The Story Behind the Song “Summer Flowers”

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July 10, 2018

        Every now and then I’ll be asked about certain songs and how they came to be. For a while now actually I’ve been contemplating taking a look at that topic for the Diaries. Just for certain songs obviously Can’t do it for every one of them. Because the truth is that most songs I write tend to come out of nowhere; it’s more of a listening thing. I hear them in the ether and just try to bring them into this world as cleanly and genuinely as possible. So in those cases it’s hard to say much about them… But some songs are more deliberate, with a real intention behind them.

“Summer Flowers” stems from a longstanding collaboration I’ve had going with another singer-songwriter, more of a poet, Tyler Bejoian. I’ve already written a lot about him and how that whole thing came into being. I met him when he was a kid. Literally. He was probably about 11 or 12. Just knocked on my door one day. I answered the door in my bathrobe, holding a bowl full of cereal. He introduced himself. Asked if I “wanted to hang out”. To which I answered, “Okay…. Sure. You want some Cocoa Puffs little dude?” He said yes. So I invited him in. From there I started teaching him about a lot of different things, especially music and literature and film. And in return, as he began to grow up, he taught me a lot of things.

Tyler quickly developed into a pretty astounding poet. His evolution wasn’t that different than any of ours is. I recognized the stages he was going through as both a rabid fan of the truly great and as an artist. The first song we ever collaborated on was probably “White House jihad”. He was probably about 14 maybe 15 years old at the time. He would do all these impersonations, and one day we’re just sitting around goofing off and he was imitating Dylan (which is always fun), and he just lets out this series of lines that starts with “Blood runs down Pennsylvania avenue/ And I find myself unfortunately hating you”. To which I reply, “Badass man. Which song is that?” And he said “I don’t know. I just made it up.” “What? That’s not Dylan? That’s yours?” He’s like “Yeah I think so. Why?” “Because it’s really good dude! Where’s Pennsylvania avenue?” He looked at me like there was something wrong with me of course. And I’d say from that point on, our relationship started to take on more of a reciprocal nature. He reminded me “It’s the White House man…? Duh?” We had a good laugh and then proceeded to sit there jotting down cool lines based on that opening line. He was on fire. We both were.

Once he left that day I started a new page in my current song notebook (I always keep what I call “a current one” lying around — meaning it still has blank pages to fill in it, along with a few older filled ones, where there are songs still in it that need to be completed. I work out of about 5 notebooks at a time, usually cycling through around a hundred songs or so) and I wrote down that line he spit out along with any of the others that I thought were good. That was the genesis of “White House jihad”. I’ll paste the link to the video below. But be forewarned. Some people consider the song “controversial”. I just consider it “art”. I do whatever I’m feeling in the moment, as a practice, living and breathing in a constant state of creating art as the foundational mission above all else. No matter what. No matter where. For richer or poorer. Usually the latter. But it works.

So just to cap off that important introductory note, Tyler and I have gone on to collaborate on hundreds of songs by now. The story I’m recalling was a good 12 years ago now. There are a lot of songs people know of mine that are actually taken straight from poems he sent me. At one point he was emailing me ten to twenty or more a songs a day. He’d go sit on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and just write for hours. I’d print them all out at the end of the day and place them on my music stand. Every day I sit down in front of it, pick up an instrument and just start playing, surfing on a groove. If my eyes catch a line or a phrase that fits what I’m playing, I’ll just start going with that poem of his. Songs like “New Orleans dreams”, “I walk alone”, and “Summer flowers” all started off as poems Tyler sent me.

Anyone who’s lived in New York City, or maybe anywhere in the north (?), can relate to this phenomenon about how during the winter everybody bundles up in a ton of clothes and walks around the city looking like a penguin of sorts. As guys, Tyler and I would always comment on how great it was once spring hit, and especially summer, because all the girls in the city start finally taking off all their heavy coats and scarves and hats and you can start seeing who they are and what they look like again. They also of course start walking around in sun-dresses and sandals and looking really pretty. As a young guy in his teens, this was something Tyler loved to talk about. Every summer. Winter in New York lasts a looooong time. So the arrival of spring and summer is just a heavenly experience. Every single year. No matter how long you’ve lived here. It’s always an invigorating event.

One day he sends me this poem called Summer Flowers. It was heady. All his poems are heady. He’s a serious intellectual. His standards are very high for himself. The poem was loosely based on our many conversations about the thrills of summer time in New York. Each paragraph was about a different character or set of characters. It was beautiful. Moving. So I deliberately really wanted to sit down and turn it into a killer song. To honor it.

In terms of the music, there’s this band from Miami called Humbert. Some may call them Indie rock. But they will often explore Power pop too. I love this band. I’ve known them forever. But that has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of musicians whose music I don’t love. But this band is special. They’re exciting and electric. They do whatever they want to. It always feels sincere and genuine. I’ve never actually talked about this publicly. I’m not even sure I’ve ever shared it with the guys in Transcendence. But when I first discovered those first few chords of what would eventually become the song “Summer Flowers”, it sounded to me like something the band Humbert would do. It had this driving immediacy to it. Keeps you on your toes sonically. You’re never sure what’s going to come next. Felt like good Power pop. So I went with that.

The thing about turning poems into songs is that oftentimes a poet won’t have a chorus in a poem. Just a long series of stanzas, one after the other. And “Summer Flowers” was no different. So I had to come up with chorus. Didn’t have to. But I wanted to. So I just chose the last line of one of the first stanzas. “Those summer flowers in her hair /I see those summer flowers everywhere….” And honestly I’m not even sure if that was even in the poem. To be fair to Tyler. I may have just come up with it myself. I can’t remember.

And yes, one of the hardest parts about this process is picking and choosing which lines to use in the song and which lines I’m going to leave out. It’s never easy to leave whole lines or paragraphs out. It feels unjust. On the song “Never let me go again” from the Ballad on Thid Avenue album, I refused to leave out any of the lines from the poem of Tyler’s that the song was based on. Which made the song run over 7 minutes. This infuriated the producers of the album. They thought the song was way too long. But I just couldn’t do it. That song is a poem. It’s a story. With a beginning and a middle and an end. And it’s one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things I’ve ever been a part of. I was willing to sacrifice what is normally considered proper in song for the sake of honoring the poem. It felt important on that one.

With “Summer Flowers” it was different. I knew we were onto something that could be more “popular” with that one, as soon as I heard it. It sparkled. So I knew it was going to have to have a more standard format and a shorter length. In the end I cut out more lines than I used. In order to come in under 3’40”. And no that never feels “good”. But you do what you have to. Originally the choruses were much longer too. Not that anyone would notice it now, but those choruses actually had a kind of Joni Mitchell vibe before the song got edited in the mixing phase. The falsetto parts at the end of each chorus had this whole repeating Joni thing happening… And that was my favorite part of the song honestly. But in the mixing phase, the song was still coming in too long. So they ended up cutting all those parts out of the choruses. Sucks. But it’s a craft as well as an art sometimes.

I remember playing the song for Tyler a few months after I wrote it, and when I finished singing it, there was just silence. He didn’t say a thing. He was just sitting there with his head down. Truth be told, I wasn’t taken aback by his silence or worried about what he was thinking. I could pretend I was for dramatic effect. But I knew the song was special. You can tell sometimes. He finally looked up at me and said “Fuck dude. You’re such an asshole!” I was like “What? Why?” He jumped up and shouted “How do you DO that? You captured it perfectly! You’re such a dick!” By this time Tyler was a singer-songwriter in his own right. And in musician-speak, this meant the song was good. It’s a thing. The more you like something that one of your peers does, the more you hate them. It’s a good thing. Funny.

As an interesting side note, “Summer Flowers” almost didn’t make it past the trial stage in the studio. I had written the song in a really weird open tuning and was having to sing it all falsetto, because it just landed in a really weird key where I could either sing the song down really low or up really high in falsetto. Neither sounded good. I tried singing it up high in normal voice but it kept blowing my voice out. But we tracked it anyway. But due to the funky vocals, we never took the song seriously from there. It just kept getting tossed aside for other songs we thought were better. I mean, there were a good 25 songs ahead of this one in terms of which songs we thought were “the good ones”. We had it in the “scrapped” folder in the system.

At some point when Roger came to Seattle for a few weeks to help speed up the production process a bit, he went through all the songs we had recorded, there were over 40, and stayed up all night listening to them and taking notes. When I got to the studio the next day he told me “check this out”. He heard what the problem was and transposed the song to a key a few half steps down and had re-recorded all the bass and guitars on top of Bill’s original drum tracks, essentially starting the song out from scratch. Then he had me try singing it in that key and it was better. Still right in that space just between regular voice and falsetto. But doable. And cool sounding. The fact that the song ended up taking up such a prominent role after we started mixing all of them and turned out to be the first official single from over three albums worth of songs is just crazy. Because it wasn’t even in our top ten. But that’s how it goes. You just never know. You really don’t.

It’s Time to Split America Into Two Countries

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July 3, 2018
Talking to a friend last night about how split/fractured the U.S. is at this point in time, how genuinely divisive and disturbing it’s become for many of us. Uncomfortable. For both sides. (Especially for those of us who are Independents I would add…). He made several very intriguing comments. (Mind you he’s more “left” than most Democrats. So he’s no democrat. And I’m obviously not that. I lean both right and left, depending on what we’re talking about. But we’re okay with that. We don’t let it come between us.) We were discussing the obvious mistake in judgment (besides a heinous disregard for basic ethics) that the democratic party made, and the subsequent harm this mistake has inflicted on its party members (AND everyone else in America) by not allowing their party to naturally go in the direction it wanted to, i.e. in support of an outsider, in their case Bernie Sanders, and instead just insisted that their candidate be Hilary Clinton, despite what their members were seeming to call for.
Michael Moore called it weeks before the election. Trump would win. The republican party fought it with everything they had, BUT in the end they allowed an outsider to come in and even win in their primaries because that’s what their party members WANTED. The democratic party was either too scared or too corrupt. Maybe one day they’ll tell the rest of us what really happened.  
 
Truth be told my opinion is that Trump would have won against Bernie too. BUT many Americans would at least still be part of the system. They’d vote. They’d care. After the shenanigans (that’s a very kind label for the crimes and corruption we witnessed) that the democratic party pulled to pretend Hilary was “the legitimate candidate”, millions of people, especially the young, went back to their old MO — “screw both of those parties, they both suck, screw this whole system. I’m out.” And of course, many just didn’t bother to vote. They stopped caring.
 
But now here we are. Half the people happy with the outcome. And half the people very unhappy. Just like in the Obama years. Totally split. Which has compelled me to start thinking the same thought I think whenever I contemplate the “civil war” or as some people call it “Lincoln’s war of aggression”. (Their label…. Let’s not digress to that yet. There’ll be time for it later.)
 
