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Modern Day Dorothy Falls
Prey to Lizard of Ozzzz.com
By Wendy Reid
Perhaps mass media visionary Marshall McLuhan said it best decades ago when he pronounced, "The medium is the message." At the time not everyone understood the profundity of this simple statement, but given the last 25 years of corporate mind control through the use of the electronic media, its meaning is beginning to sink into the collective consciousness in spades.
In her new novel The Lizard of Ozzzz.com: A Silicon Valley Techno Tale, Mary Lauren Karlton examines this phenomenon using the classic tale of the Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum as her template to tell the story of Caitlin Leary, a recent graduate from MIT who embarks on a new career as the director of technology at a high tech company in Silicon Valley known as Ozzzz.com.
In her new job she is immediately swept off her feet by Sam Thorne, the ruthless, larger-than-life CEO of the company. And like the Wizard in the original story, the CEO of Ozzzz.com is all powerful (in an apocryphal way) and beguiles her with all the accoutrement of his electronic empire. Later, he not only seduces the young Caitlin but also convinces her to become the "virtual Dorothy" whom he uses to promote his Web site.
After a while, Caitlin begins to suspect things are not right in the land of Ozzzz.com and believes that Thorne (the Lizard) is just using her as a pawn to sell his company's products to unsuspecting children. Later her suspicions are confirmed when an Internet hacker named Wormwood emails her this message:
"Don't you see? Individuals like Thorne are attempting to create a generation of compliant bots who thoughtlessly drone the mainstream mantras of unconscious consumption and complacency. And it's done effortlessly through the dynamic technological duo of genetic engineering and the 'Net. Just wire yourself up and no worries, you'll be uploaded with your behavioral and emotional instruction set."
Will Caitlin thwart the Lizard's plans, forego her high power job, and ever get back home to Maine? Well, you won't know unless you read this fast-paced satire of life in the virtual fast lane of Silicon Valley during the 1990s dotcom boom. And it is well worth reading. The author, who apparently lived a version of this life at one time in her career, captures the essence of it, and she presents the high-energy, greed-driven characters in her story, many of whom are hopelessly addicted to triple shots of espresso or Jolt soda, with authenticity. In addition, she cleverly mixes actual quotes from magazines and Internet sources at the beginning of each chapter to help capture the mindset of the time.
And although the story takes place in the 1990s, it is just as valid today, since the war on terrorism has only upped the stakes and intensified the battle between the fascist elements in our society that want to use electronic surveillance and mind control to gather information and influence mass opinion and those who struggle to maintain privacy and individual freedom. It's going to be a long rode home, Dorothy!
Incredible Story of 14-Year-Old
Soldier's Courage and Humanity
By George Randall
Imagine living a dozen action-packed, adventure-filled lifetimes in a period of five years. That's just what Joseph Quitman Johnson did and lived to tell about in his book, Baby of Bataan: Memoir of a 14-Year-Old Soldier in World War II, an incredible coming-of-age war memoir that is not only filled with extraordinary tales of bravery and survival, but also personalized in a way that makes it custom made for the silver screen.
The book is written as a first person narrative, and it recounts the true-life story of a young boy who grows up dirt poor in Memphis, Tennessee, and enlists in the army at the tender age of fourteen, pretending that he is 18. Sensing that the new recruit is actually younger than he claims, two older soldiers named Ray and Dale take Joe Johnson under their wings and introduce him to the ways of becoming a soldier during the pre-war days in the Philippines-- from drinking his first beer to having his first sexual encounter.
During this time, Johnson falls in love with a young Filipino prostitute named Felicia, who becomes pregnant and is doomed to a life of hardship and misery. Filled with compassion for the young girl, Johnson steals her away from the brothel and brings her to a convent, where he pays for her first month's room and board and promises the nuns in charge he will continue to send money to them out of his monthly army salary.
Soon after he leaves Felicia, Johnson sees action in Corregidor and Bataan and recounts the horrors of war. Perhaps the most poignant episode in this phase of his life is the one in which he describes the death of one of his best friends:
"The juice tanks had been riddled with bullet holes, and juice was still dripping on an already saturated ground. It had spread over a large area and was drying in the dirt. We stopped short and stared at the bodies of the lieutenant and two soldiers who were lying sprawled in the middle of the drying juice, stripped of their equipment. Ray's body was propped against a juice tank, his head drooping against his chest. Large red fire ants covered his body. Then I realized that all the bodies were covered with the red fire ants, the ant's bright red shells were glistening in the sun. It was a sight that I would forever have etched in my mind."
