholarship program which awards the equivalent of 100 dollars a month to half a million students.

Wearing a military shirt, he announced that poverty and misery are the biggest problems in the world, and in order to combat them “we must give power to the poor people. They are their own emancipators.”

He read and analyzed in detail the most recent survey by Latinobarometro in regard to support for democracy in Latin America. The results showed an ample support for the Venezuelan government and for democracy in the country, as well as the rejection of the use of military solutions. Chavez abstained from making commentaries about the figures he read which showed different attitudes and opinions from those documented in other nations of the region.

As is his custom in public presentations, he referred amply to the life and struggle of Simon Bolivar to point out a moral: the revolution which Bolivar headed almost 200 years ago is still unfinished. What is being lived today in Venezuela and other countries of the region is the backlash of this truncated insurgency.

To close the workshop, dozens of participants from the 52 countries represented gave speeches, in many cases to express their solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution.

At that point, in the name of 39 US citizens present in the event, a delegate read a document in which they demanded an end to the aggressions by the US government against the democratically elected government of this South American nation and expressed their solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

A big part of the community of progressive intellectuals has declared its love for a process with which only a few months ago they marked a distance. The honeymoon has begun.

Postscript by the translator: In order to begin funding the Network in Defense of Humanity, President Chavez has donated the Kadhafi Prize for Human Rights of 225.000 dollars which he recently received in Libya.

Monday, November 22, 2004


An empty blue scrim
of sky loops over Spokane.
Raven slices it
with his wing, scouting for clouds.
Frost falling on car windshields.

An early squirrel
darts up and down the oak’s bark,
runs to store his prize.
Raven dives, snatching the nut,
drops it in a garbage can.

Stalking a Greyhound
to Moses Lake, Raven laughs
at the three freezing
Panamanians in shorts
boarding the bus with backpacks.

At the Ellensburg
Subway, Raven turns up his
beak at the dumpster.
An old chinese man chasing
him away from his steamed bun.

In the abandoned
picnic ground near Lake Kachess,
Raven smells snow just
around the corner, and heads
over the pass to North Bend.

From Mount Si into
Seattle he beats his wings
through a storm, wishing
Ravens were migratory
and he had kept the acorn.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Raven is poring over some papers he printed out from the Internet.

A peso for your thoughts, guy.

“They may not be worth much more than that. On the other hand—the more I read about the fraud in the US election, the more I’m convinced that it wasn’t just some bloggers’ pipe-dream.”

Probably not. There HAD to be fraud. That’s why I had to go to the Venezuela news site http://www.aporrea.org/ to find out about the exit polls that showed Kerry winning in Ohio and Florida. Wall Street brokers had access to those polls beginning in the morning of November 2nd, but the public at large didn’t. The problem is going to be proving the fraud, because I am sure it was done inconsistently.

“Remember the enormous stink that the Bush Gang raised about fraud in the August 15th Venezuelan referendum on Hugo Chavez? Even after the Carter Center folks did an audit that showed that the vote was clean, they were still insisting that there had been a massive fraud.”

In Venezuela they were ABLE to do an audit—easily and quickly—because all they had to do was compare the voting machine printout totals with the paper ballots that were printed out and deposited in the ballot boxes. In the US election the Bush Gang made damn sure that there were not 2 parts to be compared in an audit. Moreover, they deliberately created chaos.

“Apparently the Libertarians and Greens have called for a recount in Ohio.”

Good for them! So long as they can raise the money for it, they are surely entitled. Even though they have no chance of winning anything.

“It all smells of something really rotten.” Raven peers at the chunk of cheese he’s been pecking. “Or maybe it’s this ersatz camembert. How long have we had it?”

I’m not sure. While you were having your masochistic romance with the Worms Diet, a lot of food was just cooling its heels in the refri.

“Maybe it’s time to toss some of it. Beginning with the cheese. I don’t mind a strong flavor, but....”

You got spoiled eating live worms, I think.

“I can think of several live worms I wouldn’t mind pecking at right now, but they aren’t in our garden.”

They wouldn’t happen to be in close proximity to the White House rose garden, would they?

“Given that Bush ordered a purge of the CIA, they might very well be in those environs, yes.”

Why is he purging the CIA?

“I guess he decided that some of the agents weren’t blindly loyal.”

How can you tell if they are blindly loyal, or only blind, Rave?

“Is that a joke or a riddle?”

Actually, it was more or less a straightforward question.

“Right. My only hope is that the new bunch is just as inept as the previous ones. Otherwise, there will be a new proliferation of assassination plots against Hugo Chavez—ones that are maybe less goofy than the capers they’ve cooked up in the past.”

Bite your tongue, boy! Figuratively speaking, of course. The proper target of assassination plots in drooling on the desk in the Oval Office.

“Yeah, but life is not fair—a bitter recognition that led me to the ill-fated, though mercifully brief, Diet of Worms. And to the spoiling of perfectly good cheese.”

For want of a horse, the kingdom was lost?

“That needs updating: because of a horse’s ass, the planet faces extinction.”

Raven heads for the door.

“And in the spirit of Raven Ritual, I’m going to bury this cheese in the garden.”

Good idea. Let the worms have a go at it.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Raven is down in the dumps, again. I had thought he would be glad to see me, but he is immeasurably glum.

“Even cinnamon rolls have lost their charm.” He pecks listlessly at one.

I brought you cinnamon BEARS and atomic fireballs from the States. Maybe those will perk you up.

“I doubt it. Nothing you could bring me from the States would be welcome. Four more years of the Cross-Eyed Cretin is too heavy a cross to bear.”

Four more years of the MEANSPIRITED Cross-Eyed Cretin. I told you not to underestimate the ignorance and stupidity of the US electorate.

“Yeah. Yeah. How could you stand to rub elbows with that ilk?”

Actually, I kept my elbows at a good distance from most of them. Which wasn’t too difficult since there is no street life in Seattle or Spokane.

“What was it that Hendrix said: ‘There ain’t no life nowhere?’”

He checked out early. During Nixon, in fact. He missed the coup against Allende, Operation Condor, Iran-Contra, the death squads financed by the US in El Salvador and Guatemala, the bombing of Libya, the invasions of Grenada and Panama, the Gulf War and all the more recent atrocities.

“Smart guy. Saw the handwriting on the wall and it turned his stomach.”

Literally. So what do you want to do, Rave? Waste away to a shadow of your former self?

“The whole world is going to continue suffering because of your wrong-headed compatriots. How many other countries will they invade now? I suppose Iran: lots of luck. Venezuela: ditto. North Korea: they’ll need a lot more than luck. Cuba: who knows what surprises Fidel will hand them?”

It was Black Tuesday, allright. In Seattle it was raining like hell. Juana and I hid out for the last two hours of voting at the Goodwill store.

“Ironic, don’t you think? The day itself should have been called Ill Will.”

Raven pours his mostly un-drunk coffee down the drain.

Rave, you can’t just turn up your toes because of this. After all, we ARE in Mexico: Sun. Street life. Tacos al pastor....

“And the audible sound of president Fox kissing Bush’s butt. Great. Now, if Ravens had a more southerly habitat—say, as far south as Caracas....”

Well, they don’t. We found that out already. You were socially deprived. And I was wasting away on my Saturn line. Despite the presence of The Leo of My Dreams, Hugo Chavez.

You know, I’m not asking for a perfect world. Just for a small appearance of reason—the faculty your species claims to have and shows no evidence of having.”

I agree with you; we’re living in a completely senseless time.

“So, what are YOU going to do about it?”

What do you WANT me to do? Tear out my hair? It’s already too short. Rend my garments? I am grinding away trying to write a play about the Nez Perce War of 1877. It’s called “Smoke and Mirrors”—sort of like the US Defense Department’s “Shock and Awe”—only in an earlier century when it was called, more honestly, the War Department.

“Sounds like escapism to me.”

Well, it does have masks, and it isn’t strictly realistic.

“I didn’t mean the play—I meant your writing it sounds like escapism.”

Sigh. Listen, Rave—it’s either that or working. I’m not ready for suicide.

“I might be. In the meantime, I’m going to eschew the atomic fireballs and go out in the garden to eat worms.”

Raven leaves, droopily, through the kitchen window.

(Who can blame him? The fireballs aren’t all that satisfying, anyway.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Raven is outraged.

“Look at this asshole, Bush, defending his illegal war in the UN! Doesn’t that guy ever feel shame?”