If people in red states are really happy with how things are and the direction they claim to want to go in, why not let them? And why not let blue staters go in the direction THEY want to go? Loads of people are anti-abortion. I get it. I’m pro-life myself. But also pro-choice. Hell, I’ll even admit that abortion is murder in my humble opinion. But I just can’t bring myself to believe that I have the right to dictate what another person should or shouldn’t do in/with their own life. I believe that’s a human right. So in that, I am liberal. I get it. It’s upsetting to some. Makes sense to others. And frankly I’m okay with that.
 
I’m also okay if half the population of the country wants to ban abortion. Totally fine with it. That should be their choice. Their decision. As my friend said last night, “If the federal government banned abortion tomorrow through all this supreme court stuff about to go down, ten states would hold emergency sessions overnight and pass a law to legalize abortion in their states. That’s how it works. So it shouldn’t even be an issue.”
 
He believes democrats have gotten lost in ideologies that distract them from real issues. He’s entitled to his opinion. Just as democrats are. And everyone else. And he’s right about abortion. Just like marijuana or gay marriage, abortion will become legal again in at least ten states overnight. Without question. So let’s not quibble over it.
 
Truth is, America IS split. Ideologically morally politically split. And it has been for a long time. What many don’t quite understand about the ambassador is that I felt bad for republicans during the Obama years. Mind you, I was both a fan of certain aspects of the man — he was a great orator, patient and thoughtful in his decision making and more liberally minded than the alternative, but I was also NOT a fan of many aspects of him and his agenda. (That’s just me and it’s not important.) The point is, oftentimes I personally felt empathy for republicans during Obama’s years in office because I felt like the country was being pushed too far progressive too quickly for the comfort of many folks who leaned “conservative”. And one could feel their pain. It was disquieting and upsetting for them. It wasn’t the “America” they were accustomed to.
 
Now I know that a lot of my friends who are democrat would immediately respond “too bad”. Which is hilarious. Because that’s just what republicans are saying to democrats NOW. But as my friend said last night, “You can’t force people to acquiesce to your position. All you can do is make a convincing argument and hope they eventually evolve to your point of view.” Totally agree. America was forcing an extremely progressive agenda on a large portion of the population and it was doing so quickly. Hence Trump. Safety. Comfort. Back to “normal” for them. Life feels good again. I get it. I really do.
 
So why not let’s just face facts and get real AND do something about this. Rather than all the arguing. We live in TWO Americas now. Maybe we always have. We may be united in our desire to be protected by our military against foreign invasion. And we both want to use the U.S. dollar as our primary currency. And heck most of us probably would all want to stay a democratic republic and primarily capitalist. (My aforementioned friend is the exception. He doesn’t like capitalism. And i not only respect his viewpoint, but I can understand it to a certain degree.) But most of us can probably all agree that we are UNITED on those issues.
 
Everything else, we’re split. Totally completely split. No wiggle room. So why don’t we just make it official and split? Many people may not readily remember that we split India up into two countries, a Hindu one and a Muslim one. It’s called Pakistan. It’s possible. It’s doable. Yes geographically it will pose a few challenges. For the most part, those of who tend to lean more blue live on the coasts. WA to CA and MA down to VA, with a few blue states in the middle, SOMEtimes… Not only do we know WHO we are, we know what we want and what we don’t want.
 
And it’s about time we stopped trying to convince each other that WE are right and YOU are wrong, and instead just make the split. Two countries. Dictated democratically by the people who LIVE in those countries. Think about it for a minute. Don’t shut down.
 
Red staters will ban abortion in their country. And they’ll get NO argument or fuss from blue staters. Let them do it.  Perhaps they’ll close their borders off to immigrants of all shapes and sizes for a while. Let them. We have a labor shortage in America right now. (Maybe they don’t get that? But who cares? That’s the point. We need to stop trying to convince each other that the other side is “right”.) So the blue states will take the immigrants. Red staters want to keep the healthcare system how it is. In fact they want to roll it back to “how it used to be before Obama messed it up”. Cool. Blue staters want universal health care. They consider it a basic human right. Who are we to try to convince red staters they’re wrong? Let them have monopolistic for-profit companies running their healthcare system and bankrupting them everytime they get sick. Seriously. Just let them. And blue states will switch to a single payer universal healthcare system.
 
Consider “the welfare state” collection of issues. That’s a BIG one. But it doesn’t have to be. Imagine we just let the red states get rid of all the social welfare programs they want to in “their country”. Welfare, gone. Food stamps, gone. Medicare and Medicaid probably reduced or minimized. Cool. We’ll keep it in the blue state country. And from what we can tell, a lot of the wealthiest people in blue states don’t mind paying a little more in taxes in order to secure a more humane safety net for their neighbors. So yay for them. Let them stay in blue state country. And if they don’t like it, they can always move to red state country. They’re rich. They can afford it.
 
In the case of religion and religious imagery, let’s face it, red staters have been getting the short end of the stick on these issues for years. They’re being forced to take down religious symbols in their own hometowns. Forced to not be allowed to pray in their own schools. That just doesn’t seem fair. I myself practice a religion. But I just happen to believe in religious freedom AND separation of church and state, and because I recognize that a lot of blue staters are Atheists and though they don’t know it, that too is a religion, I don’t mind their banning religion from most public things and from government. It makes sense from a strategic logical point of view. For blue staters. Maybe just not for red staters… As long as they let me keep my church and practice freely, I’m cool. And truth be told most atheists and blue staters aren’t trying to rip down churches. But do they go too far sometimes? Yes, in my opinion, for the comfort of many red staters they do. So let the red state nation be rid of atheist liberals. We’ll deal with them in blue state country. We don’t mind. We’ll take them. And red states can have whole public schools or towns even named after Jesus or Mary or Christ if they want to. LET THEM. It’s their country. Dig?
 
Now, we could go on and on. And what’s interesting is that a lot of people are probably reading this and thinking that THEIR country sounds AWESOME. The country they most align with that is… And that’s the point. Their country WILL BE awesome. For THEM. No more arguing on social media. No more protests and marches and screaming and shouting in the media 24/7. No more insane tweets from the president. Hell, most blue staters won’t even read tweets from the red state president. And why should they? He’s not their president. They’ll read tweets from their own president.
 
And let the red staters consider FOX News an actual media outlet. As outlandish as that may sound to some, it’s their sovereign right as a nation. Just as it is the right of blue staters to consider the New York Times a media outlet (not that I’m equating one with the other. But many red staters do…. Let them.) Of course the blue state country needs to grow the hell up and recognize that MSNBC is NOT a media outlet. Call it what it is, political propaganda or entertainment. But that ain’t objective journalism. Chances are it will be easy to get most blue staters to acknowledge that if they got FOX News the hell off of their TV — except for entertainment purposes, like say you want to just chill and have a laugh after a long day at work. FOX News can be hilarious at times. It’s perfect for that. But it just won’t be called “news”. More like the Stephen Colbert show. It’s satire. It’s funny.
 
So let’s get to the heart of the matter. The REAL heart of the matter. The red states will never allow the blue states to create their own country. And if they were smart, they wouldn’t. Because the majority of the economic power of the U.S. presently is in blue states. The big dogs are all in blue state nation. Sound familiar? Yep. Now we’re back to “Lincoln’s War of Aggression” due to fear of economic collapse, where he ordered the entire force and might of U.S. military to attack the Southern States and force them to NOT secede. Even though they wanted to.
 
Now I’m no Southerner. Nor a confederacy lover. Honestly the site of that flag creeps me out. But I respect other people’s rights. And state sovereignty. And if southern states wanted to keep on truckin as they were and leave the Union to do so, so be it. The North was just too scared of what would become of them without the economic powerhouse that the South was at that time. That’s the cold hard truth of it.
 
And I just bet that the same exact people who wanted to secede 150 years ago would be demanding that president Trump NOT allow the blue states to secede and start their own country NOW. Think about it for a second. Regardless of which party you tend to side with. Will red staters really allow WA, CA, NY, NJ, CT, VT, NH etc start their own country and separate from the U.S.? Probably not. But not because they don’t like the idea… Hell they’ll love the idea once they get how awesome their country is going to be. Peace at last. Peace at last. But what would they do economically? Where’s THEIR Wall Street? Where’s THEIR Amazon and Microsoft and Intel and Apple and Google and Facebook and Twitter etc? That’s the real issue, just as it was 150 years ago.
 
Well, I’ll tell you what they’d do. First off, a lot of republicans are smart and wealthy people who work on Wall Street. So they’re not going to be without brains. Despite what snobby democrats think or say. Red State Nation can either start their own big tech companies. OR the blue state nation can easily draft up a bilateral free trade deal with the red state nation. Trump loves bilateral trade deals. He’ll have a field day. Of course, he’ll have to move. New York is just about as true blue liberal as they come.
 
(But wasn’t Trump a democrat for most of his adult life? Oh yeah, but sssshhhhhh. We pretend that didn’t happen. I’m joking of course. Most know I sincerely believe that president Trump has noble intentions for America, is one hell of a hard working machine AND he’s WINNING. Big time winning on a lot of fronts. I may not happen to agree with every direction he’s going in or wants to go in, nor with his unorthodox methods, but unlike democrats (which I’m not), I don’t mind admitting the above. And that’s the problem with many democrats. They refuse to even entertain the possibility that Trump loves America and has good intentions. And that’s just close minded and wrong. So… LET THEM LEAVE. See? Again and again we arrive at the same place. Screw the democrats and their progressive anti-Trump bs. Let them start their own country. Easier.)
 
(Yes, I know, by now one might be thinking, “well where the hell are YOU going to live mr. ambassador?” Honestly I’d probably go Big Blue. I may not like democrats, especially now. But I do tend to just feel more comfortable in as liberal of an environment as possible. My motto, “if it’s not hurting anyone, let us do it.” And that goes both ways. Which also makes me align with the republicans a lot. Because in some ways republicans are very “let us do what we have the rights to do”. And that’s the problem with the country right now as it stands. We just have two very different groups of people who want very different things. 
 
So if red staters want guns in every room of every house and now in every classroom of every school, heck, let them have it. In that aspect, I may occasionally be more of a libertarian. Who knows? Maybe we end up with three or four countries. A little Europe. It could be very cool.)
 
Of course there will be some discomfort in the process at the beginning. There always is. As many people will want to move. We have to remember that the red and blue demographics are symbolic. Most states are more purplish… But generalities do exist. Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina etc. aren’t about to go blue anytime soon. And why should they? Truth be told, they shouldn’t be forced to. Not when we have a simple solution right in front of us.
 
Imagine a world where all the bickering and arguing and right versus wrong is just gone. No more “f*ck trump” signs and social media posts. They’re gone. All that is over. For lack of a better way of putting it, we have our paradise and they have their’s. And if you suddenly wake up one day and you realize that you don’t like the country you live in, you can always apply for a visa to move to the other country. Heck it’s just one state over in some cases. And we’re still in “the United States”. Sort of.
 
