Sicko is a remarkable film--rent it even if you dislike Michael Moore. I have a suspicion that Moore, who challenges conventional wisdom and authority, is hated not so much because of his views, but because he is a common slob that one can never feel good about identifying with. He's the antithesis of the corporate spokesmodels that deliver our news, entertainment and advertising. He's an ugly, overweight wise-ass that knows how to get in people's faces. What gives him the right to [.........]? That's problem #1 for Moore.
It is undeniable that Moore is a master of polemic. But if you criticize him for this you must also open yourself up to another troubling question: If a guy like Moore can be this effective communicating his point of view, isn't it equally possible that the slick pharmaceutical commercials and political propaganda funded by drug companies, wealthy insurance companies and health-care conglomerates (who have far more resources available to them) have been doing pretty much the same thing on the other side? Could it be that Americans have been brainwashed to believe that the American health care system is beyond reproach and that there could never be anything better?
You bet it could.
It's pointless for me to recount any of the scenes in the film. Many of us know people who have been denied coverage by insurance companies, have been frustrated by our health care system and who have been worn down in the process--screwed by the system. Why is it that we don't want to consider alternatives? I think it is reasonable to entertain the idea that there could be a better way and that we need to stop listening to those who reflexively dismiss any government-administered program. A government that we actively participate in is the last hope we have to check the powers of corporations who, by law, are responsible to their stockholders first. And no, I don't buy the argument that the free market always provides the best product at the cheapest price every time. If this is your article of faith, you were obviously not paying attention in your economics classes.
So watch the film with a critical eye--and as an exercise dismiss 50% as clever editing, juxtaposition, artistic license and scripting. Be a REAL critic. Then, take the remaining 50% and see how it stacks up to your own personal experiences or those of your friends and acquaintances. You may be surprised.
Will post later. I've been in a good mood lately. I have a nice glass of chianti and will be watching Michael Moore's "Sicko" in about 10 minutes.......
Movie review will follow.
This past Sunday, I got up at 5:55am, made a pot of coffee, showered and headed out to the Morton Arboretum with my camera to experience nature. This is my church. To be with the trees and the leaves and the plants at 7am with nobody else as the sun rises.
To experience nature in this way is what spirituality is for me. No judgment, no dogma, no long sermons. This was poetry. The beauty of silence in the midst of colored leaves, earthy smells, breezes and subtle light.
I sometimes wonder if there is a god and what role that god plays. Perhaps god waits for us to notice what is magnificent in its silence.
That was my Sunday morning.
walking into the shadows of my shoes
while the path crunches beneath.
Moving through space
not feeling gravity
only the unbearable weight
of being unseen
I meet them face on
going the other direction
their faint scents
trifling the breeze
I know those green leaves
and their wisdom
as I pass on the way out
but they play it cool on the
They soon will be invisible like me
as I sink into the shadows of my shoes.
Olkie's Bar - Ironwood, MI
God, I love neon. Double processed to
bring out the colors in the sign tubes. I
like the way the neon glow lights the pavement and how the
spikes of light radiate like petals of a flower. You have to
click on the image to get a good size view.
Abandoned Bonnie School - built circa 1907. Ironwood, MI
I doctored the picture to give it the spooky feeling I had when
I took it. I always get a strange feeling around this school....
Michigan's UP has so many ghosts for me. I remember these places as a kid 40 years ago. They are all still there
in various stages of decay. It will be interesting to see what will be around 40 years from now considering how
cheaply signs and buildings are made today.
Saturday evening we went to Cantigny Park in Wheaton to see an outdoor "concert under the stars" featuring the Wheaton Symphony Orchestra. We went as part of a package deal that the local winery (Tasting 'De Vine') organized. For $35 per person, you got a bottomless glass of wine (locally produced by Lynfred Winery) and sandwiches. Great music, great wine. Food was good. We sat on lawn chairs underneath these enormous oak trees and took in the show. It was incredibly relaxing. Took a few time exposures with my camera after it got dark. Some interesting effects. I got a page from work as we were walking out to the parking lot after the show. Now that's timing!