I don’t know, Rave. Shame is one of the principal roots of alcoholism, so he must have felt it at one time or other.

“He must have drowned it in alcohol, you mean. And here he is again, refusing to contribute to the fun to eliminate world hunger. Chirac says 110 countries are party to the program, and that soon there may be 150. Only the US is against it. Another shameful posture.”

Rave, don’t drink anymore coffee this morning. You’re at risk for a strroke.

“If I weren’t a bird I’d be smoking cigarettes, too. What the hell!”

I see: birds can do coffee, but doing cigarettes is shameful.

“Something like that, yes. Another US hostage was beheaded in Iraq. A British hostage is begging for his life in a video. But for Bush, everything is hunky dory.”

That’s a term I haven’t heard in awhile. What else is new and exciting in the world?

Raven changes pages in Internet.

“Hugo Chavez didn’t go the new York City to give his speech at the UN because something was wrong with one of his plane’s engines. Here he is in fatigues on the Colombian border. Don’t worry, I’ll print out the photo for you. And La Jornada says the world will explode if Bush is elected, perdon—re-elected.”

Close, but no cigar. The Mayan prophecies say that the world won’t explode for another 7 or 8 years.

“Maybe the calendrical correlations from the Mayan to the Gregorian calendar are off by just a feather—that could easily create a 3 or 4 year difference.”

You might be right, my fine feathered friend. I was reading something about the End of the World—or the Coming of the Messiah—being behind the Israeli’s mad campaign to blow up the Middle East.

“We need to put on that CD that has the ‘Dies Irae’, don’t you think? Remember when the people were all biting the dust from the Black Plague in that Bergmann film, ‘The Seventh Seal’, and they paraded around in the towns scourging themselves and singing the ‘Dies Irae’?

I remember that very well, Rave. The knight returning from battling Arabs in the Crusades was playing chess with Death. That film is in my Top Ten. I also remember all too well singing the ‘Dies Irae’ in the hot, stinky choir loft of St. Andrew’s church every time somebody paid for a Requiem mass. Days of wrath. You’ve got something. They are here. A Requiem for the planet is in order.

“Days of Wrath are a logical reaction to the action of ‘Shock and Awe’. Or whatever the Pentagon called the Iraq invasion. The whole thing sticks in my craw like a piece of rotten meat.”

Nice breakfast imagery. Is that a plot to get your beak around the last of my hash-browned potatoes?

“Never even crossed my mind.”

I’ll bet. At least you have a mind TO cross. Crossing Bush’s mind would be like setting off across the Sahara—with no camel, and no oasis in sight.

“Since you brought it up, I wouldn’t mind taking just a peck or two at those potatoes. After all, the world could explode any minute.”

I give up. Peck all of them.

“You’re a peach.”

Don’t push it. This could be MY day of wrath.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Raven is pleased with his toast. It’s got just enough charring to make his tiny carbonized eyes gleam.

“Are we going back to Venezuela soon?”

First we have to go to the States, Rave. Remember? The election and all that.

“Yeah, sadly, I do remember. Tweedledee and Tweedledumb. But Chavez is all over the news because he’s going to go full bore now with the agrarian reform.”

It’s time. All he has distributed so far has been land owned by the government. It’s the moment to go after idle land—of which there is plenty in Venezuela, as the big landholders have been living off the ill-gotten oil gains for close to 50 years. Venezuela has had the highest ratio of imported food products in the hemisphere—with 70%.

“Well, Chavez is ready to turn that around now. He says here that not only will the country use every available piece of arable land to produce food, that they will export food.”

Heap big change, guy. I’ll bet the opposition will be cooking up all kinds of capers to try to beat back any radical advance in the reform process.

“They already are—on aporrea.org they have reported that 5 of Chavez’ military escorts are in the hospital. Seems they were driving to Caracas very early in the morning when a vehicle came up behind theirs and hit it, forcing it off the road. It apparently rolled over, and that’s how the guys were injured.”

Amazing how the opposition—because of its status as representing the idle class—has all kinds of time available for pulling dirty tricks.

“I don’t know about this class stuff. I consider myself to be part of the idle class, since you’re the one who works to put food on the table—not food on your family, at least---and my dirty tricking has trickled down to almost nothing.”

Rave, I am not going to touch that line. I can understand that you want to be the Lone Raven in Venezuela—again—but you need to pack your ear-muffs, because we are heading North.

“I don’t really have ears, but nice furry earmuffs could be nice. Then I won’t have to listen to anybody.”

You and George W. Bush—his muffs are built-in. They cost more, because of genetic engineering, but he can afford them because he represents the idle class—and they are more effective at shutting out other folks’ opinions, ideas, points of view.

“Guess I’ll pass on the muffs—and anything else that would relate me to Bush.”

Does that mean you are swearing off pretzels?

“I’ll have to think about that tomorrow.” He scrapes the last bits of toast crumbs into the garbage.

Raven, a bird to make Margaret Mitchell proud.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Raven is pecking half-heartedly at a granola bar.

“This tastes like sand. Don’t we have anything tasty around here?”

We ate the last cinnamon roll last night. Can’t you distract yourself in Internet or something?

“The news just gets more and more depressing. Have you been following the Rubber Bullet story?”

You mean the agreement the Mexican government made—on its knees—to permit US Border Patrol cops to shoot rubber bullets filled with chile at Mexican “indocumentados”?

“Precisely that, yes. Derbez, the chancellor, went before the legislature and said that there had only been 234 incidents of what he called “plastic” bullets, and that nobody had complained.”

Just what were they supposed to do—sue the Border Patrol? Reminds me of the time when that terrible restaurant in Cuautla gave me spoiled orange juice for breakfast. When I took it back to complain to the cook she informed me that yes, she had squeezed some spoiled oranges when she was making the juice, but that I was the only person who had complained!

“Anyway, he mumbled something about looking over the agreement, but basically said that it would remain in place. I can’t imagine anything more shameful than a country’s government maintaining and promoting an agreement that lets the US Border Patrol shoot at its citizens—regardless of whether the bullets are lead or rubber—or plastic!”

I can think of something more shameful: the very real possibility that US citizens—despite all the lying and the pandering to petroleum and the sadism and the wanton disregard for other people’s rights that the Bush Gang has demonstrated—vote to re-elect George W.

Raven shoves aside the remains of the granola bar.

“That does it for me. As a stomach-turner, the Cross-eyed Cretin has no peer.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


So, Raven, are your eyes fried from reading the news?

“They are at the point of over-easy. I have used both sides of them reading about the overwhelming Chavez victory in the Venezuela referendum. Looks as if he did hit the home run into the White House like he said he was going to.”

He’s a big talker, but he puts his money where his mouth is.

“Meanwhile the CIA has been hatching assassination plots during the past week in Santiago, Chile. Operation Allende II seems to be moving into the desperate end phase.”

I hope not, Rave. Venezuela is a beam of light in an otherwise dark planet.

“Yeah, when I put the sun and moon and stars up there”—Raven peers skyward—I thought they would shine forever. I was pretty ingenuous back in those days.”

We all were.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Raven is dunking a piece of cinnamon bark in his coffee.

Didn’t I put a big enough piece of bark in the pot when I made the coffee?

“You did fine. I am thinking about eating some of this, so I’m softening it up.”

May I ask why you’re going to eat it?

“I was reading that cinnamon is a hot food that stimulates the body’s energy and recuperative powers. So I thought I’d give it a try.”

I see. Have you read anything else interesting this morning?

“Actually, yeah.” Raven turns to look at the computer screen. “Turns out the Soap Amendment passed in the US House of Representatives.”

What is the Soap Amendment?

“That’s not its real name. That’s my name for it. It was an amendment proposed to rescind a part of the Bush Gang’s latest abusive measures against Cuba. So that Cubans in the island could continue to receive packages from family members in the States with so-called first priority articles, such as food, toothpaste and soap.”

So now they’ll be able to receive the soap, right?

“Uh huh. Only once a month, though.”

They need to send a lot, then. Cubans, like other Latin Americans, are conspicuously cleaner than folks from the States. Well, just a minute. There are exceptions—yesterday in the taxi I had to roll down the window even though it was raining because the taxista stank to….

“I get the picture. Let me eat my cinnamon bark without vomiting, okay?”

I can’t imagine you vomiting, Rave. I thought Ravens were omnivorous.

“Theoretically, that’s true. But we do vomit. Vultures vomit a lot more, though, and their vomit is a staple of Eagle’s diet.”

You’re pulling my leg.