And that’s really what it comes down to: We’ll still be united in many many ways. We’ll share the military. We’ll share the same currency. We’ll share the same financial markets. But socially and politically and perhaps even fiscally we’ll just be very different nations. And THAT would be a very good thing for everyone. We’ll be less stressed. We’ll be happier. We’ll be healthier.
 
And best of all we can finally make our own laws and stop this constant see-sawing with the laws every 4 to 8 years. It’s maddening for all of us, no? Instead we let it go. We stop the madness. We accept that we are sincerely two very different groups of people at this point.
 
So the question I pose to you on this eve of Independence Day, is not whether you agree with this or not. I’ve already made up my mind. We either head there and start implementing it now, or we continue to tear ourselves to pieces on a daily basis and keep feeling angry hostile upset sad and stressed. I know which I’ve chosen. No sense in trying to talk me out of it. And that’s the point of this post. Those days are gone. It’s a dumb game anyway. And a complete waste of time.
 
My question is this: How do we start the process? How does it work? Where do we start? How did the South start? Where did they go wrong? How can we avoid the same fate? What’s the strategy? Are there any legal grounds for states to do this? Or has the federal government gotten so damn big and bloated and fascist that it’s made it impossible? (See? I told you I’m hard to peg down…
 
But see, I’d rather try to respectfully convince my Blue State Nation citizens of the importance of smaller government than argue with red staters over gun control or immigration or social welfare programs or universal healthcare or abortion. There are just some issues that neither group is ever going to budge on. But there are SOME that we’ll both be able to massage a little bit to make most people in each of our two countries happy. And that’s really what it comes down to.)
 
It’s time to vote for happiness and health my friends. It’s past time. Let’s just accept our differences, stop the arguing and create two independent nations that are united on many or at least several fronts. And don’t worry… We’ll both still have Twitter and Facebook and Insta and Skype and Facetime. So we won’t even miss each other. But we sure won’t be bickering all the time anymore. Paradise I tell you. Absolute paradise is ours for the taking. All we have to do is take that first step.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Phenomenon Of Language

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July 3, 2018

A friend posted a topic for contemplation on social media today regarding the effect speaking in our native language has on us versus our second or third language. It had many of us thinking.
 
 When I heard my first Brasilian song, there was no easy access to the internet yet, and no mention of “where” the artist was from on the CD cover. It was a world music compilation. Just showed his name. Jorge Bem Jor. I didn’t know what i was listening to but I was transfixed! I was moved in a way I hadn’t ever felt before. I listened to the song over and over and over again.
 
 I was already working on achieving one of the 5 Personal Primaries that we are encouraged to come up with and create from my first avatar course, “I speak and understand many languages fluently”. This was an intuitively strong desire I had. So i had already started studying several languages, and thus I knew this song wasn’t in spanish italian or french. But it sounded like all of them. It had the lyrical melodicism of Italian the softness of French. As if both had been combined.
 
 Eventually I met a girl who heartily and casually laughed while telling me that that song was a big hit in Brasil, where she was from, and the language was Portuguese, her laughter based on the fact that I, not understanding a word of it, had this perception of the song being this incredibly romantic expression of passion and emotion, and it IS… BUT it’s about a soccer player and an incredible goal he scored in a tournament!!!! I was dumbfounded at first. Like “what the heck?!? Soccer?!? This song is about soccer?!?” LOL! Mind blown.
 
 Of course that song is the classic “Fio Marravilha”. A song that is as commonly known in Brasil as “Let it be” is in the United States.
 
 (Jumping ahead a bit, one of my first favorite words of spanish was “baloncesta”. Say it out loud. It’s a beautiful word. It feels great coming off your tongue. It sounds as if should mean “poetry” or signify a particular dance. But it means basketball!!! Literally. You just never know…)
 
 Of course I soon enrolled in a language school here in the states to learn Portuguese and eventually ended up going there to live and study the language and the music more deeply and become one with it. It was something I needed to do. Beyond logic or intelligent strategy. Purely motivated by passion.
 
 In regards to the specific social media query, yes at first I had a lot of attention on WHY did this language MOVE me so much…. It made my heart palpably more charged, my chest filled with emotion, a deeply profound longing I was unfamiliar with. Pulled to or called by the language.
 
 At first, because I was young and naive and a hopeless romantic perhaps, I assumed it must mean “my true love” was from Brasil. I searched for her. She wasn’t there. Turns out she was Persian! (What? Where’s Persia? Hah!) Or perhaps I was Brasileiro in a past life. Who knows…
 
 Eventually I stopped focusing on and contemplating the WHY and just went with it. Acceptance of the incredible phenomenon began to set in.
 
 Through the years I did the same thing with many languages. I tend to do everything to the extreme some say. I prefer to view it more like I just like to do things as fully and completely as possible.
 In each instance, when learning a new language, there’s a CLICK, a trigger moment, perhaps when you learn a phrase that doesn’t exist in your native language, an aphorism or an expression of consciousness that is entirely different than anything you’ve experienced, and KABLAM you’re IN, the language enters you. You enter it. You begin to unite with it.
 
 Your mind begins to “get” the people and the culture that created and uses that language, to truly understand where they’re coming from. Because after all, the language is nothing but a reflection…. a symptom of WHO and HOW these people are in their hearts and minds. And in a very real sense, every people, every tribe, is completely different than everyone else in how their minds choose to express the same ideas and feelings that we all innately share as human beings.
 
 And we can’t get that experientially until/unless we learn their language. It’s observe and extrapolate versus BEINGness. The two states are very different.
 
 Now to be clear, I am American. But I was raised very Italian and English; both were stressed over “American”. So when I went to italy to more deeply learn Italian, it inspired a very moving emotion in me. It was primordial. My grandparents primarily spoke Italian in the home. So being there in Italy, speaking the language with “natives” affected me as if it were happening genetically.
 
 Walking to lunch with one of my teachers, she passionately shouts to a man on the street “Caffone! Scachar!” (You don’t want to know the translation…) and it felt like someone hit me in the head with a 2×4! I heard those words millions of times growing up as a child. But never understood the context. Until that moment. BAM! A weight seemed to melt off my being….
 
 I wrote about it profusely in the Transcendence Diaries (circa 2003), amazed how intensely “DNA” the feeling was, profound, kundalini depth, eye opening and ultimately very transformative and healing as longtime readers will remember.
 
 Of course we know now that it is very much a genetic thing…. So the phenomenon makes sense. We can begin to understand the mechanics of it better.
 
 Interestingly, once you gain a handful or two of languages in your arsenal you begin to realize that certain ideas or feelings are best expressed with certain words or phrases better than any other language. Regardless of which language(s) you happen to speak natively or day to day, that word or phrase just works “the best” for that purpose. Right? Many people are familiar with this peculiar paradigm.
 
 Even the staunchest unilingual Americans are familiar with the phrases quid pro quo or c’est la vie or hasta la vista. Certain phrases seem to sum up a feeling or idea better than any other, despite the language they’re in. But deeper than that many of us who are more intimate with a foreign language or two being spoken in our home can readily acknowledge that there are certain phrases we just tend to use on a daily basis which are not in the language we tend to speak regularly. It’s an interesting side effect of this paradigm…. language runs deeper than just where we are born or what country we grew up in.
 
 Perhaps that sums it up better than anything else.
 
 
 – Posted by The Ambassador as Ed Hale using BlogPress on an iPhone

The Awakening Of Awareness Of Consciousness

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July 1, 2018

We’re actually in the process of exploring genetics and ancestry more deeply at the moment, as a family, through DNA testing. Should be interesting. I hear they usually are.
 
 For a long while, years and years, I studied our ancestry. Hired an expert in the field to do research for me, to augment my own. Learned a lot. Was able to extend our family tree back hundreds of years into the past. And then took a series of trips to my ancestral homelands in Italy and England. Traveled to each of the little towns and villages where my ancestors were from. This is something I wrote extensively about here in The Diaries during the process. Circa 2002 to 2004.
 
 Without repeating too much, I can honestly say that yes you can absolutely FEEL physically your connection to these geographic locations and the culture and the people when you (re)visit them. Better put, to be more clear, even though you may have never been there yourself in this physical lifetime, the DNA inside of you has. Either through your parents or grandparents etc., you can feel it. Through being there, through the smells and the sights and sounds. It FEELS like home. It feels familiar.
 
 I experienced it. And yes there is something undoubtedly phenomenal about it.
 
 An interesting side note ?. On my first avatar course I remember this moment sitting on the floor in the living room of my master, may she be resting and playing in a loving joyful peace, and I was a few days into an exercise you learn called Feel Its by then. So i was just flying. Floating in a lighthearted rarified spacey expanded state of awe. After a long day and then some dinner, just quietly sitting there doing as she had been instructing me for days — feel something, become it, label it and then move on to something else. Repeat. I was TRIPping by this point. It was (needless to say) mind-blowing to me at the time.
 
 Thinking would come and go. Thoughts would enter into consciousness and gently float by… They often made me laugh. Occasionally a thought was interesting enough to compel me to examine it a bit. But Joy (my master) encouraged me to “just label those too. Thought. Idea. Belief.” So that’s what I was doing.
 
 In the specific moment I’m remembering, because at the time it was so profound that it’s still a standout moment, a touchstone of that whole experience for me, was when it suddenly occurred to me that so much of the alleged “scientific theories” we held about “humanity” and “the mind” and “the soul” etc were all just man-made ideas and concepts not necessarily rooted in truth as much as just thinking and theory. The need to resolve and conclude. Resistance to mystery or the unsolved.
 
 (Bear in mind I’m about 20 to 22 at the time… so pardon the naivety / simplicity of this “mammoth realization” (as i labeled it)).
 
 I had invested much into study and learning and facts and figures, and took it all very seriously still. Science and truths and facts were gospel still.
 
 And then suddenly these ideas of “the ego, the ID, the subconscious, genetics/hereditary” all seemed so random transient arbitrary, even silly i.e. contingent upon where and when we lived, in space-time, in history, politically, geographically, etc. At the time I was still quite bound by beliefs based on “the subconscious” or “genetics” etc. — they seemed to be so big and established and solidly true that they were bigger than i was in terms of the influence they had on “who we are”, things you not only cannot control, but don’t even question… whether I labeled them as limiting or empowering or not important, they were, up until that moment, outside of my reach, “truths we take for granted are true”.
 
 And then KABLAM! The tipping point. The trigger moment. I just felt them, labeled them and started laughing. I started saying them out loud, “the subconscious”, and then start laughing. Weight lifted off of my body and being. Palpably. Then “the ego”… “the ID”…. and more laughter and then more lightness of being…. , “it’s genetic… it’s hereditary” and more laughing…. More weight / heaviness / chunks of thought-beliefs manifested at some point or over time as physical masses/entities lifting off of my physical being…. lightening my heart and mind and body. Hysterical laughter at times with intermittent tears.
 
