Remember about a year ago, when Oscar Perez led a small group of soldiers in open rebellion against the government of Venezuela? When he commandeered a helicopter? That story was all over the mainstream news and social media.

Perez and his men were recently discovered hiding in an exurb of Caracas. They were surrounded. He was just killed in a shootout, along with some of his comrades (but is the word “comrades” correct when the guys are right wingers?). Strangely, it is not on English-language news much. At least, I’ve missed it.

Here in Colombia (and in Panama) I come across Venezuelans on a daily basis. Most are stridently opposed to the government there. I try not to engage the political angle too much. I certainly agree with their point regarding economic mismanagement. Hyperinflation. Squandered oil wealth.

However, what produced the revolutionary government in the first place was something its critics always erase from memory: decades of that government, pre-2002, serving only the elites, wasting foreign loans on extravagant projects, and then forcing the underclasses into austerity. The pre-revolutionary government excluded – from economic and civic life – the poorest segments of society, and it used force to maintain the pyramid.

The rich and middle classes of Venezuela, well, they earned Chavez, and they earned Maduro. They worked hard to get where they are! Talk about reaping what one sows.

Unfortunately, after more than a decade of the revolutionary regime being functional (lifting the bottom fifth of society upwards), progress has slowed, slopped, and is now in reversal.

Still, this is a coin with two sides to it.

Mandela Effect

I distinctly remember when the word “dilemna” was written with the “mna” ending.

When I first saw the word “dilemma” with two “mms” I thought it was a mistake.

But no. In this universe, “dilemna” has never been acceptable, just some quirky outlier, an anomaly.

The language police are adamant that “dilemma” is now the only acceptable version. They protest too loudly!

Random quotes from the Internet:

“…dilemma is not only spelling truest to the etymology, it’s the only one attested to in any major dictionary, and it is by far the most common.

As to the cause, the aberrant dilemna is almost certainly hypercorrection; if common words like solemnhymn, or autumn brand a silent n, then surely this Greek philosophical term would as well…”

And from “the Dilemna Dilemma”:

“What happened to the dilemna as I knew it? Why wouldn’t my spellcheck acknowledge this alternate spelling that I purposefully learned as a child?  So I Googled it. “Dilemna or Dilemma?” It quickly informed me that I was one of tens of thousands (and maybe millions) of people with this same dilemma about dilemma. Then they completely shot down my first theory of why. It turns out Dilemna has NEVER EVER been spelled with an N… Worse yet, there’s not even a passing mention in any dictionary going back hundreds of years offering it as a possible alternative spelling.” END

On a related matter…

It used to be that to place something in brackets, or parentheses (like this) already signified that something inside was an example, an aside, an elaboration. That is implicit in the very nature of the parentheses. But no.

I’m editing almost daily, and I now see that this is standard (i.e. like this) and (e.g. like this). So every instance now has “i.e.” or “e.g.”  What the hell? I already know it’s a fucking example. I want to take a flamethrower to this usage but, of course, I’m prohibited from doing so because this is now the new convention.

Have I been Mandela affected?

What Gives?

From Mexico to Panama to Colombia, there is a scarcity of young Americans with backpacks wandering around. Granted, they can be found here and there, looking for adventure, but they are far outnumbered by Europeans. In many places, Americans are also outnumbered by Canadians and Australians.

Above all, the English and the French appear to have institutionalized the “gap year” where young people take a year off, usually after high school or college, and wander. They usually do this in groups of twos or threes, but solo travelers are common. We used to call that dropping out for a year, bumming around. These millennials got it all figured out: now they can put this on their resume.

In a perfect world, more young Americans would either have the opportunity to wander the plant (or the plane), if they even have the desire, that is. It is a little odd, though. English people are flying to South America in droves to much about, and Americans mostly stay home.

Hopefully this is not because they cannot find South America on a map. Hopefully this is not because the American media’s fearmongering makes people reluctant to leave their local areas. But most likely, those are among the reasons.

Humans Better than Robots


On a weekly basis, the mainstream media informs us that robots are becoming superior to humans – that robots can out-think, out-read, out-work, out-play (at chess), and even out-fuck ordinary men and women.

I propose a new test, one less dependent on merely following the digital protocols of ones and zeros: the capacity to write truly creative, inspirational poetry.