Work is kind of busy. I'm alone this week doing all of the Sysadmin chores as the other Unix admin is on vacation. I'm working on securing some ancient Red Hat Linux boxes in preparation for an audit. The friggin' boxes are about 4 years old and security scans are complaining about old versions of Sendmail that have security vulnerabilities. Better yet, I find one box that is a mail relay configured for 'sasl' authentication. Yay. Plain text authentication, old unpatched versions of Linux. It will be a miracle if I can get Sendmail compiled, upgraded and working with Cyrus 'sasl' on Linux 9. I've recommended a complete rebuild instead of trying to futz around with crap like this. I'm not a masochist.
Got on my bike with my wife and kids and rode down the Prairie Path to Villa Park where they had a jazz band playing under the gazebo downtown. Perfect weather. On the way back, I took the family to the Lombard Dairy Queen which has the coolest retro neon sign. The sign itself was given landmark status several years ago. I've photographed this sign several times--neon color just fascinates me. I had $20 with me and gave it to my wife to pay for the ice cream. When we got home, she noticed that the $14 in change that she got was nowhere to be found. She wanted to go back and look for it, but I told her to forget it. This evening was so relaxing that $14 didn't really matter to me. I said: "just pretend we went to Coldstone Creamery" You can't get out of that place for less than $20. I've nicknamed Coldstone "Ripstone." Just another gimmicky joint that has figured out how to charge exhorbitant prices for common ice cream. Same business model as Starbucks.
Lunch time is not as fun as it used to be at the old job though......
I went to the Salvation Army alone today because I haven't been there since I left my old shitty job in Oakbrook Terrace. I walked by the ugly furniture that wasn't sold from the last time and headed toward the other side of the store where I spotted at least 50 white wedding dresses of all styles and sizes hanging on a rack. They were packed on the hangers--bottom hems billowing out into the aisle soiled by hundreds of passing shoes and making a profound social statement that I couldn't decode. Could this be the jetsam of recent June brides? I inspected the lot for stains and imperfections or anything that might explain how they wound up hanging with the rest of the stuff that has been cast aside by our society.
Further down in the electronics aisle were a couple of Hispanic men--one was pondering whether he should take a chance and purchase one of two Blackberries (handheld electronic devices) that were sitting on the shelf. Undoubtedly long dead. The other was looking at an old Nokia cell phone--still in the box with a garish American flag cover plate that looked like it had never been used.
Never before has the selection at Salvation Army looked so shabby.
Nothing in the books section: just the grinning mug of Jack Welch, asshole ex-CEO from GE peering out from the 3rd shelf. This was the self-congratulatory book that every MBA or MBA wannabe just had to read or be seen with about 6 or 7 years ago. No good CDs. Not even anything to buy as a joke. No good coffee cups with lame inscriptions. The cup from the American Lung Association is still sitting on the shelf. Who the fuck would want to drink coffee from a Lung Association coffee cup anyway? I just visualize someone with TB using it as a sputum receptacle at some point. The fiber drum in the corner of the store--normally a cornucopia of filthy personal effects ranging from scuffy-looking canes, dirty crutches, and ancient golf clubs--was nearly empty.
On the way out, I held the door open for a woman and her sobbing pre-teen daughter. Just as they got to the door I was holding for them, the woman smacked the girl in the head--bringing more cries, sobs and protests. I was suddenly overpowered with feelings of ambivalence and some sadness. I had held the door for a woman who was just hit her kid. I wondered if the kid hated me at that moment for being polite to her mother.
The Salvation Army is always a huge mindfuck for me. It is a funny place at times, but there is always sadness. It's about poverty, loss, death, decay. Yesterday's objects that didn't quite make it.
Broken stuff, broken people.
CNN headlines: "Hilton opens up on drugs, jail and God"
No comment necessary. If there is any question about where this country is heading, it is reflected in what our collective interests are. The management of CNN isn't ignorant of what viewers want to see. Don't blame them. It's us.
Four years ago, our commercial news media failed to investigate and report the facts leading up to Bush's invasion of Iraq. They continue to be irrelevant, sloppy and obsessed with ratings at the expense of substance. Whether they are giving people what they want or creating a market of idiots doesn't matter. Our vain obsessions with celebrity, power and money will eventually destroy the United States of America.