 My master walks in from the kitchen to check on me. The other students are laughing as well. I look up at her with those puddled puppy dog eyes of a newborn avatar and we lock eyes and I say “the subconscious” and then laughed. She let out this big smile, eyes twinkling, and nodded and softly replied with her characteristic “hm mm” and chuckled. Then I said “It’s hereditary”, as if i had mischievously stayed some secret inside joke…. and more laughter.
 
 It was the moment when we realized the reality or truth of all the avatar materials we had been reading up until that point and we actually GOT IT, as opposed to just intellectually understanding it. The reality that ideas like those would never be “true” again, nor ever affect me in any way, unless I decided I wanted them to had begun to sink in.
 
 Consciousness was HUGE. Not limited by ideas and theories about the brain or the mind or the soul or genetics. It transcended it all. And WE are even bigger than that?!? Pure Awareness?!? Of even Consciousness? My lord…. This. Was. Just. Mind blowing. Yet made very real in that moment. A physical realization. Not just a mental idea.
 
 She wasn’t messing with me. It wasn’t a ruse or a scam. It wasn’t yet another theory that sounded cool but had no measurable provability. It was real. My God….
 
 I laid in bed that night chuckling and laughing every time I contemplated all these myriad ideas and theories we had studied so diligently and sought out so passionately in school about psychology and biology and philosophy and… “the mind”…. I remember deliberately deciding I would no longer ever be bound by them, let alone even consider or contemplate them seriously again. We were done with all that. The beginning of a big adventure.
 
 
 – Posted by Ed Hale as The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
 

The Looming Tower

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June 30, 2018

When (notice i did not say “if” — yes it’s that important) you get the chance to watch Looming Tower, the dramatization of the Pulitzer Prize winning book about the events leading up to 9/11, you’re at first struck by how much absolute clear fallibility and blame the CIA had in contributing to the tragedy. Not because it was an inside job. But just out of sheer rivalry and ego (and thus ignorance of the importance of Intelligence cooperation). The fact that no one at the CIA was convicted for some of the more blatant egregious breaches and untruths is unconscionable.
 
 A few more hundred pages in and you begin to see numerous occasions of the new Bush White House administration either committing fatal errors of ignorance in their judgement that lead to the tragedy, OR deliberate and knowing dismissals of the clear and present dangers and threats that were being repeatedly presented to them.
 
 It’s hard to tell which it was, just ego and stupidity or a deliberate motive on behalf of the Neo-Cons “Project” [refers to the 90s neo-conservative think-tank, Project for a New American Century and the shocking revelations discovered in some of their white papers written before 9/11 that proposed surprisingly similar events in order to assure the United States maintains dominance in the 21st century through taking control of the Middle East. Which of course they accomplished post-9/11. The looming question of course will always be whether or not it was a series of planned events or just pure coincidence. One needs to study this subject thoroughly in order to draw their own conclusion.]
 
 We may never truly know. Because that’s how it works. After all, 55 years later and there is still no official revision of the laughable Lee Harvey Oswald story regarding the tragic assassination of JFK.
 
 But either way, at some point you notice your eyes are filled of up with tears when reading or watching The Looming Tower. Because we KNOW what’s going to happen. We lived through it. And we’re watching people in the highest offices of government take both incredibly stupid and wickedly egotistical deliberate actions that easily permit this terrible tragedy to transpire.
 
 You literally cannot help crying. It’s just too real. Too painful. And too obvious. In hindsight of course. And yes a big part of it is that no one was made to be accountable, despite their errors (or) deliberate acts. There’s just something not right about that still.
 
 
 And of course this book, as good as it is, doesn’t go into any of the more questionable aspects of the 9/11 tragedy, of which there are so many that it has led to one of the most hotly debated topics in modern times. The 9/11 Truth movement is still a very big and real storm brewing in the hearts and minds of people in every country in the world.
 
 One person commented on a FB post of mine this week about the subject, “Of course it wasn’t totally unexpected by the CIA. A company (a division of Deutschbank, that was strongly connected to CIA executive director Buzzy Krongard ), was the company behind the 200 “Put” options that profited millions that day from shorting the financial markets. Congress investigated and since the “Put options weren’t connected to the terrorists “ they dropped the matter. (On any other option period, there was seldom more than 20 put options on those airlines in place.)”
 
 That’s just one example of hundreds of sketchy and questionable events surrounding 9/11 that compel suspicion about the “official story” by even the most patriotic people. For More on that subject see the series of films called LOOSE CHANGE. You can never look at 9/11 the same again after viewing these eye opening documentaries.
 
 But plenty of people absolutely refuse to believe there was anything sketchy at all about the event. And one can understand their staunch defensiveness. The alternative to the official story is terrifying to even contemplate. Totally get it.
 
 But even if one doesn’t ever entertain the Loose Change docs or the millions of books that have been written or videos on YouTube questioning the official story, there’s enough in even the official story to infuriate anyone who values human life or common decency.
 
 The book (and subsequent series of the same name, The Looming Tower) doesn’t go into any of the conspiracy theories. It just simply explores the “official story”, about what transpired in the years leading up to it. And honestly that alone is enough to outrage or sadden or both (depending on who you are…) even the most hardened among us.
 
 Truth be told, i knew about the Bush admin’s disregarding the numerous warnings they received about “Terrorist group Al Quaeda operatives are inside the US and ready to attack”, as well as Secretary Rice’s questionable responses in the Congressional investigation. BUT I did not know the full extent of the CIA’s blatant hubris nor their years of overtly hiding and covering up the facts from the FBI and executive branch. And with the FBI overseas in the FIELD?!?! Risking their lives searching for people and facts and data that the CIA had the whole time and just refused to share. It enrages you, I’ll tell you. You just cannot help but be enraged by it.
 
 
 – Posted by Ed Hale as The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

Trump — An American Nightmare

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May 30, 2018

So I decide to watch this documentary Netflix Films put together called Trump An American Dream, which alleges to span over 50+ years and feature a wide sweeping collection of people who knew and have known Donald Trump the man forever, friend’s family coworkers employees, people on both sides of the political fence, and from all walks of life.
 
 (Like most American men I can only watch it when my beautiful wife isn’t around. That’s just America circa 2018, and could certainly warrant a whole post unto itself.)
 
 I admit it took me a few weeks to feel up to it. Even for us Independents, Trump is a disturbing presence in the American landscape. But I wasn’t feeling masochistic as it may seem to some, but just sincerely curious. Thought it would provide more context, more data and insight, in order to be able to formulate an honest objective opinion about the man. Didn’t know much about him except for the last few presidential campaign years. Deliberately most of the time he has just been one of those things I dont regularly encounter. Something that is ignored.
 
 So i was hoping I’d learn some things about him that could help shed light on anything even remotely noble or admirable or at least not compromising or lacking or distasteful.
 
 The film goes all the way back to the beginning. And you do learn a lot. You meet everybody in the Donald j Trump world since the 1950s. One just assumes they’re going to hear some incredibly inspiring rags to riches story about an incredible human being. I did at least. I actually watched it partly just for personal inspiration, as well as for information.
 
 Clearly I was in for a big surprise.
 
 WOW. The inspiration i was hoping for does not happen. Not ever. From the very beginning you are bombarded by stories about a shockingly unscrupulous mean spirited venomous duplicitous bully of a person who literally cannot tell the difference between the truth and a lie. By everyone who knew or worked with or for him From the get go. Like right out of college.
 
 The man who actually wrote the book The Art of the Deal, and came up with the title as well, spent hundreds of hours with Trump in order to research it.
 He said this about the experience: “It was difficult to be around him. He lied constantly. To everyone. About everything. Maybe he thought i wouldn’t notice. Maybe he honestly cannot distinguish the difference between a lie and the truth. I don’t know. But I thought he was a sociopath. His values? That’s simple. He is value free. Has absolutely no values. No fathomable idea of right or wrong. No human moral compass. It was disturbing and sad. I never worked for him again. Never will.”
 
 What?!? There’s NO way this guy can be this bad, I’m thinking. I honestly believe him sometimes (presently) when he says the media treats him biased and unfairly. So I’m looking for proof of it in the film. But instead I see him in THE SEVENTIES as a young man savagely maliciously attacking intelligent sincere journalists for writing the truth, but just not a truth he likes. It’s shocking and unconscionable. Especially back then when the world still had a semblance of respectability.
 
 And then he blackmails the companies to get the journalists fired or he will sue them. And he does this repeatedly. Using a repulsive disreputable lawyer named Cohn whose sole clients are the five mob families of New York and Donald Trump. It’s sick. But not the good sick. Like gross. Disgusting. He makes Bill Clinton seem honorable. Makes George W Bush seem quaint.
 
 He was raised with a lot of money, but he displays absolutely none of the class that one might expect, no sense of decency or respect for others, and instead acts more like an ignorant, uneducated, barbarous Viking from the 9th century.
 
 I’m still in disbelief. So I keep going. And we scour his history through the 70s then the 80s then the 90s and by this time you’ve heard hundreds of people talking about him and you just can’t catch a break. “One of the biggest liars I’ve ever known. Probably the worst.” “My first thought? Boy this kid is full of himself. Prone to exaggeration and hyperbole that’s so over the top you think he has to be joking, getting a laugh. If not then he’s the sleaziest conman you’re ever going to do business with.”
 
 It goes on and on and on…. I just spent three hours with my mouth hanging open and my heart beating fast. Total shock. At one point, after his first wife cheating scandal (there will be many) in the early 90s he gets caught on tape impersonating a “PR guy” named John Miller doing an interview with People magazine about himself, but it’s HIM trying to disguise his voice! But he’s talking just like himself, constant digressions and complimentary asides, bombast and bluster about imaginary scenarios that never took place and full of crazy sounding flattery about HIMSELF. But pretending to be someone else. It’s insane.
 
 The journalist of course is like WTF is wrong with this guy? Is he a psychotic? She kept the tape. It’s funny, but of course also super sad.
 
 The problem with this poor guy is that not even the people at the bottom of the ladder who worked for him for years have anything good they can say about him: You can’t trust him. He takes all the credit. Egomaniacal. Mean. A soulless heartless showboat. Doesn’t appreciate others. No moral values. Doesn’t read. Has no respect. Isn’t polite. He’s a bully. Cheats in every aspect of his life and work. Has no sense of chivalry. Doesn’t pay employees or contractors if he can get away with it.
 
 It’s an endless litany of the worst human characteristics imaginable…And after a few hours you realize this is no American dream story. It’s more like a Charles Manson documentary, or some other lunatic serial killer. The guy is totally nuts.
 
 Okay. So yeah…. that happened. Wow. Mind blown. That’s the current POTUS. And people really did vote for him. We know some. The question is HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?!?
 