John Clare (13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) was an uneducated field hand, the “peasant poet,” who grew up in poverty, at the very bottom of the English class system.

Nevertheless, John Clare’s poetry reflects upon existence. To date, no robot has been able to accomplish anything remotely similar. No robot has come even close to reaching the standard of what it means to be human.

Just 18 lines of poetry here, containing a cosmos of experience.



I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;

My friends forsake me like a memory lost:

I am the self-consumer of my woes—

They rise and vanish in oblivious host,

Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes

And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed


Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Where there is neither sense of life or joys,

But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;

Even the dearest that I loved the best

Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.


I long for scenes where man hath never trod

A place where woman never smiled or wept

There to abide with my Creator, God,

And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,

Untroubling and untroubled where I lie

The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

Recent Pics

The photos below are from Mexico City, two weeks ago. I finally coaxed the Nikon into yielding them up.

Today I took a bus from Cartagena (a dump) to Santa Marta (a slice of paradise).

Santa Marta is a physically beautiful city set on a beach, surrounded by hillsides and an island, and everything about this place seems special. Even the color of the sky. I will be taking photos. Meantime, here are a few of the better photos of Mexico City.







Producers Behind Producers

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What billionaire’s wife drives a mid-1980s jeep? Actually, nobody drives these anymore. Still, oddly, cars from the 1970s and 1980s are extremely common in entertainment. It’s bizarre.

I also watch shows and movies from Spain and Latin America in Spanish. Guess what? These older vehicles are also extremely common in these Spanish-language productions. What is going on?

I speculate that the appearance of certain vehicle models – and their years of production – represent symbols, codes and messages for those people “in the know.” This is an elite, hyper-intellectual version of playground pig Latin. Just what is being communicated across this transnational cult I have no idea.

But I have come to the conclusion that the pervasive, ubiquitous appearance of older vehicles – in dramas, comedies, horror movies, soap operas – across three continents in the western world must mean something.

Extreme Under-reporting


Remember when the libertarian militia took over the empty Oregon Wildlife Refuge? In part to protest the federal government’s unconstitutional ownership of state land? And to protest “terrorism” charges against farmers whose brush burns overlapped onto so-called federal lands?

Well, the mainstream media had been promising massive and intense prosecutions and convictions of everyone involved. That case completely and totally collapsed.

QUOTE (link below)

LAS VEGAS — Criminal charges have been dismissed against a Nevada rancher and two of his sons accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled Monday in Las Vegas that federal prosecutors acted with willful disregard for constitutional due process rights of 71-year-old Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

The judge last month declared a mistrial after a month of proceedings for the same reasons.

End of Quote

In the photo above, Blaine Cooper is on the left. I interviewed him for about an hour in Arizona last month, in a Starbucks. It was a chance meeting. He said I could report it here but I preferred to wait until after Jan 8, whe he was to be sentenced. Supposedly, he was to be pardoned or given a very light sentence in exchange for his testimony against the Bundys. That is what he was expecting after being released after two years.


Blaine Cooper on the left, LaVoy Finicum on the right. Finicum was killed in a federal ambush shortly thereafter.

According to Cooper, he said he was willing to testify but never did (just as the case collapsed). And he told prosecutors he did not have much damning information to reveal about the Bundys. Still, having just one witness turn on the Bundy’s was good for publicity purposes.

Cooper also said that he was the victim of a smear campaign. He said he was accused of “stolen valor” for claiming to be a Marine veteran when he was not. He says people took his photo with a Marine tee shirt that his Dad gave him (a former Marine) and that he himself never claimed to be a veteran.

Cooper seemed to be the type of guy for whom “anything worth doing is worth over-doing.” He poked fun at the government’s criminalization of camouflage, and raised serious constitutional questions about why, in the minds of many, the first amendment of protest should be separated from the second amendment of the right to bear arms.

I scoured the news for signs of Cooper’s sentencing. Nothing. As reported in the media, one reason the entire case collapsed is because the prosecution would not share evidence with the defense. Another reason was that the prosecution illegally taped the audio conversations between defendants (including Cooper) and their attorneys. That was all reported in the press.

What was not reported in the press was another reason the government was forced to drop the case: the defense had evidence (thanks to DHS whistle blowers) that the federal government contracted an assassin, who shall remain nameless here (but has the initials D.L.) and who is responsible for at least four murders (registered as “suicides”). I’m certain this is true, not only because every administration since Kennedy has assassinated Americans on home soil (with the exception of Ford and Carter), but also for other reasons.