“Would I do that? No need to answer. I don’t think the cinnamon bark is working. I am still nauseated thinking about Bush rubbing his grubby hands together and thinking that Cuban people won’t be able to bathe or brush their teeth.”

Or EAT! Didn’t you say that food was the other first priority item he was trying to head off at the pass?

“Yep” Raven looks very sly. “Eagle would say….”

Rave, don’t go there. Go for a flight, please.

Raven flies out the window with the piece of cinnamon bark in his claw, and drops it in the neighbor’s garbage can.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Raven is lying on his back on the table with his tiny feet in the air.

What’s going on, guy? Are you sick?

“I’m fantasizing.”

Should I ask what about? Or are these fantasies that I shouldn’t know about?

“No. They’re pretty harmless, actually. The first one is about quesadillas with sautéed onions and habanero chiles. You could probably even make that into a reality, if you wanted to. The second is about ‘Kenny Boy’, Bush’s energy gangster buddy, rotting in jail.”

Do you really think he’ll be rotting? I don’t think so. They always put the high-roller crooks in very cushy country club-type prisons. If Kenny Boy does get popped into the slammer, he’ll be teeing off every morning at 11 somewhere in Connecticut.

“I told you it was a fantasy. But wouldn’t it be great to see the Bush Gang’s house of cards start checking in behind bars?”

Of course it would. I’ll get right on those quesadillas. Geez, I sound like Martha Stewart—another potential jailbird—oops, sorry, Rave.

“You’ll be forgiven if you add some sliced avocadoes.”


“You know, we haven’t said anything about the passing of Marlon Brando to another plane of existence.” Raven smears butter on the top of his cinnamon roll, and nudges it into the toaster oven.

Another plane, huh? It’s true, the last time I saw him he could’ve filled most of the seats on a 727.

“This is not the moment for word games and sarcasm. He was a great actor, and I will miss him.” Raven is watching the butter melt on the roll and run down into the pan and burn.

I hope you’re planning on cleaning the drip pan, Rave. I hate those little burnt butter crusts.

“Not sure I see an apron in my future, but I thank you for buying the toaster. Now I can dunk fresher breads in my coffee.”

Where were you when I was lugging it back from Tuxtepec on the bus—it and a morral full of groceries—with a religious fanatic shouting in my ear?

“I was grieving the passing of an almost immortal actor. With candles. Who could ever forget, ‘Cha-ly, Cha-ly, I coulda bin a contenda’ in the back of that old car with Rod Steiger in ON THE WATERFRONT?”

Okay. I’ll get in the spirit. I will personally never forget “You scum-suckin’ pig” from ONE EYED JACKS, Brando’s one directorial effort. “Gob of spit” was pretty good, too. I had a very offbeat boyfriend from Walnut Grove, Mississippi, when I was at university—J.L. and I used to go to the drive-ins in the Seattle area whenever they showed ONE EYED JACKS, with a jug of vodka and a box of antibiotic lozenges, and wait to say those famous lines along with Brando.

“Geez, nothing like trivializing a great star. Some of these coconut threads on the top of the roll burned. Think I’ll use the lower rack position next time.”

Trivial! Your food obsession isn’t trivial?

“I’m sorry. I really am. Remember ‘What are you rebelling against, Johnny?’ And Brando says, ‘Whadda ya got?’ in THE WILD ONE.”

That was what we call a cheap shot. A good cheap shot. What he did with his eyes in VIVA ZAPATA was really silly, though. He was always up to some gimmick like that, or the chewed-up paper in his jaws in THE GODFATHER.

“He did something funny with his eyes in TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON, too, as I remember.”

That turkey! Excuse me, guy, I know I am not suppose to call things turkeys or say that people are crazy as loons, but sometimes they just slip out. TEAHOUSE had to be one of the worst pictures he ever made. Worse than THE APALOOSA—which at least had nice camera work.

“Well, he did start telling everybody he was only making movies for the money right about that time.”

And talk about silly lines and racist caricatures! When he gave that idiotic grin and said “Socks up, boss”. What an insult to Japanese people!

“I see your point. It was maybe a little too soon after Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be in impeccably good taste, but I sort of liked his Sakini character. There was something about him that was, I don’t know….”

Tricky. That’s what he was. And that’s why you liked him in the part. Because he was like you when you’re up to something devious.

“Maybe. But you could never top that scene in LAST TANGO IN PARIS where he talks to his dead wife in the casket in that cheap hotel with all those flowers around her.”

Probably not. No one but Brando could eat that many hortensias and survive to dance the tango with Maria Schneider.

“Are you saying he over-acted that scene?”

Let’s just say that one of the things Brando did exceptionally well was to chew scenery. He could do that Method Mumble to perfection—the high point probably coming in APOCALYPSE NOW. Don’t get me wrong, Rave—Brando was great. Two of his films are in my all-time Top Ten list. But with that Socks up, Boss routine he went way beyond over-acting into just plain mugging. And he was almost always on the edge of doing that. That was another unique aspect of Brando—he could distance himself from the character he was playing—even poke fun at the character he was playing-- and still convince us of his acting skill.

“As if he was both actor and film critic?”

Raven doesn’t look too convinced.

Maybe. Let’s put it this way—John Ford and Marlon Brando fascinated me in the 50s, inclined me to think about film and its relationship to reality. That’s one of the things film criticism does—sometimes. They did not incline me to be a director or an actor, however.

“Geez, that was pompous. Is that your final word?”

No. My final words are: WASH THE DRIP PAN, RAVE!

“And mine are: Socks WAY WAY up for Marlon Brando, THE actor of the 20th century.”

Friday, July 02, 2004


Ah, Rave, it’s finally Friday!

“Does that mean that you’re going to make coffee?” Raven looks a little down in the feathers this morning.

What were you up to all night that you’re dragging your tail today?

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” Raven pecks at a dish of granola.

Okay. When you’re ready to join the living again, can we talk about Saddam Hussein?

“If you make me coffee. Wait a minute, I thought that guy was yesterday’s newspapers. What’s he up to now?”

The Bush Gang turned him over to the Iraqis. Well, to the quote Iraqis end quote.


He had to be arraigned before an Iraqi judge, apparently. And during that process he identified himself as the President of Iraq, and said that the whole thing was pure theater, that Bush was the real criminal.

“Hmmm. What is this, What’s My Line? But you know, he may have a point there. Part of a point, anyway.”

How’s that?

“Part of a point in that it’s a question of scale. There seems to be little doubt that Hussein peed in the Iraqi sandbox for quite a few years. However….I think I smell coffee with cinnamon!”

Your olfactories are working just fine, guy. So he peed in the sandbox, and….?

“So far as I know, the difference appears to be one of scale. O sea, that he peed in a relatively small sandbox, compared to the planetary sandbox that Bush continues to pee in. Taking into consideration that Hussein was in power for 35 years….”

I get the picture, Rave. He was fouling his nest, and Bush is fouling everyone else’s nest.

“You’re sure you’re not a bird? Interesting bird behavior analogy there.”

Thanks, Rave. I am one of the lower-flying species, unfortunately. I think you were right when you said this is What’s My Line? as there are people out there who have trouble picking Bush out of the lineup.

“Then they need to ask the question that the guy on the program always asked.”

Will the real criminal please stand up?

“Exactly. Since Bush believes he’s the only person on the planet who matters, he will undoubtedly stand up. A clear confession of both stupidity and guilt.”

Gee, guy, for the shape you were in a few minutes ago, you’re bouncing back very fast.

“Me, and Wile E. Coyote. It’s the coffee, stupid.”

Monday, June 28, 2004


Raven is crawling his way through the newspaper.

“It’s nice to have the real paper, instead of having to read everything on the computer screen.”

Uh huh.

“Don’t worry—only caged birds have a Pavlovian reaction to newspapers.”

Glad to hear it. What’s up on the international front?

“The usual car bombs and the dance of the body parts. Oh, yeah—and a follow-up to Dick Cheney’s F-word caper in the US Senate.”


“There’s a photo here of King Juan Carlos of Spain giving the finger to a group of Basque protestors.”

You’re kidding.

“Moi? Not likely.”

Rave grabs the page in his beak and with his feet tears out a photograph.

“I think this needs to go up on the refrigerator door. Right next to Mad Dog Cheney snarling.”

You know, Rave, when I open that door it’s because I am looking for food to cook.

“Okay, I get the point. I’ll put up the photos in the bathroom.”