 I would LOVE to blame it purely on the corrupt DNC stealing the nomination from Bernie for Hilary. Trust me. That was criminal and shameless what they did. And it just goes to show how little respect they have for the American people. But that’s too simple.
 
 The RNC also needs to take some responsibility. They allowed themselves to get bullied by a psychopath and they literally had some decent candidates. John Kasischke was awesome.
 
 But most of all so too do all of us need to take responsibility for this never ending waking nightmare. For in the end it is we who permitted it to transpire by never putting our foot down to demand better. It’s time for a good old fashioned American Bastille Day. This just isn’t us. It’s time we stopped pretending it is.
 
 
 
 – Posted by Ed Hale as The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
 
 

Disney Pulls the Plug on Roseanne for Racist Tweet — Fair?

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May 29, 2018

Revered Disney Chief Officer Bob Iger made a simple statement this afternoon about his decision to cancel the new Roseanne series reboot on ABC based on her posting a rather racist comment on Twitter about former Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarret (weird, right?), saying “It took us about 2 hours to discuss the details. No time at all. Obviously a lot of people are going to lose their jobs because of Roseanne’s behavior and that’s never a good thing. But no, there’s no debate when it comes to doing what is morally right, at least not for us.”

It’s bold to stay committed to respect, basic human decency and the pursuit of noble goals in a society gone mad. So kudos to Mr. Iger. Was it fair? Well, that’s a debate that will probably rage on for years to come. But as long as the United States is still a capitalist democracy, hell yes it’s fair. Roseanne worked for Disney. Disney works for their shareholders, and they clearly know what said shareholders expect from them. Racism is not one of those things. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find anyone who delights in racism except for fringe elements of society. And though yes even their rights to free speech are protected, it doesn’t mean we have to hire them or even associate with them. Thank God for free market capitalism and democracy. If your check says Disney or ABC (one of its many subsidiaries) on it, then they have a right to fire you just as much as they do to hire you. Govern yourself accordingly.

What occurred to me at first was a little bit of shock  — Roseanne just recently returned to mainstream relevance after two decades of being largely ignored. I’m personally not a fan. But couldn’t help but be happy for her. But now this…? Always controversial, her comment today wasn’t a funny joke as much as just a dumb jab. Albeit a peculiar and random one (Valerie Jarret? Really?) with an overtly racist tone. But then again modern American comedy is filled with offensive and shocking vulgarity and racism. Its rampant. And literally unwatchable if you have more refined tastes. So what’s the difference here? The platform? Twitter versus Comedy Central?

Perhaps there is just a line in the sand, for the moment still at least, that most people know not to cross. You either have a respectful compassion for those who’ve been thru a lot of pain and suffering, or you don’t. Especially today, when every Starbucks in the country is closed for special race relations training. (The fact that THAT is still necessary in modern America shows just how much work the country still has to do… As does the specific event that prompted this nationwide store closing.)

And the NFL… jeez what a clusterfuck they are. Last I checked being patriotic was a choice in a democratic country. Not an obligation. Forcing patriotism isn’t democracy. It’s fascism. We’ve seen this movie before.

For Disney’s part, I don’t necessarily believe anyone is questioning or infringing on Roseanne’s First Amendment Rights. They’re just exercising their own by deliberately choosing to not hire or work with her anymore. There’s too much at stake in today’s world. And they know it.

I’d even go further and say I don’t wholeheartedly believe Roseanne or people like her shouldn’t be allowed to make stupid racist comments if they want to. What comedian hasn’t? They push that envelope hard and blur the lines as a daily practice for their art, and are either rewarded ignored or punished for it. They’re artists. It’s their right in a free country.

So we let her rage on. She just can’t necessarily expect to be beloved followed respected or even befriended for it. That’s gonna hurt sometimes. It’ll be lonely. And in the process others will get hurt too. That sucks. But it’s her call ultimately.

 

– Posted by The Ambassador in the form of Ed Hale using BlogPress on an iPhone

Be Do Have? Not So Much

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May 27, 2018

I remember it. Be. Do. Have. One of the multitude of platitudes I heard on the path to enlightenment pre-avatar course. Pitched as an easy path to create the life of your dreams. I was intrigued by the vibe. Also felt that like a Zen koan in that it could be interpreted in a variety of different ways.

I remember reading an article in the avatar journal when I was still young, but keenly chasing the path to awakening, by a man named Keith Varnum, who as fate would have it would years later turn out to be my masters master. In the article he explained why affirmations and pretending and even prayers don’t usually work that great for reality creation. Because you’re trying to install new beliefs (software) smack dab on top of older beliefs (an older OS). You have to get in there and dislodge the previous program before you can install new software. You have to discreate prior created beliefs before you go trying to create new ones if they directly oppose each other. Logical.

I was in my teens at the time. It would be a few more years before I took the Avatar Course. But what he said made perfect sense to me at the time. It helped me understand why affirmations and prayers and “be do have” didn’t work that well, and inspired me to take the avatar course as soon as I was able to. The ability to not just control what is happening to us, but to create and discreate the underlying beliefs. This was a revolutionary idea back then. Still is to most people. Sounds like voodoo. But after 20+ years of practicing using the knowledge and tools and countless courses, I can attest that it’s very real. In reality we change our beliefs all the time in the real world. Perhaps not deliberately, but we do. It’s not that mind blowing.

Every time we fall in love with someone or fall out of love with someone, there are a whole host of beliefs we’ve both discreated and created. Every time we learn to like a new food that we previously believed we “didn’t like”, that’s a new belief. Raised religious and then become an agnostic later in life? New beliefs formed. Or for some the opposite is true. They’ll spend years agnostic and then discover an inner longing for spirituality and start a spiritual practice or start actively practicing being religious again. New beliefs. The truth is we literally do it almost every day. The only difference is that when you go on an Avatar Course, you re-learn that we have an innate though forgotten ability to discreate beliefs with ease as well as create them. And you start practicing how to do it deliberately, not just based on a reaction to some outside event.

That’s the magic. And magic it is. Nothing less than THE moment of enlightenment. I’ve seen hundreds of people (thousands probably now) go through it and it’s always a tear jerker. Those eyes when they first light up and realize “I I I I’m creating this? All of it? Holy cow I’m creating THIS! I’M CREATING THIS!!!! All of it! Holy crap!” It’s never not a mind blowing experience watching someone wake up for the first time. It’s an insanely beautiful and inspiring trip to behold or be a part of.

Years ago, a man I didn’t know wrote a short simple article in a new age journal about enlightenment and beliefs and as a kid I read it and it inspired me to try this strange and mysterious sounding Avatar Course out for myself. And the rest was history. Though I never met the man, I will always feel tremendous gratitude for his gift. The truth and beauty of legacy is that we don’t/won’t always know when or how our words or actions may inspire or encourage others; but they do. So we continue the pursuit of noble goals with faith and commitment that down the road or perhaps even right this very second the breadcrumbs we leave along the path will help another.

– Posted by The Ambassador in the form of Ed Hale using BlogPress on an iPhone

Maintaining Objectivity in a Nation at War With Itself

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May 26, 2018

Leslie Ann Bohane I promise you I try to be objective. And i sincerely understand how difficult it is. It seems almost inherent in our instinctive nature to want to choose sides when everyone around us appears to be. But I can assure you it is not impossible to let go of that impulse. Our intuition almost always guides us towards a widened back and detached, though compassionate, objectivity. True objectivity, from the Observe Mode of consciousness. It is possible. As well as being a great place to live in whenever possible.
 
 And as most know, I’ve never been pro dem or pro repub, nor anti dem or repub. I dislike the slimy politicking favoritism scheming and backroom dealings of both groups that comprise that duopoly that controls our Government equally. I want them both to slink away, or at the very least a few new VIABLE parties to be allowed to rise up and compete against those two giant corruption machines, so the American people can believe in true democracy once more. It is time.
 
 A quick scan of my online presence clearly shows I have posted plenty of positive things about DJT in the last year or two when it felt appropriate, much to the chagrin of my family and friends who don’t agree with my views on this matter.
 
 Just as I was sometimes hard on certain policies or actions taken by president Obama. I didn’t like his more-globalist leanings, nor his close ties with central bankers, and i honestly felt that, though admirable, he may have been pushing America toward the political correctness of the future too quickly for comfort for many middle Americans. That worried me.
 
 Of course in retrospect we can observe now that my concerns were justified. As is usually the case, the country reacted with a very quick bounceback to the opposite extreme due to the displeasure and discomfort experienced by those same middle Americans I had been worried about.
 
 Progress takes time to evolve. It cannot be forced upon a people. It takes readiness and revelation. And clearly not everyone was ready. So I feel you.
 
 So here we are. Back in a strangely familiar yet frightening post World War II 1946 America-first styled nationalism, building fences and walls, deporting anyone not white or American seeming, slapping tariffs and starting trade wars as if it were the 1890s, unilaterally issuing sanctions aka economic terrorism on anyone who won’t play ball with us, challenging and picking fights with other super-powers, beating our chest and bragging about the “deadly Power of our nuclear arsenal” (in TWEETS no less?!?! Is this kindergarten?!?), forcing patriotism on our citizens instead of inviting it and demonizing the free media.
 
 It’s not a pretty picture. So forgive me if I do not readily hail the thief at the moment as eagerly as you seem want to do.
 
 But i digressed. I do still try to stay objective Leslie. I’m just starting to realize that objectively it’s very challenging to find any redeeming qualities in this man-child who occupies the office so respectably and admirably held by his predecessor. BUT I’m looking. And open to hearing them if you have any you’d like to offer up or share. You can’t claim I don’t have an open mind about this.
 
 
 Last Screening: On a lighter note, BLACK PANTHER is surprisingly good (the comics turned movies genre is not usually my cup of tea). But Panther is very well done, unique and creative, visually stunning, definitely not boring, thoroughly interesting entertaining and engaging. It features an incredible cast who give it 110%, doesn’t sacrifice plot and story for long boring CGI fight scenes or high speed chases, and in a few subtle ways it is quite a prescient metaphor for deeper issues and questions about the world we live in today. See it when you can.
 
 (Thanks to Naila Meyers for the recommendation)
 
 – Posted by The Ambassador as Ed Hale using BlogPress on an iPhone

Does the National Debt Even Matter in the Age of American Empire?

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May 25, 2018

CBS News revealed today that under Trump’s watch, the U.S. national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever. Click here to read.

Twenty-one TRILLION dollars. That’s $21,000,000,000,000. A lot of zeros. The largest national debt in the history of human civilization.

To be fair, this has very little to do with Donald Trump. That’s just CBS playing politics as usual for clickbait. Trump hasn’t been POTUS long enough. Though some might argue that the historic tax break legislation that he and the republican led congress just passed helped contribute to this staggering imbalance (and will add even more to it down the road). But many will also jump out of their SUVs to blame Obama for it. And still others will point to the fact that the George W. Bush administration and their endless “wars on terror” are what really ramped up this new trend in American over-spending. All would be right.