Hence, this evidence becomes something of a “get out of jail card,” similar to the one Joe Arpaio used to have federal prosecutors drop all charges against him and his staff on a Friday afternoon with no explanation (after the Justice Department had flown to Phoenix to announce the indictment and conduct a perp walk). They did not know he had that card to play until the very end.

Unfortunately for Anthony Weiner, he does not have that card, even though his wife knows a lot more about the case than Arapio does, and could spring him. I suppose releasing it would be hazardous to the health, so to speak. Or maybe she wants to see her ex in jail (a sentiment many have about their ex spouses).

Still another scenario is that the Oregon standoff and Bundy trial is not entirely what it seems. It may be manipulated and staged, in whole or in part. It made mainstream news, after all, and was the focus of various talking heads on the major networks. Lying is what they do first, foremost, and best. So who knows.

Strangely, the media is under-reporting this case dismissal, so maybe there is something to it after all.


At the Margins


There are potential solutions for Puerto Rico’s recovery, but this island does have the potential to become a true “shithole.”

Granted, it is probably not presidential language to use the term “shithole,” but I for one accurately described Honduras as a “shithole” a month ago.

While this is a subjective term, it may accurately describe a national system – economic, political, social – that denigrates the human condition, that is predatory, parasitic, and base. In such nations, the authorities are merely “rats with badges” to use the Spanish expression.

In such nations, elites have squandered natural resources and done everything in their power to reinforce neo-colonial exploitation, often with backing by Washington, London, or Paris.

I lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for two years in the 1980s. A shithole among shitholes. Smoldering piles of trash, some with human bodies in the heap. People forced to bathe in gutters. A hot day in the main slum was like an illustration of Dante’s Inferno.

The life expectancy was about 38 years for men, due to extreme poverty and extreme violence. Fortunately, Haitians had the wherewithal to overthrow Baby Doc, but what came afterwards was not much better. I have not been back in years but assume some progress has been made.

Meantime, Puerto Rico cannot adequately recover from the hurricane. In part, its entirely economic profile has been weakened by its debt profile. Puerto Rico became a target of financial parasitism about a decade ago. Ideally, it should become an independent country but that seems unlikely. A colonial mentality prevails.

Within the present context, one solution is to encourage Florida-based retirement companies, along with baby-boomer retirees, to move to Puerto Rico. There could be matching funds for new construction, stimulating the arrival of workers, and looser regulations on zoning. There could be tax exemptions for US citizens willing to live their six months a year or more – whatever it takes.

Otherwise, with so many people bailing on the island (first they were bailing water, and now they are just bailing) the place will witness population collapse.

The Setting

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This is the nice, touristy part of town, Spanish colonial style.

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The cart is a play on words because in Spanish “dura” means “difficult” but can be the verb “to last.”

Hence: Life is difficult but it does not last.

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I suppose when people don’t drink tap water that another delivery device is needed.

Why is salt being fluoridated? How can that presumably help teeth? This is designed for ingestion, pure and simple.

Decision Time

I knew I was not going to stay in Cartagena long as soon as I got off the plane.

Sure, it’s a nice weekend destination, but I’m not feeling the vibe. The city is pretty much divided into the tourist zone, with very high prices, and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Most likely, I have a new, better employment situation arising again in Asia, in April. More on that once it solidifies. I would drive my sister crazy if I moved in with her for that much time.

Meantime, I have six weeks to kill. Editing in the morning and then whatever, wherever, with whomever. I don’t know many people here at all (that’s what Tinder is for). Seriously, my schedule is wide open.

Should I go to the northern beaches past Santa Marta, near the Colombian border?

Should I go to Ecuador to see the Amazon (off limits to the sane tourist in Colombia still) or to Ecuador’s coast of Manta and Guayaquil? Flights back to New York are much cheaper from Ecuador. Does that justify taking a cheap flight from here to Cali and then a bus across the border to Quito?

What else can I do? Venezuela is pretty much off limits for gringos because of street crime. Besides, been there, done that.

Do I find a cheap flight from Bogota to Brazil and tick “Carnival in Brazil” (mid-February) off my bucket list?

Do I go back to Panama and live in a Kuna indian village?

There are too many choices here to flip a coin over.