But this is only the beginning of his nightmare. As the war continues, he and his other best friend, Dale, are captured and tortured in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Dale attempts to escape, but he is captured and beheaded along with several other men. At this point Johnson realizes he is all alone and feels completely isolated and without hope. In addition to the daily tortures and humiliations, he describes how he is forced to work long hours with little to eat, and how he becomes sickly and loses weight:
"My health was deteriorating rapidly. The hard labor and the starvation diet with its lack of essential vitamins were taking their toll. I was suffering from dry beriberi, pellagra, scurvy, and now I had a bout of chronic diarrhea again. I had numerous large ulcers and open sores on my legs and ankles, which never seemed to heal."
If this weren't enough, Johnson endures even more hardships, including being beaten to within an inch of his life by a sadistic Japanese guard. Throughout it all, however, he never gives up and lives to see the end of the war. And even more remarkably, his story ends with a dramatic twist that rewards his courage and humanity in a way that even the best Hollywood screenwriter would applaud.
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The Others at Monticello (Volume 1)
By Esther Franklin
Historical novel which dares to put Thomas Jefferson's books into the hands of special slaves--Hemings family members. Includes carefully researched library history. Novel won the Gold Book Award at the Tenth Annual Sacramento Publishers & Authors Book Awards... "The Others at Monticello is an extraordinary achievement. Esther Franklin's historical novel opens a window to the largely unexplored relationships between Thomas Jefferson and his slaves, especially Sally Hemings and her children... Highly recommended for libraries and readers interested in Jefferson, race relations, and the intellectual development of the United States." -- Clark Evans, Rare Book and Special Collections, Library of Congress.
The Others at Monticello (Volume 2)
By Esther Franklin
The novel continues the story of the relationship between the re-birth of the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson, and Hemings family. It also explores the Master's unspoken feelings toward slaves of mixed heritage... "She has brought this era and these people to life in ways I would not have thought possible. Historians will envy her delicate and sympathetic touch." -- Historian G.D. Lillibridge, author or Beacon of Freedom. "A believable book which should be read by all Americans. It's the story of America and the development of our country." - John Woodson, descendant of the first child of the union of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
Book submission deadline is
the 20th of each month.
Loyalty, Lies and Lots of Loot Link|
'Badfellas' of Bush Administration
By J. F. Miglio
There's been a lot of discussion lately in the mainstream media about how George W. Bush is a very loyal fellow, how he insists on loyalty from everyone in his inner circle, and how he becomes very tight-lipped whenever he is asked to explain the misdeeds of his staff or corporate benefactors.
This begs the question: What type of person places such a high premium on loyalty, keeps quiet about the truth when it threatens his organization, and places profits above ethical considerations? If you haven't already figured out the answer, perhaps you should review the film Goodfellas and pay particular attention to the scene where Jimmy Conway explains the essence of the mafia's existential code of ethics to the young Henry Hill: "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut!"
Although I doubt that President Bush understands the fine points of existential philosophy, he is nonetheless following the code of omerta as religiously as any member in good standing of organized crime. Which is very odd, when you think about it, since he is professes to be a born-again Christian and not a button man for la cosa nostra. But perhaps this is less a paradox than it seems. After all, have you ever heard any high profile born-again Christians--- like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson-- lambaste corporate America for exploiting the poor or soaking the middle class? Have you ever heard any of them vilify CEOs like Ken Lay for bilking their employees out of their life savings? Somehow, the born-again crowd only believes it's a sin if it has to do with personal issues, like abortion or homosexuality. If money is involved, especially corporate money, they suddenly make like a statue.
This is hypocrisy pure and simple. But unlike Michael Corleone, who admits his own hypocrisy to the crooked senator in The Godfather II, old Georgie Boy knows how to keep his mouth shut. Ironically, he still lives the fantasy (whether he actually believes it or not) that he is a good, God-fearing Christian. Sadly, many Americans still believe him (although the number is dwindling month by disastrous month). Worse, some Democrats are still enabling this fantasy by proclaiming that Bush is either too dumb or too detached to know about the lies and misdeeds in his own administration. If you remember, this was the same thing they said about Ronald Reagan during his two terms in office when one after another of his subordinates cleaned up his mess and took the fall for him; what Donald Regan referred to as "the shovel patrol."
Therefore, for Democrats to call for Rumsfeld's resignation because he "didn't inform the president about Abu Graibe," or to blame Cheney for manipulating Bush for his own diabolical purposes, is disingenuous. It lets Bush off the hook, and it feeds the fantasy that he is basically a nice guy who is being used and exploited by the capos in his gang.