Not that anyone likes thinking about this topic, but what I tend to contemplate a lot regarding the mind boggling National Debt figure above and its ramifications is that statistically we know that once a country’s debt reaches 60% of its GDP, that country historically plunges into a deep depression or even falls apart into panic and chaos, unless it institutes extremely painful “austerity” measures (think cutting back on spending for the most basic of people’s everyday necessities…). Which often leads to bloody revolts and revolutions.

(People generally don’t like starving. And more apt, humanity has reached a new era where many believe that they have a right to being taken care of by very big governments and they have deliberately voted in governments who do just that. (Think Socialism or Communism). And some might even point to modern day America as well. What are commonly referred to as “Entitlements” or “social welfare spending” has reached an epic sixty-some percent of the annual budget in the U.S. It didn’t always used to be this way. It doubles how much is spent on defense, for reference. (Although the U.S. still also manages to spend more on defense (think weapons of war and Intelligence) annually than all other nations on earth combined.)

Even when a country enforces strict austerity measures on its people for years at a time in order to try to pay down its debt, it still often presents numerous challenges to ever escape the clutches of the growing interest payments, it’s currency turns near worthless and it finds itself unable to end the death cycle.

Ironically that’s usually when the US steps in and takes the country over thru the World Bank and IMF and other backdoor means etc… And as funny and tragic as that is, it’s not possible in this instance because it’s the US that we’re talking about here. So who’s going to step in and take over? That’s the real question.

[This might be as good a place as any to note for followers of New World Order Conspiracy theories that there is a view by some that the national debt of the United States is entirely meaningless in the bigger picture, because the world itself is ruled and has been ruled by one very small but far reaching group of people or organizations, dominated by the Vatican (still just the Roman Empire disguised as a “religion”) (the wealthiest country/company in the world), the U.K. (the so-called “royal family” being the second wealthiest country/company in the world, with the largest real estate holdings on earth), France, and the United States. The United States is allegedly the military arm of this invisible, omniscient and omnipotent global power, whereas much of the decision making still comes from the U.K. and the Vatican, as it has for over a thousand years, and to a lesser degree France. In the case of the Vatican/Roman Empire, it’s been more than two-thousand years. So… no debt, low debt, high debt, it just doesn’t matter when you run the military machine for most of the entire globe.]

When it comes to the United States’ national debt, we know the U.S. has been protected from this normally predictable economic outcome outlined above through various nefarious schemes and actions they’ve taken since WW II like dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan in order to intimidate and scare the crap out of potential competing super powers, creating the U.N. as a thinly veiled disguise for its goal of global dominance through more legitimate seeming means, building up the largest military and nuclear stockpile the world has ever seen, dismantling democracies and installing dictatorships all over the world, installing and maintaining 8,000 military bases in over 80 countries, propping up the Saudi dictatorship to control the country of Arabia indefinitely in order to control the global oil supply and force the world to use the US dollar as it’s mandated reserve currency, etc. (The list is much longer, I know. The small sample above can be viewed as a general overview of some of the more standout or major egregious activities that led to the establishment of the modern American empire.)

Okay fine. So the United States has largely gotten away with just about anything one could imagine over the last 75 years, including running up a mind-blowing national debt that surpasses its annual GDP and yet it just keeps on plugging away. [The United States recorded a government debt equivalent to 105.40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017. Government Debt to GDP in the United States averaged 61.70 percent from 1940 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 118.90 percent in 1946 and a record low of 31.70 percent in 1981.] For context let’s take note that in the G20 (the largest 20 economies in the world) the United States is NOT the winner in the highest debt to GDP race. That award goes to Italy presently, who’ve managed to rack up an impressive 130% debt to GDP ratio. Japan comes in second place, with approximately 110%. But the United States IS in third place. For the world’s largest economy and one of only two real viable super powers left in the world, that should be a frightening statistic.  

But instead, it seems to be no big deal. No one seems to think it’s a problem. Not even normally fiscally conservative Conservatives seem to care anymore. The US dollar is actually getting stronger and forcing other countries’ currencies and debt into dangerous territory. And US Treasury bonds are still considered the safest, most secure and sought after assets in the world.

It may sound crazy. But it’s real. And to some it might beg the question if any of our former ideas regarding global economics even matter today as long as a country like the United States can maintain global dominance through fear of its military might. Classic empire stuff.

But will there ever be a reckoning? Like what will or could cause it? Let’s say the US just keeps jacking that debt up to 25 trillion. Or 28 trillion? Is there a figure that would ever be frowned upon by other nations around the world? Or does the threat of both it’s economic and military might protect the United States from any of the normal rules that other countries must follow?

Would anyone even care or pay attention if the United States jacked its national debt up to 150% as long as it maintained such a stronghold on the world militarily? Especially now after they’ve nearly taken over so much of the Middle East? That campaign was a huge win for the Neocon Hawks and their quest for “a new American 21st century”. Sad (for sure). But except for Iran (a country the U.S. has tried to dominate unsuccessfully for over 70 years), a largely successful military campaign of mammoth imperialist aims.

Some sources claim that during the Obama administration the United States was involved in more simultaneous wars than at any other time in its history. All in the Middle East. That’s a sobering statistic. Although if one reflects back on World War II, it seems hard to believe. But at the very least the United States during the Obama administration was involved in active military campaigns (or covert drone bombings) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. Both the Bush and Obama years saw the United States involved in a multitude of battles and wars all over the Middle East to assure its global dominance would continue in the 21st century.

So what could possibly knock or take the U.S. out? They’re HUGE. Monstrous. Gigantic. You can hear their people mindlessly chanting “USA USA!” People used to compare the United States to the Roman Empire back in the day. Even though that comparison seems quaint by today’s standards. Rome was an ant colony compared to what the United States is now. Total global reach wrapped up and down and all around planet earth and into outer space as well. Does it last forever? Can it?

Historically we know that we’ve never seen it last forever… Every empire crumbles. Or has crumbled. But the only feasible outcome for the US in regards to how they have things set up now is terrifying. Due to their military and nuclear arsenal. One gets the impression that those in power in the US are not going to just get up and go away quietly. If they’re ever forced to go out they’re probably going to want to do so with a very loud and deadly bang.

Is there any other way for the world to regain even a little bit of control or even just liberation from US dominance without the US just going full on ballistic and invading or bombing? Is there any option for a safe NON military way for them to just back down? Even a little? This is what keeps me up at night.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A brief exploration of the state of affairs of the rest of the world in regards to America’s stupefying national debt and their need to maintain military dominance because of it.

What about the more serious question for Americans? As to what would or could happen to the people of the United States if ever there was a reckoning? If every country in the world got together and collectively decided to stop permitting the US to continue to rack up its unsustainable debt and using  bullying tactics to perpetuate it, and the US was forced to get its economic house in order, would any other countries come to their aid? Or would they gleefully take a step back and watch the people of the United States stagger and struggle to survive, believing the tragic but necessary event was deserved and a long time coming?

[Long time readers will remember that when the horrific events of 9/11 transpired (regardless of who you think was responsible, at the time it was viewed as an “attack” on the American people) that yours truly was at a large International language school in Costa Rica. There were about 100 of us there for the semester as students at the time from a variety of different countries, most of them European.

I will never forget the callous nearly gleeful response that some of the other students at the school expressed that morning as we Americans (there were only 2 of us) stood there stunned and horrified watching those planes crash into the World Trade Towers on live TV. I will always remember the sound of people around me mumbling things like “serves them right”,  “this was bound to happen” and “what did they expect?” As if they were happy that it was happening. I mention this for context and in light of the possible reactions the world might have if another catastrophe should affect the US, this time being more economic. People tend to cheer for the underdog and feel envious of those who always seem to win. And since World War II the United States has been winning bigtime.

And although old red white and blue collected most of the world’s empathy and support directly following the attacks of 9/11, they spent it all very quickly due to what many labeled unnecessary unjustified and villainous invasions of many middle eastern countries.]

To the above question though, some would respond that China has already been coming to the aid of the US economically and has been for decades. Along with Japan they hold the largest amount (measured in US dollars) of U.S. bonds, T-Bills and debt than any other non-U.S. entities. It’s a convenient way to help prop up the heavily imbalanced American economy, and in return help their own economy as well, since the United States is China’s largest trading partner i.e. the American people spend more money buying things from China than any other nation on earth.

So both super-powers, though ideologically differing in their view on how to run a large government body and control it’s people, have had a relatively stable win-win economic relationship for decades now. And despite the political bluster for the cameras, both rely heavily on the other. And they know it.

That’s a fact that provides me with both comfort and fear. Since the Cold War ended and Russia seemingly retreated back into its oligarchic trenches for the time being, China has lurched forward to become the only primary competitor with the U.S. for world domination both economically and militarily in today’s world. But they at present seem to need the US and it’s consumer base as much as the US needs them. And that’s probably a good thing. Can this delicate balancing act last forever? We don’t know. And that’s the problem.

And yes as always there is obviously much more to the story. We’ll get to it all in time.

 

– Posted by The Ambassador, as Ed Hale, from the Transcendence Embassy — New York, NY using BlogPress on an iPhone

Does Noise Trump Truth In Present Day America? (And Other Revelations from the Mueller Investigation)

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May 23, 2018

A new survey released today seems to imply that a majority of Americans are completely unaware of the criminal activities uncovered thus far by the Robert Mueller investigation of their 2016 presidential election. See the full story here.

Regardless of which side of the partisan fence one might reside in (even if one identifies as being firmly in the middle), these recent poll results regarding the Mueller investigation are compelling. One might conclude preliminarily that the “reality star” effect of the Trump presidency may be more powerful than anything fundamentally true, real or factual.

And that could be a trend we would surely not prefer when it comes to our government or governmental employees like Mr. Trump.

This would seemingly, and hopefully, apply despite how much one approves or disapproves of the president, his policies or his performance over the last year and a half. Pomp, bluster, controversy and noise should never outweigh a people’s ability to see and measure reality. In a perfect world at least. Though that’s certainly never seemed to sway us in the past in regards to political figures.

The question is, have we crossed over a new threshold this time? Has our national obsession with celebrity (over substance?) eclipsed our more adult senses of reason and rational judgment? And to be clear (and fair) one recognizes that Trump is not America’s first experimental “celebrity as president” or “president turned celebrity”. Think Obama or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or even JFK.

But with that said, is there something inherently unique or different about the cult of The Donald in terms of the office of American president? A blindness to something glaringly irrational and unreasonable that only a few can see? Or is it business as usual? That’s not a question that’s easy to answer if one stretches beyond the scope of partisan leanings or bias.