Friday, June 25, 2004

RATTLING CAGES—the ad canum—er, hominum—argument

“Hah! Look at this photo on the Common Dreams site of Dick Cheney.” Raven points to a fuzzy full color image on the screen that looks to be, from where I am sitting, a mad dog.

Yikes, Rave! Looks like a rabies epidemic is blasting off. Who IS that mad dog, anyway?

“I just told you: Dick Cheney. Snarling the F-word at Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont. Cute guy, right.”

Hmmmm. What did Leahy do, hoist his leg on Cheney’s personal fire hydrant?

“Says here that Cheney was being asked about his manipulating spoils of war contracts for Halliburton.”

And that’s when he snarled out the F-word? Did he start barking, too?

“I don’t know. It doesn’t say anything here about barking. But it does say that Senator Leahy said he thought Cheney must have been having a bad day.”

You know, Rave, this would be very funny if the guy weren’t running the US government. And if he were not sending the troops into the Valley of Death to be slaughtered. Have you noticed that the body count in Iraq is incrementing geometrically now?

“Well, that’s what happens when you let a dog take control. Dogs are not popular with Arabs, you know. There’s not much difference between them and hyenas except domestication. And domestication doesn’t seem to have made dogs a better species. If anything, their worst characteristics: a pack mentality and blind loyalty to the master (in this case the Masters of War) have become dominant.”

Rave, is there a point in there someplace? Or is this an arcanely knitted confection designed to show that Huntington was wrong in his racist analysis of cultures clashing—that is to say the clash of religions between Muslims and Christians—and that it’s really about Arabs hating dogs?

“I’m looking for the point. Just got distracted for a minute looking at Cheney’s crooked teeth. The point is that dogs have been bred not to look at facts or information, just to accept propaganda from their owners and gang up with other dogs to enforce it. Cheney, in this case, apparently sees himself as the Alpha Dog, and hence his outburst of scatology in the Senate. Leahy rattled his cage, and like any conditioned Pavlovian, drooled out the controversial cussword.”

And Ravens don’t pull those capers?

“Of course not. We are the independent shapeshifting tricksters of the animal kingdom. We just move on to another level of consciousness.”

Raven turns of the computer, flaps his wings 3 times and flies into the closed window.

Poor modest little guy. He will return to one of his levels of consciousness soon

Monday, June 07, 2004


Raven is drinking coffee and reading the political writings of Simon Bolivar. His feathered face narrows into a frown.

“Boy is there nothing new under the sun!”

What’s up, Raven?

“Bolivar said, ‘I fear peace more than war’. Do you think that’s what’s going on inside of the Bush Gang?”

Inside? I have a very hard time imagining any of those one-dimensional fascists having what we might risk calling an “interior”.

“What is it, then, that they fear?”

Probably they fear being booted out of the power before they have corralled all the planet’s resources for their various multinational companies.

“Why, then, do you think Bolivar feared peace?”

That’s a whole lot easier question, Rave. Bolivar was able to unify folks in Colombia, Venezuela and Peru at least briefly when he was actively waging war against the Spanish. Guys that in other circumstances were ready to cut each other’s head off would pull together when the Patria was at stake. Then, after a decisive victory, they would go back to intriguing and putting banana peels under each other’s heels. Especially the heels of Bolivar. Let’s not forget that he died broke, wearing a borrowed shirt, driven out of Venezuela and pretty much out of Colombia, too.

“But he was vindicated later.”

Well, yeah—if you call it vindicated that they brought his bones back to Caracas, and that he’s the central figure in their Pantheon. Fat lot of good that did him almost 20 years earlier, when he lay dying in Santa Marta.

“I see a definite similarity. The Bush Gang grabbed hold of 9/11 as a pretext to start declaring wars and limiting the options of US citizens to question them on the basis that questioning their authority was unpatriotic. They wouldn’t have been able to pull off the Afghan Pipeline Caper in Peacetime—the Clinton Gang had already tried that, and after they wined and dined the Taliban, the deal went tits up anyway.”

Okay, I follow you. So when the Afghan Pipeline Caper became clearly unviable for the Bush Gang, too, as they couldn’t control the situation, they declared war on Iraq—with the idea of continuing to wage war so that, first, Bush is elected in November of 2004 and that, second, no one steps aside from the patriotic prattle to mention that the Cross-Eyed Cretin has started to resemble Adolf Hitler.

“Hitler was much more simpatico: smarter, and a vegetarian. He may have had lampshades made out of Jewish skin, but he ate neither his enemies nor his friends.”

Geez, guy, are you saying he achieved the Buddha’s detachment?

No, of course not. But at least he had a few twisted bits of ideologies to pull out of his sleeve. All this guy has is his imaginary playmate: God.”

So, if the Bush Gang gets a shot at another 4 years, we can expect more war?

“Didn’t he say on t.v. in front of his imaginary playmate and everybody that he was the War President? He’ll probably send troops into Syria—it’s right next door—and into Cuba. And probably Venezuela—if Chavez wins the referendum.

If he loses, the Escualidos will hand Venezuela’s oil over to Bush in exchange for a plate of lentils. Al estilo mexicano.

“In that case they’ll use all the troops in Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Caribbean to liberate the Amazon Basin.”

So there will not be peace in our time.

“Not a chance. I’ll overlook the reference to Chamberlain.”

This is very grim, Rave. I can’t even run away to the Amazon jungle to escape?

“Afraid not. The US soldiers will be so busy liberating oppressed peoples that you won’t find anyplace on the planet to hide.”

I believe Bolivar had something else to say, Rave.

“He had a lot to say, actually. But in this case, what?” Raven closes the book.

Something on the order of : “The United States appears to be destined by Fate to plague the Americas with miseries in the name of freedom.”

“Seems like he was right, too.”

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


“So,” Raven dunks a piece of stale bread in his coffee. “How would you define obscenity?”

Gee, Rave, that’s a big question for so early in the morning. I have an easier one for you: How can you stand to eat that stale bread?

“That’s easy. It holds up in the coffee. The fresh rolls get all soggy and fall apart.”

Guess that told me. Very W.B. Yeats. I didn’t realize Ravens were such connoisseurs.

“Gourmets of garbage would be a more apt description, probably.”

Thanks a lot! I don’t see you cooking around here.

“Point well taken. But you didn’t answer my question. How do you know when something is obscene? Does it have to have been intended as obscene?”

Intentional fallacy, guy. Intentions have nothing to do with something once it enters the public domain. I think something is obscene when it violates cultural norms of acceptability.

“That’s pretty slippery. That means that, because cultural norms are not the same everywhere, something could be considered obscene in one part of the world and not obscene in others.”

I suppose so. I’m not sure where you’re heading with this.

“More or less to Lower Slobovia—as the Crow flies. Don’t you think it’s obscene for George W. Bush to complain that Iraqis are not seeing the 'real heart of Americans' because of a few renegade bad apples?”

Yes, I do. Because he is negating and trivializing the pain, suffering, death and humiliation that he has inflicted on innocent people. I also consider the spokesman for the military who dismissed the massacre at a wedding out in the desert by saying “bad people have weddings, too” to be obscene as well.

“You know what else is obscene? The New York Times—the editors made a “light” apology, buried in the middle of the paper, for having been shills for the Bush Gang’s invasion of Iraq. We don’t know how many Iraqis have been killed to date—as the forces of invasion don’t bother to count Arab bodies—but we do know that at least 800 US soldiers have been killed—and who knows how many mercenaries with them—and The Times thinks if they say, ‘Gee, we’re sorry we didn’t do a better job’—that everything’s hunky dory.”

If they didn’t have the courage to do the right thing in the first place, why do you think they would have the courage to admit that they did the wrong thing now?

“Yeah, you’re right. Yesterday’s newspapers are just…yesterday’s newspapers for those guys. Like this bread—they’re only good for dunking in coffee and throwing in the garbage.”

Raven drops his scrap of stale soggy bread in the garbage can.

So that’s it? You’re washing your hands of this whole obscenity thing?

“Anthropomorphizing will get you nowhere. I don’t have hands. Besides, everybody else is so busy washing his that mine will not be an issue. Obscenity is, after all, unique to your species. We feathered fellows are free of all that. And this feathered fellow is off to pursue the pristine here in—what’s this place called?”

Don’t ask, Rave.

Friday, May 28, 2004


"Here's a good quote to start the weekend off on the right wing!"

Raven is puddling with coffee in his saucer.

Okay, what is it?

