Really? Maybe.

Here is an unusual interpretation of the Wizard of Oz.

The text is pasted below, with a link:

Money and Politics in the Land of Oz
The extraordinary story behind the extraordinary story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

Abstract: L. Frank Baum claimed to have written The Wonderful Wizard of Oz “solely to pleasure the children” of his day, but scholars have found enough parallels between Dorothy’s yellow-brick odyssey and the politics of 1890s Populism to suggest otherwise. Did Baum intend to pen a subtle political satire on monetary reform or merely an entertaining fantasy?


My Top 12

So, this coming Wednesday, I’m contributing my efforts to cultivating local interest in American culture. Specifically, I’m giving a lecture at the US Consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China.

Most speakers (American professors and such) choose heavy, serious topics.

My topic is: The 12 Most Important Movies in American History – according to me of course.

I chose the movies below for either their impact on popular culture or, more often, their ability to capture to Zeitgeist of the era. After all, what other movie, other than The Graduate, best represents the 1960s?

It should be a good lecture. After teaching classes in Public Speaking, I should have the required “skills,” as they say on Napoleon Dynamite…

Here are the movies, with an indication of the themes…

The Wizard of Oz 

Citizen Kane


A Streetcar Named Desire

War of the Worlds


The Graduate

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Taxi Driver

Wall Street

The Big Lebowski

American Beauty

High Time

Makes sense, especially with most of the world’s populations living near the coast.

South China Sea

Theories of international relations in the West, which trickle down into the popular media, have difficulty understanding that when China is strong the East Asian region is relatively peaceful and stable.

This is the opposite of the European experience, where the balance of power theory holds that the ascendance of one power then coalesces rivals, who attack. Other kinds of power transition theories have challengers taking on the lead power, for all kinds of reasons.

In Europe, the relative dominance of one power (Rome, Napoleonic France, Germany) has precipitated war. This is even true of the European Union, whose NATO forces actively participated in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and whose clandestine forces are still active in Syria.

Europe is relatively unified, hence: more war, this time beyond the boundaries of the continent.

East Asia has had the opposite experience. In the absence of a regional hegemon there is usually war. So when China is weak and divided, there is regional war. The Mongol invasions, European colonial powers, the Japanese invasions…

One major and long-lasting era of Chinese power was during the Song dynasties, 960 – 1279, when it was a maritime power based on trade, including across the South China Sea and into the Indian Ocean. China’s population is so huge, and so dense, that the natural inclination of this country is to trade, which is more of a win-win scenario.

If the US withdrew militarily from East Asia, the countries over here would work something out among themselves, even on the Korean peninsula. After all, under the surface of international relations, there is the Chinese Diaspora, and very influential Chinese populations in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and especially the Philippines.

I’ve long made the case that the US should never have intervened in Korea (and of course not in Vietnam, either). The division of the Korean peninsula is what radicalized the northern half. Had North Korean forces taken over the entire peninsula, the country’s eventual political evolution (without being cornered) would have looked a lot more like that of China. A far more livable situation than the one we now find ourselves in.

In any case, the ideas here are offered just as a retort to those pundits who fantasize that western militaries, even western militarism, can provide peace and stability in Asia. They cannot.

Imagine, if the Chinese navy tried to maintain a military presence in the Gulf of Mexico, or the Florida Keys, or the Bahamas. We’d never heard the end of it.

In a perfect world, the US military bases in Asia would be folded into an international space program, one that would include the existing powers along with China, Russia, and even North Korea. It’s time to put away childish things, and lead by example.

Hitchens on all 3

2 minutes:

42 seconds:

4 minutes:

7 minutes:


Christopher Hitchens

Religions as totalitarian constructions: 2.25 min

Another 12 minute gem:

Here We Go


May 21 was supposed to be Rapture day in 2011. It came and went.

Now the nutjobs are out once again, proclaiming that this time it’s for real on May 21, 2016.

Granted! There has been an uptick in the Rapture Index – it now reads 181!

We cannot argue with the data!

No shit, there is such a think as a Biblical Barometer of the End Times, and all the latest developments are on

True Believers should forfeit their drivers licenses with the rapture being imminent. Why would they allow themselves to be teleported upwards, away from their steering wheels, and leave a heavy car careening out of control? No “Safety First” considerations for the Left Behind.

Once again, the doomsday proclaimers are recycling a mix of Biblical and astrological gobbledigook: September 27, 2015 fulfilled the Blood Moon Prophesy; the March 9 solar eclipse opened the Sixth Seal; there was an April 28 planetary retrograde; and, building to a crescendo of absurdity, there is to be, on May 21, Three Days of Darkness. There were other astrological events I left out, but just the usual cosmic stuff that happens regularly with no Second Coming, no Apocalypse.