To the point at hand, is the Mueller investigation and its discoveries over the past year any more shocking or heinous than what the country experienced or learned during the 1990s with Ken Starr and Bill Clinton? Or in the 1980s with Reagan and the Iran Contra scandal? And perhaps even more to the point of the revelations raised by this recent polling data, has America become completely immune to widespread corruption revelations in government in favor of its obsession with celebrity and hype?

Depending on how bigger picture or little picture one views the question from, that remains a difficult question to answer conclusively. It truly seems to be dependent on how one chooses to look at it or what one chooses to focus on. And that’s only if one can manage the discipline to maintain any semblance of nonpartisanship. Not an easy task in present day America to be sure. (Perhaps it never has been..?)

– Posted by Ed Hale as the Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

Yanny or Laurel — A Landmark Moment in the Era of Fake News?

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May 20, 2018

Hey John. Yep, me too. I heard yanny at first as well. But I never doubted that fact. I knew I heard what i heard and honestly didn’t give it a second thought until a few hours later when I heard laurel (just as clearly) played a few times on TV. I assume (perhaps naievly? Not totally sure on that…) that most musicians felt the same way about not doubting what they believe they heard. So at first I just dismissed the whole debate as typical internet clickbait crap, as one does with 99% of the stuff that we see or hear about post-internet age.

But then I heard the exact same thing being discussed at (of all places) the daily congressional press briefing. Weird. And Paul Ryan not only addresses the thing, but gets seriously hot and bothered about how insane it is that everyone is NOT hearing laurel. What?!?! What link did HE click on? Laurel? That doesn’t even make sense I thought.

So from the get go I started to suspect that there was some trickery at play. Sociologically this simple slight of hand, despite how innocently it may or may not have begun, could end up becoming an ingenious experiment in human behavior, revealing how vulnerable most still are to the myriad phenomena associated with the internet’s ability to generate or spread “fake news”. We are after all still reeling and drenched in much of the drama associated with this new phenomenon at present, with every other word coming out of the White House having something to do with “fake news”. It’s still very much “a thing”. (Judicial investigations into “Russian meddling” in the presidential elections of the United States..? Seriously? Yes… Seriously. It sounds nuts. But it’s very real. Though in reality very few people actually talk about it unless they’re heavily leaning in one direction or the other politically. And honestly I’m not 100% sure that’s necessarily a “good thing”…)

Regardless of that debacle, in terms of the yanny versus laurel debate that raged last week, one may have noticed that when they clicked on the actual link to that simple poll that asks “What do you hear? Yanny or laurel?”, they were asked to click a “yes” button to accept that “the company uses cookies”. No big deal. So everyone clicked yes. This locks the word you hear into the memory of your browser as a cookie. So no matter how many times you relisten to it you’ll always hear the same word you heard initially. In my case it was yanny.

Then I saw aforementioned Paul Ryan on TV claiming “it’s clearly laurel…let’s get that out of the way. How does anyone not hear that?” he says. What?!? In a congressional press conference?!? He’s talking about THAT? This is crazy. Okay… so now we know something is off. Paul Ryan may be a partisan politician and sure that has certain immediate implications in terms of one’s perspicacity…. and no he’s not a musician that we know of. BUT, one, the guy is clearly not mentally challenged (at least no more than anyone else in D.C….), and two, no one has any reason to believe that he has hearing problems. So what was up? And why the hell did he care so much either way?

One TV network played and replayed the link repeatedly and the word was indeed very clearly laurel. Ryan heard it correctly. A few minutes later, another network played and replayed it a few times and it was very clearly yanny. Each network having to “click yes to accept that the company uses cookies etc…”

It took me a while to figure it out… Honestly I didn’t pay much attention to it until I heard the second news network a few hours later claiming to be playing the same audio clip and literally heard an entirely different word than the previous network. It just made no sense. As clearly as I heard Yanny on the first network and on my phone and laptop etc. I then heard laurel. Trippy. And most likely also tricky. So I too became fascinated by the apparent discrepancy in how clearly each group of people were claiming to hear the words they claimed to, despite all allegedly listening to “the same thing”.

Though I never doubted that i was hearing the word I thought I heard. In all three instances. It all just depended on WHICH instance I heard it… The problem was that I also didn’t doubt those who were claiming to be hearing Laurel instead of Yanny or Yanny instead of laurel. Sure, most people are simple. I get it. They kill each other in mass shootings almost daily now and spend entire days watching complete strangers get married on their televisions and computers and phones even. (And crazier still, they watch these strangers’ weddings because they’re told they’re “royal” and they believe there is such a thing. It’s totally insane. Noted.) But still, that doesn’t make everyone hearing challenged or liars or THAT biologically different from each other suddenly. if people were claiming to hear the word Laurel or Yanny, my first reaction was to believe them, and not just assume that they were wrong or mistaken or just stubborn.

Frankly none of that actually occurred to me. Until I started seeing the mass hysteria popping up all over the internet regarding “who’s right and who’s wrong?” When it turned into a legitimate debate… Similar to the White and Gold versus Black and Blue Dress debate from a few years back. (More on that later….) To me the most logical answer was most likely “Everyone is right. People are hearing both words at different times and just not recognizing that this is a prank.”  That started becoming more and more obvious as the day wore on. You could very clearly hear both words repeatedly depending on which website or TV or radio network you scanned. Both words were being played at different times depending on when and where one clicked. Everyone was right. And nobody was wrong.

But the meme had already spread from coast to coast and everyone had already jumped into their respective boxes, hunkered down and were ready to defend their position to the death. Many even jumped from one box to another and then back again in the span of one day, constantly doubting themselves and claiming to be “baffled” by their own ears. It was Democrat versus Republican, atheists versus deists, Israel versus Iran…. hysteria played out in real time all over big and small media regarding something completely irrelevant and inconsequential. Or so it seemed at first.

Eventually smaller minded “media outlets” started jumping on the story, attempting to explain it “scientifically”…. And this is when one could claim that the experiment started to become genuinely disturbing. Or at least surreal. And perhaps even important.

Then the pseudoscientific psychobabble started… Millions of people started reading — and sharing — these alleged articles purported to be authored by revered scientists. And many started to sincerely believe all these crazy pseudo-scientific explanations, instead of just trusting their own ears or their own better judgment. It was astonishingly easy to compel people to doubt themselves and their own senses, and at the same time doubt the sensory abilities or sincerity of those around them. Even within the same families people were fighting over this thing. Not kidding. Mass hypnotic insanity. In a matter of just a day or two. If you’re in the future, look it up. It’s mind boggling I know. But true.

As the debate waged on, bigger and bigger media began to step in, purporting to deliver sharper smarter more technologically advanced scientific explanations of “the phenomenon”. Even the New York Times jumped the shark with this one. More than once. Not kidding. <a target=”_blank” href=”https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/science/yanny-laurel.html“>  Read one of the articles here.</a>

Tons of hubbub about “our ears hear different words depending on the soundcard in the device we’re using” or “based on frequencies the human ear is accustomed to hearing or based on the age of the listener, people can hear words differently or even hear words that aren’t even there…”. Much of it sounded silly if you’ve spent the majority of your life working with sound and music. But maybe it really did fool non-musicians…. (?) It’s hard to tell. It seemed to. Because it became a “thing” so quickly. It easily carved out it’s fifteen seconds and then some. But were people really being fooled? Or were they just eager to be fooled? Or perhaps just eager to choose a side about something, anything, and vehemently fight over it? It was hard to tell.

The mainstream may never take the time to research and establish that a few lines of code could create a simple program that had two completely different sounding words play randomly to different groups of people and once you accepted one of them into your browser’s memory, that word got locked in. It didn’t matter how many times you listened to it. There was no way you were going to hear “the other word that “other people” claimed to be hearing”…. because your browser was set. As too was everyone else’s. Along with all the browsers being used by all the various television and radio networks that ran the story.

One thing became clear though, through all the techno-chat. The origin story about the actual piece of audio that everyone was fighting over kept changing every few hours and every new day. New data. Different data. Changed data. The story never really took hold and found a basis in reality. Still hasn’t. And surely that’s half the fun of it.

In the end all anyone had to do was clear the cookies from their browser in order to hear the other word. A simple fix. But that train had already left the station. Answers to that particular mystery were no longer important as the public’s attention quickly abandoned the debate and shifted to yet another mass shooting in an American public school, sadly, and then on to a wedding of some random member of a so-called “royal family” in England (which yes is an equally mysterious and disturbing social phenomenon to be sure).

Looking back, it seems a really simple and some might say a pretty lame trick in the bigger picture. Two or three lines of code and a disciplined commitment to shutting up for a few days about it? But nonetheless it turned out to be a deceptively simple but elegant illustration of how easy it is to split a population in two using this new “fake news” phenom that the internet has suddenly enabled. (Yes, that DOES beg the question as to why NOW? What happened to suddenly shift the entire species into being so easily duped by totally bogus crap? Was there a trigger moment in mass consciousness that we can look back on? Fascinating to ponder…) And it did have people literally doubting their OWN EARS and their own reason, judgment and sanity at times. No doubt about it. That’s as incredible as it is disturbing. Perhaps an historical landmark moment when we look back in future years on the event in terms of the bigger picture ramifications of it.

————-

There’s more…. As there almost always is. Which I began to discover and contemplate toward the end of the evening. If it was indeed a prank, see above. If it was not a prank and indeed ONE WORD was used and one word alone is what is floating around on every link out there, then it speaks volumes about not just a very real Cultural Relativism (reality being subjective based on indoctrination and beliefs…), but also perhaps even a Biological Relativism (measurable qualitative and quantitative differences within a species creating perceived reality…) that could be responsible for many of the most heated and hated debates and disagreements in human history.

There’s a lot there. I know. But I’m tired. Will explore it more tomorrow. Until then.

 

– Posted by Ed Hale as The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

America The Wild Wild Country

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May 5, 2018

Just finished WILD WILD COUNTRY (documentary on Netflix). Suggested by more than a few trusted friends. Wow. I didn’t know anything about that event or those people. Had never heard of any of it. So i was just KAPOW like eyes wide open mind blown from the first minute onward. It’s a thoroughly intense and engaging exploration of humanity at its best and worst.
 
 A lot of mixed emotions. First impressed and inspired. In awe of that raw rugged endless near blind ambition that springs from human idealism when the spark of enlightenment is first lit. Then shock. Anger. Disappointment. Then tears.
 
 Such an amalgamated human stew, just every aspect of humanity thrown into this cauldron all at once… And widened back, with the advantage of having not been there, having no bias, and much time having passed now, it’s easy to feel empathy and compassion for everyone involved.
 
 That was clearly a very different time. We hadn’t connected yet technologically — which gave us all the ability to find our rightful tribes and tribal mates, more than any other single event in the Age of Personal Expression was an event (Tribalism through technology) that led to one of the greatest quantum leaps in our evolution as a species. Back then, a mere thirty-five years ago, people were still very fragmented and cut off due to geography, a burden that many of us no longer have to endure.
 