"From the Common Dreams site, a writer quotes 'from the testimony of Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials, not long before Hitler's vice-fuhrer poisoned himself in his jail cell:

"... It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

Just what we needed, Rave. In the US they will be celebrating Memorial Day with more new graves. Whose coffins had flags draped over them.

Monday, May 24, 2004


With 132 Colombian paramilitaries slapped in the slammer in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is still not breathing easy. Raven, what's your take?

"Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there's 132, there are more. Hey, the US-supported "opposition"--opposition?, give me a break--isn't going to give up that easily."

But the signature reparations are this week. They can still get their referendum.

"Hey, those jokers had weeks to come up with 2.4 million signatures. And they didn't make it. To take out Chavez in a referendum they'd need to get 3.7 million IN ONE DAY--the number he received in the last election. Chavez says there's no way, that he will get 4 million this time. And even Wall Street agrees with him."

Wall Street doesn't have a lot of political credibility in this case, Rave. This is Theater of the Absurd, where the opposition says Chavez is a tyrant.

"Yeah, well. yesterday on his t.v. show he said that the mere fact that they have the freedom to call him a tyrant negates the claim. he said, "Some folks say I am walking towards tyranny, but I must be walking awfully slow because I have been governing for 5 years and 3 months. Although in Washington they say that I am walking very fast."

Burning up the track to tyranny. And in the US all it took was 9/11 and bzzzt--all the way to tyranny in 60 seconds.

"By the way, Michael Moore received the Palme d'or in Cannes for "Fahrenheit 9/11" on Saturday."

I am behind on the news, Rave, but good for him! He'll probably do more to unseat the Crawford Cretin than all the other political activity combined.

"If he can show it in the US."

He will, Rave--after the Palme d'Or they can't stop him.

"They'll blame the French, again. Liberty, equality and fraternity are swear words in the Oval Office."

Or at least words the Cretin can't pronounce....

Ah, Rave, here’s a bit of interesting news: yesterday morning—just after midnight, actually—three bombs exploded in banks in Cuernavaca.

“Who did it?” Rave is licking peach jam off his feet.

A group that calls itself Comando Jaramillista Morelense 23 de Mayo. They sent this e-mail to La Jornada titled “42nd Anniversary of the Murder of Ruben Jaramillo”: “Let no honest forces be surprised by this shout of protest that we have been given as our only option! Sergio Estrada Cajigal and your gang of delinquents and drug-traffickers, get out of the government of Morelos! Corrupt and inept politicians, get out; all of you, go! (Que se vayan todos.) “

“Sounds good to me. Xochicalco still carries the stain of the murder of Jaramillo and his family. How they could kill someone there is beyond me. Zapata must have been spinning in his grave—well, in his statue.”

I don’t think it was a case of cultural continuity or anything like that, Rave. Although apparently there were human sacrifices at Xochicalco. I think they took Jaramillo and his family there and killed them because they figured there would be no witnesses. Only the stones.

“Humph—and a bunch of birds like your humble servant!”

You guys have big mouths but not very many people understand your lingo. Anyway they thought they could do their dirty deed unobserved. Interesting that this new group has appeared. Not altogether surprising, though. Things have gotten pretty desperate in the state. Lots of heads have rolled, but not the head of the frivolous fop at the top of the dungheap.

“Speaking of frivolities, they haven’t gotten rid of the fool on the hill in Washington, either.”

He will not go gentle into that good night, guy. Nor will any of the other corrupt, inept politicians leading the world down the primrose path to ruin.

“In the bird kingdom, they would be tarred and feathered—literally.”

It’s not so easy to do that in the hallowed halls of government.

“Hallowed my tushie. Blake may have said that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom—or some such nonsense—but he was just wrong.!”

Big Brother was wrong, too: ignorance is NOT strength! Fat lot of good that recognition does toward throwing the bums out.

“It’s because your species sees processes like that as difficult. A military coup would do the trick in a heartbeat. As easy as falling off a bicycle.”

Which, by the way, Bush did on the weekend at his ranch in Texas. I didn’t know birds had a military chain of command.

“We don’t. But we know our place in the food chain. Which your species doesn’t. I suppose he fell on his least vulnerable part—his head. Speaking of which, I think you should buy a bit of head cheese in the mercado.”

I hate that stuff, Rave. It tastes like—I don’t know—something rotten.

“It’s very popular in Denmark, I hear. And in Crawford, Texas. Buy me a little piece. I can imagine I am eating Bush’s brain.” Raven rolls his eyes, and lets loose with one of his eardrum-shattering cackles.

It’s going to be a difficult day.

Friday, May 21, 2004


“Here in the paper a columnist is asking why people in the US are not incensed about the torture in Iraq. Why they aren’t demanding accountability and demanding that their leaders be replaced.” Raven slurps his coffee and pecks off the corner of a cinnamon roll. “What’s your theory?”

My theory is not a theory, Rave. It’s a description based on empirical observation. Unfortunately, the majority of folks in the US are addicted to violence—either directly or as spectators. They think the US should be kicking ass around the planet. That’s what they see their heroes in the Hollywood action movies doing.

“They think they’re Rambo?”

Rambo is sort of old hat. Now the violence has been passed through the production values of Hong Kong and the sieve of computer-generated special effects, so that watching an action movie is like watching a video game on the big screen. The old, horrified responses to violent images have been replaced by excitement. It’s violence as another form of pornography. And we know with addictive behavior that the addict doesn’t want to give it up.

“So you’re saying that a lot of folks are getting their fix looking at the torture pics?”

Sure I am. When the social context is violence, when the cross-eyed cretin in the Oval Office thumps his chest and grunts, “Let’s go kick some ass”, the rest of the addicts are given permission to indulge their addiction. That’s what the soldiers and paramilitaries in Iraq are doing. And the folks at home are kicking Arab ass vicariously, living out their violent and pornographic fantasies looking at the photos and videos of torture—let’s not forget that lots of folks in the US are racist and xenophobic in the extreme. It’s the American Way.

“And people have been conditioned to live through fantasies--in front of their t.v. sets, primarily.”

And beating off to pornographic magazines—some of which have very violent components.

“I have said it before, and I will say it again: your species deserves to be eliminated from the food chain.”

Raven has given up on the cinnamon roll, tosses it into the garbage can.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Rave, bad news. I just got an e-mail from Rifle with an article about ravens from…the Economist.

“Why is THAT bad news? THIS stuff is bad news.” Raven is playing with spaghetti he didn’t eat last night and which is now hardened threads of paste on his plate.

Well, perhaps you should decide for yourself. Want me to read you the article?

“Why not? Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking about ways to commit suicide.”

Okay. It’s called “Quoth the Raven”—from the Poe poem.

“That’s where all I say is ‘Nevermore’, right?”

Umm. Ready? “Now, it seems, even the bird-brained have theories of mind.”

“Offensive! What is this bird-brained horseshit?”

Rave, I am just reading you the article. Okay? “HUMANS like to regard themselves as exceptional. Other animals do not
have complex, syntactical languages. Nor do most of them appear to
enjoy the same level of consciousness that people do. And many
philosophers believe humans are the only species which understands that
others have their own personal thoughts. That understanding is known in
the trade as having a "theory of mind", and it is considered the
gateway to such cherished human qualities as empathy and deception.

Biologists have learned to treat such assertions with caution. In
particular, they have found evidence of theories of mind in a range of
mammals, from gorillas to goats. But two recent studies suggest that
even mammalian studies may be looking at the question too narrowly.
Birds, it seems, can have theories of mind, too.”

“I’ll give those bird brains theories of mind!” Raven is getting hot under the collar—er, feathers.

In the PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, Bernd Heinrich and Thomas
Bugnyar of the University of Vermont, in Burlington, describe a series
of experiments they have carried out on ravens. They wanted to see how
these birds, which are known to be (at least by avian standards) both
clever and sociable, would respond to human gaze.

Response to gaze is reckoned to be a good measure of the development of
theory of mind in human children. By about 18 months of age most
children are able to follow the gaze of another person, and infer
things about the gazer from it. Failure to develop this trick is an
early symptom of autism, a syndrome whose main underlying feature is an
inability to understand that other people have minds, too.

To test whether ravens could follow gaze, Dr Heinrich and Dr Bugnyar
used six six-month-old hand-reared ravens, and one four-year-old. The
birds were sat, one at a time, on a perch on one side of a room divided
by a barrier. An experimenter sat about a metre in front of the
barrier. The experimenter moved his head and eyes in a particular
direction and gazed for 30 seconds before looking away. Sometimes he
gazed up, sometimes to the part of the room where the bird sat, and
sometimes to the part of the room hidden behind the barrier. The
experiment was videotaped.

