Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pharmaceutical propaganda

The United States and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. Most countries banned the practice in the 1940s.

About $235 billion is spent on prescription drugs annually and almost $5 billion in DTC TV, radio, magazine and newspaper advertising.

There are, however, strict rules for how to advertise prescription drugs, especially on television. Advertisers have to list what the drug treats, its side effects and how to obtain it. But these requirements weigh down the commercial and leave very little room for crafting a story or creating a memorable experience for the viewer.

Hence, illogical cartoon shit and lengthy side-effect diatribes. Note two things about the following image:
  1. The doctor is showing a video presentation of the same doctor talking about Abilify
  2. The anthropomorphized depression umbrella is diligently taking notes

"Call your doctor if your depression worsens, or if you have unusual changes in behavior, or thoughts of suicide. Anti-depressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. Elderly dementia patients taking Abilify have an increased chance of death or stroke. Call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion - to address a possible life-threatening condition - or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements, as these could become permanent. High blood sugar has been reported with Abilify and medicines like it, and in extreme cases can lead to coma or death. Other risks [there's more?] include increased cholesterol, weight gain, decreases in white blood cells - which can be serious - dizziness while standing, seizures, trouble swallowing, and impaired judgement or motor skills."
Ask your doctor if Abilify is right for you. Yeeeee. This ad gets it right:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bring justice to the enemy, not the other way around

Why is it that the United States of America's global-military "solution" to the supposed threat of terrorism seems to be exactly the policy an entity interested in creating a never-ending supply of extremists would pursue? From "The Politics of Fear" by Mark Danner:
The blanket of near silence cast over the Middle East “peace process” extends south and east, to the United States’ most active current “shooting war”—the undeclared and seemingly permanent covert war being fought mostly with unmanned drones in South Asia and, increasingly, the Horn of Africa. Every day, twenty-four hours a day, American airmen serving their shifts at bases in Nevada, upstate New York, and elsewhere in the United States are “piloting” these lethal flying robots, gazing at computer screens through which they track from above the movements of men on the other side of the world.

Sometimes the men they shadow in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia are known militant suspects (targets of so-called “personality strikes”), sometimes they are “military-aged” men behaving in ways deemed to fit with known terrorist “profiles” (so-called “signature strikes”). In either case the land-borne pilots, whether working for the Central Intelligence Agency or the United States military, spend their hours and days observing them—and often pulling the trigger that launches the missile that streaks down and kills them. These pilots working quietly on US bases have so far killed several thousand people — credible estimates range as high as 3,500 — and perhaps as many as one in four have been noncombatants. At least four executed in this manner have been American citizens.

This quiet war, President Obama’s “focused” version of George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, shows no sign of coming to an end. No doubt some of those killed pose an imminent threat to American citizens—though the definition of what exactly that means, what criteria must be satisfied for our government to order someone’s death, remain classified and unmentioned. But there is much evidence to suggest that many, at least by any reasonable definition of “threat,” do not—indeed, that in as many as 94 percent of the cases the targets are “mere foot soldiers” about whom, according to terrorism expert Peter Bergen, “it’s hard to make the case that [they] threaten the United States in some way.” What is not in dispute is that these killings of thousands of Muslims, conducted by remote control by a distant superpower, have caused enormous resentment and hatred of the United States in Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world, a consequence that helps revivify and perpetuate the political sentiments at the root of the war on terror.


"I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had, 'cause I love you. And you feel it. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world - which it would cover many times over, not one human being excluded - and we could explore space, together - both inner and outer - forever, in peace."

~ Bill Hicks

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

The above slogans appear in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by English writer George Orwell (1949). The following quotation is from President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation (1961). Published for your consideration, with a perspective on current events.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Presidential Election Day! An opportunity to participate in representative democracy the two-party-abattoir!


This excerpt, re-blogged from today's citation on New-York-Times-champion-commentator Karen Garcia's site, comes from a worthy and utterly bleak article by Chris Hedges ("The S&M Election"):
Obama tells us that we better lick his boots or we will face the brute down the hall, Mitt Romney. After all, we wouldn’t want the bad people to get their hands on these newly minted mechanisms of repression. We will, if we do not behave, end up with a more advanced security and surveillance state, the completion of the XL Keystone pipeline, unchecked pillage from Wall Street, environmental catastrophe and even worse health care. Yet we know on some level that once the election is over, Obama will, if he is re-elected, again betray us. This is part of the game. We dutifully assume our position. We cry out in holy terror. We promise to obey. And we are mocked as we watch promises crumble into dust.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Critical thinking

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

~ Siddhartha Gautama, 563-483 B.C.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Night hauling

Jean-Francois Millet Les pĂȘcheurs (Fishermen) 1870 

Similar subject matter to this painting by Andrew Wyeth (different light-source).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unpublished response

State-sponsored corporate hegemony over American society (also known as corporatism, a synonym for fascism according to Benito Mussolini) is a far more significant and immediate threat to our freedom than the vague indication of creeping Islamist influence you are clamoring over here. Those repressive rulers who foist crack-pot fundamentalism on their impoverished populations and relish in grand designs on world domination represent but a minuscule danger to this country, no matter how fanatical they are.