 I choose to believe that human consciousness has evolved a lot since then, that if the same grand idealistic communal experiment came together in today’s world that it would attract less fear aggression and prejudice from average Americans on the outside; and that hopefully better decisions would be made on the inside as well.
 
 We have plenty of communes in the world now. In the U.S. as well. I’ve been to many. Supported a few. They’re normally very peaceful quiet trouble-free zones. Think Camp Hill, Steiner Schools and Anthroposophy, just to name one. Small but international. So one doesn’t conclude that self sustaining communes filled with out of the box thinking people practicing alternative or unorthodox lifestyles necessitates direct altercations with the outside world. It’s not that simple or binary.
 
 Clearly there were many extenuating circumstances involved in the struggle between the radical Rajneeshpuram community and the small rural folk from the town of Antelope. On the one hand I choose to believe that America has outgrown a lot of that nationalistic “strictly Christian” bias that so ties it to its Wild West roots; and on the other hand I cannot help but remember and acknowledge that just 24 hours ago I heard an acting president of the United States, Donald Trump, speaking to a packed arena full of hooting hollering NRA members passionately promoting deliberately putting guns in the hands of tens of thousands of more people all over the nation in the name of self defense and protection — an action that will very clearly lead to a return to our Wild West ways once again. As if we didn’t learn the first time what it was like to have public shoot outs be a daily occurrence in our lives.
 
 Although i agree with the basic logic behind the idea— it makes sense. If we outlaw guns, the only people who will have guns will be outlaws. I get it. We see it transpire in Europe all the time. But it does not portend to be a pretty picture if we choose this path. In fact I see it quickly turning into a bloody nightmare and national clusterfuck of epic proportions.
 
 Perhaps that’s where we need to go one last time as a country to settle our contentious gun rights debate. One or two years of just over the top massive bloody shootouts transpiring all over the nation every day and night of the week until so many die that we finally come to the table ready to work through this problem and create a system that includes the kind of sensible compromise that both sides need. If that means hundreds or thousands die in some kind of self created reality horror show that the rest of the world watches in shock…. One can only pray we are able to transcend that potential reality.
 
 
 I personally still walk away from the viewing of that whole Rajneeshpuram debacle believing in the basic ideals of the enlightenment and consciousness raising movement, regardless of how differently each little tribe decides to create or manifest it for themselves. It may seem naive…. But I still remain impressed and inspired by the thought of it. And ready to pick up and start creating and building if the opportunity ever presents itself in my universe.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 – Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

RIP Gibson Guitar Company? Probably Not. But a Notable Sign of a Serious Problem

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May 2, 2018

Today we learned that the GIBSON Guitar Company has filed for bankruptcy. Like Bourbon or baseball, hamburgers or Ford Mustangs, Gibson is one of those living breathing American landmark institutions whose products are so beloved by people from all over the world that it would last forever. They’re adored and worshiped, bought, sold and traded above ground and underground and coveted like gold, classic paintings or vintage cars. The older they get the more valuable they become.

As a longtime Gibson sponsored artist and avid fan, I admit that this news still seems more than anything else just surreal at the moment, but not necessarily a complete surprise. It’s a cold wake up call for sure. Gibson guitars are expensive. Hell, all musical instruments are expensive when you can’t pay the rent, which is the unfortunate situation that most professional musicians and music artists have found themselves in over the last 15 years — especially the ones who have refused to give up or turn it into a hobby or attempt to start a new career.

Yesterday I posted an important piece about some proposed legislation that has the potential to significantly help increase the royalty rates that music artists are paid in this struggling new world of music streaming. The drastic reduction in artist compensation from all potential revenue streams happened so quickly and drastically that most people are still trying to just catch up and learn about it…. It’s hard to take all the data in and fathom just how bad it’s gotten for the musicians and songwriters that each of us chooses to love and follow.

At the heart of it is the simple fact that as a global society we forgot to acknowledge or even notice that music, the commodity, somehow somewhere down the line became FREE. Which yes is crazy. It’s impossible to type that sentence or read it and not do a double take. Especially when you start to ponder how true it is. Despite how fun and easy it’s been for all of us as consumers to have access to free music over the last decade or two, it’s had a devastating effect on the music industry and the artists who create that music.

From 2000 to 2015 music-sales revenue dropped by double digits every year. That’s insane. Do people really not value music THAT much? Or is it more just due to none of us stopping to notice? To the latter, I’d say “Hell, I noticed… How could you not?” So is it more a problem of us just not knowing what to do about it? Not knowing how to fix what we started perceiving was a broken system? Music became free….. We KNEW it was illogical and crazy. Didn’t make sense. Nothing of value is free.

But who was in charge? Surely they’re doing something about it. But alas, no one was doing anything about it and we’re going on 18 years of declining revenue…. The recent news earlier this year that I Heart Radio had also filed for bankruptcy was yet another sign post of the crumbling music industry.

We’ve seen this movie before. Book stores, music stores, office supply stores, hardware stores, non-chain coffee shops, newspapers and magazines, clothing lines, movie theatre chains, all four “big network” television companies and pretty much every retail and department store brand… all gone or in the process of going. Or at least transitioning. At best. One can hope.

The music business is just another industry breaking down fast from the disruption that takes place when technology advances and enters an industry too quickly or in some cases completely takes it over. Call it the digitization of the music business. Music became digital. And for many that meant free.

But in reality it’s just one of thousands of used up old unwanted relics lining the side of the highway to the digitization of our entire society. It starts at the top, at the corporate level, and then slowly works its way down to the workers. In this case, that means the songwriters, producers, musicians, recording artists and everyone else who makes a living from making music. And then from the bottom up it continues to crumble.

So it’s not that shocking to hear that Gibson is going bankrupt. Truth is, if musicians can no longer afford to buy music instruments, who’s going to buy them? Pawn shops and eBay have been chock full of guitars and every other kind of musical instrument for decades now. It’s one of the most coveted secrets in the biz — we never buy new. We always buy vintage. They’re better (or so we tell ourselves…) and they’re way more affordabe. And we know we can turn right around and sell that same guitar for the same price in a few weeks or months or years whenever times get hard.

As working musicians we’ve been using our guitars and basses and drums as an alternate form of cash for the last 15 years…. Selling them when we need to eat. Buying them back when we catch a lucky break. But unfortunately that doesn’t help Gibson. Nor does it help the last of the dying music stores that attempt to stay alive for one more year in the ghost town strip malls of America’s larger cities.

But before you light a candle and stream “The Day the Music Died”, there is actually some GOOD news in all this. And it’s just starting to happen. We’re calling it the New Renaissance of the Music Business or Music Consumer, depending on who you ask. And it’s seeming to take flight fast. It turns out that most people LIKE paying a subscription for their media content. Netflix is proving it. (Granted, Netflix charges too little to actually make a profit. They exist based solely on their ability to accrue more debt. Sad but true. Just like HULU and pretty much everyone else in the streaming media business. But it’s a start.) Combined with the advent of portable stand alone speakers like Amazon’s Alexa or Echo (JBL makes awesome ones. Apple’s Homepod is also said to sound AMAZING…), consumers are flooding into subscription based music streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify.

That’s the “good” news. The bad news is that none of these services are profitable yet…. because they’re charging way too little per month in order to acquire new customers. It’s the classic amazon model. Cut prices to below profit in order to lure new customers in and slowly raise the prices later down the road. It works. We’ve seen it work. But of course that means they still can’t afford to pay a living wage to the people who create the products they sell, music artists. At least not yet. BUT… it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And that’s a positive.

One gets the feeling that somehow Gibson will survive. The same way that Ford and GM have managed to… It might get hairy ugly. But they’ll make it. We all will if we remember to #respectmusic

Read more about Gibson’s latest bankruptcy filing here: https://www.musicradar.com/news/gibson-files-for-bankruptcy

If You Don’t Like Facebook Then Don’t Use It and Stop Complaining About It

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April 12, 2018

We’ve heard a lot of opinions and ideas regarding Facebook over the last few weeks. Most of it noise, regurgitated incessantly by media or media wannabes seeking attention or in vain attempts to cash in on the back of somebody else’s problem. We’ve become accustomed to this in Western societies. We accept it as an annoying side effect of free markets and the noble goal of protecting free speech.
 
 At this point, as always, one feels compelled to remind friends and readers that some of us are staunch Independents who do not feel any allegiance or affiliation with any political party one way or the other, especially when stating ideas like the following: normally we Indies consider it lesser-minded hyperbole when we hear so-called Conservatives complain about the over-arching Liberalism of the academic community and their “zealous over-regulatory socialist agenda”.
 
 We also often chuckle to ourselves when we hear the so-called Left making equally short sighted comments about the ruthless heartlessness of so-called Conservatives. We understand that passion and emotion are valuable human assets, but can sometimes cloud reason and logic and muddy what could otherwise be intelligent discourse.
 
 One can find truth in anything if they go looking hard enough, and on occasion, these seemingly ridiculous inflammatory claims and accusations by both extremes in our political melting pot will appear to stem from some fundamental underlying truths… at least in part. The opinion piece published today in Marketwatch by a Mr. Perez-Breva, allegedly an MIT professor, is a perfect example. If not a joke or a deliberate hack to confuse and unsettle democracies or capitalist and democratic ideals, it may just be the dumbest, most ignorant and ill-informed collection of ideas ever penned about the subjects of social media and Big Tech. There is so much wrong here that it seems redundant and superfluous to even bother pointing any of it out specifically, let alone debating it.
 
 But it does seem important enough to read or at least gloss over and share, if for no other reason than to see what we’re up against when well-meaning beneficiaries of capitalism with too much time on their hands begin to take for granted the benefits they derive from the hard work and capital investment of others.
 
  It almost appears as if the author has come to believe that he and others inherently deserve to enjoy the fruits of other people’s inventions, discoveries and companies for free just because they breathe, and if they aren’t allowed to do so or can’t call the shots then they’ll resort to shouting “You fascists are trying to make slaves of us!” Which is exactly what Mr. Perez-Breva does in the attached article, going so far as comparing Facebook to a modern day pharaoh forcing billions of people to “work for free like slaves to build their pyrimids”. It may sound far fetched and small minded and thus nothing more than a humorous, innocuous sound byte. But the underlying ignorance and arrogance in these kind of casually extremist claims are dangerous, if not at the very least insulting.
 
 Besides the innumerable obvious problems this kind of thinking potentiates in a free society built on free market capitalist ideals, perhaps the most disturbing and over-looked aspect of this train of thought is that real slavery still exists in our world. It is dark depressing deadly and terrifying. And it is INVOLUNTARY, unlike opening a free Facebook or Twitter account or searching for something online using tools like Google. Any comparison to the real thing is insensitive and irresponsible, despite how cute or cheeky the author may believe he or she is being.
 
 
 – Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone