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Wednesday, Apr 23rd

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Alex Baer: Life, Death, and Other Mindsets

Young FrankensteinYou're never too old to read a love letter.  It's not embarrassing, either.  It's downright invigorating.  Even at my age.  Or yours.

Age is just a state of mind, anyway.  In a year that's been filled with keen reminders of just how tenuous this whole business of breathing and remaining upright really is, Mark Twain comes unshakably to mind:  "Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

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Alex Baer: 2 or 3 Reasons to Not Vaporize Us - Yet

music and laughterWelcome to the sequel:  Monday, Part 2 -- The Non-Incredible Sameness of It All.

Oh, sure. We could mist up some, get all starry-eyed, get down on one knee, mutter a hazy, uncertain prayer, and utter our eternal gratitude, all because our elected representatives in Washington finally started doing (gasp!) their jobs.  Avoiding a national and worldwide financial meltdown was a side bonus, of course.

Somehow, I'm just not there, way off in Blissful Gratitude Land somewhere.  It just doesn't seem like that much of a bargain or blessing.

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The Lies That Will Kill America

Lies that will kill AmericaHere in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”

Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure.

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Montag: The "Special Relationship": How We Got Spying Wrong

Spies'Have been musing about how the NSA and the GCHQ got so chummy, and this opinion piece also made me wonder about how our own system evolved over time in the way it did.  Based on the anecdotal evidence, it seems that the U.S. has always been dependent in some ways on the British scheme of intelligence, as structured in government.  We forget nowadays that, in the longer view, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA are all fairly recent constructs--the FBI is a little more than 75 years old (although it grew out of the earlier BOI--Bureau of Investigations--created about 25 years previously).  The CIA is only about 65 years old, and the NSA, a mere stripling at 60 years old.

To a considerable degree, we've followed the British model of organization.  The FBI is the analog of MI5, the CIA that of MI6 (thus purportedly separating domestic and foreign intelligence pursuits), with GCHQ originally handling signals intelligence and cryptography for both the military and civilian government, as the NSA has done for much of its existence (the notable exception being that NSA has its mandate as a military operation, with military leadership and funding from military budgets).

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Alex Baer: How to Solve Modern Crises with Ancient Snacks

popcornPopcorn could be just the breakthrough we've all been looking for.

We've long needed something to help break through Madison Avenue's icy grip on our minds and on our wallets.  It could even allow, and help facilitate, contact with the Space Aliens openly living in our midst, called Republicans.

Popcorn?  Madison Avenue?  Space Aliens?

OK, let's back up and go slowly.  For openers, you know how a familiar feeling of vulnerability sometimes goes -- the sense that there are teams of psychologists working around the clock, seeking inroads to your psyche, in order to make you want to buy useless products, and ensure you are helpless to all commercial ads and suggestions, right?

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Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States

welcome to NYAfter a year of traveling, I had planned a last, short trip. I was going to take the train from Montreal to New Orleans. The travels I had been undertaking earlier this year had brought me to places that were meant to form the background of my second novel.

This trip, however, was for my dad. He, a trumpet player, loved New Orleans and had died a year ago. It felt like the first sensible trip I undertook this year. I had been searching for ways to forget about the last hours at his deathbed. He had been ill for 15 years and his body just would not give up. It was a violent sight. I had decided the trip to New Orleans would put an end to those memories.

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Alex Baer: Tri-Corner Logic: Easy as 1-2-3

tea partyIt's an interesting phenomenon:  You have a tiny shard of the U.S. population holding itself, and the world, hostage via the Shutdown-Blowdown-Blowup fever dreams of a handful of boneheads who dress up like Constitutional preservationists and protectionists -- while those same boneheads betray the very document they themselves claim to be supporting and providing safe harbor, all while using that same document as a handy club on all who dare disagree with them.

It's interesting, all right -- and in the same twisted, horrific, hold-your-breath-way that it's interesting to consider what happens, say, when a freight train filled with 13 million gallons of molasses and Super Glue piles into an oncoming train loaded down with 42 tons of high grit sandpaper and radioactive goose feathers .

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