Dr Heinrich and Dr Bugnyar found that all the birds were able to follow
the gaze of the experimenters, even beyond the barrier. In the latter
case, the curious birds either jumped down from the perch and walked
around the barrier to have a look or leapt on top of it and peered
over. There was never anything there, but they were determined to see
for themselves.

A suggestive result, but not, perhaps, a conclusive one. However, the
second study, carried out by Dr Bugnyar when he was working at the
University of Austria, and published last month in ANIMAL COGNITION,
suggests that ravens may have mastered the art of deception too.

In this case, the observation was serendipitous. Dr Bugnyar was
conducting an experiment designed to see what ravens learn from each
other while foraging. While doing so he noticed strange interactions
between two males, Hugin, a subordinate bird, and Munin, a dominant

The task was to work out which colour-coded film containers held some
bits of cheese, then prise the containers open and eat the contents.
The subordinate male was far better at this task than the dominant.
However, he never managed to gulp down more than a few pieces of the
reward before the dominant raven, Munin, was hustling him on his way.
Clearly (and not unexpectedly) ravens are able to learn about food
sources from one another. They are also able to bully each other to
gain access to that food.

But then something unexpected happened. Hugin, the subordinate, tried a
new strategy. As soon as Munin bullied him, he headed over to a set of
empty containers, prised the lids off them enthusiastically, and
pretended to eat. Munin followed, whereupon Hugin returned to the
loaded containers and ate his fill.

At first Dr Bugnyar could not believe what he was seeing. He was
anxious about sharing his observation, for fear that no one would
believe him. But Hugin, he is convinced, was clearly misleading Munin.

As it happened, Munin was no dummy either. He soon grew wise to the
tactic, and would not be led astray. He even stooped to trying to find
the food rewards on his own! This made Hugin furious. "He got very
angry", says Dr Bugnyar, "and started throwing things around." Perhaps
ravens have something else in common with people--a hatred of being
found out.” There you have it.

“Hey, I never said we were perfect. But at least we aren’t ringers.”

Would you care to explain that?

“Avec plaisir, madame. For example, John Kerry is not a real candidate. He’s a ringer.”


Haven’t you noticed that he and Georgie Porgie continue to be Tweedledee and Tweedledumb? First we find out they’re cousins several times removed. Then we see that they have the same anti-program: invade Cuba, send more troops to Iraq, invade Venezuela, send more troops to Iraq, invade Syria. Ad nauseum. It’s obvious that they came up with this guy—this cardboard cutout—so that the voters would not have a real choice. He’s a ringer!”

That sounds way beyond Maquiavellian, guy.

“So? Those neocons were writing their How to Take over the World manual more than 12 years ago. They cooked the ballot boxes in Florida to get Georgie into the Oval Office. But it was a close shave. And the Supreme Court his daddy packed had to bail them out. They’re not going to let it happen again. Now they have two candidates. And the voters can go to hell.”

I see. So when are you going to talk to Ralph Nader about this theory?

It’s not a theory of mind. It’s plain common sense. The one party system is here. The end of elections as we know them.

So that’s it for free choice, Rave?

“Right. Nevermore.”

He got me again….

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Raven is pecking at the cap of a pen.

Rave, you’re pecking pensively, I think.

“Idly is more like it. The Devil finds work for idle beaks, and all that. By the looks of things, there must be millions of idle folks out there.”

Oh no. Does that mean more scandals?

Raven scrolls through the news headlines in La Jornada.

“The usual suspects, that’s all. Invading Venezuela. And hundreds of thousands of venezolanos marching to protest US intervention and Plan Colombia.”

What else?

“More torture pics. Three Iraqi journalists who work for Reuters denouncing that they were picked up and tortured by US soldiers. Oops—there’s a June Bug here—just flew in the window.”

Is that a news item, guy?

“Don’t be silly. I am talking about a real bug. Don’t you see him there on the table?”

Well, yes I do. And it’s only May. Wonder what it means.

“They always start revving up in May. What do you mean what does it mean?”

Don’t you remember the Jung story, where the patient dreams about the scarab beetle and goes to her session with Jung and there’s a scratching at the window and it’s a scarab beetle wanting to get in?


Jung uses that scarab apparition to talk about synchronicity—that everything in a a given moment has the properties of that moment.

“In that case, we’re in deep doo-doo. Look at the moment we are living—chaos, torture, perversion all over the planet. Your species running amok and dragging the rest of us down with you. And a long list of etceteras. What would Jung make of that?”

Probably he would say that the unconscious—the unaccepted shadow exemplified by the dark deeds in Iraq and other places—has exploded into consciousness, and has taken over. He saw that happening before both World War I and World War II.

“And the June Bug? Where does it fit in?”

I suppose as a harbinger. of something. The scarab is also a symbol of rebirth in Egyptian cosmology.

“And in Mesopotamian cosmology?”

Probably it’s about the same, given the cultural overlap.

“So that means we’re on the way out, right? I mean, you have to die before you can be reborn.” Raven looks doubtful.

‘He not busy born is busy dying’—in the words of Bob Dylan.

“I don’t see a whole lot of emphasis on being born right now, do you?”

No, dying seems to have the upper hand.

“He should have been a cockroach.” Raven pokes at the June Bug with one talon.

How do you know it’s a he?

“We lower animals have not lost our ability to relate to other species.”

Okay, and why should he have been a cockroach?

“Those guys are not about being busy dying and being born again. They are about being busy surviving. Hunkering down and just getting through it. Which is what we probably should be doing.”

Oh, Rave, I don’t know. I think I’d rather go write my will. All things considered.

“All things considered, I don’t think you need to bother.”

Raven has to have the last word.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Raven is outraged. Again.

“Get a load of this: in the newspaper they are quoting Dick Cheney’s reaction to the torture routinely applied to Iraqi prisoners by occupation forces.”

Okay, Rave, I’ll bite. What was his reaction?

“He said the important thing to remember is that the soldiers didn’t try to conceal that they were torturing Iraqis.!”

Oh my….Actually, I am not surprised. I suppose that’s why all the photos and videos of the torture sessions were made—so that the invasion forces could parade their hijinks in front of the international community?

“Hmmm. And I had assumed they made the videos to sell to porno distributors in the States. Poor misguided me….”

Nothing like a stupid cynical leader to establish the priorities.

Monday, May 10, 2004


Listen to this, Rave:

'"There is no question that these pictures … make our work much more difficult," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged in an interview with Agence France-Presse news agency Friday.

"These images are very destructive to our foreign policy efforts," he said, including the effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.'

"Apparently, one picture is worth more than a thousand words. Powell seems blithely unconcerned with the fact that the pictures, the images were photographic evidence of aberrant BEHAVIOR." Raven is outraged.

Yeah--it's like the guy who murders his wife and then complains about the inconvenience of being caught. Being caught was a mistake. Killing his wife was not.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Raven is pecking at a cookie while he scrolls through the news in Internet.

“Yesterday US Secretary of Offense Rumsfeld apologized for the torture of Iraqi prisoners. But he refuses to resign. What’s with this guy?”

Well, I suppose he doesn’t want to give up his lucrative “chamba”, Rave. Besides that, he probably feels that he shouldn’t have to be the sacrificial lamb when the entire Bush Gang is in this mess up to their necks.

“For how many months now have we been calling for a regime change?”

Far too many, I’m afraid. And this week 58 former US diplomats echoes the statement issued by 52 former UK diplomats, expressing their complete inconformity with the occupation of Iraq. But the Bush Gang presses on—now aiming their artillery at Latin America in the hopes of capturing Miami Mafia votes in November. Cuba is digging in for another Bay of Pigs.

“And the US citizens? Where is their hue and cry against these outrages?”

In the progressive community the usual voice are activated. But the general citizenry—who knows? You’d think when they pulled their SUVs up to the gas pumps they would notice something—even if they don’t care about the havoc being wreaked in their name around the globe.

“Probably they just blame the high prices on Chavez and OPEC:”

Chavez responded to that a few days ago with a “yo no fui”, saying that the person rsponsible for petroleum at 40 bucks a barrel is none other than George W. Bush—that if the Bush Gang hadn’t invaded Iraq to grab the petroleum that they haven’t been able to produce, petroleum prices would be the same as in March of 2003.