Don't the final sentences in this post betray a fixation on competitive electoral politics? You associate by intimation a highly speculative and, in my opinion, somewhat specious outside threat with our current President, stating the matter in the gravest of terms and implying his ouster in November will thwart "The Project." I think it is remiss to encourage any kind of fear and reaction over this (non)issue.

Even if Obama is a secret Muslim with wicked intent to undermine the Bill of Rights, the framers of that document were wise enough to embed checks-and-balances in the structure of our government to prevent such unilateral subversion (as I'm certain the civic and patriotic author of this blog is well aware). Show a little courage and confidence in the spirit of freedom that, at the very least, stands at the foundation of American society. Sharia will never, ever, be the law of this land – it doesn’t merit a mention much less a call to action.

Indeed, this land of the free and home of the brave faces far more important issues, especially vis-Ă -vis the coming election. I would dare to suggest that, on solutions to problems that actually affect our nation, both candidates for President of the United States have demonstrated precious little in the "to offer" column. Still, it's hard to imagine Mitt Romney being any more lenient in regulating corporate abuse of the citizenry than the current administration has proven to be.

Thank you for respectfully and thoughtfully reviewing my comment.

Civilly, pete v

The above comment was submitted as a response to this blog post on "Liberty Belle: Right-side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World" (or is that "Liberty Belle: Shill for Corrupt Jingoistic Neoliberal Establishment Colonialism"? Is that uncivil?).

Tantamount to screaming “The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! And Obama is their Manchurian Candidate!” the post proffers the distinctly absurd notion of infiltration of our sovereign government by the evil Muslim Brotherhood in accordance with their master plan for implementing a global caliphate of Sharia Law. The author goes on to suggest that those unaware of this critical threat ought to "wake up and smell the coffee" before the November election.

Though the hallucinatory nature of this perceived danger hardly needs to be pointed out, I thought I’d attempt to do so. The comment was not published.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is how it works

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes." ~ General Smedley D. Butler (1935)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Humanity betrayed


BOWED by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power.
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this -
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed -
More filled with signs and portents for the soul -
More fraught with menace to the universe.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings -
With those who shaped him to the thing he is -
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God,
After the silence of the centuries?

The Man with the Hoe
Edwin Markham 1917

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rescue the weak and needy

God has taken his place in the divine council;
  in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

Psalm 82 ESV

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We are the one percent

"We're in it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I'd say we're dead in it, yeah."*


*This quote was delivered one win after the above chart was generated. Not having the requisite statistical skills to update the percentage, I can only speculate: "We are the one-and-a-half percent?"

Update: I came across a link to another standings website in the comment thread of a September 6th post on an official Phillies blog. A week ago the Fightin's chance at a playoff slot stood at 0.1%. Their status in the Wild Card race over the last seven days:

Thursday: 8 games back
Friday: 7.5
Saturday: 6.5
Sunday: 6
Monday: 5
Tuesday: 4
Wednesday: 3

Not only is the club en fuego, but teams leading the Phillies (such as the miracle-in-2011 Cardinals) are slipping. Current odds of making the postseason, a sturdy 5.5%! Dead in it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fight the power

“Freedom is participation in power.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In pursuit of justice

 "Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine." ~ Thoreau

HAIFA, Israel — An Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was run over [brutally crushed] by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested housing demolitions in the Gaza Strip.

Friday, August 24, 2012


give me liborty
"Outside the limit of our sight, feeding off us, perched on top of us, from birth to death, are our owners! Our owners! They have us. They control us! They are our masters! Wake up! They're all about you! All around you!" ~ They Live

Monday, August 20, 2012

You've got to want to rearrange it

X-Mas Curtain
First Light
Outta My System
Holdin On To Black Metal
Into The Woods
Evelyn Is Not Real
The Bear
Rocket Man (Elton John cover)
It Beats 4 U
Steam Engine (w/ Sax Solo)
Victory Dance
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2
Good Intentions
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 1
Wordless Chorus
Run Thru
Smokin' From Shootin'

Wonderful (The Way I Feel) w/ Ben Bridwell
I'm Amazed
It Makes No Difference (The Band cover)
Off The Record
One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket at the Mann Center, Philadelphia. Set list crowd-sourced at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Things fall apart

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats 1919

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Stash: Bonus Tracks 2012

Heart It Races Dr. Dog (Architecture In Helskinki cover)
Level The Raconteurs
That's What's Up Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Victory Dance My Morning Jacket
The Rifle's Spiral The Shins
Comeback Kid Sleigh Bells
Hit Me Down Sonny The Ting Tings
One Foot fun.
Holidays Miami Horror
Changing The Airborne Toxic Event
Hold On Alabama Shakes
On Your Way Down Trombone Shorty (Little Feat cover)
Take A Walk Passion Pit
In The Summertime Mungo Jerry
Monkberry Moon Delight Paul and Linda McCartney
When The Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
It's My Fault For Being Famous The White Stripes

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It is better to vote for what you want and not get it
than to vote for what you don't want and get it.

~ Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's hell to believe there ain't a hell of a chance

clean air
safe and sufficient water
safe and adequate food
safe and peaceful settlements
stable global environment