Tagged: United States

Holidays in the Bay Area

The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving (end of November) and lasts throughout December. It includes Hannukah,  the Winter solstice, Kwanzaa, Christmas, as well as a few other memorable events, like our tribute to consumerism, Black Friday. This year was extreme: The worst wildfire season in California’s history killed many people and filled the Bay Area with fire smoke for days. It ended a few days before Thanksgiving with the start of the rainy season. The holiday season here is rich with events like open art studios, neighborhood walks, concerts, markets, and Christmas lights. We are experiencing an explosion in development: new construction,...

Madness and Civilization, Revisited

“For the madness of men is a divine spectacle: In fact, could one make observations from the Moon, as did Menippus, considering the numberless agitations of the Earth, one would think one saw a swarm of flies or gnats fighting among themselves, struggling and laying traps, stealing from one another, playing, gambling, falling, and dying, and one would not believe the troubles, the tragedies that were produced by such a minute animalcule destined to perish so shortly.”  ― Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. 1961. America struggles with mental health: we are in the...

Shrump II: Madness, Fascism, and Resistance.

Silence from the country’s mental health organizations has been due to a self-imposed rule about evaluating public figures. But this silence has resulted in a failure to lend our expertise to worried journalists and members of Congress at this critical time. We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer… We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.

George Washington’s Farewell Address. 1796

Friends and Citizens: The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made. I beg...

Shrump I: Post-Democracy in America?

Before I get started, let’s introduce a new term that helps us to appreciate the differences between words, their meaning, and reality itself. You may wonder what a “shrump” is. If you google it you will find that the definition is still in flux, and ranges from a “pickled shrimp” to a twitter hashtag, and to what I am suggesting here, namely a bump in the forest floor. Look at the picture on the left. It’s only a shrump if there is a mushroom underneath. The most intriguing aspect of this kind of object is that you can’t know what it is until you look...

US Election 2016: How to lose a Democracy.

Since election day a week ago, people have been protesting every night in the Bay Area and across the United States. I went to the demonstration yesterday, and want to share some impressions and photos. This family-friendly event on Sunday afternoon was called “Hands around Lake Merritt.” The goal was to bring out enough people to surround Lake Merritt, in the middle of Oakland, with a human chain. The lake has a loop of about 3.5 miles, and the event was announced through Facebook and Twitter. The organizers calculated that they needed around 4000 people. Many more showed up –...

God bless America!

You wake up and realize that a dystopian vision has become reality: America just became Trump University. There is no termination clause in the contract, and the sale is final. What went wrong? Hillary won in terms of absolute numbers, but lost the election. She received 48% against his 46.5%, or around 3 million votes more than Trump, out of 120 million votes cast. This is a replay of Gore versus Bush in the year 2000, when Gore won the vote count, but Bush won the Presidency due to the Electoral College system. Americans love their Constitution, but it has some serious flaws: The...

Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest

It’s about a thousand miles to drive on Highway 1 from San Francisco to Port Angeles, the northern-most town that connects the US and Canada. The drive along the ocean is beautiful, through vast coastal landscapes and ancient forests. One can find some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world along this remote coastline, small fishing towns, Indian reservations, and several world-famous National Parks. I travelled the whole distance during this summer, and I want to share some of the pictures below. Links to more extensive photo pages are at the bottom.  About the Region The Pacific North West includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington State, and the...

Napa Valley

How does a landscape cultivate mildness? You can find out if you go to the Napa Valley in California during spring. It is a composition of vineyards, small towns, wineries, forests and low mountain ranges that slowly narrow until you reach Calistoga. You will find some of the best restaurants in the world, expensive hotels, and rich tourists. This culture of living well is embedded into a traditional California country-side, with small towns that show their wealth through a display of modern art, beautifully maintained gardens, and vineyards that seem to belong to the surrounding nature forever. Napa county today has around 135,000 inhabitants. The first settlers, a southern...

Federalist Papers No.10 The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

Friday, November 23, 1787.  Author: James Madison To the People of the State of New York: AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability,...

China, India, and the United States: A Comparison

Why does the United States need urgent economic and political reform? An economic comparison between China, India, and the US reveals the stagnation of the US economy since 2000. The US has engaged in two useless and wasteful wars, and has failed to invest in infrastructure, education, research, health care, etc.The Obama Government is bogged down in a political stalemate with the Republicans, who lost the last two Presidential elections by relatively wide margins. Nevertheless, Republicans use a constitutional system of checks and balances, which was meant to protect political minorities and foster compromise, in order to block many Government...