“So who’s going to pay the piper for this misadventure?”

In a fascist, patriarchial society the prime targets are women. Please note that the lady general’s head has rolled—sort of—and that the Trailer Park Tootsie with the Dominatrix Complex will probably be drummed out of the corps.

“For not being photogenic? Big deal. They aren’t decision-makers.”

Of course not, guy. But can you imagine Bush—with his double digit IQ—articulating something in the way of an apology to the planet, admitting that he and his minions were too greedy and too stupid to see where their actions were leading?

“You know, if the US were a Latin American country, folks would be in the streets banging on their frying pans, demanding a new government. If the US were Argentina, maybe. They’s be demanding that the whole kit and kaboodle get out.”

Yeah, but Argentina is a democratic country—at least for the moment. The US is a totalitarian state—where even the Disney Company is too cowardly to release the new Michael Moore film, “Fahrenheit 911”, because it’s critical of Bush.

“They’re afraid ol’ Jeb Bush will pull the plug on their tax-free boondoggle, Disney World, in Florida. Mickey Mouse must be spinning in his grave.”

Mickey—no. But Walt Disney must be.

“Even Richard Nixon must be! He was a saint compared to these guys.”

Let’s not canonize him quite yet, Rave. But you’re right: these guys are right down there with Hitler and Stalin.

“I’m not big on nostalgia. Que se vayan todos!”

Raven grabs a spoom amd begins to beat on our frying pan. If we had two, I would join him.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Ha! Get this: Bush is blaming Clinton for 9/11. TIME magazine is fanning the flames of contradiction in their web site.

Raven scratches his tiny head.

“Huh? I thought Clinton went out of office in January of 2001.”

He did, Rave. But a small detail like that is invisible to Mr. 79 IQ.

“Small potatoes, indeed. Just how is he blaming him? And why is he stealing the thunder of the future from the CIA? They went to great lengths to orchestrate 9/11.”

It says here that Bush told the Commission that when he met with Clinton during the transition period that Clinton was all wrought up about North Korea, and that he downplayed the importance of Al Qaeda. Therefore, clearly it’s all Clinton’s fault. How embarrassing: to have a sniveling simpleton like Bush in the Oval Office.

“He belongs in a sandbox, that’s for sure. Something doesn’t add up. Not surprising, I suppose. Clinton told the Commission that Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden would be the number one problem of the new administration. And I think he said that in a number of different venues.”

Bush also claims that he was not notified of any worries the CIA and the FBI had in regard to Zacarias Moussaoui, a pilot who was arrested in August of 2001 and who was a member of the commando that hijacked airplanes on September 11th.

“What, he worry? Alfred E. Newman Bush?” Naw!”

Speaking of the CIA, that lady general who had the can tied to her last week is saying that the CIA and Army Intelligence (oops, just a tiny oxymoron there) were responsible for inciting soldiers to torture Iraqi prisoners, that those guys were in and out of the prison at all hours of the day and night doing their dirty deeds.

“And wasn’t she supposed to be in charge? Sounds like the lunatics were running the asylum all right. I would have fired her for incompetence.”

There are more photos emerging, Rave. British soldiers urinating on Iraqi prisoners, forcing them to drink urine while blindfolded, breaking their jaws. Chavez called them SAVAGES on his t.v. show, “Alo Presidente” yesterday. Said that the mistreatment was an “aberration”, and that the young woman shown in one of the photos inciting the mayhem was “sick”.

“I believe that’s what we said yesterday.”

Raven is playing with bread crumbs on the tie-dyed tablecloth—our one souvenir of Guayaquil.

Chavez said, in regard to the photos: “This is the war of Mr. Bush—let the world judge him.”

“It’s the least it can do. But let him be judged by ALL species, as we are all being damaged by that very damaged homo sapiens—well, sapiens, no.”

No, of course not. After all this is the offspring of a mother who said that no photos of body bags and dead soldiers should be shown—that she shouldn’t have to trouble HER BEAUTIFUL MIND with those things!

“Wow! Well, of course she has had no experience of that; Georgie Boy was AWOL in Alabama during Vietnam. What else did Chavez say?”

Seems he decided to accept CNN’s media war against him. Probably he said “Bring it on”.

“In the ironic sense, of course.”

No one could quote Georgie Boy and not be ironic.

“How about bringing on a cup of coffee?”

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Raven is peering at photos of torture in Iraq in the Internet: Iraqi prisoners being tortured and sexually abused by US soldiers.

"This is what your species does when they have helpless victims in their grasp."

Those photos show what's behind the mask of the supposed bringing of democracy to Iraq, that's for sure.

"What also disturbs me is that whoever took the shots is highly suspect, and clearly part of the torture brigade."

That's true, Rave. A very different kind of photographer than the one who took that famous Vietnam image of the little naked girl who had been showered with napalm running down the road screaming.

"'Weren't we just talking about the Heart of Darkness, the Horror?"

These Iraqui shots are so cynical I don't believe there's any heart there--dark or otherwise. It's more like the Anus of Darkness.

"Considering the assholes who cooked up the Iraq Invasion Caper, I'll buy that interpretation. I find it interesting, though, that the head that rolled for this had tits and ass atttached to it: a woman general."

I was surprised at first, too--but then there have been a fair number of lady sadists: sickies with Dominatrix Complexes, Big Nurse in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"....

"Birds have taken it in the beak there. In fact, except for mad dogs--rabid dogs, really--I don't know of any crazy animals."

There's a dicho in Spanish that applies here: "Muerto el perro, se acaba la rabia."

"When the dog is dead, the rabies is over?"

Something like that. Dick Cheney, by the way, has always looked like a mad dog to me.

"Are you suggesting putting him out of our misery? And I mean OUR in the most global sense possible, embracing all species."

I'm not calling for a firing squad, exactly, but given the level of incomformity on the part of the US military high command with the Iraq Caper, the exposure of rampant human rights violations on the part of the forces of occupation--on top of the violations in Guantanamo--and the presidential options being The Cousins, Tweedledee and Tweedledumb, I'd say it's a good time for a golpe de estado.

"A military coup? Hmmm. That would be a pointed irony, since the Bush Gang backed the failed coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002, and then celebrated 200 years of Haitian independence by putting a coup against Aristide just this year."

It'd de interesting to see if Chavez would recognize a military government in the US.

"Well, he's been on both sides of the coup coin. Could be a tough call."

I'm no fascist, and my honorable discharge from the US Army for my 11 days as a conscientously objecting sergeant in Fort McClellan, Alabama, notwithstanding....

"Alabama! Sounds like Deliverance country."

That it is, Rave, but as I was saying: I would support a military coup against the current regime--which was imposed by a non-military coup anyway--because I don't believe that the military high command could possibly be as stupid, inept and unethical as The Cousins--and some of them may have even learned something from the Vietnam experience.

"With all the protesting statements being made by ex-chiefs of staff, etcetera, I think you may be onto something."

Not to mention that the presidential candidate I felt was the best of the litter would be the logical choice to head the military junta.

"Ah. Wesley Clark."

Bingo. The manure is piling up higher every day, Rave. Time to get ol' Wesley cleaning the Augean Stables.

"He's got my vote--er, molotov cocktail?"

I have just one word for you, boy: plastics. As in C-4.

"Speaking of military coups and C-4s, the star of Kaddafi is shining in the sky again: the Alpha Centauri of Arab Modernism. Since when are tribes modern?"

We tribal types have always been hip, Rave. Some folks are just slow to get the picture. Remember all the flak that Chavez caught a few years back when he visited Kaddafi and jump-started OPEC?

"And now Tony Lapdog Blair beats a path to his tent in Tripoli and everything's cool."

And Bush cancels the sanctions against Libya--and the C-4s are forgotten.

"Do you really think that Bush even remebers the Lockerbie Incident?"

Of course not. You don't remember something you never knew. But I bet Chavez is laughing in his papaya juice. Speaking of which, a tall glass of papaya juice would go down pretty good right about now.

"It would go down better than these horrifying torture pics. Saddam had nothing on these guys and gals. By the way, didn't he take power in a military coup?"

He did indeed.

"I have a hunch he would go down a lot better than the Marines with the Iraqis right about now."

Raven rolls his beady eyes and heads for the refrigerator.

Always the joker. Or is he?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Raven and I have been in a state of suspended animation—like flies in amber—for several weeks.

Rave, I feel like Kurtz in “The Heart of Darkness”. At the end all he could say was “The horror”. And then he died.