It’s all very anti-climactic. I want my money back.

The most likely explanation for these End Times scenarios is that they are promulgated by a deeply committed cult, one that is devoted to testing the limits of human stupidity.





Point Well Taken

Pres. Yoweri Museveni

U.S. Officials Storm Out Of Uganda President’s Inauguration

Yoweri Museveni offended Western diplomats after calling the International Criminal Court “useless.”

Yes, well, Museveni is right. And western officials doth protest too much, me thinks.

There are two interesting things about this story on the Huffington Post.

First this is supposed to be an “international” world-level court, but US and European officials are revealing their vested interest in the ICC by having such thin skin. Can’t take a little criticism of a court that is supposedly not even theirs.

As argued here three years ago, complete with an original political cartoon, the ICC is a legal labrynth with no ultimate accountability. The intent is less on justice and more on creating a legal infrastructure with leverage over African states.

The ICC: Europe’s Guantanamo Bay.

The ICC came in handy for its controllers when President Laurent Gbagbo was potato sacked on completely false charges, having committed the real sin of trying to establish monetary sovereignty for the currency of the Ivory Coast.  At present, there are four trials ongoing (all Africans) and three in preparation (all Africans). Very few people ended up being prosecuted in the Yugoslavian and Georgian conflicts. And none for any activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Gaza.

That brings us the the second interesting thing. The US is not a party to the ICC, believing that the court lacks due process, provides no jury trials, allows for heresay evidence, and is not compatible with the US Constitution. It has also been caught withholding evidence. The ICC is a political weapon. So Museveni is not entirely accurate; the court is not useless but rather useful for advancing a neo-imperial agenda.

Rightly, the US does not recognize the authority of the ICC, but the real reason is to prevent its intervention engineers from standing trial for any war crimes.

Meantime, the US is all too happy to stand on the sidelines with pom-poms, cheerleading when citizens of other nations are subject to this Alice-in-Wonderland justice system.


The Future Deficit

At present we live in a futureless future, with very litte true thinking going on about human civilization. A little, here and there.

Musk thinks of an idea about the hyperloop but it exists in relative isolation from other changes. He seems like a decent guy, but the mainstream media forgets that the hyperloop has many antecedents, including on the Jetsons.

Few peple contemplate changing away from the petrodollar system towards cold fusion and natter/antimatter sources, or linking the entire world together (principally for human travel) with high-speed trains, plugging into the urban systems of entirely new cities.

This would entail a massive technological and scientific effort, a new revolution in those fields. People can disagree about global warming (I’m no scientist and have no idea), although the “carbon tax” remedy seems to have emerged from the bowels of Enron. There is certainly pollution, a legitimate old school worry. And so there is the idea of restoring the planet as much as possible to its former glory. Most of the world could be high tech – or raw nature.

In any case at present the future as commonly pitched is rather uninspiring.

Travelling now, next post Sunday noon US time.


To Brexit or Not to Brexit?

That is the question…

The problem with the European Union is not that it exists. The problem with the EU is that it is controlled by an oligarchic class whose war on democracy has been largely successful.

The EU displays ultra-bureaucratization and extreme regulation. It has concerned itself, for example, with the features of chestnut stands in Madrid as I found out in 2012.

Europe is becoming a “democracy free zone” where popular sovereignty and national autonomy are disappearing. The EU is run (and not very well) by corporate plutocrats, a banking mafia, aristocrats, and their ilk (assorted greedy control freaks, the Davos crowd, and other hangers on).

The construction of the EU was based on one lie and one fraud after another. When voters rejected the terms here and there, the controllers simply rewrote the proposals for a new vote, strong-armed the media, and patiently waited for a critical mass of people to be fooled by the barrage of their propaganda, centering as it did on happy talk.

It is understandable why so many Europeans – tens of millions – want to escape the clutches of this nefarious international organization.

However, if a tipping point were ever to be realized, and if broad, populist movements succeeded in “occupying” the EU, then it becomes force for good within a larger network – even within a global network, as it could coordinate projects with other world powers.

If Europe is to move towards complexity, that is, beyond hegemony, then citizen participation in cities and nations can energize the EU, turning it into a vehicle for peace and prosperity (which it now claims to be but is not).

Regionalization and globalization have been problematic because the agenda has been oligarchic.

It is possible to envision a people-powered regionalization, and a new, fairer, and more constructive “globalization from the bottom-up.” This process would depend on strong and autonomous nations.

I suppose it is a bit of a paradox: centralization and decentralization as parallel, complementary processes. Buy hey, the more one thinks about it, the more it should make sense.

In the UK, critics of the EU have probably not contemplated the points raised above. Granted, a “tipping point” seems like a remote possibility, but it nonetheless increases day by day.