The reality is, Bush has been evading responsibility for criminal behavior his entire adult life- from his drunk driving, coke snorting crimes and misdemeanors as a young man, to his business scams with the Texas Rangers and Harken Energy, to his disgraceful fix of the last presidential election and his financial alliance with the bin Laden family. And, as documented in the numerous books and articles detailing the long, sordid history of the "Bush Crime Family" (see links below this story), Georgie Boy's old man and grandfather-- as well as his brothers-- are also no strangers to illegal and unethical behavior. As a result, it has never been a stretch for him to lie or keep his mouth shut when confronted with the truth, even as president. In fact, after all these years, it has become second nature for him to cover his tracks and "not admit his mistakes," just as it is for any mafia boss. Granted, he is not the sharpest stiletto in his gang of chicken hawks and free market racketeers; Consigliore Cheney wins that honor. But he is smart enough to know how the system works and how to use it to enrich his family, friends, and amici de amici.
If you follow this logic, it is no surprise why we have a $500 billion deficit, why environmental standards have been gutted, why the price of oil has sky rocketed, and why we got into a war in Iraq in the first place (and won't get out of any time soon). It all stems from the same premise. A crime family don must take care of his patrons and allow them to wet their beaks; he must reward them with their share of the loot, their piece of the action; in Bush's case, this means giving huge tax breaks to the rich, lucrative sweetheart deals to large corporations, and astronomical no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton, even if it means screwing average citizens in the process or allowing American soldiers to die in an unnecessary war.
And what's even more striking is that Bush doesn't even try to hide the fact that he is showering his gumbas with obscene amounts of loot. Halliburton alone has already raked in billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq-- and this is only the beginning! The longer the war drones on, the more the company will profit. Now, am I being cynical, or do you think the nice folks at Halliburton are putting a little pressure on Bush and Cheney to "stay the course" in Iraq? In fact, why do you think Halliburton hired Cheney in the first place and paid him 22 million big ones? That's a lot of linguini to pay a political hack who had no previous experience as a CEO. Do you think the boys at Halliburton expected anything in return from him-- especially after he became vice president?
Of course this is just business as usual in the game of crony capitalism, and greed has no boundaries among the made men (and women) in the Bush familia who pull the strings that make everyone else dance and play the fool. If our elected leaders had any balls (and were not were not involved in this game themselves), they would immediately appoint a new "Untouchables" squad to clean up the upper echelons of government and the corporate world the way Elliot Ness and his agents went after Al Capone. Instead we have play-by-the-rules guys like Rep. Henry Waxman and D.A. Eliot Spitzer attempting to do our Sisyphean dirty work. And although they have been doing an admirable job given the circumstances, they are severely hamstrung by the system and have no real authority to break down doors and bust heads. In other words, they need more muscle to deal with the likes of Bush, Cheney, and the corporate gangs that run our country the way Capone once ran Chicago.
Unfortunately, the members of Congress won't give them the muscle they need, since many of our elected officials are in debt to the same corporate gangs that run the system, and they, too, must keep their mouths shut if they want to survive in politics and not get whacked. And so it goes. The only consolation to the American people is this: Like members of organized crime, corrupt government officials and corporate criminals will also turn on each other when they get shafted by their bosses or get caught red handed. And just as Henry Hill broke his code of silence and ratted out his fellow wise guys when the going got tough, the "badfellas" of the Bush administration will ultimately do the same thing. Paul O'Neil and Dick Clark are only the first ones to sing like canaries. Who will be next?
LINKS TO ABOVE STORY
The Bush Crime Family: Three Generations of Treason
The Story of the Bush Crime Family
Bush and bin Laden
Osama bin Laden's Bush Family Business Connections
Halliburton, Dick Cheney, and War Time Spoils
Halliburton Scam Update
Dick Cheney Profile
San Francisco to Host National
Walk for Universal Health Care
On Saturday, June 19, San Francisco will host a national walk for universal health care on the Golden Gate Bridge from 7 AM until noon. The Service Employees International Union will hold its national convention in San Francisco, and as part of its proceedings, their members will lead a walk from Crissy Field over the Golden Gate Bridge.
The union also anticipates many other groups and individuals to support the cause of national health care and join in the walk. On a state level, only SB 921, The Health Care for All Californians Act, provides for 100% universal health coverage, and on a national level, only HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, provides for 100% universal health care.
Senator Sheila Kuehl first introduced SB 921 in February 2003, and it has passed in the State Senate and is now in the State Assembly. For more information, call (415) 695-7891, or email email@example.com.
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