“Sounds like Brando in “Apocalypse Now” commenting on the acting style of Dennis Hopper.”

You got it! I open the newspaper and read that 900 people—mostly women and children—were mowed down by marines in one town in Iraq. And then I read in the next headline that the US is “disappointed” that Iraqi soldiers don’t want to kill folks who are resisting. Disappointed!

Raven picks at a slab of left-over vegetarian lasagne.

“Why do they need Iraqi soldiers anyway? They have over 18,000 mercenaries there earning up to 1,000 bucks a day. Retreads from Pinochet’s DINA, from the jolly Ulster boys, the Apartheid reinforcers from South Africa, etcetera. There must be a lot more assiduous readers of Soldier of Fortune magazine out there just burning to sign up.”

Interesting choice of term, Rave: burning. Four of those soldiers of fortune were burned and hanged from trees or lampposts or something. That’s what set the marines on the massacre path this time.

“Hmmm. We could listen to “Strange Fruit”. Seems like we haven’t played “The Best of Billie Holiday” in ages.”

We haven’t played anything in ages. Too bummed out by the horror.

“What was that Robin Williams movie about radio? Ah yes: “Good Morning,

Sure smells like napalm to me, Rave. Maybe it’s time to break out Country Joe and the Fish? A blast from the past:

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.
And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We're all gonna die.

“Yeah, a blast like C-4 plastic explosives. Or we could snicker over the transcripts from Aunt Jemima at the 9/11 hearings. Looks like she would have moved heaven and earth not to have been there.”

The truth will never be acknowledged, guy. No committee is going to state publicly that their government allowed—or paid—those crazy Saudis to crash into the Twin Towers so that Bush and his cronies could blast off on their broomsticks to take over the Middle East oil fields. The smoke from the Reichstag Fire and the wreckage from the battleship Maine were all over Ground Zero, but almost nobody had the balls to say the Bushies did it. One columnist here in Mexico caught all kinds of flak for his 9/12 piece, “The Martians Speak English”, that made a very solid logical case for the only possible culprit having been the US government.

Raven narrows is beady eyes.

“You mean justice will never be done?”

Rave, I can’t believe you’re asking that. In the world we’re living in! Or the state of Mexico we’re living in, for that matter. Where the fox is paid an obscene number of pesos to guard the henhouse!

“I know—and he builds a landing strip out back for the narcotraficantes.”

And then, when his two top cops are caught with their mitts in the cocaine jar and popped in the slammer, he fires 500 cops. So now we have 500 unemployed semi-literate delinquents roaming the streets with the weapons they didn’t turn in.

“Oh, happy day. I guess that means we won’t be going out today, right?”

I think we’ll do our bit to fight the explosion of excop crimes right here at home.

“And you said another world was possible.”

But not a better one. Apparently.

Monday, March 15, 2004


As a result of last week’s scandal with Tony Blair attempting to suppress the commentary of David King, a scientist from the UK who had commented that Bush’s policy of denying global warming was even more dangerous than terrorism (how does that play in Spain?), more information is coming to the surface about the disastrous effects of abrupt climate changes.

Yesterday’s PROCESO magazine ran a story, “Apocalipsis, ya” (Apocalypse Now), about the report by the Global Business Network that was commissioned by the Pentagon and later given the deep six by the same government agency because it contradicted the Bushites’ position that global warming doesn’t exist.

Raven, I think this is serious business.

”Science fiction, more likely. Those CBN guys say that the US and Mexico will be going to war over the use of the water from the Colorado River!”

They have practically done that already, Rave. Where have you been hiding your head?

“I think I won’t pursue that….”

Listen. There’s more than just that PROCESO article which is a scary script. On the Common Dreams site there’s more:

Ten years after the ratification of a United Nations treaty on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming are still on the rise, signalling a "collective failure" of the industrialized world, according to the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI), a leading environmental think-tank.

"We are quickly moving to the point where the damage will be irreversible," warned Dr. Jonathan Pershing, director of WRI's Climate, Energy and Pollution Program. "In fact, the latest scientific reports indicate that global warming is worsening. Unless we act now, the world will be locked into temperatures that would cause irreversible harm." “

“Your species, again. Destroying the planet.”

I know, guy. But what’s going to be done? Listen:

Studies over the past decade have shown that the warming trend continues. "The five warmest years in recorded weather history have taken place over the last six years," noted WRI's president, Jonathan Lash.

"The ten warmest years in recorded weather history have taken place since 1987. Whether it's the retreat of glaciers, the melting of the permafrost in Alaska, or the increase in severe weather events, the world is experiencing what the global warming models predict," he said.

Europe, the main champion of the Kyoto Protocol, suffered its hottest year on record last year. Some 15,000 people in France alone died due to heat stress in combination with pollution, while European agriculture suffered an estimated $12.5 billion in losses.

Britain's most influential scientist, Sir David King, recently excoriated the Bush administration for withdrawing from the Protocol and ignoring the threat posed by climate change. "In my view, climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today," he wrote in Science magazine, "more serious even than the threat of terrorism."

Even the Pentagon recently issued a warning that global warming, if it takes place abruptly, could result in a catastrophic breakdown in international security. Based on growing evidence that climate shifts in the past have taken place with breathtaking speed, based on the freshening of sea water due to accelerated melting of glaciers and the polar ice caps.

“Freshening?” What kind of word is that?"

I don’t know, but the article goes on to say:

Given enough freshening, the Gulf Stream that currently warms the North Atlantic would be shut off, triggering an abrupt decline in temperatures that would bring about a new "Ice Age" in Europe, eastern Canada, and the northeastern United States and similar disastrous changes in world weather patterns elsewhere--all in a period as short as two to three years.

Wars over access to food, water, and energy would be likely to break out between states, according to the report. "Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," according to the report. "Once again, warfare would define human life."

Even if climate change is more gradual, recent studies have argued that as many as one million plant and animal species could be rendered extinct due to the effects of global warming by 2050. A recent report by the world's largest reinsurance company, Swiss Re, predicted that in 10 years the economic cost of disasters like floods, frosts, and famines caused by global warming could reach $150 billion annually.

"Accelerated development of a portfolio of technologies could stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, enhance global energy security, and eradicate energy poverty," noted David Jhirad, WRI's vice president for research. "We urgently need the political will and international cooperation to make this happen."

Raven bursts into hysterical laughter.

“Political will? International cooperation? Who are they kidding? Don’t they know that this is the Age of Unilateralism?”

There’s hope, Rave. Yesterday the voters in Spain threw out the burros that hitched their wagon to the Bush star.

“A tiny ray of hope, that. The US burros need to throw out Bush. Then maybe international cooperation will have a shot. In the meantime, how about microwaving a spot of Earl Grey?”

I’ll microwave your spot, all right…Even Walter Cronkite is up in arms over global warming. Listen to this:

One thing we have to keep in mind: While these might only be worst-case scenarios, many of the conditions and processes scientists think might trigger them already are present or under way. Global warming is at least as important as gay marriage or the cost of Social Security. And if it is not seriously debated in the general election, it will measure the irresponsibility of the entire political class. This is an issue that cannot, and must not, be ignored any longer.

"Okay. I give up. I'll make my own tea."

Saturday, March 13, 2004


Raven and I have been loafing since we returned to Mexico. He has several buddies in the area that meet up with us at the swimming complex here in the village, so he’s happy.

This morning it’s back to trying coffee for me—blood pressure inching downward makes me feel invincible again.

Raven is mooning around in the sun coming in the kitchen window.

“Hey. There’s a wasp in my coffee!”

The bird is having none of that. He dumps the cup and the wasp beats a hasty retreat, buzzing in zigzags to the front door.

“So. What would Jung make of that?”

Probably he would be more on target if it were a scarab beetle. But I think it means that you are supposed to look at things more closely, not just gulp down adventure after adventure.

“In that case, the message should have been for you. In your cup.”

Or maybe it’s something we can analyze politically. Who is the wasp in the coffee, politically speaking?

“Disingenuous question, I see. Hugo Chavez already nailed that for us this week when he said that the biggest single threat to the survival of the planet is George W. Bush.”

Some scientist in the UK said much the same thing. He said that Bush’s disregard of global warming was more dangerous than the wars he’s intent on waging all around the planet.

“Then you have it. The wasp in the coffee is Bush. Too bad he didn’t drown.”

You’re the one who saved his life.

“Just a reflex action. Next time I’ll let him drown.”

If there is a next time….